American-Fusion Cuisine | Local and Organic Ingredients | James Beard Award–Nominated Chef | Old-World Ambiance
Notable Chef: Before branching out on her own, Chef Peggy Magister honed her skills in San Francisco at the California Culinary Academy before moving on to work at Postrio under the tutelage of renowned chef Wolfgang Puck. In 2010, the James Beard Foundation nominated her for the honor of Best Midwest Chef.
Where to Sit: Feast beneath chandeliers in the dining room, which was designed to look and feel like an old-school European bistro. The restaurant is housed inside a renovated 19th-century feed store, and the owners enhance this historical setting with antique furnishings and Victorian-inspired wallpaper.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Take a tour of Great Lakes Distillery (616 W. Virginia Street) before sampling some of its handcrafted small-batch spirits.
After: Enjoy a stogie and bourbon at Shakers Cigar Bar (422 S. Second Street), which ghost tours frequent in search of rumored paranormal activity.
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: Pair local, organic eats with cocktails and brews at Chef Magister's newest venture, AP Bar & Kitchen (814 S. 2nd Street).
When Sababa's founder and head chef, Ed Wahhab, isn’t whipping up a homestyle menu of Middle Eastern dishes, he can be found in the dining room reading diners' fortunes in the bottoms of their cups of Arabic coffee. Ed’s banter and his love of card tricks create a sense of camaraderie that fills Sababa—Hebrew and Arabic slang for "awesome"—as patrons settle in at the bar, puff strawberry-daiquiri-flavored hookah on the patio, or sample housemade hummus and falafel.
Putting a modern American slant on traditional Mediterranean cuisine, the kitchen flavors beef sliders with kifta spices and creates nachos with pita chips, feta and cheddar cheese, lemon tahini sauce, and a medley of garbanzo beans and vegetables. Bartenders pour wine, crack open bottled beers, and mix up specialty cocktails, such as a manhattan with cardamom and a French martini, whose blend of Chambord, pineapple juice, and vanilla vodka is served in the traditional French way, by a weeping clown.
Twelve hundred wings. Fifteen hundred wings. One hundred and sixty pounds of wings. These were the numbers that purveyors reported selling at the first annual WingFest Milwaukee, held at Potawatomi Bingo Casino in 2011. This year, the awingthing.com-sponsored event will be held at The Garage inside the Harley-Davidson Museum. 16 vendors will cook sauce-soaked buffalo wings onsite as attendees chow down and sip unlimited beer samples. In addition to kudos from guests on the festival’s most flavorful wing, each eatery vies for trophies such as the Wing King Award for best overall wing, the Scorching Lips Award for best hot wing, and the Miss Wing Award for prettiest wing covered in lipstick. Live music from local Wisconsin artists such as Zachary Wade⎯a singer-songwriter and cover artist who has appeared at every WingFest thus far⎯and a wing-eating competition round out the day’s festivities.
At Paje' Restaurant and Lounge, owners Temacca McMurtry and Devon Dent welcome diners with warm, friendly service and heaping plates of satisfying southern cuisine. The restaurant takes its name from the McMurtry family's ancestral home in Africa, hinting at the careful attention paid to tradition, even displayed in the menu's sides of seasonal veggies, creamy shrimp and grits, and caramelized candied yams. The bill of fare infuses classic country feasts with modern twists, such as its fried green tomatoes layered with creamy mozzarella or its chicken wings sided with the kitchen's signature red-velvet waffles. The space itself captures the restaurant's blend of past and present, with rugged, 70-year-old brick walls updated by sleek blond-wood accents, geometric light fixtures, and portals into deep space.
Vintage photos paper the walls of Don Tilo’s Mexican Restaurant, illustrating the stories of the two families who own the place: the Zarates and the Maldonados. Mayan art and charro hats nod to both clans’ Mexican heritage as windows frame views of Milwaukee’s south side, the place they’ve called home for the past 40 years. Meanwhile, checkerboard floors summon the spirit of a 1950s diner, with tres leches cake and margaritas in place of apple pie and milk shakes. In the dining room, friends and neighbors gather around plates of tostadas and chimichangas packed with crunch and more spice than a salsa band covered in salsa. On weekends, diners can enjoy specials such as pozole—a meaty hominy stew served with cabbage and radishes—as they drink in the sounds of electric guitars and a baby grand piano.
Dressed in skinny black ties and pressed white shirts, pumping '80s hip-hop from an enormous boombox, American Euros' founders made a name for themselves as one of the most entertaining food vendors on the streets of Milwaukee. After dishing out savory chicken, veggie, and traditional beef-and-lamb gyros from their food cart, the trio brought their tasty Greek-American-Turkish cuisine to a brick-and-mortar restaurant on Oakland Avenue. Guests can chow down on Turkish doner kebabs - the popular German street food that American Euros has deliciously added to the Milwaukee food scene - or gyros loaded with flavorful ingredients and topped with sauces like tzatziki and Sriracha. Guests can also quell hunger pangs with a BLT, chicken Thai, or bacon chicken ranch sandwich served with fresh-cut fries.