Archive | Restaurant Reviews

A little taste of Thailand

Posted on 08 December 2010 by WarriorAdmin

If you’re getting tired of the same old pizza and cheeseburger dining hall routine, why not take a stroll off campus into downtown Milwaukee? Every new street corner has some of the best restaurants in the whole of Wisconsin.

There is one in particular, however, that stands out. Tai Makii, located at 315 E. Wisconsin Ave., is not perhaps as eye-catching as some of the other bars and restaurants on its block, with their dazzling lights and fantastically outlandish storefronts. Instead, you’ll find a quiet-looking place, with soft lighting coming out into the street and hopefully an open sign on the door.

Once inside, you’ll start to notice the tranquil atmosphere, from the sparkling goldfish in their tank to the idyllic orange walls. Even the wait staff speaks in quiet whispers when they take your order from a menu consisting of anything from curry dishes to Pad Thai (a mixed noodle dish with eggs, fish sauce, red chili pepper and a number of other ingredients such as beans or tofu).

The presentation of the food itself is wonderfully unique as well. The rice, which is often a side dish, comes to you shaped like little hearts. Your main dish is dressed up as well, whether it’s with intricately cut carrots along the rim of the plate or different brightly colored curries arranged decoratively in the center of your dish. No matter what you order, you can count on it looking beautiful and being equally delicious.

Tai Makii is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Mondays through Fridays and 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Sundays. You can also get it to go. They offer a full buffet Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. So if you’re tired of the same college food day in and day out, check out Tai Makii. You will not regret it! 

by Hazel Dehn
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New “Best Place” pub offers German charm with old world Milwaukee flair

Posted on 28 April 2010 by Melanie Pawlyszyn

Pabst FactsThe Best Place tavern, located at 901 W. Juneau Ave. in the Historic Pabst Brewery, is set to open Sunday, May 2. As part of the former Pabst corporate offices and visitor’s center, the German-style Blue Ribbon Hall, Captain’s Courtyard, guest center and King’s Courtyard, the new pub will accommodate 50-60 people.

The hall within the Best Place Tavern is decorated with Edgar Miller’s 1944, one-hundredth anniversary fresco paintings of the Pabst Brewing Company history and brewing process along the ceiling’s perimeter. German sayings painted on walls along with the two courtyards, enclosed by hand blown-glass windows with stained glass mosaics, brings patrons back in time to a 19th century German tavern atmosphere.

The bar area showcases the building’s history with a sign-in book dating back to 1942, with signatures from members of the 1953 Boston Red Socks team. Marquette and UWM alumnus Jim Haertel, who bought and renovated Best Place, confirmed its historical authenticity, “The rooms have the same tables and chairs – same everything,” he said.

Marquette business student Caro Seiler, 24, who is helping Haertel prepare for the tavern’s opening, called Best Place a “historical treasure in Milwaukee.” As a German native, Seiler said Best Place reminds her of pubs in southern Germany.

“The United States is a young country, and I think Best Place is unique in its oldness,” Seiler said.

When Haertel, a Milwaukee-based financial and real estate consultant, pursued the purchase of the Pabst property in the late ‘90s, he quickly found that the only way he could buy Best Place was to buy the entire brewery for $11 million. After two and a half years of legal negotiations, Haertel signed a contract with a $50,000 down payment on Sept. 11, 2001, at 9:30 a.m.

Haertel explained his excitement of that morning, the morning he was to make his real estate dreams come true. But it was that morning that he found an empty office, and later a conference room of shocked faces staring at the attacked towers of the World Trade Center on the television screen.

The woman sitting nearby urged him not to sign the agreement, fearing the effects of the twin tower tragedy. Thinking to himself, “I’m not giving into the terrorists,” Haertel signed the contract.

With loves for real estate and beer, Haertel explained the success of his investment: “Now I found my passion – historical real estate related to beer.”

Looking back at his experiences at Marquette, where he received an executive Masters of Business Administration (MBA), Haertel said his Marquette education taught him to “follow your passion and success will come. Then give back.”

As the pub’s sternewirt – German for “star host,” a combination of the phrases “star brewer” and “brewer host” – Haertel gives tours in Best Place, one of the 23 of the 28 Pabst buildings he saved. He also leases Blue Ribbon Hall for group events.

