places to eat: milwaukee

I had a great time adventuring in Chicago with my dear Kaitlin this Saturday. We got very very lost and very very wet, but the shows were great and we had a darn good time. It was also a day of firsts for me; I rode the subway without a parent for the first time, hailed my first cab, and braved my first outdoor concert in the rain.

But the good times weren't about to stop rolling yet; on Tuesday, I had another adventure, this time in Milwaukee with Gail, my best friend from high school. Since she moved further north for school, we don't see each other as often, but when we do it's just like old times! While in Milwaukee, we hit up three awesome places to get a bite to eat that I thought I would share with you.

Image via Serious Eats

First up was Northpoint Custard on Bradford Beach. This old-school custard/burger stand is run by one of Milwaukee's premier restauranting families, the Bartolotta's. They put a slightly more upscale twist on classic beach stand food, but for the most part, it's just great food to eat sitting at their picnic tables, on the rocks along Lake Michigan, or (as we did) sitting in the trunk of your car. I had the Old School burger with cheese (ketchup, mustard, onions, pickles) which was a bit mustard-heavy for my tastes (but I don't actually like mustard except for mixed in with other condiments on burgers) and beer-battered onion rings, which were awesome. Gail got the Seagull (sauteed onions, Merkt's cheese spread) and cheese fries, both of which got a thumbs up from her. The burgers are the expected thin chargrilled type -- I'm personally a fan of big thick burgers, but I knew that wasn't what a place like this offered.

The food is great, especially paired with the view. We were lucky enough to have a gorgeous day, warm with a nice cool breeze off the lake, and it felt pretty amazing to sit outside and eat our food. We did get mobbed by seagulls after the rather ill-contemplated plan to just let fallen french fries lie, but a small child clutching an Angry Birds plushie chased them away for us.

I only really regret not getting a chance to try out their custard. (If you aren't familiar with frozen custard, get thee to a Culver's ASAP! It seems to be a particularly Wisconsin-based dessert, and it's amazing. Richer and creamier than ice cream, frozen custard is a boon to the world.) But I couldn't have sweets at Northpoint, because our next stop was...

Image via

Another first: my first visit to a cupcake bakery! As trendy as they are and as much as I love cupcakes, I haven't found an actual cupcake bakery before visiting Classy Girl Cupcakes. One of their specialties are their "cheesecake cupcakes" which, although delicious, felt like a little bit of a misnomer to me. I was expecting something more...cupcakey, I suppose, when what I got was a paper cup filled with cheesecake. That was probably just my own preconceived notions, fueled by an amazing cheesecake/cupcake mash-up that roomie Elise used to make.

I ordered a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake cupcake and a Ghiradelli chocolate cupcake. Gail had a hazelnut nutella cheesecake cupcake and went classic with Red Velvet for her standard cupcake. They were all very good, though I don't know if they were necessarily the best cupcakes I've ever had. There's a full-service bakery/baking supply store not far from my house that makes the most incredible cupcakes; I wanted a place that focused entirely on cupcakes to meet or surpass them, but no such luck. Still, the cheesecake cupcakes are a lot of fun and felt fresh and different to me. The store itself is great, with a girly-meets-industrial look, and some really cute cupcake-inspired accessories and t-shirts for sale. I would go back for the experience...and because with 20 flavors offered every day, there are so many more I want to try!

What could we do after burgers and cupcakes? It seemed like it was time to get something a little bit healthier, so we headed out down to the Milwaukee Public Market.


The Public Market is a great piece of Milwaukee food culture; the building houses a number of independent artisan vendors, offering both grocery products (seafood, spices, artisan breads and cheeses) and dine-in options (sandwiches, wine bar, salads). It's a ton of fun to poke around and see what nifty stuff is up for sale. Gail and I stopped at The Green Kitchen, which offers artisan sandwiches, made-to-order salads, and raw fresh juice. When we stopped at the stand, I didn't realize that they would be slicing and juicing all of the fruits for my juice right there and then! I had a Pink Flamingo (orange, grapefruit, pineapple, strawberry) that was delicious, and Gail thoroughly enjoyed her Obango (orange, banana, mango). They offer a number of combinations, both fruit-based and with vegetable influence, as well as shots of wheatgrass.

I was thoroughly tempted by the artisan breads and the number of candy stores in the market, but alas, our parking meter was about to run out, so it was time to return to the car and head out of the city. I really enjoyed spending the afternoon in Milwaukee; even though I've lived just outside it for the majority of my life, I haven't had a chance to experience most of what it has to offer. My time in Milwaukee has mostly been through trips to the museums or the theater, often through school. It feels like time to explore the city as an adult!

Are there places in your "home" city that you've always wanted to check out? Where would you take friends to eat to show them what your city is?

(Northpoint is only open in the summer, but the other two are available year round, in case you want to check them out next time you head up to Dairyland!)

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