Milwaukee’s Old World German influence is apparent throughout the city’s restaurants. There’s beer everywhere (including wide support for local craft beer), loads of homemade bratwurst, and plenty of freshly baked pretzels — the city serves up some of the best German-inspired dishes you can find outside of Europe. There are also modern American restaurants and classic Italian spots, casual joints and fancy sit-downs. From fresh seafood to upscale vegan to cozy pub fare, everyone can find something to love among Milwaukee’s best restaurants.
These are Milwaukee’s can’t-miss restaurants in the city’s most popular neighborhoods.
Stella Van Buren $$$ — The food at Italian steakhouse Stella Van Buren is as fresh and bright as the sunlit dining room. Centered on an expansive bourbon selection, the cocktail bar also features an impressive wine list, ensuring you can find the perfect match to your filet mignon or vodka marinara pasta. Don’t miss the strawberry goat cheese bruschetta, an excellent pairing of sweet and savory, and regardless of your main dish, ask for the crispy parmesan potatoes as your side.
Where: 550 N Van Buren St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Crossroads Collective $$ — Billing itself as “Milwaukee’s foodiest food hall,” Crossroads Collective is the perfect dining destination for the group who can’t decide where to go. It’s also a great option if you’re looking to sample several items from top Milwaukee vendors. Indulge in a dozen fresh oysters at Raw Bar and treat yourself to a decadent ice cream sandwich from Scratch Scoop Shop. Meat lovers will struggle to walk by Heaven’s Table BBQ without stopping for Texas-style smoked brisket and sweet cornbread that’ll have you wondering if you’re really in Wisconsin.
Where: 2238 N Farwell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
East Town Kitchen & Bar $$ — Sophisticated yet casual, East Town Kitchen and Bar serves up traditional Wisconsin fare with an updated edge. Bacon lollipops, warm pretzels, and deep-fried cheese curds headline the appetizers, but you’ll want to leave room for the self-proclaimed “world’s best” chicken sandwich. An underrated breakfast destination, East Town Kitchen and Bar serves oversized Bloody Marys overflowing with cheese and bacon garnishes. Featuring a mural collage of dozens of logos from Wisconsin’s favorite local breweries, the restaurant’s decor feels classically Midwestern without being old-fashioned.
Where: 323 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Glorioso’s Italian Market $$ — A popular Italian deli offering cooking classes and Italian ingredients, Glorioso’s Italian Market has been a Milwaukee staple for more than 70 years. Grab a made-to-order sandwich to take with you, or sit down for one of their signature pizzas. Glorioso’s is as much a restaurant as it is a grocer. Locals love the spicy Human Torch sandwich, featuring hot muffuletta, but with Glorioso’s wide selection of Italian sausage and meats, you really can’t go wrong no matter what you order.
Where: 1011 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Glass & Griddle $$ — Housed in what was once part of the original Pabst Brewery empire, Glass & Griddle, with its beer-hall-style seating, fresh warm pretzels, and Milwaukee Brewing Company beers on tap, could easily be mistaken for a German brauhaus. Don’t miss the pretzel-crusted cheese curds with honey mustard or the coffee stout brownie, baked with Milwaukee Brewing Company’s own Snake Oil Stout.
Where: 1130 N 9th St, Milwaukee, WI 53233
Milwaukee Brat House $$ — As the name suggests, bratwurst, Wisconsin’s unofficial state meat, is the star at Milwaukee Brat House. Whether you go local with an Usinger brat topped with Wisconsin cheddar or want to taste a bit of east-meets-west with the Tiger Style Thai Brat, Milwaukee Brat House is a great place to experience this staple of Midwest culinary culture. If you’re visiting Milwaukee during the Brewers’ baseball season, take advantage of Milwaukee Brat House’s all-inclusive shuttle packages to Miller Park.
Where: 1013 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Mader’s $$$ — To fully appreciate Milwaukee’s German heritage, a visit to Mader’s is a must. If you don’t drink beer out of a glass boot served by lederhosen-clad waiters, did you even visit Wisconsin? Pretzels are almost as big as the tables and beer flows bountifully at this Bavaria-themed restaurant, where guests rave about the atmosphere as much as the classic German fare.
Where: 1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203
Sweet Diner $$ — The historic Third Ward’s best breakfast spot, Sweet Diner specializes in making mornings memorable. Set in a bright but cozy space, Sweet Diner serves Instagram-worthy lattes, indulgent chocolate-drizzled waffles, and savory breakfast favorites like chilaquiles and avocado toast. It’s never too early to drink in Milwaukee, and Sweet Diner’s own spin on the classic brunch Mimosa will have you buzzing all morning long.
Where: 239 E Chicago St #103, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Milwaukee Public Market $-$$$ — Inspired by Seattle’s Pike Place Market, the Milwaukee Public Market is the best place to buy fresh produce, deli meats, and hand-crafted chocolates all in the same building that houses Thai, seafood, Middle Eastern, and Mexican restaurants. The Milwaukee Public Market is open year-round, but in the summer, take advantage of the good weather with a stroll through the seasonal Outdoor Urban Market. If you want to sign up for one of the market’s popular cooking classes, make sure to book early as spots frequently sell out.
Where: 400 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202
The Wicked Hop $$ — Serving Milwaukee’s best Bloody Mary, The Wicked Hop adds shrimp, beef sticks, cheese, mushrooms, and more to the classic tomato juice cocktail. During the warmer months, try to get an outdoor table where you can people-watch along historic North Broadway Street. With an extensive menu, lively atmosphere, and daily drink and food specials, this restaurant is justifiably popular. Reservations are available and recommended for weekend brunches.
Where: 345 N Broadway, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Odd Duck $$$ — Serving small plates perfect for sharing, Odd Duck caters to vegans, vegetarians, and omnivores each in equal measure. The menu changes constantly, but expect to find a wide array of American and international-inspired dishes featuring local products like Hook’s cheese, Smoking Goose meats, and regionally in-season produce.
Where: 2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Lazy Susan MKE $$ — This restaurant serves updated and globally-influenced spins on American classics in an understated space that feels like your favorite aunt’s house. Casual but elegant, Lazy Susan MKE offers its own weekly “Bob’s Burger” (a nod to the popular American TV show) alongside fare like Persian lamb and pad thai.
Where: 2378 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Vanguard $ — Offering an elevated beer-and-brat-based menu, Vanguard specializes in house-made sausages, craft cocktails, and beers in a space that pays homage to the traditional Wisconsin corner bar. Equal parts bar and restaurant, the vegan and vegetarian sausages are just as popular as the meat-based varieties, making it an ideal spot for anyone to get a taste of authentic Wisconsin sausage. A recommended local beer pairing accompanies every menu item, creating a thoughtfully-curated Midwest experience.
Where: 2659 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207
Barnacle Bud’s $$ — A slice of the Florida Keys on the Kinnickinnic River, Barnacle Bud’s is a popular seafood restaurant featuring waterfront views and outdoor picnic table seating in the summer. A popular day-drinking venue, Barnacle Bud’s feels like summer vacation. Locals recommend the grouper Reuben sandwich and freshly shucked oysters. Barnacle Bud’s is only open seasonally, typically February through November or December. Check the website or give them a call to confirm hours.
Where: 1955 S Hilbert St, Milwaukee, WI 53207