Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

State Fair's NEW Foods of 2019

Wisconsin State Fair is home to the cream puff, food on-a-stick and new exotic concoctions that various vendors craft together for fair goers to experience and explore their adventurous side. From Bug tacos, to loaded german pretzels, deep fried portabella fries, to apple crunch cheesecake quesadillas, and much much more, there is something for everyone! Here are 10 of over 60 new foods at the Wisconsin State Fair.

1. Cinnamon Toast Crunch French Toast Sticks - $7.50

This was a great option for the first thing in the morning. At Goonies Fish and Beer Shack you wouldn’t think you could get a breakfast delicacy like this – but you can! And it’s their first year offering a breakfast option.

The six French toast sticks are deep fried after being filled with cream cheese and bacon and rolled in Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal and served with a side of syrup. The cream cheese inside was hot and gooey and delicious. I enjoyed the Cinnamon Toast Crunch cereal on my lips after every bite. You must dip it in the syrup. The crunch from deep frying goes away after dipping the French toast stick in the syrup and together, it makes for a breakfast you’ll want over and over again. The bacon was quite subtle, almost hard to miss, but when you did get a taste of bacon, the combination of salt and sweet was superb.

2. Boss Hog Sandwich - $9

This could be considered perhaps a brunch option due to the fried egg atop a grilled bratwurst and cheese. The hoagie bun was soft and easy to handle and held everything together just fine. Margie didn’t like how the brat didn’t snap like most should but Neil and I thought the grind of the sausage and it’s seasonings made for a great brat. Came with a slice of cheese, but because these are made to order, the hot brat and fried egg quickly made the cheese melt, which was nice. The fried egg was fully cooked with a crispy edge, not runny at all, so it wasn’t sloppy. The egg and brat went surprisingly well together. I might just cut up some left over brats and put them in my scrambled eggs next time. You can find this brunch get-up at Roberts.

3. Sfingi - $5

Pistol Petes, a new vendor this year to the fair, was offering Sfingi, an palm sized Italian donut. We chose the cinnamon sugar option, and had all four sauces, white chocolate, dark chocolate, caramel and raspberry. Comes with five donuts, which are stuffed and topped with what seemed like a vanilla flavored cannoli cream. The cream was on the thicker side, but I appreciated that because it didn’t run out of the donut the first time you bite into it. Between the cream and the abundant amount of cinnamon sugar, this smaller sized donut was quite rich and filling.

I’m happy we got the cinnamon sugar, but if you do, be warned – you will need a lot, I mean, a lot of napkins for the sugar that is just too much to lick off your fingers.

4. Blazing Deep Fried Olives - $8.50

These olives were meant to be blazing because of the jalapenos stuffed inside them. However, there was no spice what-so-ever to these. They use pitted Queen Green Olives, which are a hefty size, I must say. The first bite was quite salty, so was the second. But the cream cheese that was stuffed inside offset the saltiness a little and was a great pair. If you like olives and want to keep with the fair’s tradition of food on-a-stick, come this way.




5. Snake Soup - $12

First of all, I want to say I have never tried snake in any sort of way – and now, it seems like I still haven’t. The soup smelled like French onion, but was veggie based and had some rice. But where was the snake? I might have gotten a little shred here and there, but nothing prominent for sure. It tasted plain, not much herbs or spices at all, if any.

For Twelve dollars, between the lack of flavor and snake itself and the amount you get (even though I wouldn’t have wanted any more), this is not worth it. If you’re looking to go exotic and/or adventurous, I would suggest trying the Grasshopper Slushie on-a-stick.

6. Queso-Fundido Dog - $7.50

This was the best bang for your buck deal that we came across today. A thick all beef hot dog covered in queso blanco, bacon bits, chorizo, pico de gallo, jalapenos and tortilla strips. Between the queso, chorizo and jalapenos, the heat was all there and the combination was great. I also loved the crunch from the tortilla strips. The hot dog was delicious in itself as well, a good flavor and was quite big.

Altogether, this mountain of a dog was way past well worth the seven dollars and fifty cents, especially for people who like hot dogs and a bit of spice in their life.

7. Chick-N-Stix Sampler - $12

This was a great combination of sweet and savory due to the variety of sauces Sprecher Landing crafted. There are 6 chunks of white meat chicken, breaded and either grilled or fried, with a little sauce ladled over them. The PXP Island was a sweet tropical one with pineapple and mango sauce topped with macadamia nuts, toasted coconut and banana chips. Then there was the Poco Loco with that great hint of lime, due to the Sprecher Golden Ale Chili Lime sauce, which was topped with roasted corn, ghost pepper and snicker doodle crumble. The Wisconsin Triple was on the side of savory with a kick, tossed in a buffalo sauce with Wisconsin Gorganzola and Wisconsin raw honey. The three others are Generation Peanut, which is similar to a thai peanut flavor, the Hoptastic, which to Neil’s mother seemed a little “hoppy”, and finally the Root Beer BBQ, which by the way, you can most certainly smell and taste the root beer in this sauce. Check out the Sprecher Landing for these sweet and savory pieces of chicken.

8. Puco Locadilla On-A-Stick - $12

Also at the Sprecher Landing was a Sporkies Finalist, the Puco Locadilla on-a-stick. The tortilla was soft and seasoned one of the tips. Once off the stick, it was easy to wrap the tortilla around the chicken and eat it like a taco. The buffalo seasoning on the tortilla was a great minutiae addition of heat as well. To off seat the heat, the cilantro and lime were quite refreshing. There was a conspicuous absence of the crumbled snicker doodle though – which was OK by me. The chicken in this dish was grilled unlike the breaded chick-n-stix. The chicken was juicy and had a hint of lime flavor as well – delicious.


9. Buffalo Cheese Curd and Chicken Tacos - $7 or 2 for $10

Another Sporkies finalist and new food at the Wisconsin State Fair is the Buffalo cheese curd and chicken taco, everything deep friend, including the tortilla but minus the blue cheese slaw it was topped with.

The shell was crispy and flaky but still held everything together – until the end. The shell was also a little greasy, but not overly. We had to let it sit for a little while because it was served piping hot. The white meat chicken’s texture was spot on and was seasoned very nicely. The cheese curds didn’t have much of a buffalo flavor so I would recommend adding buffalo sauce (which they provide as self-serve condiments) to your taco if that’s the flavor you're going for. As for the coleslaw, it’s a must have in every bite! It’s coolness offsets the taco’s temperature when you’re first served the meal. Also, it had a refreshing flavor, but lacked the blue cheese, for sure.

10. Chicago Dog Nachos

The chips were homemade potato chips that tasted so great that no seasoning was required The hot dog was sliced thick and had a great flavor, but the relish was the predominant flavor. Overall, this dish confused the brain whether you were eating a Chicago hot dog or nachos.


Written By: Amanda Landowski; Tasted By: Amanda Landowski and Neil Panosian


It's National Mac and Cheese Day - Let's Get Cheesy!

Today, July 14th, is National Macaroni and Cheese Day! Also known as mac and cheese, this dish has long been considered one of America’s top comfort foods and has been enjoyed in almost every household since the early 19th century.

Do you see those cheese commercials for California cheese? Well, did you know that Wisconsin produces the most cheese of all the states, and produces more than double than that of California? Sure, we’re not France, but Wisconsin still produces 600 varieties of cheese.

Probably the easiest and the most popular way Americans enjoy their cheese is through the comfort dish, macaroni and cheese. Noodles, cheese, maybe some milk and seasonings – but there are countless ways of making macaroni and cheese and Wisconsin does just that.

Milwaukee has the privilege of hosting many restaurants that serve mac and cheese as a side, or put it on pizza, or even specialize in creating signature mac and cheese concoctions. Some of these include, Comet Café, Noodles and Co., Ian’s Pizza, Triskele’s, East Town Kitchen and Bar, and Grate Modern Mac and Cheese who works with Renard’s Cheese and Sassy Cow Creamery.

At Grate Modern Mac and Cheese, if you come in on National Mac and Cheese Day, you will get the chance to enter to win a free catering bar experience from Grate Catering. Some of Grate’s mac and cheese dishes include a cheesy twice baked potato mac, a buffalo, a Nacho mac, a pizza mac, the Wisconsin and more. They supply also their classic mac and cheese along with a Mexican street corn mac, which are both vegetarian, and also offers a gluten free mac dish.

Comet Café’s social media manager, Ed Subias, says, “Our Mac and Cheese is made to order and covered with so much cheese, it nearly creates a cheese shortage in Wisconsin!” Comet Café is located on Milwaukee East side at 1947 N. Farwell Avenue.

At Triskele’s, their classic mac and cheese is always on the menu. You can choose from any combination of Wisconsin Cheddar, Goat Cheese and/or Gorgonzola. “The most popular is the Mac and all 3 Cheeses,” says Lynn Winter, co-owmner and manager. “Our mac is a bit unique in that each dish is prepared individually and finished off in the oven. Folks can also add Roasted Chicken Thigh or Grilled Polish Sausage. We also do different Mac preparations for specials. One of those, which is one of Head Chef and co-owner JoLinda’s favorites is Mac and Cheese with Gorgonzola, Fresh Rosemary and Cabernet Reduction.” This one isn’t always on the menu, but if requested, Jo will always do it if she can.

Show your love of cheese today by grabbing some comforting mac and cheese at any of these restaurant. Or, you can simply make grandma’s signature baked mac and cheese that’s been past down. Either way, let’s get cheesy. Take a selfie with your mac and say CHEESE!


Downtown Dining Week In Milwaukee

Downtown Dining Week is underway. It kicked off Thursday night, May 30 and goes until June 6. This means you get a whole week to try new restaurants you may not have heard of or thought to try before. New restaurants on the scene will also be participating like Char'd and Oak and Shield.

There are over 30 different restaurants participating in Downtown Dining Week. Some restaurants have both a lunch and dinner menu, some have one or the other, both of which will have either a two or three course meal. The lunch will run you $12.50 and the dinners will be either $25 or $35. You do have the pleasure of choosing your appetizer, entrée and dessert (if offered) because there are at least two options per course. You basically create your own meal, it’s great!

Cantina Tequilla and Taco Bar - 1110 N Old World Third St.

I was eager to get out there and try some new restaurants I haven’t before. I decided to start with lunch and went to Cantina on Old World Third Street. This restaurant is one of the ones offering a three course lunch.

First, it was between the Guacamole and the Queso Fundido. I chose the Queso, simply because I’m a cheese fan and really like spiciness. Needless to say, this had the perfect amount of heat and the queso wasn’t too thick to where it broke my chip; it was actually a great consistency.

For the entrée, the options were: a Queso Smothered Burrito, a plate with two chicken tacos, or a vegetarian taco plate. Bring me more queso please! Yes, I chose the Queso Smothered Burrito. You have the option of steak or roasted veggie; it’s nice they give you the vegetarian option but I was surprised it wasn’t offered with chicken.

I chose the steak – which I don’t normally lean toward but for 13 bucks with tax (and two other courses), I decided it’s a steal of a deal, why not. Turned out, it was a great decision. There were endless amounts of good sized chunks of steak surrounded by beans, rice, corn and shredded cheese. I was actually happy to see they left the lettuce out of the burrito. Together the ingredients worked perfectly together and the queso acted as the sauce that smoothed things out and helped add creaminess to the dish. Finally, the fresh cilantro sprinkled on top enhanced the steak's flavor. From this point forward, I feel like every steak I have needs to be accompanied by cilantro, no doubt.

Finally, the dessert. It was between a Strawberry Swirl Cheesecake or a Chocolate Brownie. If you know one thing about me, it’s that I can’t turn down cheesecake – no way. The cheesecake was delightfully decadent, to say the least. I appreciated the strawberry flavor throughout the cheesecake – it’s quite a big difference than just having it on top. The cheesecake itself was creamy but still had a nice fluffiness to it. I was splendidly shocked by the crust which reminded me of a cinnamon coffee cake – not the usual crust on a cheesecake, but this was warmly welcomed. Between the sweet strawberry flavor, the rich crust and creaming cheesecake with a little drizzle of chocolate sauce on top, this dessert should be enjoyed by everyone. .

