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Eating your way through Milwaukee

Milwaukee may be renowned for beer, bratwurst and hogs (Harley’s, that is), but while its Bavarian and blue collar roots still lend distinctive flavor, the city today is a cosmopolitan destination with much to be savored.

Downtown redevelopment, the addition of the stunning Milwaukee Art Museum and the Milwaukee Public Market have injected excitement and nurtured a dynamic dining scene that serves up the best of the old and new worlds.

Restaurants:

Dream Dance 414-847-7997, www.paysbig.com/dining/dreamdance.htm
Situated within the Potawatomi Bingo Casino in an industrial neighborhood, Dream Dance overcomes its location. Chef Jason Gorman plays to the area’s ethnic roots while tapping top-notch local foodstuffs. Signatures include Lobsterwurst, a spin on Milwaukee’s beloved bratwurst, served with mascarpone pierogi and vanilla butter sauce.  All 800 wines are offered at retail prices.

Butch’s Old Casino Steakhouse 414-271-8111, www.butchssteakhouse.com
Butch’s blends 1970s ambiance with big, beautiful steaks pan-fried to perfection in cast-iron skillets by chef-owner Bruce Schettle. This is Wisconsin supper club cuisine at its best.

Roots Restaurant & Cellar 414-374-8480, www.rootsmilwaukee.com
Organic and sustainable are watchwords for co-owners Joe Schmidt, an organic farmer, and chef John Raymond. Menus change often and recently included a “Pork Tasting” of grilled steak, white bean and belly cassoulet and charred ribs.

Kopp’s Frozen Custard 414-282-4312, www.kopps.com
Launched in 1950, Kopp’s claims to be the first custard stand to offer flavors of the day. Recent renditions included Pomegranate, Macadamia and German Apple Strudel.

Bartolotta Restaurants 414-258-7885, www.bartolottas.com
You can’t go wrong with any restaurant owned by Joe and Paul Bartolotta. Ristorante Bartolotta is hailed as the city’s premier Italian. 

The classics

Karl Ratzsch’s 414-276-2720, www.karlratzschs.com
Old World traditions like wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten and strudel star in this downtown landmark. On Fridays, go for the beer-battered haddock with homemade potato pancakes or German potato salad.

The Three Brothers 414-276-2720
Cozy and decidedly downscale, locals flock here for big, steaming portions of Serbian comfort foods. Third-generation owners Branko and Patricia Radicevic serve up stuffed veal, roast suckling pig, Hungarian goulash and Serbian beef sausage. Burek, three-inch high phyllo pastry with cheese, spinach or ground beef, is a specialty.

Weissgerber’s Gasthaus 262-544-4460, www.weissgerbers.com
Charming German country inn and biergarten touting a schnitzel menu—Wiener Schnitzle, Jäger Schnitzel, Pheasant Schnitzel, Emmentaler Schnitzel and “Schnitzel a la Holstein,” topped with fried egg, anchovy, sardine, capers and caviar.

Foodstuffs

Milwaukee Public Market 414-336-1111, www.milwaukee-publicmarket.org
Located in the historic Third Ward, this new addition to downtown features more than 20 vendors selling fresh-cut meats, sausages, artisan breads and cheeses, fresh fish, ethnic specialties, fine coffees, wines and freshly prepared foods.

Alterra Coffee Roasters 414-273-3747, www.alterracoffee.com
The hometown king of “strong, high-quality coffee.”

Usinger's Sausage Shop 800-558-9998, www.usinger.com
Usinger's on the Milwaukee River is where you go for fresh bratwurst and more than 70 varieties of Old World sausages.

Peter Sciortino’s Bakery 414-272-4623, www.petersciortinosbakery.com
Italian breads and pastries—especially cannoli and sfogliatelle—plus 30 varieties of Italian cookies headline at this 60-year-old bakery, now owned by siblings Joe, Maria and Luigi Vella.

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