A variety of memorabilia recovered from the Pabst Brewery can be purchased at Best Place’s Vintage Gift Shop, including “original stock certificates, mirrors, artwork, promotional materials, vintage postcards, and other collectable items such as coasters, beer buckets, bottle crowns,” according to the Best Place Web site.

by Melanie Pawlyszyn
[email protected]

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“Pizza Man” may be dead, but we’ve got your replacement: the top 5 pizzas in Milwaukee

Posted on 24 February 2010 by Thomas Klind

Little did I know thee, Pizza Man. Actually, none did I know thee; I never went. I’m not really all that upset over it. I suppose that on some level I’m still trying to get over the loss, but it’s kind of like when someone really close to someone you kind of know passes away. You feel like you’re not really allowed to be upset, but you just kind of feel bad anyways? I’ve narrowed down the reason: I love pizza. It just hurts me so much that I never had an opportunity to sample the delights of Pizza Man.

As an homage to the pizza that never was (in my stomach that is), I’d like to rank the top five pizza places in Milwaukee and the area immediately surrounding. These rankings are designed on a scale of 1-10, with 1 being awful and 10 being fantastic, or in other words, with 1 being Angelo’s and 10 being Heaven.

#5 – Brick 3 Pizza: Score – 7.5

Okay, so maybe this could be viewed as a shameless plug for someone who advertises with us, but really. I first had Brick 3 over the summer when I was working at ESPN radio downtown. It is actually really good. Located on Old World Third, Brick 3 Pizza is a great place to stop in before or after a Marquette game.

#4 – Pizzeria Piccola: Score – 8.5
A Wauwatosa classic. I think the rest of Tosa would disown me if I didn’t mention that perhaps the widest selection of good pizza in the city comes from this western suburb. Located on what would be about the equivalent on 76th and State, Pizzeria Piccola offers personal-sized pizzas that are fantastic. Don’t skip on the flatbread, it’s fantastic! If you’re still not convinced on finding your way into Tosa for this pizza, then perhaps a quote from Fr. Naus might suffice. “If I could eat one thing for the rest of my life, I think I would eat this pizza.”

#3 – Ricardo’s Riverfront Pizzeria – 8.7

The top three were tough to score. I’d have to say that Ricardo’s barely loses out to the top two by the slightest of margins. The pizzas are marketed as specialty pizza, meaning that you shouldn’t come in if you aren’t at least willing to entertain bacon, spinach, pine nuts, Thai curry, or any other interesting flavors on your pizza. That’s not to say that the regular pizzas aren’t unbelievable, but there is something to be said about a place that thinks outside the box. Located on East Erie Street in the Third Ward, Ricardo’s Riverfront is a new location for a pizza that has been in town for over 40 years.

#2 – Balistreri’s 68th Street -
Come on, you have to go. If you’re a fan of just good food in general, Balistreri’s on 812 N. 68th street is THE quintessential pizza place in Milwaukee. Although Balistreri’s didn’t win in my rankings, they do win almost every award in the city for best pizza. I recommend the Balistreri’s special, as well as the fried eggplant and calamari. For your own good, just go (They also offer take out).

#1 – Zaffiro’s – Score: 9.9
I recently debated a Chicagoan on the best type of pizza: thin crust vs. thick crust/deep dish. Of course, being from south of the border, this person thought they knew everything about everything. I’m sure it probably doesn’t need to be said then that this person was completely wrong (as all Chicagoans tend to be on most issues: See “Chicago Cubs are totally gonna win the World Series after adding Milton Bradley this offseason” conversation that took place in every sports bar known to man this past year). Being a Milwaukee man, my conclusion is straightforward. Thin crust!

Zaffiro’s is the best pizza in Milwaukee. The cracker thin crust is unreal good. I mean it, it’s unreal. The ingredients are basic, and the atmosphere is as close to “hole in ht wall” as you can get, but take my word for it, Zaffiro’s pizza will blow your mind. Zaffiro’s is located just north of Brady on Farwell.

Runners-Up:
Mama Mia’s on Burleigh
Barbiere’s on Bluemound – Best Garlic Bread in town
Lisa’s – I’ve never been there, but its because every time I go, there is an hour and a half wait.
Lali’s – North Ave. and 89th street in Wauwatosa. Really good.

by Tom Klind
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Getaway to the Riviera Maya

Posted on 29 January 2009 by Nicole Schneider

At the magical intersection of Kinnickkinnic Avenue, Lincoln Street and Howell Street sits a modern Mexican restaurant known as the Riviera Maya. Upon entering the restaurant, you will notice the extravagant murals and pictures that decorate the walls. These, along with mood lighting and stone tables, help set the tone of the Riviera Maya.

