AJ Bombers

Where to Get: Cheese Curds

They’re as much a specialty as lobster rolls are in Maine or key-lime pie in Florida: deep-fried cheese curds (chunks of curdled milk so fresh they squeak) are easy to find in Milwaukee.

Introducing our new series: Where to Get… If you’re looking to try a new food trend or a beloved Milwaukee favorite at a new establishment, we’ve got you covered. We provide the recs, you decide the rankings. Next time someone says “I wonder where to get…” direct them to Milwaukee Magazine.

Battered in beer or oil, these crisp-on-the-outside-with-gooey-center curds are a staple on most bar and restaurant menus. Yet creative twists and upscale renditions also populate restaurant menus. Here are eight of the best cheese curds in town — and where to order them. 

Plus: Milwaukee’s Best Cheese Curds: Our Staff Weighs In

1) Lakefront Brewery’s beer hall

Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee
Lakefront Brewery; Photo Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

While most people flock to this Beerline brewery’s beer hall, which sold its first beers in 1987, for Friday Fish Fry, curds are fried up daily.  They’re battered in beer, naturally, and served with a side of garlic ranch sauce.

2) Dream Dance Steak

Dream Dance Steak
Photo Courtesy of Dream Dance Steak

You probably wouldn’t expect a surf-and-turf spot to excel at cheese curds, but Dream Dance Steak inside Potawatomi Hotel & Casino nails it. Wisconsin Cheese Curd Fritters arrive at the table with tomato jam and four-cheese sauce.

3) Safe House

Safe House
Safe House; Photo Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

The food is no mystery at this spy-themed restaurant downtown. Once you’ve cracked the password and been admitted, your mission begins. Fried C4 Cheese Curds are created from white-cheddar curds then breaded and fried. The dipping sauce, says Safe House, is totally secret.

Iron Horse Hotel
Iron Horse Hotel; Photo Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

4) Iron Horse Hotel

Friday fish fries and Sunday brunch at the Iron Horse Hotel in Walker’s Point are not as widely known as they should be — cheese curds included. Served at both Smyth and Branded, plus The Yard during the warmer months, in a basket lined with newspaper-print waxed paper, the locally sourced tempura-battered cheese curds with ranch sauce are the perfect arrival meal for Milwaukee’s visitors, no?

5) AJ Bombers

AJ Bombers made a name with its burgers, based on winning the Travel Channel’s “Burger Wars” against Sobelman’s in 2010. But there are other items on its menu that should be just as famous. Fresh Wisconsin Cheddar Cheese Curds means fried cheddar with a side of chipotle ranch for a little bit of heat.

6) Vanguard

Vanguard; Photo Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Most people like Vanguard in Bay View for its sausage, but what goes better with a dressed-up dog than curds? They’re one of a handful of sides, this one featuring a side of bacon stein aioli for dipping. If you still need more curds, order a Milwaukee upgrade to any sausage (cheese curds, cheese whiz and cheddar cheese).

7) La Merenda

La Merenda
photo courtesy of La Merenda

At this Walkers Point tapas restaurant every item has a regional focus (for example, trout creole featuring Rushing Waters trout), and locally sourced ingredients. That includes the goat-cheese curds: LaClare Farms curds, dipped in Tia Paquita chorizo cream sauce.

8) Miller Time Pub & Grill

Miller Time Pub & Grill
Miller Time Pub & Grill; Photo Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

Located right along West Wisconsin Avenue, Miller Time Pub & Grill is a staple for any traditional Wisconsin food, cheese curds included. Bumping up against nine specialty burgers on the menu is their Famous Fried Cheese Curds, which are designed to be dipped in creamy chive ranch as well as marinara sauce (why pick one?).



A seasoned writer, and a former editor at Milwaukee Home & Fine Living, Kristine Hansen launched her wine-writing career in 2003, covering wine tourism, wine and food pairings, wine trends and quirky winemakers. Her wine-related articles have published in Wine Enthusiast, Sommelier Journal, Uncorked (an iPad-only magazine), FoodRepublic.com, CNN.com and Whole Living (a Martha Stewart publication). She's trekked through vineyards and chatted up winemakers in many regions, including Chile, Portugal, California (Napa, Sonoma and Central Coast), Canada, Oregon and France (Bordeaux and Burgundy). While picking out her favorite wine is kind of like asking which child you like best, she will admit to being a fan of Oregon Pinot Noir and even on a sub-zero winter day won't turn down a glass of zippy Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc.