Best Of Milwaukee 2021 Winners: Dining Out

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Best of Milwaukee 2021

Dining Out

African Restaurant

Ethiopian Cottage Restaurant
1824 N. Farwell Ave.
ethiopiancottagerest.com

The restaurant's name refers to the traditional dwellings of Ethiopia, where the delicious stews redolent of Africa and the Near East were prepared over open fires and arrayed on a crepe-like sourdough called injera. The hearty tradition is kept alive at Ethiopian Cottage, which features an assortment of meat and vegetarian options plus Ethiopian beer, coffee, tea and honey wine. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Alem Ethiopian Village
Blue Star Cafe
Immy's African Cuisine

Bar Food

Camino
434 S. 2nd St.
7211 W Greenfield Ave.
CaminoMKE.com

Located in Walker’s Point, Camino combines the charm of a dive bar with the food of a top-notch eatery. A craft beer pairs well with plenty of deep-fried options, as well as an array of pierogis, wings and sandwiches. A quick bite to go with your drink or a full meal are available here, and all of their specialties are done very well. (Allen Halas)

Finalists:
Pete's Pub
Steny's Tavern & Grill
The Stillery

Barbecue / Ribs

Double B's BBQ Restaurant & Timbers MKE Style BBQ Food Truck
7420 W. Greenfield Ave.
doublebs.com

Double B’s believes barbecue is an art. Their hickory-smoked ribs, brisket and chicken are cooked low and slow. They’ve got burgers, too, and along with mac and cheese, coleslaw and cornbread that compliment a true barbecue meal. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists: Barbecue
Heaven's Table BBQ
Iron Grate BBQ Co.
Smoke Shack
Finalists: Ribs
Pitch's Lounge & Restaurant
Sandras On The Park
Smoke Shack

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Breakfast / Brunch

Blue's Egg
317 N. 76th St.
bluesegg.com

If it’s breakfast or brunch (or both), then Blue’s Egg is the place to go for unique approaches to traditional dishes. Hash browns get special treatment: pulled ham, aged Provolone, chicken Chorizo roasted mushroom. And for those watching their calories, there’s even skinny browns. And that’s just the beginning. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists: Breakfast
Honey Butter Cafe
Mad Rooster Cafe
Sweet Diner
Finalists: Brunch
Sweet Diner
The Noble
Sabrosa Cafe

Brew Pub / Fish Fry / Cheese Curds

Lakefront Brewery
1872 N. Commerce St.
lakefrontbrewery.com

More of a beer hall than a pub, Lakefront’s hospitality is legendary, and so are their beers. Their spacious bar and dining area, overlooking the river, feature their array of beers and an extensive restaurant menu with everything from Friday fish fry and cheese curds to mac & cheese, brats and kielbasa. Don’t miss their famous brewery tour! (Barry Houlehen)

Finalists: Brew Pub
Eagle Park Brewing Company
Faklandia Brewing
The Explorium Brewpub Third Ward
Finalists: Fish Fry
Kegel's Inn
The Packing House
Sandras on the Park
The Stillery
Finalists: Fried Cheese Curds
AJ Bombers
Camino
Faklandia Brewing

Buffet

Maharaja
1550 N. Farwell Ave.
maharajahrestaurants.com

After the pandemic, Maharaja cut back its famously popular lunch buffet to Saturday and Sunday only. On weekdays, they offer instead a $13 lunch special with many options to satisfy longtime fans of the restaurant (unless you were one of those people who filled your plate four times at the buffet line). (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Casablanca
Golden Corral Buffet & Grill
India Garden
New China Buffet
Singha Thai Restaurant

Burgers / Ice Cream-Frozen Custard Stand

Kopp’s
Multiple locations
kopps.com

Kopp’s opened its first location in 1950 and is considered one of the “Big Three” of Milwaukee’s frozen custard legacy. Although they offer standard vanilla, chocolate and strawberry flavored frozen custard, they’re known for more exotic concoctions like blueberry cheesecake, tiramisu or peanut butter, along with a “flavor of the day.” Their generously sized “jumbo” burgers are available with a range of toppings. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists: Burgers
AJ Bombers
Crafty Cow
Oscar's Pub & Grill
Finalists: Ice Cream-Frozen Custard Stand:
Gilles Frozen Custard
Kilwins Milwaukee Bayshore
Leon's Frozen Custard

