Your Guide to Good Eats During the Milwaukee Film Festival

Because we love dinner and a movie.

SO YOU’RE PLANNING to visit Milwaukee Film Fest 2023. Your next thought should be, “Where am I going to eat around there?” Because you should eat around there. I’ve got some suggestions around the Oriental Theatre – five, to be exact. And the beauty of it is if you’re heading to a film before or after, you only need to park once.

1. Crossroads Collective Food Hall


Located on the corner next to the Oriental Theatre, the micro food hall is kind of a no-brainer. The counter-service makes it easier to get in and out quickly. As far as vendors, they’re known for the pasta place Egg & Flour. But think about giving one of their newer tenants – Dia Bom – a shot. Its focus is Latin-Asian fusion, with creations like chicken yakitori, Korean shortrib bowl and rice seasoned with togarashi spice. They’re in the process of filling some vacant spots in the hall, with a new concept, Nute’s Café, opening on April 20. The Nute’s menu includes bowls, sandwiches, smoothies and rotating soups. And if you’re up for trying something new, Crossroads is hosting a series of short-term pop-ups. The first vendor is there right now: Tots on the Street. (Stuffed tater tots!) The pop-up runs through April 29.


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2. Hacienda Taproom & Kitchen

2018 E. NORTH AVE. 

Last year, this joint underwent management and menu changes – noticeable changes that brought the menu quality up as well. They’re smoking a lot of stuff over there – brisket, chicken wings, salmon. And listen up, they’re doing house-cured pork belly tacos, chicken fried steak sammies and a green chile burgers. Wednesday night, they’ve got smoked chicken nachos and Friday, it’s a fish fry of fish in a Hacienda Beer batter.

Photo by Jacquelyn Carter

3. Beans & Barley

1901 E. NORTH AVE.

An institution for veggie-based fare. I don’t eat quesadillas often at all, but that’s one of the things I like on their menu. It makes sense, honestly, because they’re known for their burritos. But you can get salads and soups, hot and cold sandwiches, stir-fry and quiche, and entrées that change weekly. 

4. Tavolino


This is more of a meal kind of place, with table service, so you really need at least an hour. And I’d recommend a reservation. The pastas are what you should go for here – including a very spring-like sweet potato-ricotta gnudi with mint.

Tavolino; Photo courtesy of Tavolino

5. Kawa Ramen & Sushi

2321 N. MURRAY AVE. 

While ramen seems like more of a fall-winter thing, given this weather, I can easily rec a bowl of hot, rich ramen. Kawa does a nice job with this Japanese soup. Try the tonkotsu (pork broth), if you haven’t, or switch it up entirely and get sushi. I can always justify some fatty tuna.

Fan the Flame roll; Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.



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.