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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Sunday, April 20, 2014

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Milwaukee Cupcake Co. is "Dishcrawl" approved.
Milwaukee Cupcake Co. is "Dishcrawl" approved.

Dishcrawlin' the ward

Last week, on a cold Tuesday night, I had the opportunity to attend a "Dishcrawl" in the Historic Third Ward. What’s a Dishcrawl, you wonder? Well, I was curious about it myself, though I was familiar with the basic concept and company. Dishcrawl is a national brand, but it has "ambassadors" in Milwaukee and other cities. 

The crawls focus on a single neighborhood. You know which "hood" you are going to be in, but not all the restaurants you will visit. You learn about your first stop 48 hours before the crawl begins. I like the mystery behind it.

$45 gets you on the crawl, and this time it included four restaurants/shops and a sampling at each one of (typically) three items. Drinks are separate and purchased along the way.

Photo: Monika Janczuk

We started out at Riverfront Pizzeria at 7 p.m., where we checked in and got the itinerary for the night. I’d been to Riverfront a number of times before and was secretly hoping the BLT pizza was on the tasting menu. It wasn’t. Instead, we sampled the insalata caprese, roasted red pepper artichoke dip and Mediterranean pizza. The caprese lacked balsamic vinegar, so while it was very clean and fresh tasting, I missed the kick you get from it. I loved the artichoke dip, and I will be back at Riverfront for a BLT pizza soon.

 Photo: Monika Janczuk

We headed next to Water Buffalo, the second stop for the night. Our sampling included Louisiana crab cakes, a spaghetti squash and quinoa meatball, and a chicken roll with guacamole. I liked that there was a vegetarian option, and thought the texture on the meatball was spot on.

Photo: Monika Janczuk

We were scheduled to head to Smoke Shack next, but due to timing issues, we headed to Milwaukee Cupcake Co. next. I’ll be perfectly honest, this was a small travesty in my book. Dessert comes last, people.  However, not much could be done about it, and I would never actually complain about cupcakes.

Of course, they were delicious. 

Photo: Monika Janczuk

Lastly, we walked next store for our final stop, Smoke Shack. The newest, and by far the smallest, of any of the restaurants on the crawl, but probably my favorite. We tried a trio of Kansas City egg rolls (pulled pork), Sloppy Joe sliders with brisket and chicken nachos. I was pretty much stuffed by Smoke Shack but I finished that whole egg roll, if that is any indication of my satisfaction level. 

I like the concept of Dishcrawl, and the secrecy of what your night will hold. I was stunned by the number of people on the crawl who had never been out in the Third Ward or to some of the restaurants on it.  Yet, I guess this is where this and similar events can shine. Showing off new stuff is always a good thing, and the Third Ward is a still hot spot for dining especially in the summer months. 

Again, this is where Dishcrawl can really shine – showing off our dining scene to those that are unfamiliar with it or uncomfortable fully exploring it on their own. I’d been to all of these restaurants prior, and while I don’t think it is the best way to show how great they are, the crawl certainly filled these places on what otherwise may have been a slower, cold night. 

I'm also a part of the planning and execution for the Walker's Point Food Crawl (mark your calenders for late spring / early summer). So, all in all, you have me at hello when it comes to crawls.

I also love chef dinners, so for my next Dishcrawl event, I'm probably more likely to head to one of the "chef dinners" coming up soon. I’d also love to experience another crawl but maybe on a night with temperatures above freezing. 

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