Burrito / Mexican Restaurant / Taco

Café Corazón
Multiple Locations
corazonmilwaukee.com

Clearly there is a lot to like about Café Corazon. When you have Milwaukee’s best burrito, taco, and margarita, you’ve got to be the best Mexican restaurant! The fun and colorful decor, pleasant waitstaff, locally sourced ingredients, and excellent vegan and gluten free options only add to Corazon’s popularity. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists: Burrito
Botanas Restaurant
Electric Lime Taqueria
Jalisco Restaurant
Mr. Señor's

Finalists: Mexican Restaurant
Botanas Restaurant
Electric Lime Taqueria
Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant

Finalists: Taco
Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria
Electric Lime Taqueria
Paloma Taco and Tequila

Carribean Restaurant

Sabor Tropical
sabortropicalmke.com

Sabor means flavor. Ready to venture beyond Milwaukee’s many fine Mexican restaurants? Sabor’s menu offers a great stepping off point for culinary explorations. Try the Mofongo Rellenos, fried green plantains stuffed chicken, shrimp, fish, or lobster cooked in Caribbean creole sauce topped with pork skins and cilantro. (Blaine Schultz)

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Finalists:
Island Jam
Mobay Cafe
Uppa Yard

Central / South American Restaurant

Chef Paz Restaurant
9039 W. National Ave.
chefpaz.com

Chef Paz is all about bringing in the freshest ingredients and turning those ingredients into lovely Peruvian foods. Phenomenal empanadas, beautifully prepared seafood, beef, or chicken, all brightened with special seasoning, fresh lime and cilantro. Chef Paz truly brings the delicious flavors of South America to West Allis. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
C-viche
El Salvador Restaurant MKE
Noche Restaurant & Bar
Triciclo Peru

Cheap Eats

Conjejitos Place
539 W. Virginia St.
conejitos-place.com

Opened in 1972 by Jose “Conejito” Garza, this fan favorite still serves many of the original offerings debuted nearly 50 years ago—and at extremely affordable prices. And then there’s those classic paper plates that make it all the more special. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Louie's Char Dogs & Butter Burgers
Real Chili
Taco Mike’s

Chef

Adam Pawlak
greateffingpasta.com

Nationwide, Adam Pawlak might be known for his stint on the popular chef’s competition Hell’s Kitchen. But the founder of Egg & Flour Pasta Bar, which debuted at Crossroads Collective on the East Side, launched this talented chef to local stardom. Look for his creations at his three Egg & Flour locations or at E&F Pizzeria, also at Crossroads Collective. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
John Chandler
Chris Ghobrial
Gregory Leon

Chicken Wings

Points East Pub
1501 N. Jackson St.
ThePointsEastPub.com

While some wing establishments pride themselves on having a variety of sauces and styles to their offerings, Point’s East has long been the gold standard for chicken wings in Milwaukee. With a dry rub that is second to none, the bar is tucked away on the East Side, and has gained popularity largely on word of mouth. (Allen Halas)

Finalists:
Limanski's Pub
Steny's Tavern & Grill
TomKen's Bar & Grill

Chinese Restaurant

DanDan
360 E. Erie St.
dandanmke.com

Co-Founders Dan Jacobs and Dan Van Rite take Asian fusion cuisine and serve it up in a stylish yet relaxed setting right in the heart of Milwaukee’s Third Ward.  From dim sum and dumplings to the ever popular DanDan Noodles (ground pork with chili oil), it’s all there—and a whole lot more. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Emperor of China
Jing's
Momo Mee Asian Cuisine
Sze Chuan Restaurant

Coffee Shop

Colectivo Coffee Lakefront
1701 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive
colectivocoffee.com

Colectivo Coffee, which began with humble beginnings in 1993 as Alterra, has grown to 12 locations throughout the Milwaukee Area, along with cafés in Madison and Chicago. Their picturesque lakefront location is housed in an 1888 historic Milwaukee River Flushing Station. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co.
Dream Lab
Valentine Coffee Co.

