The best places to eat in Milwaukee
December 17, 2014 6:00 PM   Subscribe

I need to get my cousin and his lady a christmas present. They both live in Milwaukee and love food. Where should they eat?

No dietary restrictions. Price isn't a concern.

I'm also very interested in cheaper places with great food. I can send them to multiple spots!

posted by pilibeen to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Based on another askme, we went to The Safe House which was a lot of fun, and good food. Best to leave via the phone booth, bring some quarters.
posted by Sophont at 6:19 PM on December 17, 2014

Whenever I visit my family in Milwaukee, I eat almost all of my meals at Parkside 23 in Brookfield. It's a bit outside the city, but the food is fantastic. Wish I could bring the restaurant back to Boston with me!

The menu at Parkside consists mostly of classic comfort food, done at a gourmet level. They have their own farm outside the restaurant and grow the produce right there. The menu is arranged not in appetizer/entree/dessert sections, but rather by price range, which is a little weird, but don't worry—the setup is designed to make you inclined to mix-and-match dishes, and it works.

During my last visit, I also stopped by Maxie's, a barbecue joint and oyster bar. It knocked my socks off and I can't wait to go back.
posted by The Girl Who Ate Boston at 6:29 PM on December 17, 2014 [1 favorite]

Here are a few of my faves-


Circa 1880


Odd Duck
All Purpose
Wolf Peach
Blue Jacket


Cafe Lulu
Comet Cafe
Centro Cafe

All great places and recommended! It's a good food town :)
posted by theantikitty at 7:09 PM on December 17, 2014 [5 favorites]

Yum Yum, over in Bay View, is nice and cheap and has amazing Middle Eastern food.
posted by Slinga at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2014

Goodkind in Bay View is a new restaurant that I keep hearing (good things) about.
posted by quarterinmyshoe at 7:53 PM on December 17, 2014

What the antikitty said, especially Odd Duck, Wolf Peach, and Hinterland.

Would add Goodkind (just had a good meal there over Thanksgiving) and Bavette La Boucherie to the list.
posted by kathryn at 8:24 PM on December 17, 2014

theantikitty has an excellent list, but I would narrow it.

Sanford, All Purpose, Centro Cafe.

Sanford is by far the best restaurant in town. 5 stars across the board. Service/Class/Food/Wine all unbelievable. $$$$

All Purpose is similar to Wolf Peach, Odd Duck and Blue Jacket which are all fine, but my meal experiences there have been more consistently amazing than the other places which have all had one failing or another over my visits.

Centro Cafe is so great. I don't know why, but it is. It's really simple Italian pasta dishes but executed so sublimely that I've never had a bad meal there. It is easily my favorite place for Italian.

On the cheaper but still good side, Anodyne Coffee in Bay View just added a wood fired pizza oven and it's just incredible. Very casual, counter service, wine and beer available. $8-$13 for a 12" pie. Also the best coffee in the world.
posted by j03 at 9:11 PM on December 17, 2014

I really like La Merenda - it's tapas, so it'd be a great gift as it always feels like an extravagance to go there normally. Also nthing Odd Duck, which is SO YUMMY.
posted by augustimagination at 11:21 PM on December 17, 2014

Also if they're willing to drive a bit (about 20 minutes north), Atlas BBQ up in Grafton is mind-blowingly good. They catered my wedding and we actually got compliments (!) on the food. Their beef brisket literally melts in your mouth and they have fantastic sides as well. It's some of the best barbecue I've had in my life, no joke.
posted by augustimagination at 11:26 PM on December 17, 2014

Two fancy options not mentioned above are Mason Street Grill and Crazy Water, both of which I really like. (Warning: Crazy Water's website features auto-play music. Try not to hold that against them.)

My favorite moderate option not mentioned above is Cafe Benelux. That place has my favorite gourmet burger in the city, which comes complete with an egg that has been fried in duck fat.

My favorite cheap option is Bel Air Cantina, which my friend calls "the hipster taco place." It has various locations, but if they go to the one on Water Street, they should go across the street to Fink's beforehand, where you can get reasonably priced craft cocktails.
posted by crLLC at 7:18 AM on December 18, 2014

Hue, if they like Vietnamese food
Izumi's, if they like sushi
Jing's, if they like Chinese
Eddie Martini's, if they like steak
Pastiche, mentioned above, for fancy French food

There are a bunch of casual-but-good places owned by the same local company, and one gift card will apply to all of them. All of them are good (including the abovementioned Cafe Benelux and Maxie's) but my fave is Trocadero (French themed).
posted by desjardins at 7:38 AM on December 18, 2014

I have to register my disagreement with the suggestion of Safe House - locals don't just pop in there for dinner. That's where you take your out-of-town friends, or you have a drunken going-away party for a coworker.
posted by desjardins at 7:40 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

If money is really, truly no object, the absolute most luxurious place within an hour's drive of Milwaukee is the Immigrant Restaurant at the American Club. This is a wedding-anniversary or I-just-got-a-six-figure-job kind of place, just so you know. It's by far the best meal I've ever had in my life.
posted by desjardins at 7:44 AM on December 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Thanks all! I'm researching all of these options tonight. Just got a gift certificate at Odd Duck which looks perfect. I'm going to choose one more reasonably priced option.
posted by pilibeen at 5:31 PM on December 18, 2014

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