Where to Find Caribbean Island Cuisine – And More Dining Tidbits

Read about Heirloom MKE’s brick-and-mortar, where celebs eat in Milwaukee and what our dining critic is reading right now.

Plates of the Caribbean

Digging into this multi-faceted – and trending – cuisine.

Caribbean island cuisine is quite the intricate tapestry, with threads of West African, Cajun-Creole, Latin American, Indian, Chinese and other styles of cooking. That doesn’t take into account all the singular regionalities. You might know some of its defining dishes – jerk chicken, stewed oxtails and curried goat. If not, right now is a really good time to explore Caribbean foods here in MKE. Pepperpot, the Capitol Drive caterer/carryout spot whose best-known specialty is the jerk chicken egg roll, now has a sit-down place in Bronzeville (2215 N. Martin Luther King Dr.). Over on the East Side, Frankies (1815 E. Kenilworth Pl.) has been frying up Jamaican Escovitch red snapper since 2021. And in Walker’s Point, Mobay Cafe (1022 S. First St.) – owned by Jamaica native Nadine Dixon – makes perhaps the strongest case for saucy chicken that I know. Dixon’s cafe jerk chicken – with a mountain of rice and beans, buttery steamed cabbage and tender cooked plantains – slides off the bone, slick with a dark and dramatic spicy jerk sauce that soaks through the meat. 



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To Bloom in Bay View

Heirloom MKE adds brick-and-mortar. 

WE’RE INCHING CLOSER to July and the projected opening for food truck Heirloom MKE’s brick-and-mortar spot in Bay View (the former Lazy Susan, 2378 S. Howell Ave.). In 2020, Pete and Jess Ignatiev were close to inking the deal on a space for their farm-to-table concept when COVID happened. Their plans shifted to the food truck that does steamed mussels and handmade burrata cheese with arugula salad. Says Jess of their forthcoming Bay View space: “You might want to come in for a special occasion and get an entrée, but if you just want a tallboy and a chicken sandwich, we’re going to be that place, too – laid back with really good food.” And the decor? “Think [filmmaker] Wes Anderson – really bold, unexpected colors and lots of plants.”

Heirloom MKE; Photo by Chris Kessler

Where Celebs Eat

Michael Rapaport; Illustration by Susan Evenson

Comedians Tig Notaro and Marc Maron and actors Edward James Olmos and Michael Rapaport have all dropped into vegetarian  spot Beerline Cafe (2076 N. Commerce St.). Rapaport’s go-to orders: loaded nachos with chickpea chorizo and the Portobello cheesesteak sammie.


Photo courtesy of Rizzoli Books

What I’m Reading Right Now

APTLY NAMED, The New Art of Coffee is a slow, sumptuous sipper. It’s from author Ryan Castelaz, whose Discourse Coffee Workshop’s two MKE locations challenge and enchant with experimental, gourmet coffee creations. (I want to call them drinkable installations.) The book shares close to 50 recipes that transcend the standard latte and cappuccino, and it dips into the mechanics of coffee, from its origins to brewing methods. Combined with local photographer Kevin Miyazaki’s sublime images, this book is inspiring and, even though I can’t see myself attempting most of these drinks, aspirational. 



This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine’s May issue.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.