Donuts

A cruller from Grebe’s. End of story. OK, they also offer donuts, cookies, breakfast sandwiches, lunches and hot ham and rolls on Sunday. But it’s the crullers. (Benjamin Dover)

Finalists:
Cranky Al's
Donut Monster
Sugar Cube Donuts

Family Friendly Restaurant

SafeHouse
777 N. Front St.
safe-house.com

Part restaurant, part “spy bar,” this is the place for more than just good food and drink. Once you figure out the location (SE has conveniently provided the address), “spy recruits” have to pass a test to enter. And then the fun really begins. That is, if you can get in. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Meyer's Restaurant Bar & Banquet Hall
Papa Luigi's Pizza
The Stillery

Farm-To-Table Restaurant

Odd Duck
2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
oddduckrestaurant.com

When Odd Duck opened a decade ago, the buzz about “farm-to-table” was just beginning. This cozy eatery in Bay View has since become a forerunner in sourcing fresh, seasonal produce and ingredients from local farms and producers. In early 2022, Odd Duck owners Melissa Buchholz and Ross Bachhuber will move the restaurant to a new location in Walker’s Point. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Braise Restaurant & Culinary School
Morel
Parkside 23

French Restaurant

Le Reve Pâtisserie & Café
7610 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa
lerevecafe.com

French food at its finest and a menu guaranteed to have you speaking French in no time. The menu is extensive and easy to follow. And If your motto in life is, “eat dessert first,” then look no further. The dazzling, colorful display of macarons (baked almond meringue cookies with flavored French buttercream filling), will be a great start, or finish, or both. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro
Pastiche Bistro
Sanford Restaurant

Frozen Yogurt Shop

Yo Mama!
Multiple Locations
yomamagoodness.com

The best way to approach Yo Mama’s self-serve fro-yo dispensers is to tell yourself that it’s a “healthy” choice. There are always several flavors of yogurt and a full bar of toppings. Cost is determined by the weight of your creation, a fact that may be hard to remember in the face of such delicious options. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
My Yo My
Smart Cow Yogurt Shop
Yo Factory

Gelato Shop

Cold Spoons Gelato
5924 W. Vliet St.
coldspoonsgelato.com

Cold Spoons Gelato produces 24 rotating classic and custom flavors of gelati and sorbetti on site in small batches. Got a favorite flavor you can’t get enough of? Stop in each Tuesday for Upgrade Day; get a medium serving for the price of a small, or a large serving for the price of a medium. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Divino Gelato Cafe Ltd
Golosi Gelato Cafe

German Restaurant

Mader's Restaurant
1041 N. Old World Third St.
madersrestaurant.com

Founded in 1902, the majority of Milwaukee’s population then were German immigrants and they drank, what else? Beer. It’s still as popular as ever today, serving traditional German dishes in Bavarian decor with plenty of unique German brews. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Bavarian Bierhaus
Kegel's Inn
Von Trier

Gluten-Free/Friendly Restaurant

Lazy Susan MKE
2378 S. Howell Ave.
lazysusanmke@gmail.com

Lazy Susan’s culinary team are aces when it comes to creativity in the kitchen. They focus on what’s fresh and available, choosing local ingredients whenever possible to create their menu, which changes monthly. Gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian dishes are clearly marked on the menu. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
Cafe Manna
Electric Lime Taqueria
Wauwatiki Bar & Grill

Gourmet Restaurant / Romantic Restaurant

Lake Park Bistro
3133 E. Newberry Blvd.
bartolottas.com/lake-park-bistro

It’s not hard to understand why so many date nights, engagements, and anniversary dinners happen at Lake Park Bistro. Soft lighting, intimate dining spaces, and pretty views of the lake set the stage for a special evening. The outstanding food, prepared and presented with utmost care will turn it into a spectacularly special evening. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists: Gourmet Restaurant
Ardent
Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse
Sanford Restaurant

Finalists: Romantic Restaurant
Onesto
SALA - Modern Sicilian Dining
The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar

Greek Restaurant

Oakland Gyros
Multiple locations
oaklandgyros.com

The original Oakland Gyros benefited from its location near the UW-Milwaukee campus and on the same block as a popular student bar, Axel's. It’s nothing fancy, but it offers generous portions of tasty Greek food at reasonable prices and served up quickly. The formula was so successful that Oakland Gyros has replicated itself on the South Side with name and menu intact. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Apollo Cafe
Cosmos Cafe
Ouzo Cafe

Hot Dog / Kitchen Open After 10 p.m.

