This fall, we revealed -- one by one -- the winners of the 2007 OnMilwaukee.com readers' poll for the best restaurants in Metro Milwaukee. We know the wait has been excruciating, but now that all is revealed, here's a tally of all the winners (as well as our editors' picks), in one handy list. Bon appetit!
Best Bakery: Peter Sciortino's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Peter Sciortino's
The smell of fresh bread wafts out of Sciortino's Bakery every morning, reminding Milwaukee of Brady Street's Italian community. But what really tempts at Sciortino's are the cannoli and sumptuous Italian cookies, tiramisu, cakes and other pastry.
Best Bar Food: Hooligan's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Hooligan's
This "super bar" keeps winning Milwaukee's best bar food for a reason. They've taken the greasy grub you expect at a bar and elevated it to include lean ostrich burgers, grilled portabella mushroom sandwiches, Cajun catfish fillets and quite a bit more. And if you want straight-up bar burgers, Hooligan's doesn't disappoint.
Best Breakfast: Original Pancake House
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: George Webb's
The Original Pancake House, in the old "Coffee Trader space" on Downer Avenue, is the best place for morning noshing, according to OnMilwaukee.com readers. With signature items like the massive apple pancake, the sugary, air-filled Dutch Baby pastry and big, fluffy omelets, the Original Pancake House is the ideal destination for anyone craving a hearty, rich breakfast.
Best Burger: Sobelman's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Kopp's
Operating since 1999 in a cozy Cream City brick building on low-key corner, Sobelman's serves Black Angus burgers on tasty buns with three cheeses, jalaenos and fried onions. The bar, which is meticulously clean (they even wipe down the salt shakers), also earns raves for its Bloody Marys. It's the burgers, though, that created a frenzied following and prompted the owners, Dave and Melanie Sobelman, to park their Web site at milwaukeesbestburgers.com.
Best Coffee Shop/Café: Alterra
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Alterra
This swiftly growing coffee company has created quite a buzz both in Milwaukee and in the national coffee industry, and it's easy to see why. They serve the strongest cup of joe around -- but do offer a daily mild blend, if you prefer -- and pay obsessively close attention to quality and taste control.
Best Decor: Roots
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Bacchus
Arguably, the best feature of Roots' decor is all of the windows which allow ample natural light to seep into the warmly painted space -- as well as provide a nice view of the city. Fresh flowers and healthy plants, along with high ceilings and attractive ironwork formed into vines, complete the beautiful and serene scenery.
Best Desserts: Lake Park Bistro
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Coquette Café
The Bartolotta Restaurant Group's Lake Park Bistro is known locally -- and in other cities as well -- as Milwaukee's authentic French dining experience. The cuisine is elegant and rich and the dessert menu is certainly no exception. If not completely stuffed after chef Adam Siegel's veau roti a la Bordelaise (veal tenderloin in a Bordelaise sauce) or canard "deux façon" a la sauce marchands de vin (duck two ways with red wine sauce), diners can choose from decadent dessert options such as banana bread pudding with a caramel sauce and chocolate mousse sweetened with crushed praline and accented by a saffron vanilla sauce and homemade mint ice cream.
Best Fish Fry: Lakefront Brewery Palm Garden
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Kegel's Inn
Milwaukee is famous for Friday night fish fries, and with so many to choose from, it's amazing that most people still have a top favorite. By a large margin, OnMilwaukee.com readers chose Lakefront Palm Garden as the best place in the city to chow a fish dinner. The Lakefront fish menu features beer battered cod ($9.95), perch ($12.95), bluegill ($12.95), baked tilapia ($10.95) or a combo platter ($12.95). All of the dinners are served with a choice of fries or potato pancakes, cole slaw and bread and butter.
Best Frozen Custard: Kopp's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Kopp's
Kopp's has been a local custard staple since the classic '50s and, thankfully, it hasn't changed all that much over the decades. There are now three area locations -- Glendale, Brookfield and Greenfield -- so a double cone and a jumbo burger are never too far away.
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Ma Fischer's
n East Side landmark popular with UW-Milwaukee students and locals at all times of the day, Oakland Gyros takes on a slightly bawdy atmosphere around bar time. The fact that the food is fast, plentiful, satisfying and relatively inexpensive explains why so many pedestrians in the area smell of tzatziki sauce in the pre-dawn hours.
Best Patio: Trocadero
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Water Buffalo
Trocadero offers a year-round (heated when necessary) patio -- a spacious terrace with a fountain, and private, shady gardens that make you wish Wisconsin weather was more accommodating to dining al fresco (heat lamps don't cut it in a snow storm).
Best Pizza: Pizza Man
OnMilwaukee.com editor's choice: Classic Slice
The East Side landmark, a fixture for nearly four decades at 1800 E. North Ave., claims victory year after year against worthy competitors like Zaffiro's, Balistreri's, Lisa's, Calderone Club, DeMarini's and Palermo Villa. The rustic ambience of the place, along with characteristics like the trademark cracker-like thin crust and extensive wine list, make Pizza Man a perennial winner in this category.
Best Romantic Restaurant: Lake Park Bistro
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: The Pasta Tree
Maybe it's the exquisitely prepared classic French cuisine that gets couples "in the mood" here, or perhaps it's the beautiful, cliff-top view overlooking Lake Michigan. Either way, there is no denying Lake Park Bistro's European elegance that often transports diners to a special place where the food is divine and love is in the air.
