In an interview with Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel, the owner of Solly's Grille divulged the secret of making his famous butter burger. That secret is simple: all you need are "two products that come from that fabulous cow." The first is sirloin, delivered daily to the restaurant by a local butcher. The second is a generous dollop of butter from a Wisconsin creamery. The butter is slathered onto the top bun, where it melts with house-made stewed onions and seared beef to create a decadent sandwich beloved by the state and America at-large. As evidence of the burger's popularity, Solly's Grille has been featured multiple times by the national media, including USA Today, the film and book Hamburger America by George Motz, Food Network Magazine, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's hit series No Reservations.
All that fame is even more impressive considering that the recipe for Solly's butter burger is more than 78 years old. Kenneth "Solly" Salmon founded the restaurant in 1936, and its menu still reflects these classic roots. The cherry pie is homemade with Door County cherries, complementing the roster of time-honored breakfasts and other great sandwiches. That's not to say that Solly's has resisted progress, however. Its fries, onion rings, and hand-breaded Alaskan Cod get their crispiness from cholesterol-free oil, and veggie burgers and gluten-free buns are available for those with dietary restrictions.
Upscale Burgers | Late-Night Kitchen | Local Artwork
While You're Waiting: Admire the artwork lining the dining room walls. The collection rotates frequently to showcase the works of different local artists.
Inside Tip: Make a note, night owls: Elsa's kitchen stays open until 1 a.m. every day. The eatery's bartenders, meanwhile, keep pouring shots and lifting wine jugs over their heads to demonstrate their brute strength until at least 2 a.m.
When to Go: Head over on a Monday night, when Elsa's expands its normal menu to include 10 gourmet-chicken sandwiches, including versions that highlight Chinese, Mexican, and Italian flavors.
While You're in the Neighborhood
Before: Ogle an extensive collection of ceramics made by Pablo Picasso at the David Barnett Gallery (1024 E. State Street).
After: Nurse a proper brandy old-fashioned while watching some live music at Swingin' Door Exchange (219 E. Michigan Street).
Even with the ambitious goal of trying a new variety every night, it would take months to sample every single beer at Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar. Not only are there 53 different drafts and an array of cellar reserve bottles, but the selection is constantly updated with new craft brews from Wisconsin and around the world. Beer-savvy bartenders make their own recommendations behind the circular center bar as servers deliver trays of imaginative gastropub dishes—crab-stuffed jalapeños, freshwater bluegill sliders, and the hefty burger lauded by reporters from A.V. Club Milwaukee as “drool-inducing.” When not toppling giant Jenga blocks or throwing darts, guests can gaze up at the flat-screen televisions and cheer when a hardened banker learns to love in a Lifetime movie. The massive wooden deck gives al fresco enthusiasts space to linger over bites of cod tacos and barbecue pork nachos.
Though many of the dishes made in the Cynthia’s Restaurant kitchen are Mexican classics—there’s cheesy quesadillas, plump steak burritos, and meaty tacos—others were inspired by Italian and American cuisines. Chef Cynthia layers ciabatta with italian meats and tops wheat-berry bread with scoops of creamy tuna salad. She extends her culinary expertise to three different types of soup: poblano cream, cheeseburger chowder, and fondue with broccoli. .
According to OnMilwaukee.com, Angel Velasquez didn't only look to his own Puerto Rican heritage when planning the menu for Kafe Kultura. Instead, he brought back the dishes he fell in love with on his many travels throughout Latin American and the Caribbean. As a result, the recipes hail from varied and far-reaching locales—Cuba's ropa vieja, for instance, drenches pulled beef and bell peppers in tomato sauce for a disk-shaped meal that Carol Deptolla of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel lauded as "modern and so delicious." Pechuga rellena—a stuffed chicken breast wrapped in a blanket of bacon alongside a delicate guava sauce—comes from the Caribbean, while the cheese-laden sweet plantains and ground beef that is pastelon hangs its hat in Puerto Rico. In the dining room, Deptolla writes, "Latin music is played at a subdued level, and the lighting is discreet," forming an atmosphere that sets a prime stage for romantic dinners, special occasions, or secret rendezvous between rival spice-trade ships.
Even a detective might not realize at first that Terra Restaurant Bar deals in Mexican food. Outdoors there's an unassuming table for two and inside, a handcrafted bar and tables with wooden chairs. No sombreros or depictions of southwestern scenery adorn the walls. But investigate the kitchen and the smell of grilled meats and cochinita pibil are a dead giveaway.
Founders Mauricio, Paco, and Nibardo honed their skills for 15 years in the service industry before teaming up to begin a restaurant of their own. In addition to signature Mexican eats—enchiladas verdes, carne asada, tacos—the menu crosses the border with omelets, pancakes, and burgers often unseen in a Mexican restaurant. Extending its devotion to Hispanic culture beyond just food, the eatery hosts salsa lessons on Thursday nights.