The Vanguard
2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
VanguardBar.com

While they offer a full menu of scrumptious sausages, The Vanguard in Bay View knows exactly what they’re doing with their all-beef hot dogs. Smoked with paprika and served with mustard, you can also up the ante on your dog by styling it after cities around North America. (Allen Halas)

Finalists: Hot Dog
Dr. Dawg | Glendale
Martino's Italian Beef and Hot Dogs
Real Chili
Riley's Good Dogs
Finalists: Kitchen Open After 10 P.M.
Blackwood Brothers Restaurant & Social Club
Electric Lime Taqueria
Pete's Pub
Real Chili

Hotel Restaurant

Mason Street Grill
425 E. Mason St.
masonstreetgrill.com

Located in the Pfister Hotel on the main floor, Mason Street Grill is the classic place for steaks and other chophouse fare cooked on wood-fire grills, featuring live jazz music. But there’s plenty of other choices including fish, chicken and barley risotto. Something for every palate. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
ARIA – The Restaurant at Saint Kate
Eldr+Rime
Kimpton Journeyman Hotel
The Iron Horse Hotel
Tre Rivali

Indian / Pakistani Restaurant

Cafe India Bay View
2201 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
cafeindiamke.us

Cafe India began as a counter service location in Walker's Point that drew business for its lunch buffet. A few years later, a second location was added down the street in Bay View. It’s larger with seating for up to 90, plus a full bar with a focus on Indian beer and wine. The space was remodeled and includes an outdoor patio. (Morton Shlabotnik)

Finalists:
Cafe India Walker’s Point
India Garden
Maharaja

Irish Restaurant

County Clare Irish Inn & Pub
1234 N. Astor St.
countyclare-inn.com

Yes, they have corned beef and cabbage, and plenty of potato dishes, but County Clare also offers a creative menu of Irish American fare for dinner and Sunday brunch, served in their charming dining room. Shepherd's pie, smoked salmon, Irish pudding, bangers (sausages), and a full Irish breakfast are just a few of the offerings. And hey, where else can you buy the entire kitchen staff a round of pints? (Barry Houlehen)

Finalists:
McBob's Pub & Grill
Mo's Irish Pub Wauwatosa
Moran’s Pub
Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill

Italian Restaurant

Tenuta's Italian Restaurant
2995 S. Clement Ave.
tenutasitalian.com

Although tucked onto a quiet Bay View street, Tenuta’s is a destination for diners across the metro area for its authentic, well-served Italian dishes. The pizza is so good that some of us seldom venture into the other half of the menu. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Papa Luigi's Pizza
SALA - Modern Sicilian Dining
Tavolino | Wine + Pasta + Pizza

Japanese Restaurant

Hungry Sumo
2663 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
hungrysumosushibar.com

When the pandemic hit, Hungry Sumo took precautions, continued as takeout only and continued offering tasty food in stride. With classic maki, teriyaki, nigiri/sashimi, ramen and more the menu offers plenty of navigation. If you’ve never tried black rice, you should. (Blaine Schultz)

Finalists:
Fujiyama (West Allis)
Kawa Ramen and Sushi
Kyoto

Jewish / Kosher-Style Restaurant / Sandwich

Benji's Deli
Multiple Locations
benjisdeliandrestaurant.com

If you’re craving an authentic Reuben or a piping hot bowl of matzo ball soup, but have no plans for a trip to NYC, head on over to Benji’s Deli. All-day breakfasts, including fan favorite hoppel popple, are also quite popular. Try the exceptional potato pancakes, which are always served with applesauce and sour cream. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists: Jewish-Kosher Stye Restaurant
Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette
Jake's Deli North

Finalists: Sandwich
Bavette La Boucherie
Boo Boo's Sandwich Shop
Cousins Subs
Riley's Sandwich Co.

