The highly anticipated 3rd Street Market Hall, 275 W. Wisconsin Ave., offiially opened its doors to the public on Friday, Jan. 14 at 11 a.m.
And it's true. The new 40,000-square-foot food hall – which revitalizes a historic location in Milwaukee’s Downtown – is impressive. More than that, it's poised to become a dining epicenter for the Westown neighborhood, offering varied dining options for Downtown employees, residents of the fully leased Plankinton Clover apartments, convention center attendees and virtually anyone who visits the area to take in a concert, theater performance, sports game or other activity. The location is also easily accessible from Milwaukee’s extensive skywalk system, which provides easy all-weather travel for up to 4,000 people per day.
Although the food hall did not open at full occupancy, inaugural guests are able to experience food and beverages from five vendor stations, grab a drink at the bar and enjoy games including snookball, shuffleboard, giant Jenga, bags and video games. You can also grab some Milwaukee gear from Brew City Brand, which operates a retail stall in the market hall.
You can also purchase tickets online, which are good for one-hour admission to Photoverse, the market hall’s selfie museum, which was created in collaboration with the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD). Inside you’ll find 27 creative installations, plus props that can be used to perfect your selfies.
Of course, this is a food hall, so the big feature is the food. And that's where we've got all the details you need to plan your first delicious visit.
Here's a peek at the inaugural food vendors and their offerings!
As the anchor tenant for the food hall, Dairyland Old Fashioned Hamburgers & Frozen Custard occupies one of the largest vendor spaces in the food hall, complete with a 3,200-square-foot commercial kitchen space, which is shared by shared by Mid-Way Bakery and a rotating slate of hawker stall vendors. Their vendor booth also features mural work by local artist Fred Kames.
The concept, which focuses on well-executed Cream City and Wisconsin staples, offers a menu of burgers made with house-ground beef ($7.95-$10.95); grilled and fried chicken sandwiches ($8.95-$12.95); and sides, including fries, ultra crisp onion rings and battered cheese curds. (Sides are $3.95-$10.95.)
There's also a Dairyland fish fry on Fridays featuring Central Waters' Honey Blonde battered cod, buttermilk coleslaw and rye bread.
But – and this is the big one – Dairyland has introduced, for the first time, a landmark specialty: small batch frozen custard made onsite.
Unlike most local custard stands, Dairyland is upping the ante on this classic Wisconsin treat. Rather than purchasing the usual commercial base for their frozen custard, they create their own bases from scratch (yes, more than one). This allows them to match the base flavor of the custard perfectly to any flavorings or add-ins.
Full control over their premium scratch-made custard base also allows them to create a base that’s as stable as possible, which means pints can be sold and stored without a loss of texture or the crystallization that’s typical of store-bought custard.
Custard options include scoops of sweet cream, chocolate and at least one unique flavor every day. Guests can also turn their custard into shakes, malts and sundaes with a slew of delicious toppings, many of which are made at Mid-Way Bakery.
This brand new bakery operation, headed up by Pastry Chef Katie Fogle, specializes in desserts that utilize classic French techniques to reproduce the beloved flavors of time-honored desserts in modern, innovative formats.
Don’t be fooled by the bakery’s whimsical, vibrant 1990s county fair-inspired theme. They are fun, but they’re not fooling around. In fact, you’ll find some of the best baked goods in the city right here inside the food hall.
On the menu for Mid-Way Bakery’s debut is a slate of items including croissants (regular or chocolate, $3.95), fruit or "everything" Danish ($5.95), pull-apart bread ($5.95) and kouign amann ($4.95).
There are also cookies (chocolate chip, peanut butter, triple chocolate, M&M and oatmeal raisin, $3.95) along with bars (caramel fudge brownies, pecan blondies and LP bars, $4.95); coffee cake (cinnamon, blueberry and chocolate chip, $4.95); and Dutchies (apple or banana, $4.95).
