Simma's Bakery has been a Milwaukee staple for 30 years, and its decadent desserts have shared more laughter and tears than a soap opera about birthday clowns. The mom-and-pop shop was founded by Simma Yundov, a woman who immigrated with her husband and two children to the United States from Russia in 1979. She built the bakery from the ground up, making a name for herself and touching the lives of countless people. After her death more than a decade ago, Simma's daughter carried on her mother's work and recently passed the brûlée torch to Mark and Peggy Carollo, who, Veil magazine, have years of experience in the family-run bakery business. Today, the walls are covered with awards and recognitions—tributes to Simma's legacy. The bakery was named one of the The Knot's Best of Weddings 2013 vendors, a top Wedding Cake Designer in the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee 2012 awards, and has been a winner or finalist in CityVoter's Best Cakes category for six years running. The shop has also been voted the Best Place to Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth in 2012 by both the editors and readers of M magazine.
Paciugo specializes in sub-zero refreshment that contains 70% less fat than ice cream, thus making it 130% more justified to eat consecutive pints of the frigid stuff. A dessert that meets the FDA's standards for healthful foods, Paciugo's Turin recipes employ fresh and all-natural ingredients to craft the perfect scoops of sweet sustenance. The gelaterie's menu ushers taste buds toward small (piccolo) cups ($3.74) with three scoops and up to three different flavors, such as black raspberry, amaretto chocolate chip, chocolate black-cherry swirl, black-pepper olive oil, Mediterranean sea-salt caramel, chocolate orange saffron, and many more. The medio size includes four scoops and up to four different flavors ($4.60,), or opt for the grande ($5.35) for extra-empty stomach cavities. Each of Paciugo's rich, creamy delights is made from whole milk, soy, or water so that a suitable flavor can match with any dietary need, unless you're allergic to joy.
Those allergic to cute better bring an EpiPen if they're going to One Way. Exposed brick, low-key tunes, hanging lamps, and rotating artwork by local creative types give the place a chill charm easily inhaled or absorbed along with treats such as morning French toast ($6.75) and strawberry crêpes dolloped with whipped cream and dusted with powdered sugar ($6.25). There's plenty of more substantial fare too, such as the café's famous homemade meatloaf sandwich topped with almond barbecue chutney ($6.75) and the Asian broccoli slaw with cabbage, carrot, peas, noodles, and cashews.
Art Bar, called a "Painter's Paradise" by Urban Milwaukee magazine, isn't your typical watering hole. In its enchanting interior, hundreds of soda bottle caps create an argyle pattern on pillars, wine corks stud an oval-shaped bar, and paint-by-number pieces—depicting everything from horses to the Virgin Mary—plaster a wall.
The kitschy aesthetic offers a glimpse into the creative mind of owner Don Krause. Krause left his former career as an interior designer for Ethan Allen to brave the trials of opening a bar in Riverwest. And he did it his way: His joint pours more than 40 microbrews by night and Alterra coffee by day in a space adorned with the rotating creations of local artists. The beer lineup includes seasonal brews from Bell’s, Founders, Lakefront, and New Glarus, as well as “mystery beers” served for three bucks cloaked in a crumpled brown bag—the way Wisconsin dignitaries drink. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel describes the venue as “a feast for all senses” and “one of the hottest spots in Riverwest,” thanks in part to its comedy, musical, or artistic events.
Glass cases and racks of fresh bread dominate National Bakery & Deli’s three locations, which bake all of their goods fresh daily. Founded in 1925, the bakery continually recreates classic recipes for a menu that includes glazed doughnuts, frosted cookies, and cherry-filled coffee cake, as well as hard rolls and french bread. Deli fare includes baked ham, seasonal polish sausage, and several varieties of potato salad. In addition to their staples and custom cake orders, the bakery creates seasonal specialties that range from spring’s grasshopper pie and irish soda bread to winter’s gingerbread men and icy snowman souls. Every Mardi Gras, the bakery churns out piles of prune- and raspberry-filled paczki in a celebrated rush that has drawn great press—though patrons can make every Tuesday fat by perusing their year-round paczki selection.
Jennifer Nowicki really loves produce; she's named her third restaurant Verduras, the Spanish word for vegetables. The completely vegetarian menu employs ingredients such as grapefruit, beets, and teriyaki-infused carrots to insulate sandwiches, salads, and soups, many of which are also vegan or gluten free. However, the ever-shifting curls of steam that tickle the hardwood floors, exposed rafters, and large windows hint at Verduras' primary focus: teas from all across the globe. Beneath the ivory-hued exposed bricks, white, green, rooibos, and local Rishi teas steep in hot water, filling mugs with the flavors of wild rose, hibiscus, or chai. The floral aromas of darjeeling fill the air as patrons gaze at the art on the walls, rendered in crisp black and white like a zebra’s yearbook page.