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Retro Dining & Drinking in Milwaukee

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Friday, April 01, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Cocktail at Bryant's Cocktail Lounge

Milwaukee is a city that honors its history, so it should come as no surprise that classic favorites like diners, supper clubs and cocktail lounges are still thriving alongside the innovative restaurants that make up the city's new-school dining scene. If you're looking to party like it's 1938 or just want a killer #ThrowbackThursday post, don't miss these retro-fab dining and drinking establishments while you're in town.

Founded in 1942, Miss Katie’s Diner is a 1950s throwback serving up breakfast, lunch and dinner along with a full cocktail menu. Start off your flashback day with their famous corned beef hash for breakfast.

From the relish tray to frosty ice cream drinks, the supper club is a Wisconsin institution that locals have loved since the 1930s. Get a taste of the classic supper club experience at Five O’Clock Steakhouse, serving up supper club staples like the relish tray, fresh salads prepared tableside and, of course, premium steaks since 1946. Travel & Leisure described this steakhouse as a “classic supper club setting with a Mad Men vibe.” Or try Joey Gerard’s, a new restaurant with nostalgic feel. This Hollywood-style supper club brings traditional favorites to modern families, including an impressive menu of ice cream drinks.

If cocktails sound more tempting, don’t miss Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, a local gem open since 1938. A semifinalist for the James Beard Awards’ “Best Bar Program” (2013), Bryant’s repertoire includes over 450 specialty and classic cocktails, but you won’t see any menus in this stylish, intimate lounge. Instead, let one of the knowledgeable bartenders on staff use your preferences and tastes to guide you to the perfect drink. Up on the East Side, drink in vintage style at Vitucci’s. This cocktail lounge has been family-owned for 80 years!

Want to throw it back even farther? Learn more about Milwaukee's old school bar scene - including the oldest tavern in the city (built in 1850!).

 

 
How to Travel Solo in Milwaukee

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
No travel buddy? No problem! More and more travelers are discovering the fun and adventure of traveling solo. It can be intimidating to plan your first unaccompanied trip to a new city, but once you catch the bug it can be hard to find a travel experience that matches the freedom and adventure of going solo! Here are a few tips for what to do alone in Milwaukee.
 
Museums
Museums are the perfect spot to visit as a party of one. How many times have you been entranced by an exhibit or piece of artwork only to be dragged away by an impatient friend (or been the one trying to keep a pokey buddy on the move)? No thanks! When it’s just you, you can enjoy at your own pace. The Milwaukee Art Museum recently completed a full renovation of their galleries and nearly doubled the number of works on view (and added a coffee shop and wine bar – the perfect spot for a little solo chill time!). At the Milwaukee Public Museum, local favorite exhibit “The Streets of Old Milwaukee” is newly updated for a more immersive look into Milwaukee’s past; pop your headphones on and check out the Streets of Old Milwaukee app for ever-changing stories from turn-of-the-century Milwaukeeans.
 
Outdoors
Communing with nature is the perfect one-on-one activity: just you and the great outdoors. And Milwaukee’s urban outdoors are pretty darn great – with Lake Michigan, three rivers, more than 150 state and county parks and more than 130 miles of bike trails, there’s an option for everyone. Rent a kayak to explore Milwaukee’s waterways, hop on a bike (if you didn’t bring one, check out Bublr Bikes, the city’s bikeshare system) or just take a stroll. Designed by Frederick Law Olmstead (of Central Park fame), Lake Park is a local favorite spot for nature lovers and photographers thanks to waterfalls, stunning stone bridges and historic Northpoint Lighthouse. 
 
Dining
Eating out is often the most intimidating part of a solo trip, but it doesn’t have to be! If you’re shy about being alone at a sit-down restaurant, cafes and counter service restaurants are great options. Colectivo Coffee has been handmade in Milwaukee since 1993, and no one will look twice if you’re sitting along with a book or laptop at one of their thirteen local cafes enjoying a cup of coffee, soup, sandwiches or baked goods locally baked at their Troubadour Bakery in Bay View. During the summer, sidle up to a food truck for a delicious meal on the go to be enjoyed in any local park (tip: check Twitter to find out local truck schedules…they tend to travel in packs!). Or get a little braver: many popular local restaurants serve a full menu at the bar (and at some, that’s the only place to get a seat without a reservation!), so belly up for great farm-to-table eats at places like Braise and Wolf Peach, or retro-style counters at Comet Café and Miss Katie’s Diner.
 
