Your Best of Milwaukee 2022 Dining & Drink Winners List

From market halls to patio dining, here are 31 reasons to eat and drink around Milwaukee.


Readers’ Choice


3rd Street Market Hall

Wowza is the word for 3rd Street Market Hall. This is a well-oiled machine of consumption, offering 15-plus vendors; a full-service, 50-seat bar; gaming areas (Cornhole! Giant Jenga! Virtual golf simulators!); and a selfie museum to capture every Instagram-worthy pose. A key driver in the revitalization of the former Shops at Grand Avenue, this market was unquestionably worth the wait. 

The set-up is similar to a mall food court, but a curated, diverse assortment of vendors makes this a feast of local entrepreneurship. And their focused menus allow them to hone their craft – from the handmade pastas, creative pierogis, luxe pastries and Venezuelan stuffed arepas served at the shorter-term “hawker” vendors to the stellar fried cheese curds, burgers, chicken sandwiches and frozen custard creations made at anchor/manager tenant Dairyland. The thoughtful design of this 40,000-square-foot space captures the energy and communality that defines a concept like this, but it also doesn’t feel overwhelming when it’s busy. Not only has the old Grand Avenue been given a lift, the hall is a crucial development spark in this once-booming Westown neighborhood that also includes the nearby Bradley Symphony Center. The Avenue MKE, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave.;

3rd Street Market Hall, readers’ choice winner for Best New Restaurant; Photo by Aliza Baran



That crust. Cracker thin, with a sturdy canvas however you top it (try the EBF – Everything But Fish), the base of this longtime establishment’s uber-nummy, old-school-MKE pies sets the standard. 1724 N. Farwell Ave.;

“Nonstop delicious.” – Marcie Hoffman


Blue’s Egg

With a dozen years under its belt, Blue’s has defined breakfast in ways far beyond the simple fried egg. Enthusiasts praise the creative flair executive chef Joe Muench brings to the menu, packed with morning pick-me-ups like the Dubliner benedict, hoppel poppel and (reader-loved) stuffed hash browns. 317 N. 76th St.;

Blue's Egg breakfast
Blue’s Egg


Smoke Shack

This winner is all about the first word in its name, taking a slow approach to smoking its dry-rubbed meats. Diners choose their sauces from five options – Carolina Gold (tangy mustard base) to the tongue-tingling Kick-24 Habanero. 332 N. Milwaukee St.;

Photo courtesy of Smoke Shack


Cranky Al’s

Readers are sweet on Cranky Al’s (have you tried the cruller?!), the friendly (not cantankerous) Tosa spot that has welcomed visits from Food Network host Alton Brown. Just try frowning when you’ve got one of Cranky’s scrumptious yeast-raised, filled or cake doughnuts in your hand. It’s impossible! 6901 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa;

“The measure of a great donut shop is how well they do the classics, and no one does them better than Al’s” – Erin Clarke


Bavette la Boucherie

Now settled into new Third Ward digs, Bavette is a gift to the sandwich world. The “to die for” offerings (as one reader put it) at this combined restaurant/butcher shop fluctuate and might feature a pork belly banh mi, roast beef with cheddar and horseradish cream, and pâté on rye with pickled onions. 217 N. Broadway;

Photo by Marty Peters


Café Corazón

From its beginnings 13 years ago in tiny Riverwest digs to its now three locations, Corazón has spread the gospel of wet burritos, asada enchiladas and tart, fresh margaritas to a wide audience. If the tortilla-wrapped creations aren’t speaking to you, make a date with the half-pound Corazón burger.

Food at Café Corazón, readers’ choice winner for Best Mexican Food; Photo courtesy of Café Corazón


Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall

Start your meal with the fried cheese curds (beer-battered, of course!), then dig into the battered and fried cod or hand-breaded walleye. Choice of side with your fry? Say it in unison: crispy potato pancakes with apple sauce. 1872 N. Commerce St.;

Photo courtesy of Lakefront Brewery


Beans & Barley

This close to 50-year-old is a mainstay in the plant-based eating community. Menu items such as the vegetarian chili and black bean burrito are legendary, as are the blueberry pie and Cocomo Joe cookies. This “old favorite,” per an admiring reader, is also one of the East Side’s better breakfast spots. 1901 E. North Ave.;

Beans & Barley; Photo by Chris Kessler


Barnacle Bud’s

In a tucked-away spot along the Kinnickinnic River in Bay View sits this beachy shack and patio. Diners decamp at wooden picnic tables and soak up this little Milwaukee taste of Key Largo. The Downtown skyline looms in the distance, traffic zips along a few blocks away, and yet here you are, on this escapist patio like no other. 1955 S. Hilbert St.;


Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro

Readers have an affinity for more than just the French fare. They love the atmosphere (“incredibly romantic”), the setting (historic Lake Park Pavilion), and the service (“gracious,” “exceptional”). 3133 E. Newberry Blvd.;

Lake Park Bistro; Photo courtesy of Bartolotta Restaurants


Taqueria Buenavista 

The simple menu of street tacos, burritos, nachos and tortas never fails to disappoint. To be sure, the taco al pastor – wrapped inside two corn tortillas with cilantro and onion – is a menu all-star. But don’t sleep on the tortas and nachos either.

Taqueria Buenavista; Photo by Adam Ryan Morris


West Allis Farmers Market

Longevity, quality, accessibility. All describe the West Allis Farmers Market, and all combine to make it a local treasure. The well organized, covered stalls offer locally grown produce, along with seasonal plants, baked goods, eggs, meats and honey. Its afternoon hours (unusual for markets around here) allow farmers time to pick earlier in the day, which means fresher stuff. Runs through late November.

Photo courtesy of West Allis Farmers Market


Bunzel’s Meat Market

The family-owned West Side institution that is Bunzel’s is the go-to for fresh ground beef and house-made sausages, pork roasts and chops, steaks and roasting chickens. Try their award-winning hickory-smoked jerky and killer summer sausage. 9015 W. Burleigh St.;

“Quality meat and friendly, personalized service.” – Judy West



Sendik’s Food Market

The red-bag Sendik’s are stores that breed loyalists. The quality and selection are two oft-mentioned reasons, and that applies to the produce, meat departments, fresh flowers and baked goods in these grocery spots whose roots date to the 1920s.

“A Milwaukee staple.” – Erica Sablan

Sendik’s; Photo courtesy of Sendik’s



The Milwaukee-made, cold-pressed beverages line the shelves of grocery stores like Pick ’n Save and Whole Foods, promising good health in a bottle. Its line of elixirs – Eternal Life, Invincibility and Bionic Glow, among others – are fruit and vegetable power-houses that also taste delish.



A Milwaukee homegrown that’s expanded by leaps since starting out as Alterra back in 1993, Colectivo doesn’t just serve coffee – and breads and sweet treats made by its own Troubadour Bakery. It delivers an experience in industrial-urban settings where coffee drinkers work, study, socialize and let their coffee choice define them, like a brand of shoes or make of car.

Colectivo; Photo by Visit Milwaukee


Ray’s Wine & Spirits

Whether you’re looking for a particular Japanese single-malt whiskey, Spanish rosé or Belgian saison, chances are you can find it at Ray’s. And if you can’t, the helpful staff will happily point you to something that’s similar and might even be better than what you were after in the first place. The team here throws one heck of a parking lot party, too. 8930 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa;

Ray's Wine & Spirits Beer Shelf
Ray’s Wine & Spirits


Great Lakes Distillery

We love what Great Lakes’ Rehorst Vodka brings to a Moscow Mule we can fix up at home, but you gotta get out and visit Milwaukee’s first distillery since Prohibition, too. The tour is a blast, the bartenders are consistently on point, and the patio is sublime for summer sipping. 616 W. Virginia St.;

Counterclockwise from left to right: Great Lakes’ Distillery Tasting Room’s Moscow Mule, Vermuteria 600’s Negroni, Boone & Crockett’s Sazerac, Bryant’s The Kismet, Story Hill BKC’s Jalapeño Paloma, Jazz Estate Old Fashioned, Goodkind’s Light as a Feather. Photo by Kevin J. Miyazaki/PLATE


Black Husky Brewing

Since its owners moved from the remote Northwoods in 2016, this rustic, friendly taproom has become a fixture of the Riverwest community. Black Husky makes its mark with big beers (we really love Sproose double IPA) and a patio made for lingering. Be ready to pet some dogs when you visit. 909 E. Locust St.;

Photo courtesy of Black Husky Brewing


Lakefront Riverwest Stein

Is there a city ordinance that requires this robust amber lager to be on tap in every neighborhood bar in the city? Nah, it’s just that good. The caramelly malts are robust and satisfying, but it’s super drinkable; watch out, that 6% ABV sneaks up on you.



Years ago, this local chain made waves garnishing its bloody mary with a whole fried chicken. Originally known for its burgers, Sobelman’s assumed a second, equally strong identity with this famously brunchy cocktail, which starts with a house-made mix and finishes with wild add-ins like cheeseburger sliders, pickled Polish sausage and bacon-wrapped jalapeno cheese balls.