Korean Restaurant

Momo Mee Asian Cuisine
10 E. Greenfield Ave.
momomeerestaurant.com

The dumpling and noodle-centric restaurant receives rave reviews, which might easily be traced to executive chef and owner Tony Ho’s philosophy “I want people to experience delicious and flavorful food … people should walk out knowing they just experienced something great.” (Blaine Schultz)

Finalists:
Char'd
Lucky Ginger
Merge | Korean Fried Chicken + Soju Bar
Seoul Korean Restaurant
Stone Bowl Grill

Louisiana – Southern Restaurant / Soul Food

Maxie’s
6732 W. Fairview Ave.
maxiesmke.com

A winner in two categories, it’s easy to understand why, when it comes to Maxie’s choice of cuisines—Cajun, Creole, BBQ. And then there’s all that seafood: Blue Point oysters, shrimp & grits. and of course, there must be fried green tomatoes! (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists: Louisiana-Southern
Crawdaddy's on Greenfield
On the Bayou
Tupelo Honey

Finalists: Soul Food
Daddy's Soul Food & Grille
Nino's Southern Sides
Perkins Boyz On Tha Grill

Meditterranean Restaurant / Middle Eastern Restaurant

Casablanca
Multiple locations
casablanceonbrady.com

Middle Eastern food wasn’t well known in Milwaukee when the original Casablanca opened on Mitchell Street. Now located on Brady Street and Bluemound Road, Casablanca serves beef, lamb, chicken, seafood and many vegetarian dishes in traditional style. Look for everything from falafel to baklava. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists: Mediterranean Restaurant
Aladdin
Middle East Side
Pita Palace Mediterranean Cuisine
Taqwas Bakery and Restaurant

Finalists: Middle Eastern Restaurant
Damascus Gate Restaurant
Middle East Side
Taqwas Bakery and Restaurant

New Restaurant (Opened in 2021)

Tupelo Honey
911 N. Broadway
tupelohoneycafe.com

Tupelo Honey has quickly made its mark in Milwaukee with its homemade Southern-style dishes and innovative cocktails. There’s the classics like bone-in fried chicken. But how about meatloaf with a bourbon peppercorn glaze? Wash it down with a turmeric ginger tonic and settle in. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Blackwood Brothers Restaurant & Social Club
Electric Lime Taqueria
Fool's Errand MKE
Middle East Side

Outdoor Dining

Zócalo Food Park
363 S. Sixth St.
zocalomke.com

Milwaukee’s first food truck park opened in 2019 with a diverse array of vendors, a tavern and outdoor and indoor seating. It has grown to become not just a premier launchpad for food entrepreneurs but a solid community hub. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Café Benelux
Electric Lime Taqueria
Lakefront Brewery
Sandras On The Park

Pizzeria – Deep Dish

Lou Malnati's Pizzeria
Multiple Locations
LouMalnatis.com

With a history of deep dish excellence, few know pizza like Lou Malnati’s. With the classic Chicago-style recipe and a crisp, golden crust, the restaurant’s pizza is instant comfort food. Their pies come from a lineage of pizza perfection, and are sure to make your mouth water upon first sight. (Allen Halas)

Finalists:
Falbo Bros Pizzeria
Fixture Pizza Pub
Rosati's Pizza
Tenuta's Italian Restaurant

Pizzeria – Thin Crust

Zaffiro's Pizza & Bar
1724 N Farwell Ave
zaffirospizza.com

Beloved by generations for their Milwaukee-style, thin crust pizza, Zaffiro’s has maintained their high standards and continued to generate new legions of fans. Satellite locations in select Marcus theaters now allow you to enjoy the same great pizza while watching the latest films—minus the classic red and white checked tablecloths, of course. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
Balistreri's Italian-American Ristorante
Ned's Pizza
Papa Luigi's Pizza

Pizzeria – Wood-Fired Oven

Santino's Little Italy
352 E. Stewart St.
Santinoslittleitaly.com

That wood-fired oven and the unique pizza crust are only two reasons for dining at Santino’s. Sophia Loren is usually behind the bar—not filling wine glasses but on the big screen in colorful scenes from Italy via vintage movies. The long bar-dining rooms are dark and comfortable and suggests something theatrical—the perfect setting for a restaurant that refines Italian classics to a high level. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Flour Girl and Flame
San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana
Wy'east Pizza

Place To Eat Alone

Beerline Cafe
2076 N. Commerce St.
beerlinecafe.com

Want to get away without getting away? The Beerline Café offers a sunny hideaway tucked in Commerce Street aka the Beerline. The informal restaurant is an inexpensive to moderately priced low-environmental-impact vegetarian “fresh-casual” café specializing in unique, sweet and savory crepe creations, panini-style sandwiches, soups, salads, healthy smoothies and fresh juices. (Blaine Schultz)