Nightlife
If you’re the artsy type, use your solo status to your advantage to pick up some last-minute show tickets; pairs and groups are out of luck when it comes to snagging that one awesome seat that’s left! Milwaukee’s arts and theater scene boasts a Grammy-winning opera company, a world-class symphony, a nationally-acclaimed ballet company and an array of professional dance and theater companies performing at venues all across the metro area. Or if you’re more interested in trying some of Milwaukee’s local libations, a craft cocktail bar is the perfect place for a solo traveler. Like-minded patrons and knowledgeable bartenders make great company. Try Distil, Milwaukee’s House of Bourbon, for carefully crafted cocktails and an impressive spirits list. Or visit the tasting room of Great Lakes Distillery and Central Standard Craft Distillery, where you’ll sip on cocktails made with liquors distilled on-site.
 
What's your favorite solo hangout in Milwaukee?

 

 
A Beginner’s Guide to Cheese Curds

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Monday, February 22, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
 
If you’ve never been to Milwaukee, you may not know what to expect when you see “cheese curds” on the menu at the local watering hole. If you don’t know, you don’t know what you’re missing – and that simply will not do. This quick crash course in the quintessential Milwaukee bar food will have you confidently ordering a basket of curds next time you find yourself in Milwaukee craving something cheesy, gooey, salty and oh-so delicious.
 
What is a cheese curd anyway?
A cheese curd is a small, fresh, springy piece of cheese. During the cheese-making process, the curds are separate from the whey – these bits of cheese can be pressed into a nice block of cheddar or eaten as-is. Cheese curds are mild and slightly salty, and you can tell they’re fresh when they squeak between your teeth!
 
They actually squeak?
Sure do!
 
Okay…so I’m supposed to eat them raw?
Not necessarily! A squeaky cheese curd is a thing of beauty, but we all know there’s one surefire way to make anything better: deep fry it! Battered and fried cheese curds are a staple of bars, festivals, fairs and pretty much everywhere else in Milwaukee. They’re popularly dipped in ranch, marinara, ketchup…the possibilities are endless!
 
Sounds great! Where can I get a basket of these?
Where can’t you get cheese curds in Milwaukee is probably a better question! (Pro tip: museums generally don't have any.) You’ll find curds on the appetizer menu at many local bars and restaurants, but here are a few recommendations for great places to try this local classic:
  • Clock Shadow Creamery: Get it straight from the source for the ultimate in squeaky cheese. If you want to take a tour, try to come on Wednesday or Friday morning…that’s when they make the curds!
  • Wisconsin Cheese Mart: Order some fried curds for here at the on-site Uber Tap Room, then pick up a few packages to take home with you.
  • Jackson’s Blue Ribbon Pub: These traditional fried curds (pictured above) are a great introduction to what drives locals crazy for curds.
  • Lakefront Brewery: Served in the brewery's German-style beer hall, these curds are dipped in a beer batter from Lakefront’s own Eastside Dark, a Bavarian dark lager.
  • Dream Dance Steak: Try this upscale take on the classic curd with “cheese curd fritters” topped with tomato jam.
  • The Iron Horse Hotel: Unique tempura-battered curds are on the menu at this boutique hotel's on-site restaurants, Smyth and Branded.
Help us out, locals -- who serves up your favorite cheese curds?
 

 

 
Offbeat Date Ideas

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Monday, February 08, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Laser tag at Bounce Milwaukee

You aren’t the white tablecloth and candlesticks type. You’ve sent (or received) enough red roses to do your own American Beauty impression. You’ve eaten enough chocolates that you’re starting to feel like Augustus Gloop. Whatever the reason, you just aren’t feeling the tried-and-true options to say “I love you” anymore (if you ever were in the first place) – and that’s fine! Why not try one of these offbeat Milwaukee date ideas instead?

  • Relive your childhood with laser tag, inflatables, vintage arcade games (all on free play!), a rock climbing wall and more at Bounce Milwaukee. Best of all, Bounce becomes a 21+ adults-only playground on Friday and Saturday nights (and yes, they have a bar).
  • Romantic dinner? It’s been done. Progressive dinner? New and exciting! Instead of picking one spot for your date night, pick three. Start off with drinks and apps, head to a second location for your main course and finish off the night with dessert. This way you can assemble the ultimate dining experience. (Not sure where to start? Click here for some dining ideas and inspiration!)
  • This museum scavenger hunt was originally intended for families, but why not see if you and your partner can tackle it all? Milwaukee’s museums are fun for all ages, so get out there and start exploring.
  • No longer consigned to the basement, play some ping pong at Evolution Milwaukee. Unlike that underground rec room, this high-energy spot has a full bar, food and there’s no need to chase after rogue balls – a staff member will scoop them up and refill your bucket when necessary. Ping pong upgraded.
  • A date at a brewery doesn’t really seem “offbeat” to most Milwaukee residents, so take it from the locals – a brewery or distillery tour is way more fun than just grabbing a drink, and you might even learn something too.
Forget the diamonds and have a fun, creative date night in Milwaukee. (Looking for some more traditional romantic ideas? We’ve got those too!)

