By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Nov 16, 2020 at 12:01 PM

My annual article, 52 Restaurants for your Bucket List, was originally created to provide readers with an easy way to explore the wealth of restaurants in the Milwaukee scene over the course of one year (52 weeks). Today, as we navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, it provides a fun and equally compelling guide for folks who’d like to bring variety to their weekly meals while providing vital support to some of our finest local restaurants.

Here's the featured restaurant of the day, plus five dishes to try!

La Merenda
125 E. National Ave., (414) 389-0125
lamerenda125.com

Inventive globally inspired shared plates are the hallmark at this classic Milwaukee restaurant where the menu showcases dishes from Italy and Mexico to Indonesia and Peru. It’s the perfect place for someone who likes to try a bit of everything (and don’t be afraid to order too much; many of the dishes make amazing nextovers). Be sure to order at least one dish that falls outside your comfort zone along with a bottle of wine (they’re all half-price when you get carry-out). And if osso bucco is ever on the menu, be sure to order it; it’s excellent.

Five dishes to try: 

  1. Columbian empanadas: Filled with Clock Shadow Creamery quark, River Valley Ranch mushrooms, Pinehold Gardens green garlic, sweet corn, Turtle Creek Gardens wild ramps ($7)
  2. Goat cheese curds: LaClare Farms goat cheese curds cooked in Tia Paquita chorizo cream sauce and served with crostini and cilantro ($10)
  3. Mushroom risotto: River Valley Ranch mushrooms, risotto rice, arugula gremolata ($9; add veal for $14)
  4. Sage squash gnocchi: house-made carrot gnocchi with local winter squash medley, sage sherry cream sauce and fried sage ($12)
  5. Car Bomb Cake: Chocolate cake soaked in Guiness and Bailey's Irish Cream and topped with Jameson cream cheese frosting ($6).  

Bonus: Did you know you can pre-order large format Car Bomb cakes (9” round for $45, half-sheet for $75) by phone; 48 hours notice required.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.