Milwaukee's street food guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Dec. 9, 2009 at 3:01 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
Call it a sign of the economy. Call it a part of Downtown's urban renaissance. Call it a smart dining idea. Whatever the driving force behind it, there's no denying that Milwaukee's Water and Wisconsin hot dog vendor is seeing some curbside competition lately.
Here at OnMilwaukee.com, we're delighted to see all sorts of new vendors pop up on the streets of Brew City. From pizza to pitas, crepes to tacos, the hungry lunch (and bar time) crowd has more options than ever.
This past year saw a growth spurt in the street food sector, an in case it's hard to keep track of them all, we've compiled this guide. We look forward to adding more in 2010. Anyone else hoping for mobile cupcakes?
American Euros on Facebook
The cleverly-named American Euros cart hit the streets of Milwaukee in June 2009 and owners Mark Miller and Chad Mydlowski keep it fairly simple. Customers choose from chicken or lamb -- or a combo of both -- marinated in a homemade broth and carved fresh daily at their service kitchen in West Milwaukee. The gyros are reasonably priced at $4 and come "wrapped up like a Sno-cone" in a 6-inch pita bread.
There are many ways to prepare a gyro, and Miller took inspiration from his travels when creating his sandwich. In addition to the standard tomato and onion, he opted for extras like Asian-style hot sauce, as he'd fallen in love with in New York City, and lettuce, which he found to be popular in Germany. And, as an added bonus, they do as the Greek do and top off the sandwich with fresh cut fries.
You'll find them outside Duke's on Water on the weekends, and in front of the Downtown U.S. Bank building on Tuesdays for lunch from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
With a focus on sustainability and fresh food, Pita Brothers travel from their National Avenue kitchen headquarters to their desired locale -- most days it's Catalano Square, though they've been known to venture out into other neighborhoods and the occasional summer festival, alerting customers via Facebook and Twitter -- producing zero emissions, and when they park, a generator kicks in to keep the mobile kitchen powered up to produce fresh food to order.
But it's not the pita mobile itself that's gaining attention; it's the homemade falafel, hummus and tahini sauce, followed closely by the chicken bacon and ranch wrap. For $4.75 and $5.50, respectively, the sandwiches are a great deal for what proves to be a quick, hearty meal.
Barbecued chicken, meatball marinara and veggies with hummus round out the menu, but no matter which sandwich you choose, the Lebanese flatbread is key. It's large enough to safely and snugly encase the ingredients, but thin enough to bite through without making a mess down your shirt on the way back to the office. Each sandwich is completed with a choice of vegetables and sauces: tahini, buttermilk ranch, spicy ranch, mayo, creamy caesar and sweet barbecue.
Also known as "the hot dog guy on Water and Wisconsin," this cart is one of the city's forerunners in street food options. Hot dog carts have since become common place in Milwaukee, but Real Dogs are legendary for both Downtown workers and passers-by who have been enjoying the tasty products for more than a decade now.
The dogs are reasonably priced ($2.25) but the menu doesn't stop there. For a slightly more hearty meal, you might opt for a brat, or a knackwurst, or any of the temping Usinger's offerings, such as the Cajun andouille, for $3.25. Of course, you can always spice up a regular dog with Brooklyn onions (in a hot red sauce) or spicy brown mustard.
Crepes on the go in Milwaukee is possibly the next best thing to walking the charming streets of Paris where small creperies are on nearly every corner. And remember, crepes aren't just for breakfast (or dessert) anymore.
Satellite Crêpes makes fresh crêpes every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and customers choose from prosciutto and mozzarella, Nutella and bananas, fresh strawberry or more. Satellite crepes cost $3-$5 and more times than not you'll find the cart in the Third Ward on the corner of Broadway and Buffalo Street.
Streetza's default locale is the intersection of Water Street and Juneau Avenue, and co-owners Scott Baitinger and Steve Mai have more than 15 signature pizzas. Still, they are constantly coming up with new, creative daily specials, many of which have been suggested via text or tweet from customers. They sell the slices for $3.75.
Streetza uses local and organic produce and meats to top cleverly-named pizzas, such "meatballs the movie, wait we mean the slice," "Wisconsin Stair Fair chili," "farmer's market" and, perhaps the most sought after, "the brew crew sausage race," which piles all the Klement's racing sausages (yes, even hot dog) onto a blend of five cheeses.
Whether its parked near 37th Street and National Avenue, on 13th Street (near its permanent restaurant at 1531 W. Lincoln Ave.) or on 27th Street north of Oklahoma Avenue, the traveling Taqueria Arandas mobile is lovingly referred to as "the taco truck."
The tacos, which come in beef, steak, chicken and beef tongue, are hardly the only thing on the menu. The burritos, tortas and tostadas as just as good on the go as they are inside the sit-down restaurant.
Tip regarding Taqueria Arandas: The tacos are very good, but if you are a street food rookie like me, make sure when you order a beef taco you do not accidently order beef tongue! It's way different than a ground beef from Taco Bell. Always a bummer to bite into something that you realize could have licked you back :)
To Southern Expat. I have tried the taco truck near Lena's on Holton street and I love it. Friendly service and very inexpensive.
Has anyone tried the taco truck that parks in front of Lena's on Holton or anything from the guys that push the carts in Riverwest?
i don't know if my taste buds are broken or what but after numerous visits to streetza, i find the place very unappetizing. flavorless, dry, oily pizza. i'm baffled because i have a few very credible friends that rave about the place. maybe i caught streetza on bad nights? other than that........ arandas is ridiculously good. you can't find a better value for your money. i wish they'd park their trucks on other parts of town than the south side
Good article, but Streetza sells all their slices for $3.75 om nom nom
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