 

 
How to make a Milwaukee Bloody Mary

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Monday, January 25, 2016

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee
Over the top Bloody Mary from Sobelman's Pub & Grill
 
The Bloody Mary is no joke in Milwaukee. A limp stick of celery as a garnish? Not here. This iconic brunch beverage is turned up to eleven at Milwaukee eateries, topped with everything from mini-burgers to bacon, lobster claws to sushi rolls and everything in between. 
 
Sobelman’s Pub and Grill is famous for their over-the-top Bloody Marys (including the Chicken Fried Bloody Beast pictured above)…learn how to make a classic Sobelman’s Bloody in this video:
 
 
Don’t stop your exploration of Milwaukee’s over-the-top Blood Mary scene here! You can take a walking tour of the Third Ward’s best Bloodys with Milwaukee Food Tours, or check out some of the inventive Bloody Marys at these brunch spots on your own – don’t forget to order a “beer back,” a miniature beer to sip alongside your Bloody.
 
  • Asian ingredients like soy sauce and sake flavor the drinks at Screaming Tuna  – some even come topped with a sushi roll.
  • Home of a famous lobster dinner special, you can still get a lobster claw poking out of your Bloody when you brunch at St. Paul Fish Company in the Milwaukee Public Market.
  • At AJ Bomber’s, your Bloody Mary is basically a burger in a glass, with mustard and “Bomber” sauce in the mix and muenster cheese wrapped in a thin burger patty (and some bacon) to top it off.
  • Try County Clare for some Irish flair – the garnish on this drink includes a house-pickled red potato!
  • Looking for bold flavor? Smyth at the Iron Horse Hotel makes a powerful Bloody featuring horseradish, steak sauce and Guinness.
  • The Lowlands Group is famous for inventive Bloody Marys; you’ll find a variety of exclusive options on the menu at each of their five European-inspired Grand Cafes.
  • Smoke Shack’s signature Bloody Jack is made with Jack Daniels instead of vodka and spiced with barbeque sauce.
  • At the Wicked Hop, your drink comes crowned with a distinctive wreath of mozzarella whips.
The list goes on and on…who serves your favorite Milwaukee Bloody Mary?

 

 
How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

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Happy New Year! With the year properly underway, now’s the time to take stock: how well are you doing on your resolutions? It’s easy to make a vacation an excuse to indulge in things you wouldn’t at home (and we totally support that!), but you don’t have to forget about your resolutions while you’re traveling. Whatever pledge you made to yourself as 2016 dawned, we rounded up a few ways to help you stick to the most common options while in Milwaukee.
 
Get Active
There’s no reason to skip an outdoor adventure just because of a little chill in the air! Milwaukee was named one of USA Today’s top destinations for urban cross-country skiing, and our award-winning county parks are great for running, walking and biking all year round (I’d maybe leave the rollerblades at home until the ice melts, though.) Plus, Bublr Bikes, Milwaukee’s bike share system, is staying open all through the winter. With a network of more than 20 stations throughout downtown, why not hop on a bike next time you need to get from point A to point B? If outdoors in the winter really isn’t your style, burn some calories inside with a visit to CMP Tactical Lazer Tag, where a multistory cityscape arena takes you inside the heart-pounding action of your favorite video games, or family-friendly Bounce Milwaukee, home to laser tag, inflatable obstacle courses and a rock climbing wall – all open to both kids and adults!
 
Eat Healthier
Sure, Milwaukee may be known for some of our…more indulgent dining options, but there are plenty of great spots that won’t break your resolve. Located right downtown, Colour Palate lets you build your own custom salad or wrap, or pick from menu options like a classic Caesar, quinoa & corn or the Bombay chop. With four locations throughout the area, Outpost Natural Foods Cooperative is a great place for a healthy meal wherever you are. A full-service grocery store specializing in local, organic and natural foods, Outpost also has an in-store café with made-to-order juices and smoothies and an organic soup and salad bar. The Milwaukee Public Market is a must-visit spot; there’s a wealth of delicious vendors inside, but health nuts will make a beeline for the fresh juices, smoothies, salads and sandwiches at The Green Kitchen.
 
