Going Out to the Ball Game . . . in Milwaukee
May 14, 2014 5:21 PM   Subscribe

So, in a few weeks we are flying from Seattle to Chicago, then driving to Milwaukee, to attend a ball game with friends at the Brewers ball park. We've never been to Milwaukee. It's a short trip -- just for the weekend. Any suggestions from the Hive Mind on where to stay and eat and what to do besides going to our scheduled game?
posted by bearwife to Travel & Transportation around Milwaukee, WI (24 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: The Milwaukee Art Museum is exceptionally cool both inside and out.

Mader's is famous for its authentic German food and I have family members who vouch for it. It wasn't so much my thing but that's only because it was German food, not because it wasn't good German food.

If you've got a car, Parkside 23 isn't a long drive from the city. On my last visit we went twice with family members, and it was everyone's favorite restaurant. We'll be back in Milwaukee next month and it's the one place we're guaranteed to return.
posted by cribcage at 5:34 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Eddie Martini's is a cool, old-fashioned steakhouse, if you like that sort of thing. Not unique to Milwaukee, but unusual enough that Mr. DrGail and I drive up there from Chicago occasionally. The Historic Third Ward has interesting shops, restaurants/bars, and galleries. Many of the repurposed industrial buildings are truly beautiful. I'm sorry I can't help you with places to stay; we always make day trips.
posted by DrGail at 5:36 PM on May 14, 2014

If you're into touristy crap, the Safe House is always fun.

The art museum is surprisingly great, both on its own and in its exhibitions.

The Brewers game will be pretty fun. It's definitely a great place to be; I don't even like baseball that much, but I like going to Miller Park. Make sure you have time to tailgate, and then take some time to wander all over the stadium. There are so many different areas, and they have a ton of different eating and drinking options.
posted by Madamina at 5:38 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The kids and I just took in a game at Miller Park last weekend -- it's become one of my favorite places to see a ballgame!

The ballpark is out on the western rim of the city, very close to the Milwaukee County Zoo, if you like zoos. Another cool attraction is American Science and Surplus, a really weird scientific surplus and general strangeness store.

But are you asking for things in the area of the ballpark, or general Milwaukee recommendations? If the latter, the terrific art museum, of course; not just an iconic building but great, too-seldom visited collections of German expressionism and American folk art. And there are lots of threads with other general city recs.
posted by escabeche at 5:39 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you like beer, Lakefront Brewery has great tours and good beer. I also like Safe House :x

The Milwaukee Art Museum is great. I also have a soft spot for the Milwaukee Public Museum - the butterflies and Streets of Old Milwaukee are great, and I think they have Body Worlds right now, which is awesome.

I've never stayed anywhere noteworthy in Milwaukee (Courtyard Inn, Hilton Garden Inn, both fine) but friends stayed at The Ironhorse and liked it.

If you'll be there during Summerfest (late June-early July) you should definitely go.
posted by goodbyewaffles at 5:40 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: General Milwaukee suggestions is what we have in mind. Thanks everyone, appreciate all the suggestions so far.
posted by bearwife at 6:04 PM on May 14, 2014

What's your budget for accommodations?
posted by mr_roboto at 6:14 PM on May 14, 2014

Best answer: Oh man, I love Milwaukee (and I was a Minnesotan, so that's saying a lot!)

Nthing the Lakefront brewery tour - $7 for at least 4 beers and a pint glass - and the art museum, if only to watch its wings open and/or close. Just north of the art museum is a great neighborhood full of Frank Lloyd Wrightish houses that's lovely to cruise/stroll around. Also near the museum on the lakefront is an extremely scenic franchise of the local Alterra coffee shop (apparently now renamed "Colectivo"). It's in an old pumping station and is really cool. Lakefront Brewery is also in/near the Riverwest neighborhood - sort of studenty/hipstery.

If you like nature and the future of the past, allow me to recommend THE DOMES.

A bunch of neat hip shops and restaurants (oh my god, Honey Pie) are on Kinnickinnick Ave. in BayView, so that's a good place to take a little walk and nosh.

Eat: Crazy Water, hinterland, lake park bistro, coquette cafe, and wolf peach are all terrific. For a true Milwaukee experience, though, the Serbian restaurant Three Brothers is the way to go.

Downtown, the Milwaukee Public Market is pretty much a standard 21st century urban marketplace of mediocre sandwiches, delicious juices and cheese shops, but it does have an awesome outpost of the Spice House, which is the o.g. version of Penzey's Spices, and also run by members of the Penzey family.