Starting with drinks, you could try Jarritios, which is fruit-flavored Mexican sodas, or Horchata, which is a rice drink with a taste of cinnamon. Riviera Maya also has a full bar, and what would go better with Mexican food than a margarita?

To start off your meal, you can have some tentempies or appetizers. Some favorites include guacamole, totopos con salsa, which is chips and salsa, and totopos con moles, which is a sample of their specialty moles with chips. Riviera Maya has peanut, almond, pumpkin seed, sesame seed and chocolate-peanut moles.

For a main course, you can choose from their Mexican favorites like tacos, tostadas and flautas with your choice of meat or vegetarian filling. They also have Mexican hot subs and several vegetarian entrees, including stuffed cabbage rolls. Each entrée comes with rice and a cup of spicy tortilla soup.

If you are still hungry after the meal, you can choose from the homemade strawberry cheesecake, homemade chocolate cake or the fabulous traditional flan.
The Riviera Maya not only gives you the full stomach satisfaction, but the feel and décor of the restaurant takes you away to a place that feels so authentic. If you are looking to stop in sometime, jump on the Route 11 or the Route 15 bus heading south and get yourself a wonderful dinner!

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Taste of Milwaukee

Posted on 29 January 2009 by Molly Petitjean

As a kid, I read a ridiculous amount of books. So many, in fact, that instead of being yelled at for not doing my chores or running around outside, my parents would yell at me for staying in my room and reading too many books in a day. I averaged three novels a day in the summer; meaning twenty-one books to check out on my weekly library trip. Clearly, I was surprised when my friends were talking about their favorite books as kids and they mentioned one that I had not heard of.

The Westing Game, written by Milwaukee native Ellen Raskin, was awarded the 1979 Newbery Medal and was apparently quite popular with my friends. Since I would not be the only one to have not read this book, I bought it online and gave it a shot. I loved it! Raskin, who grew up during the Great Depression, is a master of character creation. Each of the 16 heirs is more than they seem. This interest in characters came from her summers on Lake Michigan, acting out scenes with her sister. It is clear that she incorporated several of these childhood roles into the players in her novel.

Set in Milwaukee, this mystery takes the reader through an evolving investigation of paper tycoon Sam Westing’s murder. In his will, Westing names 16 heirs and promises the pair who can find his murderer a $200 million inheritance. Each pair is given a set of clues and a two-week deadline to discover which of them is the murderer. All of the heirs have different connections to Westing, and all are eager to uncover the others’ connection to the millionaire as they find out that one of them is the murderer.

Despite being a children’s book, I had great fun reading this twisting tale of greedy heirs and clever deceit. Because it was set in Milwaukee, there were several landmarks that were interesting to read about in this national best seller. Things like Lake Michigan, Pulaski, the paper trade and UW-Madison will ring particularly familiar to Wisconsin readers. The characters did not have the same depth that most adult novels require, but the quick 216-page novel flew by as I tried my best to solve the puzzle.

It was easy to figure out the clues because the reader is the only one with all of them, but it was harder to decipher what they meant. Who was the murderer? Was it the servant’s child with the debt of an expensive education to repay? Or maybe the eccentric elderly delivery man? The Chinese restaurant owner with an axe to grind? His lonely wife who wants only to return the country her husband forced her to leave? Was it the wedding crazed housewife? Or could it be the doorman, laid off from the paper company’s staff years ago? In fact, who is the mysteriously dead Sam Westing?

This page turner is a great read at any age and goes to the top of my list of fun novels. Take a break from your physics textbook and turn your brainpower toward a mystery with the price tag of $200 million. Give The Westing Game a try; it is easy to get lost in. Like Raskin says, “A book is a wonderful place to be. A book is … a surprise package – and within the wrappings is a whole new world.”

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Jalisco: a southwestern oasis

Posted on 21 November 2008 by Victoria Caswell

If you’re in the mood for authentic Mexican food, and think that La Perla is overrated, look no further than Jalisco, 2207 E. North Ave.

