From locally made products to restaurants featuring farm-to-fork, slow food or small plates, Milwaukee’s culinary scene brings a delicious blend of flavors to the table and adds a unique flair to the city. The downtown area is home to 150 restaurants, of which over 100 are locally owned and operated. Here’s just a “taste” of what you’ll find!
Embark upon a culinary journey through Milwaukee’s historic neighborhoods on a Milwaukee Food & City Tour. Convention attendees and spouses can visit an Italian grocery and bakery on bohemian Brady Street or explore specialty cheese, sausage and spice shops on Old World Third Street, where Milwaukee’s German heritage thrives.
Ranked by Frommer’s as one of America’s Best Public Markets, the Milwaukee Public Market pays homage to Milwaukee’s original Commission Row in the Historic Third Ward. This indoor market hall features 20 specialty food vendors with a focus on Wisconsin products, the perfect spot for a lunch break.
The New York Times touted the Walker’s Point neighborhood as “the city’s go-to district for innovative artisanal food.” Clock Shadow Creamery, one of the only urban creameries in the country, serves up fresh cheeses, like cheese curds and a European favorite – quark. Unique, hand-crafted ice cream flavors such as strawberry sour cream, goat cheese, green tea and whiskey are on offer at Purple Door Ice Cream. Indulgence Chocolatiers pairs up its meticulously handcrafted creations with beer, wine and champagne at its decadent chocolate bar. And, of course, Milwaukee Brewing Company and Central Standard Craft Distillery share a building and a passion for locally-made libations.
Milwaukee has celebrated its multiple James Beard winners and nominees in recent years, among them Dave Swanson of Braise, Justin Carlisle of Ardent and Justin Aprahamian of Sanford (2014 Best Chef Midwest winner).
Housed in a former corner tavern and bowling alley, Braise made the list of Fodor’s “America’s 10 Best Roof-to-Table Restaurants” in 2014. Chef/Owner Dave Swanson also founded the Braise RSA (Restaurant Supported Agriculture) movement in Milwaukee, involving more than 25 local restaurants and 50 regional farms.
In 1989, the D’Amato family grocery store was transformed into Sanford by former James Beard Best Chef Midwest Sandy D’Amato. D’Amato’s successor, Executive Chef Justin Aprahamian, bought the restaurant and remains committed to serving food made with products at their peak flavor.
Named a semifinalist for James Beard Best New Restaurant (2014) after only being open for four months, Ardent features intimate fine dining inspired by the cooking traditions of the Great Lakes region. Chef and owner Justin Carlisle was a finalist for Best Chef: Midwest (2015). (Those in the know stop by Ardent long after the restaurant has closed on Friday and Saturday for Red Light Ramen, a late night, underground dining experience.)
Authentic French cuisine with a picturesque view of Lake Michigan is on offer at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro. Executive Chef Adam Siegel, James Beard Best Chef Midwest 2008, uses the freshest ingredients and adheres to traditional French cooking styles to create memorable dishes in a French bistro setting.
Chef Matt Baier provides creative inspiration at the award-winning Dream Dance Steak in Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The restaurant offers a variety of delicious steaks and succulent seafoods, along with a selection of more than 600 retail-priced wines to perfectly pair with your meal.
Milwaukee’s German heritage is alive and well at the landmark Mader’s and Kegel's Inn restaurants, both offering discriminating diners the best in authentic German dishes. And “the place” to go for visiting celebrities, athletes and VIPs is Carnevor, serving prime cuts, including a weekly Kobe steak special. Many ingredients are sourced locally from Hidden Creek, the restaurant’s nearby farm.