By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 19, 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 can’t miss dishes to try

Thum @ Crossroads Collective
2238 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 763-9081

Among a surge of Lao restaurants to debut during the COVID-19 pandemic, Thum is the creative outlet for Chef Darleen Vanmanivong, a talented cook whose varied experiences prepared her to introduce the Milwaukee market to her family's cultural traditions through food. Vanmanivong's menu is vibrant, fresh and unapologetically Lao; but she's made a splash with her talent for reinventing traditional dishes with a modern seasonal flair. [Read more]

Five dishes to try: 

  1. Papaya salad: Smashed green papaya with Thai chili peppers, long beans and cherry tomatoes tossed in a spicy tamarind dressinng with chopped peanuts ($7)
  2. Sticky rice cakes: These addictively crisp fried rice cakes are the perfect vehicle for Thum's delicious seasonal  jeow (try them all for $1 each). Rice cakes come three for $6
  3. Cauliflower laab: a vegetarian take on the fiery Lao salad. Served with sticky rice and fresh vegetables ($14)
  4. Charred beef: flavorful steak that's been marinated and perfectly grilled. Served with vegetables, sticky rice and choice of sauce ($16)
  5. Oua Lao: Made-to-order Lao sausage seasoned with lemongrass, makrut lime leaves and Thai chilies. Served with vegetables and sticky rice and a choice of sauce ($15).


Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.