10 Foods You Need to Eat at Milwaukee Summerfest

Corn on the cob

Courtesy of Summerfest

If you only have one time of year to come to Milwaukee, consider visiting between late June through early July. Not only does this coincide with Summerfest—the world’s largest music festival (pulling in big-name acts like The Chainsmokers and Paul Simon this year) at Henry Maier Festival Park—it’s an opportunity to try all of Milwaukee’s best foods in one location.

Many of the food vendors at Summerfest are off-shoots of Milwaukee restaurants, serving everything from corn-on-the-cob to cannoli. You could visit Summerfest for four days in a row and still not have tried everything. And, just like State-Fair cuisine, the idea is to eat stuff that’s fried, on-a-stick, or can be eaten on-the-go (although you will find some seating options throughout the grounds).

Here are your 10 must-eats for Summerfest.

01 of 10

Corn on the Cob

Roast your corn cobs

Gary Conner / Stockbyte / Getty Images

It’s not a proper summer festival without roasted ears of corn, no? These are sold at locations around the park: just keep your nose peeled for the aroma. Vendor names are Robby's Roasted Corn and Anderson's Roasted Corn.

02 of 10


German Brat

 vxla / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203, USA
Phone +1 414-271-3377

During Summerfest, the neighborhood surrounding the festival carries a distinct aroma of brats, a link back to Milwaukee’s German heritage. Usinger’s is a hometown favorite with a retail shop in downtown Milwaukee. If you’re at the festival and want to bite into a brat stuffed into a bun, there are many options—Mader’s, Water Street Brewery, Martino’s and Major Goolsby’s—all restaurants based in the Milwaukee area.

03 of 10

Venice Club’s Fried Eggplant Strips

Fried eggplant strips
Diana Rattray

This is, hands down, Summerfest’s most beloved food, with a line snaking from the stand. However, it’s worth the wait. Breaded, deep-fried, and served with a side of marinara sauce, these will be the tastiest eggplant strips you’ve ever had. Venice Club operated in the Milwaukee suburb of Brookfield until it closed in 2014—even more reason to dash over to Summerfest for your fix. 

04 of 10

Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que Ribs

Famous Dave's ribs

Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

5077 S 27th St, Greenfield, WI 53221, USA
Phone +1 414-727-1940

Yes, Famous Dave’s Bar-B-Que is a national restaurant chain, with a Milwaukee-area location in Greenfield, but what kind of outdoor event in July would not have ribs?  

Continue to 5 of 10 below.
05 of 10

La Perla's Mexican food

Tamales tied with corn husk ribbon
Misha Gravenor / Getty Images

Fans of Mexican food shed a tear when this Walker’s Point restaurant announced last year it was closing. Fortunately, you can still enjoy the cuisine at Summerfest. Just like you might at any Mexican restaurant, order an entrée—burrito, taco, chimichanga, tamale, and so forth—with choice of beans and rice (or both). The stand is located near the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Area.


06 of 10

Saz's Cheese Curds

Saz's booth at Summerfest

Courtesy of Visit Milwaukee

5539 W State St, Milwaukee, WI 53208, USA
Phone +1 414-453-2410

You simply cannot go home (whether that's in Milwaukee or your hometown) without trying cheese curds from Saz's, a restaurant on West State Street in West Milwaukee. While this is what they are called on the menu, know that they are breaded and deep-fried. Bonus: Saz’s are battered in Leinenkugel’s brew (a Wisconsin beer).

Saz’s has locations on the Summerfest grounds near Northwestern Mutual Children’s Area, Miller Lite Oasis, and BMO Harris Pavilion. The cheese curds are served at all three.

07 of 10

AJ Bombers' Bacon-Cheeseburgers

AJ Bombers' bacon-cheeseburger

Courtesy of AJ Bombers

1247 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202, USA
Phone +1 414-221-9999

It is known for its uber-competitive burgers (they faced off—and won—against Sobelman’s Pub & Grill on “Food Wars” back in 2010). Milwaukee’s own AJ Bombers grills and serves its famous bacon-cheeseburger on the Summerfest grounds in the Northwestern Mutual Children’s Area. 

08 of 10

Peter Sciortino Bakery’s Cannoli

Selection of desserts

Courtesy of Peter Sciortino Bakery


1101 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202-1601, USA
Phone +1 414-272-4623

This Italian bakery has been in business since the middle of the last century and is a staple in the Italian-immigrant neighborhood. There are two stands on the Summerfest grounds: near the Miller Lite stage (bakery plus hot-ham sandwiches) and BMO Harris Pavilion (only sells bakery). Wash down your cannoli with a frappe. 

Continue to 9 of 10 below.
09 of 10

Sil's Mini Donuts

Sil's Mini Donuts

 Courtesy of Sil's Mini Donuts

Locals will remember when this donut-maker had a stand on East North Avenue on Milwaukee’s East Side. Now you have to enter Summerfest to get the goods. But at least these little sacks of deep-fried, warm, miniature-sized donuts dusted with sugar haven’t gone away for good! 

10 of 10

Trinity Three Irish Pubs's Deep South Twister Dog

Trinity Three Irish Pubs

Corey Coyle / WikiMedia Commons / CC BY 3.0

125 E Juneau Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202, USA
Phone +1 414-278-7033

This Milwaukee restaurant is known for going above and beyond typical Irish fare, with selections like Irish Nachos and Deep South Twister Dog. While you can get both at Summerfest, the dog is more festival-friendly; it’s a smoked sausage from Milwaukee’s own Usinger’s wrapped with twisted sweet potato and packed into a pretzel bun, then deep-fried.

It’s also new to the Summerfest food line-up this year. Recommended toppings: pimento-cheese sauce and chipotle ketchup for some heat.

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10 Foods You Need to Eat at Milwaukee Summerfest