Your Guide to Milwaukee’s Washington Heights Neighborhood

Seven reasons to visit Washington Heights and its diverse businesses.

WASHINGTON HEIGHTS, a haven of longtime homeowners and young families, is one of few integrated neighborhoods in the city. North and south of the densely packed bungalows and duplexes are North Avenue and Vliet Street, busy strips of businesses that are just as diverse as The Heights itself.

1. Charles E. Fromage

5811 W. VLIET ST. 

A grown-up nod to the family pizza spot and arcade, Charles E. Fromage serves wine, beer and mixed drinks alongside house-made snacks (including cheese and charcuterie boards). Check out Chuck’s tasting events, or book the bistro for a private one.

Rosted nut flight, goat cheese with fig spread and Capalatina at Charles E. Fromage; Photo by Chris Kessler

2. Cold Spoons Gelato

5924 W. VLIET ST. 

Nearby Fred’s Frozen Custard & Grill closes its doors for the winter, but if you’re craving something cold and sweet on Vliet, you’re not out of luck. Cold Spoons, open year-round, serves 24 rotating flavors of homemade, small-batch gelato and sorbetto.

Cold Spoon’s Gelato photo by Laura Dierbeck.


Nominations are open for the 2024 Unity Awards! 

Know an individual or group committed to bridging divides in our community? Nominate them for a Unity Award by Oct. 31.

3. Swoon Trinkets & Doodads

5422 W. VLIET ST. 

Kira Wendel, former owner of The KukaBana Tree consignment shop in Riverwest, now runs this Washington Heights gift shop. With a focus on local makers, Swoon curates artist-made clothes, jewelry, home goods, candles and even toys. The inventory changes regularly, so you’ll want to stop in often.

Photo courtesy of Swoon Trinkets & Doodads

4. Vennture Brew

5519 W. NORTH AVE. 

This friendly, super-chill brewery kicks out some of the best beer in Brew City, but you won’t get big-timed here; Vennture is so in love with the neighborhood that it named its flagship saison The Heights. Vennture also roasts coffee, so it’s up to you whether you want a house-made latte or a lager for your 8 a.m. beverage. 

Photo courtesy of Vennture Brew Co.

Judge Derek Mosley; Photo by Nick Drain

Insider tips

From Derek Mosley, municipal judge, wedding officiant and barbecue namesake

5. Urban Ecology Center

1859 N. 40TH ST. 

It’s not technically in Washington Heights, but Mosley says this naturalist hub in nearby Washington Park is a must-see. You can enjoy the fall foliage, go ice skating or, come spring, even kayak the lagoon.

6. Rooted MKE

5312 W. VLIET ST. 

Mosley’s fond of this BIPOC-owned bookstore, which sells kids’ books and hosts read-alouds, creative classes and academic coaching and support for youth. Families can also read and discuss books at store-sponsored gatherings, which include dinner by a local restaurant or chef of color.  

7. Heaven’s Table BBQ

5507 W. NORTH AVE.   

It doesn’t get much more authentic than this Washington Heights staple, which smokes its own meats every night and morning. “You have to get the Mosley, which is two meats and two sides,” he says. We’ll have the brisket and the pork, Derek!


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

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