It’s more important than ever to support our local restaurants. And there’s no better way to do so than making a commitment to patronize them throughout the year. To guide you on your journey, I’ve composed a list of 52 restaurants (one for each week of 2022) that should be on your Milwaukee restaurant bucket list. View the full list here.
If there's one Chinese restaurant that should be on everyone's to-try list, it's Sze Chuan, a West Allis gem which serves up an overwhelming selection of cold dishes, noodles, Chinese staples and a selection of dry and stone pot dishes. I've been working through their menu for years – adding new dishes every time I visit – and I firmly believe I've only scratched the surface of the wealth of riches they offer.
What I can say is that their strength lies (not unexpectedly) in their traditional offerings from the Sichuan region of China. Their Sichuan pork dumplings are not only a crowd-pleaser, they're a textural feast – from their beautifully delicate slippery skins to the tender-firm pork filling – that’s pushed to the next level by a bath in chili-laden oil and punchy topping of fresh garlic and scallion. If you love heat, try one of the tiny slices of deeply flavored pickled green peppers; they’re delicious.
But don't stop there. The Sichuan grilled lamb features tender bites of beautifully seasoned lamb, redolent of cumin and chilies and cooked with onion and peppers. Vegetable dishes like the ultra simple tofu skin and mustard greens and dry pot cauliflower are beautifully seasoned and perfect for rounding out an otherwise meaty meal.
Meanwhile, the house special spare ribs are an unforgettably savory (and undeniably tongue-numbing) dish that are likely among my favorite dishes of all time. They are ultra tender and beautifully complex in their flavor. We ordered them very spicy and they delivered on the promise of heat in a way that I’m not sure I fully expected. Yet, even as my tongue numbed and my lips burned, I couldn’t stop eating them. Amazing.
Note: Portion sizes are large, meant for communal eating, and if you eat with a group of four or more, you can easily sample a few starters, vegetables and a range of meat and seafood dishes. Alternatively, prepare to take home a substantial amount of leftovers.
Recommended: Szechuan pork dumplings; sliced pork belly in garlic sauce; mapo tofu; fish filet in chili pepper soup; twice cooked pork
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.