When I went on Friday night, it wasn’t busy, but the staff was enthusiastic and happy to serve. The décor is very southwestern, which was a welcome surprise after walking in from the cold and windy winter outside. It made me imagine I was in a warm desert far away from the already cold Milwaukee nights.

Since I am a creature of habit, I ordered the same thing I always order at every Mexican restaurant, cheese and bean enchiladas, rice and beans. Although this is something that should be the same everywhere, I think it was above average at Jalisco. I consider myself a connoisseur of salsa, having a recipe of my own, and Jalisco’s salsa definitely added something to the palette. It had whole bits of tomatoes, and peppers that created a perfect texture.

If I had any complaints about my experience, it would be the jukebox. The second we walked in I could tell it would be annoying because no matter where you are, there is always that one person who plays songs just to be funny—with my luck that person beat us to dinner and played an R&B song that almost ruined the mood for me.

When I inspected the jukebox, I found that it consisted of a wide range of songs by all Latino artists. It blew my mind how the other people there found the most obnoxious song, and we chose the most traditional.

I’ve heard other guests say Jalisco has average margaritas, however, since I didn’t have any, I can’t give my opinion.

I can honestly say that I was so full from dinner that I could barely move—and I even had some leftovers for breakfast the next day.

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The Knick: Casual but classy

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Remington Tonar

A few weeks ago New York Times travel columnist Maura Casey spent 36 hours in the Brew City, exploring the main attractions that Milwaukee has to offer. Among the host of restaurants she mentioned was The Knick, thae only one in her article that I had not dined at. As an amateur connoisseur of Milwaukee restaurants, I made time last week to satiate my taste buds at The Knick.

The restaurant itself is nestled into the side of The Knickerbocker Hotel on Juneau (map), and from the outside looks more like a bar than a restaurant. While not as graciously austere as The Knickerbocker’s other restaurant, Osteria del Mondo, The Knick manages to create a casual but elegant and welcoming atmosphere. The service was younger and the décor slightly whimsical in its color scheme (the poor attempt at Halloween decorations didn’t help); both of these observations made me question the quality of the establishment’s food.

To begin my party ordered a bottle of the ever popular Muller Riesling from The Knick’s modest wine list, and made our entrée selections. The menu was heavily inundated with seafood items, so I thought it best to order a seafood dish, thinking that the chef staff might specialize in preparing sea-dishes. I ordered the seared scallops, the perfect dish to test the ability of the person with the tall white hat in the kitchen. When our food arrived, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the quality of the scallops, which I order frequently when dining out. They were, without a doubt, some of the better scallops I’ve had in the downtown Milwaukee area. Although my friend’s steak did not measure up to Bacchus, 925 E. Wells St. or Sabor, 777 N Water St., those of us who ordered seafood were very delighted.

The prices are slightly beyond what most college students would like to pay for dinner (my scallops were over $22), but if the goal is quality food in a relaxed atmosphere, then The Knick is the perfect venue.

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Miss Katie’s: The Diner Elect, from presidential candidates to state senators, everyone likes Miss Katie’s

Posted on 23 October 2008 by Nicole Schneider

When you first walk into Miss Katie’s Diner, Hilary Clinton is looking you square in the eye and smiling—a full-sized cardboard cut out of her, that is. Entering Miss Katie’s is like going through a time warp straight to the set of “Happy Days.” In fact, among the ‘50s and ‘60s décor is a poster advertisement for “Happy Days: A Musical.” Also decorating the restaurant are American flags and flowers of red, white and blue.

This patriotic theme reigns supreme even on the menu with the Presidential Appetizer Special, as served to President Clinton and Chancellor Kohl from their visit in 1996. Other starters on the menu include Miss Katie’s homemade chili and soup of the day.

Depending on the time of day you go and what kind of food you are feeling, you have multiple options. It could be any one of the three meals a day, but Miss Katie’s serves breakfast all day so if you are craving French toast or a skillet, you are in luck.

If you are feeling like lunch at lunch time, don’t sweat it. Miss Katie’s has a variety of sandwiches and burgers to choose from. The most popular sandwich is Pitch’s Bar-B-Q Rib Sandwich, filled with rib meat simmered in Pitch’s famous sauce.

Drop by for dinner and almost any craving you have will be satisfied. Miss Katie’s has anything from Italian to BBQ and from chicken to shrimp. With their nearly endless options, everyone is sure to find something they’ll love.