If you have some extra time at night, is there a show at the Pabst Theatre? Or better yet at the Pabst-run Turner Hall Ballroom? That place is amazing. Also, ice cream/tiki drinks at At Random or Bryant's (like 3 Brothers and to a certain extent the Domes, sort of Places that Time Forgot).

Also, I assume you'll be watching Major League before you go? (Yes, yes, set in Cleveland, but more importantly filmed in Milwaukee and featuring Bob Uecker!)
posted by kickingthecrap at 6:19 PM on May 14, 2014 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You should stay at the County Clare Inn. It's charming, reasonable, and comes with a free beer.
posted by hydrophonic at 7:16 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: We aren't looking for the Ritz but we can get spendy for a cool place to stay.
posted by bearwife at 7:21 PM on May 14, 2014

Seconding Lakefront. The tour is a couple of bucks but you get quite a few drinks and a free pint glass, if you're into that sort of thing.

The Miller/Coors tour is also sort of fun in a very different way, but probably not worth it if you're just there for the weekend.
posted by rossination at 7:48 PM on May 14, 2014

Best answer: Uh, gosh, a lot of the hotel recs downtown seem okay, but I think when a relative visited here for a job interview they put him up in the Metro, which is boutique - but we're in Milwaukee, not NYC, so may not be ridiculously expensive.

For restaurant ideas, there's Blue's Egg (brunch-y), Comet Cafe, Wolf Peach, Chez Jacques, c.1880. My new small favorite restaurant is probably the Love Handle. If you want specific ethnic foods or have other needs (gluten-free, vegan, etc), just ask.

Drink some Colectivo coffee, especially at the Lakefront, and drive up Lincoln Memorial drive to see the lake and look at the beer mansions.

Hope that helps!
posted by vetala at 8:20 PM on May 14, 2014

Response by poster: I love ethnic and vegetarian food. I eat fish and dairy but not meat.
posted by bearwife at 11:52 PM on May 14, 2014 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ethnic - well, I personally like Blue Star Cafe (Somali) although it's totally hole-in-the-wall in all the best ways, as is Anmol (Pakistani/Indian). EE Sane is Thai/Laotian. Chez Jacques, linked above, is French, including crepes and so on, and Le Reve is a French bistro, and someone else already linked Mader's for German food. You can get Banh mi in Pacific Produce. Cempazuchi is Mexican/Central American; you can also get more specific Central American cuisines south of the freeway but that's not necessarily a particularly tourist-friendly part of town. Glorioso's Italian Deli and Peter Sciortino's Bakery are two places on Brady Street to get your Italian bakery and deli needs filled, including Italian cookies and pastries. Beans & Barley and the Hotch Spot seem to get good reviews from vegetarians, as does the above-mentioned Wolf Peach.

You're from Seattle, so I wouldn't presume to compare when it comes to ocean fish, but Milwaukee seems to have this big thing about oysters and oyster bars. Don't know why. So I have had good luck when I am in the mood for oysters. Also, of course, freshwater fish.

I also forgot to mention Hinterland Gastropub earlier.

if you want to buy cheese, which is not an unreasonable impulse buy in our fine state, Wisconsin Cheese Mart isn't bad, and neither is the West Allis Cheese Mart in the Milwaukee Public Market.
posted by vetala at 12:36 AM on May 15, 2014

I left Milwaukee 1990 and tend to return every 3-5 years for a couple days. There's only one must-do on my list and it's a cheeseburger with ketchup, mustard and fried onions with a frozen custard at Kopps.
posted by klarck at 4:37 AM on May 15, 2014

The Lakefront Brewery tour is a good choice. If this is something you'd like to do, I think it's best to buy tickets online ahead of time. I've been told the tours fill up fast.
posted by crLLC at 7:07 AM on May 15, 2014

If other people in your group eat meat, stop by the new stadium location of AJ Bombers during the game. Bombers is widely considered to be home of Milwaukee's best burger1. Get their peanut-butter covered Barrie Burger, which tastes so much better than it sounds.

If no one eats meat, maybe stop by anyway and grab some poutine. It's all tasty.

1If you search online for "Milwaukee's Best Burger" you'll find a place called Sobelman's. This is incorrect and happens only due to their cranky SEO and social media team. Not only did they lose Food Wars, but Oscar Castaneda doesn't work there any more. He opened up a place called Oscar’s Pub & Grill2 in 2011. That's the place to go if you want the direct successor to the stuff Sobelman's is selling these days3.