Finalists:
Electric Lime Taqueria
Pete's Pub
Real Chili
Taco Mike’s

Ramen

Red Light Ramen
1749 N. Farwell Ave.
redlightramen.com

This time of year, what is better than ramen? Returning BOM champ, the subterranean Red Light Ramen grew from a pop-up by the good folks at Ardent into a destination. The traditional ramen offerings are complemented by sake, slushie cocktails, fusion appetizers and desserts. (Blaine Schultz)

Finalists:
Hungry Sumo
Kawa Ramen and Sushi
Tanpopo Ramen & Sushi Restaurant

Restaurant Open on Christmas Day

The Packing House
900 E. Layton Ave.
packinghousemke.com

The Packing House is an always comfortable reminder of the golden age of supper-club dining with its generous portions and array of appetizers, soups, steaks, poultry, veal, seafood—and great fish frys. (David Luhrssen)

Finalists:
Andreas Family Restaurant
Pallas Restaurant

Restaurant Service

Steny's Tavern & Grill
800 S. Second St.
StenysTavern.com

Walker’s Point sports bar Steny’s Tavern & Grill knows how to do game day right. A large staff behind the bar and throughout the sprawling restaurant area keeps thousands of patrons satisfied every year. When you add in shuttle service to major events and the general atmosphere of the establishment, Steny’s will get you to the game as only they know how. (Allen Halas)

Finalists:
Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse
Electric Lime Taqueria
Sandras on the Park
The Stillery

Restaurant With A View

Harbor House
550 N. Harbor Drive
bartolottas.com/harbor-house

The stunning views of Lake Michigan offered by the windows inside the restaurant are pretty tough to top. Depending on the season, weather, and time of day you can marvel at the many moods of the lake and sky while dining on delicious, fresh seafood prepared with the care you’d expect from a Bartolotta restaurant. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
Bartolotta's Lake Park Bistro
Lake Park Bistro
Lakefront Brewery

Seafood Restaurant

St. Paul Fish Company
stpaulfish.com

If it’s fish you’re wanting, this is the place with every choice imaginable. The New England style boils are the newest addition to the menu, with your choice of lobster, crab or seafood. But the lobster roll is as good as its East Coast. versions. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse
Harbor House
Third Coast Provisions

Soups

Soup Market
Multiple locations
thesoupmarket.com

The Soup Market’s scratch-made soups start with a foundation of stocks simmered from fresh beef, poultry, vegetables and herbs. Daily standards include chicken noodle and a weekly featured chili, along with three to six featured soups including vegetarian options. They’ve also got salads, sandwiches and desserts. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Benji's Deli
LOUP - Soup with a Local Twist
Pete's Pub
Soup Bros.

Steakhouse / Supper Club

Five O'Clock Steakhouse
2416 W. State St.
fiveoclocksteakhouse.com

Few things in life are better than enjoying a perfectly prepared steak from a proper supper club. Five O’Clock has mastered how to deliver that experience. Top-notch service, comfortable yet elegant surroundings, tasty classic cocktails, and high-quality meats cooked to your specifications. Bon Appétit! (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists: Steakhouse
Carnevor
Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse
Mason Street Grill

Finalists: Supper Club
Joey Gerard's - A Bartolotta Supper Club
The Packing House
Sandra’s on the Park

Street Food Vendor

Pedro's South American Food
facebook.com/empanadasmke

Milwaukeeans love empanadas. While there are many great choices in the area to indulge in this delicacy that originated in Spain and Portugal, Pedro’s South American Food adds Latin American influences to take this tasty street food to new heights. Their empanada varieties like pulled pork, chicken mole or a vegetarian offering of spinach feta were a hit around town at the Shorewood Farmers Market, Pridetoberfest, the Deer District and Black Husky Brewing. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Shorty's Grilled Cheese
That Taco Guy
Vocado MKE

Sub Sandwich

Cheba Hut Toasted Subs
2907 N. Oakland Ave.
chebahut.com

You won’t find cannabis-infused foods at Cheba Hut, but this shop has fun with a ganja theme and sandwich names that play on cannabis strains. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and “toasted subs,” this Arizona-based chain opened its first store in Milwaukee this past year. While the gourmet subs are tasty, the shop’s popularity might also be further testament that Wisconsinites are ready to embrace all things cannabis (ahem, Wisconsin State Legislature). (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Cousins Subs
Riley's Sandwich Co.
Suburpia

