Best New Milwaukee Restaurants in 2016...So Far

  • 01 of 10

    Where to Dine in 2016

    ••• Tre Rivali chef Heather Terhune. Journeyman Hotel

    Milwaukee’s culinary scene is continually evolving, with a special focus on shining a spotlight on the many organic and sustainable farms outside of the city’s borders. Fortunately, chefs needn’t look far to find dairy, vegetables, meats and fruits to help build out a menu that’s artsy but approachable, and of high design but also highly decadent. From a restaurant tucked into the city’s hottest new-hotel opening (Journeyman Hotel, in the Historic Third Ward) to a health-focused café that will keep even vegans happy, not to mention a project linking two locally famous chefs that is inspired by Taiwanese-Chinese cuisine (dandan), here is the lowdown on Milwaukee’s debut culinary concepts.

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  • 02 of 10

    Tre Rivali at Journeyman Hotel

    ••• Journeyman Hotel. Journeyman Hotel

    What: Tre Rivali

    Where: 310 E. Chicago St., Milwaukee (Third Ward, on the ground floor of Journeyman Hotel)

    Type of Cuisine: Modern Mediterranean

    What’s Cooking: Opening in late June, the restaurant’s already getting props as the chef is “Top Chef” alum Heather Terhune, who previously cooked at eateries in San Francisco and Chicago. Much of the menu—open for Sunday brunch plus daily breakfast, lunch and dinner—makes use of a wood-burning oven and pastas are a focus here as well. Thanks to an open kitchen, you can see the chefs busy at work. As far as imbibing, there are plenty of craft cocktails with a classic bent, and craft beers and wines by the glass, too. 

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  • 03 of 10

    Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery

    ••• Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery. Urban Beets Cafe & Juicery

    What: Urban Beets Café & Juicery

    Where: 1401 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, Milwaukee (near North Side)

    Type of Cuisine: Raw-juice bar and healthy-foods cafe

    What’s Cooking: While open only until 4 p.m. on the weekends and 5:30 p.m. on weekdays, the menu here is pretty broad, keeping a healthy-living mantra in mind. Vegans and those on a gluten-free diet won’t have to starve—options include raw tacos: spiced-walnut blend tucked into romaine shells or cranberry walnut chickpea sandwich on gluten-free bread—and there is the choice of grab-and-go dining or dining in. The menu also features organic-coffee drinks brewed using Valentine Coffee beans as well as eight signature juices (add one of nine superfruit boosts)—yep, even shakes and smoothies good enough to be considered dessert (French Toast or Tastes Like Ice Cream are two flavors).

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  • 04 of 10

    dandan

    ••• dandan. dandan

    What: dandan

    Where: 360 E. Erie St., Milwaukee (Historic Third Ward)

    Type of Cuisine: Contemporary Chinese

    What’s Cooking: Dan Van Rite (formerly of Hinterland) and Dan Jacobs (formerly of Wolf Peach) teamed up to offer this love affair to Chinese food—but with an elevated twist. For example, smashed-cucumber salad made with chiles and fried garlic; four types of dumplings (including foie-gras and short rib potstickers); Peking duck; and mung-bean kimchee pancake. The restaurant opened in late July, on the heels of a successful pop-up event at Boone & Crockett in Bay View, and expanded from dinner to include lunch service in September. Wine pairings are spot-on, too, with some selections from hard-to-find producers.

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  • 05 of 10

    Good City Brewing

    ••• Good City Brewing. Good City Brewing

    What: Good City Brewing

    Where: 2108 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee (East Side)

    Type of Cuisine: Gastropub

    What’s Cooking: While the main thrust here is very-micro beers brewed in-house—brewmaster Andy Jones formerly made beer at Chicago’s Goose Island Brewing and studied suds at the University of California-Davis—the food is worth seeking out. Shareable snacks like curry fries and pickled vegetables are designed to stand up to the beers and the six cheeses (for a DIY cheese plate) are all from Wisconsin.  The entrees are inventive, from Baramundi to Mac and Cheese prepared with Wisconsin’s own Deer Creek aged cheddar, and quite a few sandwiches and salads are offered, too. Vegetarians can be happy here, too, with Fakin Bacon Gnocchi and Grilled Cheese and Grilling Cheese (those are two different dishes).