Oak and Shield Gaming Pub - 600 E Ogden Ave.

During the third day of Downtown Dining Week, my boyfriend and I decided to check out Oak and Shield for their three course lunch menu. Oak and Shield had their grand opening last year, May 4. Oak and Shield is a gaming pub with nearly 100 board and card games to choose from to learn or play while eating and enjoying your time with friends. This is the restaurants first time participating in Downtown Dining Week and they are happy to be apart of it.

I originally went with the soup of the day that I overhead was a zucchini and yellow squash, cream based soup. After I ordered that and Justin ordered the house salad, I was informed they did not have the soup of the day. That’s OK I decided to go with one of their other appetizer options and ordered the Black Bean Chili. I’m glad they didn’t have the soup of the day – I was meant to have this chili. It was very filling, I probably should not have finished the whole thing. I had fresh diced tomatoes and plenty of black beans and the combination of both ground and chinks of beef was a great idea. The herbs they used enhanced the sauces flavor, which was a very creamy tomato base infused with the smoky essence of the meat.

For our entrée, we decided on the same thing – go big or go home. For you meat lovers out there, we chose the Return of the Briskwitch. This sandwich has brisket, bacon, Swiss and cheddar cheese on Texas toast. I was skeptical on how thick Texas toast is, but the toast turned out nice and buttery and lightly toasted so the bread could be easily be smashed into the cheese and meat.

The cheesiness wasn’t on point. I believe the abundant amount of meat over powered the cheese in this sandwich. But still, the flavors of the meat were superb; it had the great smoky flavor and the brisket wasn’t chewy. The bacon was nice and thick and provided a sturdy bite every time. In my opinion, if you ask for some BBQ sauce, this would be mans best sandwich friend.

Finally, the dessert – even though I was already full. I ordered the Cookie Dough with Vanilla Ice Cream and Justin ordered the Deep Fried Marshmallow drizzled with Caramel and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Once his dessert was served, immediately my mind went to our Wisconsin State Fair, where you can get almost anything deep-fried and on a stick. That’s exactly what this was – served to him was a deep fried marshmallow (or two) on a stick.

I began to eat my cookie dough and ice cream, which was delightful after a heavy,m substantial meal. I look over after my first two bites and his plate is empty. My eye’s widened and sarcastically I asked, “Well, did you like it?”

“I could have four more of these; they were so good,” Justin says. He couldn’t stop raving about it either, “I would have one of these everyday if I could,” he said, nodding his head, licking his lips and smiling.


If it weren’t for Downtown Dining Week, we wouldn’t have discovered a great new tequila and taco bar with huge burritos or a gaming pub with a State Fair look-a-like treat! I know I’ll be bringing my son here to play guess who and enjoy some cookie dough and deep fried marshmallows.

Please stay tuned for more updates on Downtown Dining Week and please feel free to leave a comment below or go to our forum page if you have advice or questions for Chow Down in Milwaukee.

37th Annual Taste of Milwaukee

Taste of Milwaukee celebrated its 37th year at the Italian Community Center featuring many of Milwaukee’s finest and famous restaurants. Hosted by Broadscope Disability Services, all of the proceeds went toward helping people with disabilities and their families.

Taste of Milwaukee invited 20 establishments, including restaurants, café’s, food trucks and wineries to showcase their signature items. Some of the restaurants included Saz’s, 9th Slice, the Bavarian Bierhaus, Valentine Café, Lovely and Tasty Walking Tacos, Get Them While Their Hot Tamales and two Bartolotta restaurants – just to name a few.

Probably the most well-known was Saz’s. I spoke with Jason Cornelius, the General Manager, and he says that after 43 years they have definitely established themselves here in the community. The restaurant gives back any time it can, including going to benefit events like Taste of Milwaukee and donating to charity. Cornelius says that Saz’s simply wants to support the people who have supported them all of these years.

