Hey y’all! Still talking about an amazing weekend I had with Mr. Houseful this past weekend. The fact that my writing has been reignited because of a much needed vacation, is the icing on the cake. When I get the itch to get away without having to travel for hours upon end, I count on the faithful. Those cities are usually Galena, Il and Milwaukee, Wi. Since the city is so close to Chicago, I figured we’d look for foodie things to do in Milwaukee, and continue to add to the list as we visit.
While we were in Milwaukee, we decided to eat in spots that we wouldn’t normally venture to with our four children – mostly because the tab would be astronomical, and we tend to let the kids eat what they want whenever we go out. We decided that we would explore a little bit, and let Yelp do some of the work.
Full disclosure, I’ve only Yelped twice in my life, and never outside of Chicago, because I usually have an idea of what to do, but Milwaukee was a fresh canvas for us, and we both had ideas of how we wanted to eat. I wanted a brunch spot for Saturday morning, and we ended up eating at The National. I’m glad that we chose that spot, because there were two antique stores within a mile from the restaurant, and I about lost my mind there.
839 W. National Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53204 $$
The National Cafe is located in the heart of Walker’s Point, the National Cafe is a quaint spot. Just south of Downtown, the National offers breakfast from around the globe, and is a delight to read. Instead, I had Tonkotsu ramen, a favorite of mine, but not the best that I’ve had. It wasn’t as thick as I’ve become accustomed to, and didn’t have the depth in flavor that I like, but it was decent. The noodles weren’t housemade either, but had enough chewiness to stand up to the hot broth and not be annoying. The flavors melded well together, I was just hoping for a heavier broth. To be fair, the Tonkotsu that I compare all Tonkotsu against is kind of hard to beat.
Mr. Houseful had the Short Rib and Sweet Potato Hash, and it was delicious! We always try to get different items, and I always attempt to get something with no shellfish in it so he can sample as well. The portion size was just right for us as we enjoyed an Arnold Palmer and Iced Latte with our meals. There is also a self serve water station at the counter so you don’t have to worry about wait staff coming and topping you off every few sips.
The decor is very neat. Small tables that you can face portrait or landscape while you dine, and comfortable chairs. The restaurant only seats 35, so if you do go, be kind and don’t dilly dally while others wait to be seated.
3466 N. 14th St., (414) 265-0155 $$
Barring the fact that they cater exclusively to the Green Bay Packers (we’re staunch Bears fans this way – and yes, we’re aware of their record this year) the Bungalow provides great soul food at a fair price. We found this restaurant on the way back up from an event in Evanston, IL (yes, I worked while on my anniversary trip, but it was for a good reason) because Mr. Houseful wanted soul food. I just wanted something good to eat, and honestly didn’t have high hopes because I consider myself to come from families that can throw down in the kitchen. I was pleasantly surprised and proven wrong. I ordered oxtails, greens, mac and cheese, candied yams, and green beans. Holy cow the oxtails were SO meaty and worth the entire price of the meal alone. Plus they had Pepsi, so that’s a full win in my book. Mr. Houseful ordered smothered chicken, which I didn’t taste but it looked enticing. I loved that there wasn’t an overabundance of salt in our meals, and everything was seasoned just right. The decor is full of Packers memorabilia, but there was one lone photo of Michael Jordan that I felt comfortable sitting under. The restaurant is a legit bungalow, and it feels as if you are going back in time to sit in one of the homes of your grandparents as they sat and made Sunday dinner. No frills, but great food. I also figured that several folks in there at the same time as us were regulars, and that’s always good to see. We arrived just in time too, because orders that came in after us were told that several items were no longer available. That signals smart planning to me, as it was less than an hour to close.
7616 W State St, Wauwatosa, WI 53213 $$$
We trekked over to Wauwatosa, WI for a visit to Ristorante Bartolatta’s for our official anniversary dinner. A couple of years ago, we spotted it on a trip to Pizzeria Piccola during Tosa Fest and knew that we needed to come back when it was just the two of us. We didn’t make reservations (highly recommended that YOU do though) so we snagged two chairs at the bar. I’m kind of glad that we did, and may end up doing that in general. We had Josh serving us that evening, and it was pretty cool to see him whipping up drink orders, while still engaging with the guests at the bar and taking their orders. I had the Grigliata Mista di Mare, which was a seafood medley (I completely disregarded our rule) and Mr. Houseful had the Ravioli di Magro al Burro Nociola Tartufato, which was a great ravioli in truffle butter – the smell alone made me jealous that I wasn’t eating it.
I think that this is a GREAT spot for just couples or friends getting together over a great meal. I’m not sure I would ever bring the littles here. Not because I don’t think that they can handle it or would act out, but it’s more of a restaurant for just adults to be able to breathe a bit. Don’t forget – MAKE RESERVATIONS!
I’m almost embarrassed to say that I have not taken a food tour in any city before. Including my own. I usually depend on word of mouth, or great travel shows that focus on food. Well, I’m here to say that I’m going to change my ways. With Milwaukee Food and City Tours being my first foray into the world of food tours, I was pleasantly surprised. We toured the Historic Third Ward the last time we were here for an anniversary, but not to this extent. First of all, I didn’t realize how extremely walkable the entire area is. It’s a place where you can stay for an entire day, and still not really feel like you got all of the history. We were joined by two other couples, one from Australia, and the other from Milwaukee. The walking tour was a fantastic pace and Marie was great with all of her historical facts, and up to the minute knowledge of restaurants and places to shop. I am looking forward to getting back that way soon so we can try some of the restaurants on the tour in depth. I am kind of giving away the menu in the photos above, but I do want you to know that you will be pleasantly surprised at which restaurant serves what. Wear comfortable shoes, and be ready to learn more about the Historic Third Ward than you thought you ever wanted to.
*We were hosted guests during this tour, and received our tickets in exchange for an honest review.
We stayed at the Holiday Inn Milwaukee Riverfront for our long weekend, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that the Sprecher Brewery was right around the corner from us .We became familiar with the Sprecher brand root beer during my years at Carroll College (now University) and Mr. Houseful has liked it since. So much so that his former boss gave him a case of it when he left his job. It’s serious for him. The tour is $6 for adults and $4 for kids and lasts about half an hour. Our tour guide was a very enthusiastic young man who gave us the historical background on Sprecher, which started as a beer brewery, but started cranking out root beer when non beer drinkers wanted something viable to drink and be able to serve their children. After the tour, you’re able to get samples of tap beer, or root beer and pop (I’m from Chicago) in your souvenir glasses. They were very generous with the servings and I may have indulged a bit too much in the sugary drinks but where else can you kick back root bear, cream soda, and Orange Dream along with several other gourmet sods? The Bavarian beer garden adds a nice touch, and you can take anything home with you from the gift shop. I had my eye on the root beer bbq sauce, but we needed to head home.
Overall, we enjoyed our four day stay in Milwaukee, and while we realize this list isn’t anywhere near exhaustive, we do hope that it provides a starting point for for foodie things to do in Milwaukee. I can’t wait to share another list the next time we visit!