2Don't confuse Oscar's located on Pierce with Oscar's Custard. Oscar's Custard is good, but go there for the custard, not the burgers.

3They do, however, have quite the Bloody Mary.

I might be a little too invested in this.

posted by Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drug at 7:11 AM on May 15, 2014 [3 favorites]

Best answer: People have already covered most of what I would suggest (I've been on a lot of brewery tours and Lakefront's is the best hands down) but I do have one tip on accommodations. Priceline's name your own price system can be hit and miss in a lot of places, but in Milwaukee there's a guaranteed way to get a good hotel at a decent discount. For name your own price if you select Milwaukee Downtown and 3.5 stars, you will always get the Hilton Milwaukee City Center hotel because that's the only one at that star level. The exact price will vary based on timing and full the hotel is, but I've booked for $50/night before. Also it's easy to try again several times if your first bid is rejected, because there are a lot of other regions in the Milwaukee area that do not have 3.5 or higher choices that you can add to get more bids.
posted by burnmp3s at 8:02 AM on May 15, 2014

Response by poster: So many helpful answers! Thanks all.
posted by bearwife at 9:54 AM on May 15, 2014

If the weather's nice, the Lakefront location of Colectivo Coffee is a beautiful location to people-watch and squirrel-watch. It's in a renovated pumphouse and is just a really neat building with great atmosphere.

Someone else already mentioned Comet Cafe, which is my favorite, although it can get insanely busy during weekend brunch times. Honey Pie Cafe is part of the same restaurant group, and in my experience tends to have shorter wait times while having similarly delicious food. Riviera Maya is another favorite of mine - they have a great selection of mole sauces, the prices are really reasonable, and their soup is super tasty!

This next recommendation's a little farther out of Milwaukee - Atlas BBQ up in Grafton (about a 30-min drive north on I-43) has the most amazing melt-in-your-mouth beef brisket I've ever tasted, along with some amazing mac & cheese and really fresh, crisp coleslaw. Closer in to the city there's also Ashley's Que, which is the sit-down restaurant partner of the take-out Ashley's Bar-B-Que. Ashley's is the first place I ever tried fried okra and I totally love theirs.

Anyway, can you tell I love my city's food? Hope your trip is fantastic, and I'd love to read a reply about where you went and what you thought!
posted by augustimagination at 11:32 AM on May 15, 2014

Vegetarian friendly, yet still Milwaukee: Beans and Barley Market, deli, and restaurant. My dad lives in Milwaukee in walking distance to this place, and we always eat here when I visit. It's outstanding, both the restaurant and the little store attached to it.

If you need some more extensive food options, there's a Whole Foods down the block. If you go there, they have a HUGE selection of high quality cheeses from Wisconsin.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:18 PM on May 15, 2014

Also - one can get vegetarian fake bratwurst. No idea who it actually tasts, but it does exist.
posted by spinifex23 at 6:20 PM on May 15, 2014

I'd second Kopp's and add Gilles' too. Frozen custard (and related custard stand treats) are a Milwaukee institution. Get a frozen custard shake or hot fudge sundae with actual hot fudge. Also second Mader's and add Ratzsch's for hearty German dinners (though not sure how you would fare as a non-meat-eater). Milwaukeeans are usually partial to one custard stand, and swear by either Maders' or Ratzsch's. They are all good.

When I visit, I try to do the art museum, and if there are kids involved, the Public Museum (of Natural History). During the summer, the lakefront has all kinds of things to offer.

I hit up Benji's, the jewish deli on the East Side. The brisket probably wouldn't interest you, but the bagel with lox is an excellent version. Over on the west side, in Wauwatosa village is Niemann's Candy store, where they still hand-make old-fashioned chocolates (e.g., toffees and angel food), and have amazing homemade ice cream (rocky road!).

Maybe not a great suggestion for a vegetarian, but Usinger's sausage shop on Old World Third Street is a piece of Milwaukee history. Worth it to go in the shop just to see the 19th C mural or wurst-making elves on the wall.

And no visit to Milwaukee is complete without attending a Friday night fish fry. Find any local corner tavern for your Friday night fish fry, or go to the Serb Hall for the grand-daddy of fish fries.

More listings here.
posted by amusebuche at 6:20 PM on May 17, 2014

Response by poster: Don't know if anyone is still tracking this thread, but I just wanted to say that we just returned from our Milwaukee trip (which turned out to be my birthday present! So cool!) and it was FABULOUS, thanks largely to everyone's wonderful suggestions. Thanks so much!
posted by bearwife at 11:16 AM on June 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

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