Photo courtesy of Sobelman’s


Wolski’s Tavern

If you distilled the appeal of the legion corner bars that dot this city into one amber-lit tavern, you’d have Wolski’s. Bar dice, free popcorn, sturdy wooden high-top tables, offbeat but local décor, friendly arguments, darts and pool. And, yeah, bumper stickers at bar time. 1836 N. Pulaski St.;

“No need to explain.” – Jenny Kasun

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

Editor Picks


Lager & Friends 

It’s the perfect beer pairing: dozens of lagers – crisp and refreshing, most of them, but also a few deep and complex – and Old Heidelberg Park at Bavarian Bierhaus, a divine beer garden with a roomy, open-air hall in case of rain. Save a weekend in early June for next year’s fest, produced by Gathering Place Brewing in Riverwest.


Putin Is a Dick 

When Russia invaded Ukraine this winter, Lakefront Brewery held a fundraiser in a clever form: Instead of a benefit beer, Lakefront designed a cheeky label to stick on crowlers (big tap-filled take-home cans) of any of its beers, with the customer and the brewery each kicking in an extra $5 for a humanitarian relief fund. Through midsummer the effort raised $122,000 and counting.

Photo courtesy of Jungwirth


Space Time Coffee

Our city has a lot of good locally roasted coffee. But we can’t forget a little guy like Space Time, which has been serving up pour-overs and espressos Downtown at the Dubbel Dutch Hotel since fall 2021. Owner Adam Sterr micro-roasts the coffee beans on site, makes wonderfully silky lattes and carries delectable baked goods by local cottage enterprise Matilda Bakehouse. Plus, the place has cool old-building vibes. 817 N. Marshall St.;


Everyone’s Ice Cream

This West Allis scooping “collective” – living next door to its also-awesome sibling, pizza-slinging Flour Girl & Flame – is cheerleader par excellence for small-batch, Wisconsin-made frozen deliciousness. It serves creams made by Purple Door, Scratch, vegan-based Liv a Little, Crème de Liqueur and (love that name) Sweet Tooth Grin. Bring your appetite – or a buddy or two – for the flight of scoops served in a half-dozen-size egg carton. 8125 W. National Ave., West Allis;


Lupi & Iris

The restaurant industry having been dealt so many blows in the last few years, the mid-2022 arrival of Lupi & Iris – co-owned by former Bartolotta Restaurants chef Adam Siegel – was a gift. The big-city place that pays homage to the cuisines of the French and Italian rivieras feels like the much-needed beginning of a sort of healing for everyone in the culinary world. 777 N. Van Buren St.;

Wood-fired veal rib chop with grilled broccolini, caramelized anchovy and garlic, and roasted fingerling potatoes; Photo by Marty Peters


Dane Baldwin

Without a doubt, the biggest local food industry news of 2022 is chef Dane Baldwin winning the James Beard Award for Best Chef: Midwest. The owner of The Diplomat on the East Side is one of the most humble, talented chefs in the city – the honor couldn’t have been bestowed on a more worthy candidate. The restaurant where pre-Beard it was almost too easy to get a table is now one of of the hottest tickets in town! Further behind the scenes in the food and drink industry is local photographer and frequent MilMag contributor Kevin J. Miyazaki, who shot the photos for the Beard Award-winning book, The Way of the Cocktail: Japanese Traditions, Techniques, and Recipes.

Dane Baldwin won a Best of MKE editor’s pick, read about him in the September issue of Milwaukee Magazine; Photo by Kat Schleicher

Happy Returns

Scardina Specialties

This Italian deli-butcher shop is one of Riverwest’s sleeper hits – soldiering on for years on East Chambers Street until 2021, when its building was condemned and Scardina was forced to close. But as you’re reading this, the scrappy enterprise was set to rejoin the living in its new space at 715 E. Locust St. We’re especially glad for the news, as it means the return of not just some of the best house-made Italian sausage but also the crave-worthiest take-and-bake pizzas.

Comet Café

Shuttered in 2020 (then-owners Mojofuco Restaurant Group blamed it on financial losses related to the pandemic), the beloved East Side hipster diner was resuscitated earlier this past summer by the same folks who run Honeypie Cafe in Bay View. They’ve brought back some of the menu big dogs, including the meatloaf with beer gravy and compact turkey dinner. And pie, plenty of pie. 1947 N. Farwell Ave.;

Comet Café; Photo by Quentin Ware-Bey


This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s September issue.

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