After you’ve finished your meal, make sure you’ve left a little room for dessert. Miss Katie’s features your typical homemade diner delights, but when it comes down to it, a brownie sundae is extremely difficult to pass up. Miss Katie’s brownie sundae is made with perfect brownies covered in ice cream then coated with hot fudge, and finally topped with whipped cream. There is always cheesecake or another dessert if you prefer.

Don’t forget to check out the daily specials. Also, Miss Katie’s offers a Marquette value menu for dinners 5pm to 10pm daily for students and staff. Just bring your MU ID and your appetite to enjoy! Miss Katie’s is a splendid place to eat for any meal and won’t break your budget. In fact, it was featured on Rachael Ray’s $40 A Day.

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Wicked Hop: A restaurant as fun as its name

Posted on 09 October 2008 by Molly Petitjean

Located in the heart of the Third Ward, The Wicked Hop is sure to please everyone, no matter what you are looking for. Walking in, one is quickly greeted by one of the friendly staff and great décor. One student called it, “trendy and eclectic;” another said it has a “great, warm atmosphere.”

If you’re there to have drinks or watch a game, try out the Jackalope Lounj. With an amazing metal backsplash behind the bar and a huge 160 inch dual projection screen, it’s the perfect place to hang with your friends. After some drinks, head out to their main dining area or their patio where you can take a look at their menu. There is something for everyone on this varied menu; however it is a bit scattered. From bar food (think nachos, build your own burger) to bistro (salmon, pork chops) there are options for all of your friends.

Not ready to eat but want a change of pace? Cross the room to the second bar in the dining area. There are multiple TVs and another set of energetic bartenders.

The food got mixed reviews at our table. The biggest disappointment was the Tequila Chicken Wrap which was bland and dry. But the burgers are big and juicy – if you build your own, they give tons of toppings to choose from. The biggest winner of the night was the Black Magic-Marinated Bistro Steak which was given rave reviews.

One novelty The Wicked Hop has that amused all of the boys is that every urinal has its own TV set mounted on top so you never miss a moment of the game. There is also a TV in the girls’ room by the sink so they can check it out while in line to go to the bathroom.The casual atmosphere mixed with the high energy wait staff makes for a fun meal and a great night out. If that’s not enough, the prices are very college-friendly; their menu ranges from $4.95 to $15.95.

If you want to go: 345 N Broadway, Third Ward.
Bar: 7 Days a week open to close. Dining service: Mon-Sat 11-11, Sun 10-10 with brunch ending at 2:30.

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Sobelman’s voted Milwaukee’s Best Burger Spot… again

Posted on 09 October 2008 by Remington Tonar

Every October OnMilwaukee.com conducts online surveys to determine Milwaukeean’s favorite restaurants, and yet again Sobelman’s has arisen victorious in the Best Burger category. Since its founding in 1999, Sobelman’s has become a neighborhood favorite, and a local tourist attraction in its own right. The old tavern building housing the bar and grill is embedded on a hillside off of St. Paul Avenue, its parking lot heavily slanted.

Yet, despite the ominous looking parking arrangements, there is nothing ominous about their burgers. A perfectly toasted bun locks in the perfectly cooked burger, which is surrounded by three cheeses, bacon, grilled onion and yes, jalapeño peppers. Although it’s not listed on the menu, double and triple Sobelman burgers are also available, if you’re feeling particularly bold. Every burger comes with fries, and I would recommend a light beer to accompany this hearty meal. A camera in the kitchen allows patrons to watch their burgers being cooked from a screen set up in the bar area, which only works to exacerbate one’s craving for Milwaukee’s best burgers.

Sobelman’s has certainly become a favorite among Marquette students. Its proximity and bar atmosphere make it a perfect dinner venue. However, surprising is the number of students who have never been to Sobelman’s, despite its reputation. Kara Mullikin, a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences, made her first pilgrimage to Milwaukee’s Best Burgers only a week ago. Mullikin says that she had always heard positive things about Sobelman’s, but never had the time to walk down there until recently. When asked what she thought of Milwaukee’s best burgers her response was, “soooo good.”

So, if you haven’t made the hike down to Sobelman’s, located at 1900 W. St. Paul Avenue, definitely put it on your to-do list; you won’t be disappointed.
Elsa’s on the Park came in second in the category of Best Burgers, and is located at 833 N. Jefferson Street in Cathedral Square Park across from the Cathedral of St. John the Evangelist.

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