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  • 06 of 10

    Cafe Grace

    ••• Cafe Grace. Cafe Grace

    What: Cafe Grace

    Where: 11200 W. Burleigh, Wauwatosa

    Type of Cuisine: French

    What’s Cooking: This newest sibling to the Bartolotta Restaurants Group is at Mayfair Collection. Black-and-white decor drive the vibe, which mimics a Parisian cafe and is a more casual offshoot of Lake Park Bistro, another Bartolotta restaurant. James Beard Award-winning chef Adam Siegel devised the menu, which includes rotisserie meats and classic French dishes like salad Lyonnaise and mussels with saffron cream, as well as those with a Wisconsin twist, like a Strauss burger topped with brie. Naturally, many of the wines skew French.

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  • 07 of 10

    Canal Street Cafe

    ••• Canal Street Cafe. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino

    What: Canal Street Cafe

    Where: 1721 W. Canal St., Milwaukee (Menomonee Valley)

    Type of Cuisine: American Diner

    What’s Cooking: Replacing the former Locavore restaurant, this diner-style eatery opened in July. It's open for breakfast, lunch and dinner, in a sun-filled, airy space. For dinner, sit down to the ultimate in comfort foods (from fried cheese curds and deep-fried mashed potatoes to pot roast and meatloaf), or drop by earlier in the day for corned-beef hash, baked French toast, bacon macaroni & cheese or "hot turkey lunch." Don't leave without ordering the "Death By Chocolate" cake or a mini fruit pie. 

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  • 08 of 10

    Tofte's Table

    ••• Tofte's Table. Tofte's Table

    What: Tofte's Table 

    Where: 331 Riverfront Plaza, Waukesha

    Type of Cuisine: Global/eclectic

    What's Cooking: Owners Jason and Cristina Tofke plan to open their first restaurant in August, armed with experience working at some of the region's best eateries, including Sanford, Eddie Martini's and Coquette Cafe. They also own The Steaming Cup in Waukesha. Tapas will make up much of the menu, and dishes will include delicacies like foie gras and fried chicken legs, as reported by the Milwaukee Business Journal.

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  • 09 of 10

    Wy'East Pizza

    ••• Wy'East Pizza. Wy'East Pizza

    What: Wy’East Pizza

    Where: 5601 W. Vliet St., Milwaukee (Washington Heights)

    Type of Cuisine: Pizzeria

    What’s Cooking: What started as two people cooking pizzas in a trailer out in Portland, Oregon, is now a full-on restaurant—serving pizza, of course. While named for the native term for Oregon’s Mt. Hood, the owners fold in lots of reverence for their hometown of Milwaukee by culling from local farms for pizza toppings. On the menu is a Seasonal Special (in August it was “Nightshade Cascade”: mozzarella and Feta cheeses, tomato, and roasted eggplant and garlic), and “red pies” and “white pies,” referring to the sauces on each. There are eight red pies and two white pies. Vegans can be satisfied with a cheese-free pizza called “Avalanche.”

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  • 10 of 10

    Brunch

    ••• Brunch. Brunch

    What: Brunch

    Where: 800 N. Plankinton Ave., Milwaukee (Downtown)

    Type of Cuisine: Breakfast and Brunch fare

    What's Cooking: As the name suggests, this is a go-to spot for brunch fans, which also means it's only open until 3 p.m. daily. Its cheery yellow decor (in the walls, plates and cups) brightens up an otherwise dreary morning. Mimosas and Bloody Marys are recommended pairings for all dishes, which include unique dishes like breakfast tacos, the Wiscomelette (an omelet with sausage), biscuits and duck gravy, pumpkin-ginger pancakes, s'mores pancakes and a hangover burrito (stuffed with bacon, Sriracha, French-toast bites, scrambled eggs and maple syrup).. Shareable sides like a bacon flight, sausage flight and truffle fries up the ante.