A Taste of Milwaukee's Food Scene

Kristine Hansen takes a bite out of Milwaukee.

By Google Arts & Culture

Estabrook Beer Garden (2018) by Visit MilwaukeeVISIT Milwaukee

While known for artisan cheese and grill-cooked brats, Wisconsin’s largest city is also a hotbed for micro-ethnic cultures’ cuisine along with farm-to-fork fare, paired with Brew City’s namesake beverage, beer.

Custard (2018) by Visit MilwaukeeVISIT Milwaukee

Frozen custard

Whether butter-pecan at the ‘50s-vibe Leon’s Frozen Custard stand or a stop at one of three Kopp’s Frozen Custard locations (check the website for a flavor forecast), frozen custard (crafted from milk, cream and egg yolks) is a year-round treat.

By John DominisLIFE Photo Collection

German cuisine

Milwaukee’s nod to its founding fathers (German immigrants) hasn’t wavered. Score chicken schnitzel on Saturdays at Old German Beer Hall or Rheinischer Sauerbraten (marinated roast beef topped with golden raisins and gingersnap sauce) at Mader’s

Bloody Mary (2018) by Visit MilwaukeeVISIT Milwaukee

Bloody Mary

Milwaukee’s playful twists on a Bloody Mary aren’t shy. At Sobelman’s, a cheeseburger, bacon-wrapped cheese balls or fried chicken (yep, the whole chicken) are skewered and stuck into the drink.

Odd Duck, Milwaukee by Artemio Photo

Farm-to-fork fare

Many eateries follow farm-to-fork code, such as globally inspired tapas at La Merenda (like empanadas stuffed with local mushrooms, wild ramps and green garlic) and Odd Duck (from triple-duck salad to lamb shawarma, nearly everything’s local).

Food Halls

Milwaukee isn’t immune to the food-hall trend although one stand-out is Sherman Phoenix, the site of a bank branch’s fiery demise during the 2016 riots, where vendors are all black-owned. Akin to Seattle’s Pike Place Market, Milwaukee Public Market sells everything from lobster to cheese.

Good City Brewing (2020) by Visit MilwaukeeVISIT Milwaukee

Gastropub fare paired with craft beer

Milwaukee’s welcomed at least 20 craft breweries within the last five years. Sip a sampling of these suds with tasty grub at either of Good City Brewing’s taprooms or the Dutch-inspired Centraal Grand Café & Tappery.

DanDan, Milwaukee by Ursula Fisher

Asian fusion

Owned by two friends named Dan, DanDan (also named for the noodle dish) is Milwaukee’s best example of high-end Asian with just enough fusion, though skewing mostly Sichuan.

At Random Cocktail Bar, Milwaukee

Classic cocktail lounges

Dip back into the 1930s to 1960s via John Dye’s Bryant’s (Milwaukee’s oldest lounge) and At Random where Pink Squirrel orders outpace Pabst. Pair the same vibe with live jazz at Dye’s Jazz Estate.

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Milwaukee-style pizza

Cracker-thin and cut into squares, Milwaukee’s ‘za style has been baked and served at Zaffiro’s on the East Side since 1954, with its gingham-checked tablecloths and wood-paneled walls.

Bratwurst (2017) by Visit MilwaukeeVISIT Milwaukee


Another carryover from German settlers, bratwursts are served in a bun, topped with sauerkraut. Milwaukee Brat House nails the taste with Usinger’s Milwaukee-made brats or, for a more hipster angle, order from the counter at Vanguard.

Original Cream Puffs — Milwaukee, WI

Cream Puffs

Even if it’s not Wisconsin State Fair time (early- to mid-August), Peter Sciortino Bakery bakes its own version: two flaky, buttery pastry shells wedged with fresh whipped cream and sprinkled with powdered sugar.

Chilean Tamales or "Humitas" (2016/2016) by SLC-LVMSmithsonian's National Museum of the American Latino

Mexican food near South Side

In the Latin Quarter, dozens of eateries serve tacos and tamales, including Botanas. El Rey’s churros and lemon-seasoned tortilla chips are an indulgent to-go option from this Hispanic grocery store.

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