The bakery also has a menu of savory items including soup ($4.95/$7.95), salads (Kale, Caesar! and a chopped wedge, $9.95) and hoagies featuring house-baked Mid-Way seeded hoagie rolls filled with items like turkey (gruyere, lettuce, pickled peppers and onions, vinaigrette), pesto chicken (grilled chicken breast, provolone, tomato, pickled peppers and onions, pesto mayo) and ham and cheese (Black Forest ham, cheddar, pickles, lettuce, herbed mayo, vinaigrette). Hoagies are $9.95 each.
Get ready for delectable housemade pasta dishes and delicious desserts from Strega. Behind the concept are industry veterans Katie Gabert, former chef de cuisine at Goodkind, and Sam Sandrin, former manager at Greige Patisserie, both of whom make culinary contributions to the concept.
Strega's inaugural menu features pastas like EZ Mac (gemelli pasta with gjetost cheddar sauce, parsley, lemon salt) and squid ink spaghetti with tomato butter, popcorn shrimp, Strega chili crisp, fish sauce and balsamic glaze. (Pastas are $9 for a small portion and $16 for large.)
But there are also snacks: chicken liver mousse with hot paprika and fried olives ($10) and Ambrosia Salad (maraschino cherry whip, mandarin oranges, licorice marshmallow, brown butter coconut and Oaxacan crema, $6).
Meanwhile, you can also look for a daily menu of sweets, including items like cake and panna cotta.
Hot Dish Pantry
You might already be familiar with the offerings from Hot Dish Pantry, since the concept made its debut in January of 2021 as a convenient pick-up and delivery operation offering snacks, pierogi and hot dishes perfect for stocking your home freezer and pantry. But they also have a home at the food hall.
Operated by Chef Nathan Heck and Laura Maigatter, Hot Dish Pantry offers a range of ready-to-eat pierogi (including flavors like loaded baked potato, crab rangoon, aloo chaat, mushroom kraut and apple pie) at three for $9.
The "hot dish" of the moment features ground beef, grilled corn, roasted carrots and peas with mushroom cream and a topping of crispy tater tots ($10). But you can also pick up deliciously nostalgic seasoned oyster crackers (dill and ranch or bbq) for $3 and puppy chow (classic or chai) for $4.
Housemade non-alcoholic Wisco Brandy Old Fashioned soda is also be available for $3.
Amano Pan is a brand new panaderia and pizzeria operated by bread baker Edgar Cuarezma and his wife Aemi Kato-Cuarezma.
Their inaugural menu will feature expertly baked naturally leavened (sourdough) breads including their signature house loaf, baguettes, rye, sesame, raisin and miche ($5-$12), along with vegetable based pizzas on sourdough crust. (Slices for $2.50-$3; whole pies for $18-$22.)
Additional items will include cookies (buckwheat chocolate chip, rye shortbread and buckwheat shortbread) for $2-$3 each and rosquilla, a savory dipping cookie made from masa and cheese. ($0.50 each or a dozen for $5.) Anodyne coffee, Rishi tea and dairy free amazake horchata will also be available.
In addition to those already serving up their delicious food, 3rd Street Market Hall will also welcome an impressive slate of additional vendors, a few of which are scheduled to open in late February or early March (with the full slate expected by early April).
Those vendors include MaKE Waves (smoothies, juices, acai bowls) and The Greenhouse (sandwiches, soups and salads), as well as the Strange Town Bottle Shop (natural wines, vegan grab and go items), Kawa 3rd Street (ramen, sushi), Dawg City (hot dogs, sausages), Anytime Arepas (Venezuelan arepas, desserts), Supernova Coffee & Doughnuts (doughnuts, coffee), Middle East Side (Middle Eastern sandwiches), Paper Plane Pizza (pizza) and Sweet Treats.
The 3rd Street Market Hall is open Tuesday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. (9 p.m. for the bar and activities), Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Beginning mid-February, the food hall is slated to open seven days a week, adding hours from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Mondays.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.