Sushi

Kyoto
7453 W. Layton Ave.
kyotomke.com

As sushi has become more and more popular, so has Kyoto which serves up a wide variety of this classic Japanese dish. “Sushi” refers to fish and other seafood and sometimes made with egg or vegetables like cucumber and avocado. You’ll find even more exotic dishes like Peruvian mango roll along with its Bubble Tea beverages. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Hungry Sumo
Rice N Roll Bistro
Screaming Tuna Milwaukee

Takeout / Curbside Pickup

Twisted Plants
4905 S. Packard Ave., Cudahy
twistedplants.com

Twisted Plants took the leap from a food truck to opening a brick-and-mortar location just as the pandemic shutdown hit, but customers readily took advantage of the restaurant’s curbside pickup model to get their vegan comfort food. The initmate dining room has since opened, but the curbside option remains popular. Bonus: the environmentally friendly carryout containers are biodegradable. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Electric Lime Taqueria
Sandras on the Park
The Stillery

Tapas (Small Plates)

La Merenda
125 E. National Ave.
lamerenda125.com

For nearly 15 years, La Merenda has been a Walker’s Point go-to for excellent world cuisine. Everything is creatively prepared from locally sourced food and presented in a bite-sized way that has charmed diners from the beginning. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Finalists:
Balzac
Movida at Hotel Madrid
Odd Duck

Thai Restaurant

Thai-namite
Multiple locations
thai-namite.com

This is as close to classic Thai food you can get short of visiting the country. It’s all here from curries and stir-fried rice and noodles to sushi and sashimi. There’s traditional and flavored sakes and, perfect for our town, “Sake Bomb” (sake with beer). (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Bangkok House Restaurant
EE-Sane Thai-Lao Cuisine
Kim's Thai Restaurant
Siam Express
Singha Thai Restaurant
Thai A Kitchen

Vegan-Friendly Restaurant

Twisted Plants
4905 S. Packard Ave., Cudahy
twistedplants.com

Twisted Plants’ vegan burgers and sides have wooed vegetarians and vegans as well as omnivores. The 100 % plant-based burgers and sandwiches, each named after a cannabis-themed movie, has unique house-made sauces and seasonings and come with crispy seasoned waffle fries. Sides like cauliflower bites and vegan shakes round out the menu. In addition to the brick-and-mortar restaurant, Twisted Plants’ food truck makes the rounds to area events and businesses. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Beerline Cafe
Cafe Manna
Electric Lime Taqueria

Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant

Beans & Barley
1901 E. North Ave.
beansandbarley.com

Beans & Barley began as a small health food store in 1973 and has since grown to a café-deli-market known for consistently healthy foods. They’ve got a fine selection of vegetarian and vegan appetizers, salads, soups, hot and cold sandwiches and entrées. Vegetarians that like to cook can find just about any meat-free ingredient on the market shelves to craft a home-cooked meal. (Sheila Julson)

Finalists:
Cafe Manna
Electric Lime Taqueria
Twisted Plants

Vietnamese Restaurant

Huế Vietnamese Restaurant
2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.
huerestaurants.com

Everything changes. Huế is slated to move a few doors east, to the corner spot that formerly housed Sven’s Café. Sure, Milwaukee is home to the weekly fish fry, but Hue’s Vietnamese fish Ffy is a delightful twist on a classic. Turmeric marinated, beer battered swai is served with garlic fried rice, Asian slaw and Thai basil aioli. Their food truck is ubiquitous at summer events around town as well. (Blaine Schultz)

Finalists:
PHO 4 U Vietnamese Cuisine
Pho Cali
Pho Viet

Wine List

Balzac
1716 N. Arlington Place
balzawinebar.com

Balzac has an extensive list featuring prices ranges for all types of sipping and dining in a cozy setting. Try a Skin Contact wine, which are white wines made like red wines (fermented with grape skins). And if you try a wine you really like, you can take home a bottle for half off the menu price. (Harry Cherkinian)

Finalists:
Coco's Seafood and Steakhouse
Milwaukee ChopHouse
Onesto