Learn Something New
You promised yourself you’d pick up some fresh knowledge in the new year – commendable! A brewery tour is classic Milwaukee fun that’s educational too; check out the high-speed production lines of an industry giant on the free tour at MillerCoors, or get a taste (literally) of craft brews at local microbreweries like Lakefront Brewery, Milwaukee Brewing Company and Sprecher Brewing Company. For a more hands-on approach, why not try a cooking class? Head into the kitchen with Chef Michael Feker at his culinary studio, get some training at Braise Culinary School or stop by Superior Equipment & Supply for classes for all ages.
 
Travel More
Hey, this one is a no-brainer: come to Milwaukee! We’ve been named one of the hotspots to visit in 2016 in The Boston Globe, so what are you waiting for? Check out our itineraries for tons of vacation inspiration for foodies, families, beer connoisseurs, couples and more to jumpstart your planning. See you in 2016!
 

 

 
Shopping the Pfister Holiday Marketplace

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Monday, December 14, 2015

By Katy Deardorff
Communications Manager
VISIT Milwaukee

Shopping at the Pfister Holiday Marketplace

The Pfister Hotel is stepping up its holiday game this year with the addition of its first ever holiday market. The Pfister Holiday Marketplace, which is located on the first floor of the hotel, will be open through Dec. 24, 2015 – just in time for you to pick up some last minute gifts.

As I am in need of some local, handcrafted Christmas gifts, I skipped down Wisconsin Avenue to check it out last week. It turns out that the Pfister Holiday Marketplace has the perfect gift for everyone in my life. Here are my top choices:

For my botanical friends:

Planters at the Pfister Holiday Marketplace.

For my MKE downtown dwellers:

Map print at Pfister Holiday Market

For my bird lovers/travel enthusiasts – because if I can’t buy my own airstream, then at the very least, my finches should have one:

Airstream trailer birdhouse at Pfister Holiday Marketplace

For my many dinosaur enthusiasts:

Painted creatures at Pfister Holiday Marketplace

To check out all of the amazing handcrafted gifts by local artists, make sure to check out the Pfister Holiday Marketplace before it’s too late! Do note that the market is not open all of the time, so check your watch before heading over on a lunch break.

From Nov. 28 – Dec. 21
Thursdays – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Fridays – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays – 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Sundays  – 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Christmas Week Hours
Tuesday, Dec. 22 & Wednesday, Dec. 23 – 3:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Thursday, Dec. 24 – Christmas Eve / Final Day –10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Happy gifting!
Katy

 

 
Milwaukee Holiday Round-up

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Tuesday, December 08, 2015

By Jennifer Posh
Content & Copywriting Specialist
VISIT Milwaukee

Milwaukee's Old-School Bar Scene

‘Tis the season for holiday fun! If you’re in Milwaukee this December, there are so many options for making your spirits jolly, whether you’re in the mood for a classic holiday show, something new and a little snarky or getting outside to enjoy the winter air! We’ve rounded up 20 great ways to celebrate the holidays in Milwaukee this month – how many will you do?
 
  1. Take in the Holiday Lights Festival with a ride on the Jingle Bus or on a walking tour led by your very own holiday elf!  
  2. Taste the treats on a holiday food tour
  3. See a holiday show like the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s A Christmas Carol (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year!)
  4. Or Black Nativity
  5. Or The Nutcracker
  6. Or Second City’s Holidazed and Confused Revue
  7. Or A Wonderful Life: The Musical
  8. Or A Charlie Brown Christmas
  9. Or A Twisted Carol
  10. Or An L.M. Montgomery Christmas
  11. Or Christmas in the Basilica
  12. Or Darlene Love: Love for the Holidays
  13. Go ice skating in the heart of downtown at Slice of Ice in Red Arrow Park
  14. Experience a Victorian Christmas at the Pabst Mansion, halls thoroughly decked for the season
  15. Go even further back to Wisconsin’s immigrant past for an Old World Christmas at Old World Wisconsin
  16. Dine with Charles Dickens at the Dickens Dinner at the Grain Exchange
  17. Visit the Kooky Cooky House, a Milwaukee holiday tradition reborn at Discovery World
  18. Enjoy a stunning light display in the Miller Valley at MillerCoors Holiday Lites
  19. Take a drive through Wisconsin’s largest outdoor drive-through display, Country Christmas
  20. Ring in the New Year with The Crystal Method at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
Still craving holiday cheer? Find more events on Milwaukee365.com!

 

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