Weekend Getaway Guide: Milwaukee

The Wisconsonite from Lakefront Brewery. 

Milwaukee, often dwarfed by southern neighbor and big brother, Chicago, is the little town that could. Steeped in a beer culture that’s as old as the city itself, Milwaukee has a little bit of everything: great food, delicious coffee, world-class culture spots, and sports teams. 

But really, all of the beer. 

If you’ve only got a few days in Milwaukee (Be smart and go when it’s warm. It’s like a Polar Vortex from October to mid-April), you should dutifully follow this guide for maximum beer consumption and Midwestern goodness. This weekend lineup is sourced from a couple of visits to this fair city, and a few friends who have lived in Milwaukee.

Coffee and Cafes:

  • Colectivo (Various locations): A hyper-local hotspot for amazing coffee and house-made goods.
  • Comet Cafe (1947 N Farwell Ave): A lovely cafe in Milwaukee's Lower East Side neighborhood. Consider ordering the Compact Turkey Dinner (basically your entire turkey day meal in ball form and then fried) or the Giant Bowl of Mac n’ Cheese. You’re in Wisconsin, after all.

Restaurants:

  • For the Wisconsin classics, Usinger’s in Milwaukee's Old World Third neighborhood is a great spot for brats and cheese curds.
  • Visit Sobelman’s for “Milwaukee’s Best Burgers” and the “The Bloody Masterpiece.” 
  • Cafe Benelux for brunch and interesting bloodies.
  • Oscar’s Burgers for the $7.25 Oscar Burger. Pilled high with 2 kinds of cheese, chorizo, fried onions, jalepenos, and served with guacamole, you really can’t go wrong.
  • Leon’sKopp’s or Gilly's for custard.

Brewery Tours and Bars:

  • Miller is the OG brewery. Great if you're looking for the history of the beer conglomerate.
  • Lakefront is much smaller, and for less than $10, you get a full-on comedy routine about the history of beer and the brewery, tokens for 5 beers, and a souvenir glass to consume all that beer in. I’ve heard it’s easy to snag extra tokens, too. That, and on Fridays, they have a fish fry night complete with a live polka band and all the fish and fries you can eat to soak up all the beer you just drank.
  • Milwaukee Brewery Company
  • Sprecher
  • Nomads is famous for their love of soccer and all things World Cup.
  • Try and snag an “I closed Wolski’s” sticker and brag to all your friends. 

Things to do (that aren't drinking or eating): 

Local Oddities: 

  • Take a trip to Cermak, the largest grocery store you will ever step foot in, for everything from house-made tortillas and guacamole, to every type of grilling meat possible.

After You Leave Town:

Go on a diet. 

Leon's Custard. A legendary mainstay in Milwaukee.

Musings from the team at Hook & Blade Mag.