Saz’s brought its signature flatbread with roasted mushrooms, caramelized onions, fig jam, fontina and parmesan cheese with white truffle oil and chives, prepared by Chef Justin Verbanac.

The Bartolotta restaurants are also very active in the community. Not only have they attended Taste of Milwaukee in the past, many times a year the Bartolotta restaurants participate in events benefitting people in need and donates to various organizations including the Liver Foundation and the Performing Arts Center.

Joey Gerard’s served raw beef, onions and deviled eggs, while the Rumpus Room served their signature deviled eggs with Rumpus candied bacon, a fan favorite and an item that has been on the menu since they opened.

Fresh, fast and friendly is what’s happening at 9th Slice Pizza Co. Alycia Pogreba, Store Marketer, explained that every ingredient is fresh and the pizzas are made in-house and quick fired for just over 3 minutes. Not only is it fresh, it can be made healthy.

At Taste of Milwaukee, 9th Slice showcased their health-conscious pizza with a cauliflower crust and topped it with their signature artichoke dip. They also had to serve their famous 9th slice – a slice of hot chocolate chip cookie, a dessert everyone walking through the door gets at 9th Slice.

From Italian to Mexican, Taste of Milwaukee had a great variety of food for its guest to sample. Lovely and Tasty Walking Tacos is a local catering company offering Dorito flavored walking tacos. Taste of Milwaukee was Lovely and Tasty Walking Taco’s first charitable event, but Laquana Beverly and her partner say they would enjoy doing another event again like this. The duo served they’re signature walking tacos and their best seller, the Loaded Nachos.

Another Mexican establishment was not far away. Get Them While They’re Hot Tamales, a food cart and catering business, served their signature tamales, either spicy or not, along with nachos and a sliver of churro. Ran by Jann and Pedro, the ma and pa business started in 2010 and has recently launched a website that features fundraising catering – a way for Get Them While They’re Hot Tamales to give back to the community they’ve lived in for over 50 years.

Moving toward the drinks, we arrive at Valentine Café and Wine Bar, a fairly newer establishment to the area, celebrating it’s second year. Robb Kashevarof, Founder of the company, and his staff at Valentine Café enjoy giving back to the community so they try to attend as many benefit events as possible.

Valentine Café served an assortment of sweet and savory scones including Cranberry Orange, a blueberry Glaze, a Chocolate, Lemon Poppyseed, an Everything scone, as well as a Ham Cheddar and Chive.  Beside the scone, they served their signature Valentine coffee, roasted here in Milwaukee.

Finally, what is an event in Milwaukee without beer? German beer at that! The Bavarian Bierhaus attended Taste of Milwaukee to not only help and support people in need, but to also showcase their specialty beer. “The Bavarian Bierhaus has been 90 years in the making,” says Matt Prostek, Brand Ambassador. Full steam ahead, in the last three months, the bierhaus has revamped its menu and beer selection.

The beer selection offered by the Bavarian Bierhaus at Taste of Milwaukee included a Pilsner, a Dunkel, a Hefeweizen and a house choice for the evening which was the Night Marauder.

Other than coffee at Valentine and beer at the Bavarian, other places offered wine and typically was paired with the dish. These places included Fleming’s, Greige, and Lo Duca Wines. All the while, Soulboxer Cocktail Co. poured their signature brandy and bourbon old fashions.

Besides the restaurants mentioned, Café Benelux, The Gouda Girls, Rollin’ Dough Specialty Cookies, the Foxfire Food Truck, Thunder By Grille, Oberweis Dairy and Famous Dave’s also participated in the 37th annual Taste of Milwaukee.

SCJohnson was a major sponsor for Taste of Milwaukee; this event could not have taken place without their support along with the support of others, including Capital Trust Group, Infinity, and Miller Coors.

The 37th Annual Taste of Milwaukee offered a taste and a sip of some of Milwaukee’s finest and most deliciously versatile restaurants. Thank you Broadscope for hosting the event and thank you to the public and your interest in food and giving back to the community you live in.