Best Seafood: Crawdaddy's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Crawdaddy's
In the last several years, redevelopment has added a number of condos and shops and Crawdaddy's remains a popular stop in the area. It's so popular, in fact, that OnMilwaukee.com readers consider it their favorite place to get seafood. The dining room at Crawdaddy's is large, bright and noisy enough to bring large dining parties and create the kind of rollicking atmosphere befitting a Cajun-influenced establishment.
Best Steak: Five O'Clock Steakhouse
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Eddie Martini's
The Five O'Clock keeps people coming back because the New York Strip and filet mignon are comparable to the best steakhouses in the country. Saveur magazine recently called the restaurant one of its five favorite steakhouses in the country.
Best Subs/Sandwiches: Chocolate Factory
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Koppa's Fulbeli Deli
Perhaps it's their homemade bread that's usually still warm when you get it, but according to OnMilwaukee.com readers, The Chocolate Factory is the best place to grab a sub or sandwich. This year, The Chocolate Factory celebrates 25 years of business. It began as an ice-cream parlor in Cedarburg, and the original concept was conceived on the back of a napkin. Today, The Chocolate Factory has seven locations.
Best Family-Friendly Restaurant: Buca di Beppo
OnMilwaukee.com editor's choice: Red Robin
When it comes to dining out with the kids, OnMilwaukee.com readers say Buca di Beppo is the best place to do it. The crazy décor, tolerance for loud noise (thanks to the incessant Italian-American songs booming through the speakers) and energetic staff make it the perfect place for families to have fun without getting vibed by childless diners. Plus, with a menu dominated by pizza and noodles, what kid wouldn't love to scarf at the super-spirited Buca?
Best New Restaurant (opened in last year): Water Buffalo
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Maxie's Southern Comfort
With a modern, artistic interior by Flux Design and a two-story outdoor deck with a beautiful view of the river and Downtown, the restaurant easily blended with the aesthetic of the Riverwalk and the Third Ward (As the name implies, the building sits at the high-traffic intersection of Water and Buffalo Streets.)
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Yen Ching
This Brady Street staple isn't especially fancy, nor is its fare. But with excellent lunch specials, including a great egg drop soup, and emphasis on quality and fresh vegetables, the Emperor is a solid pick for the best Chinese in town.
Best Greek: Oakland Gyros
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Apollo Café
Satisfied customers cited Oakland Gyros for being fast, tasty and inexpensive. The fact that it is open late -- in a prime location -- doesn't hurt, either.
Best Indian: Maharaja
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Bombay Sweets
Dinners at Maharaja feature an extensive East Indian menu crowded with curries, meats and breads baked in a traditional tandoori oven. The $8.95 daily lunch buffet offers a large selection of Indian soups, vegetarian favorites like palak paneer (spinach cooked with homemade cheese), chicken and beef curries and, if you save room, you can always count on an endless supply of gulab jamun -- those little fried dough balls dipped in sweet syrup.
Best Italian: Ristorante Bartolotta
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Ristorante Bartolotta
For a decade or so, Joe Bartolotta has run one of the most consistently great Italian restaurants in town. And thanks to head Chef Juan Urbieta, the menu has never gone stale. In recent months Urbieta and his crew have been creating special regional Italian menus spotlighting the diversity of Italian cooking, as well as winemaker dinners that pair great wines with special menus. So, if you're looking for red-checkered tablecloths and 10 versions of spaghetti and meatballs, you'll have to go elsewhere.
Best Japanese: Izumi's
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Ichiban
Izumi's, 2150 N. Prospect Ave., has earned a reputation in Milwaukee for friendly, accommodating service, as well as a pleasant menu that doesn't break the bank. To diners' delight, the Japanese restaurant relocated in early 2005 to a significantly more spacious and aesthetically pleasing space, complete with artful, ambient lighting, lengthy sushi bar and enclosed tatami room.
Best Mexican: La Fuente
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Riviera Maya
The massive restaurant is packed on the weekends, and occasionally on weeknights, as well. The bottomless baskets of tortilla chips, colorful margaritas and consistently decent food have kept La Fuente in Milwaukee's fiesta zone for many years.
Best Middle Eastern: Casablanca
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Shaharazad
The all-you-can eat buffet for only $6.95 features something one finds hard to get anywhere else in town: an entirely meatless smorgasbord of flavors of silky smooth hummus, tuboleh, babaghannoj, stuffed falafel and other delights accompanied with pieces of delectably toasted pita bread.
Best Other Asian (not Chinese, Japanese or Thai): Monsoon
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Phan's Garden
Monsoon, which features a fusion menu and an array of Tiki-inspired cocktails, withstood a strong challenge from the runner up, BD's Mongolian Barbecue near Bayshore Town Center.
Best Soul Food: Speed Queen
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Mr. Perkins Family Restaurant
Speed Queen slow-cooks its beef and pork over an apple and hickory fire that creates a rich, flavorful taste. Most famous for their ridiculously tender ribs and sloppy-good sandwiches, Speed Queen attracts customers to the modest, North Side restaurant from all corners of the city for lunch and dinner.
Best Thai: The King & I
OnMilwaukee.com editors' choice: Thai Kitchen
The restaurant moved about a block west recently to 830 N. Old World 3rd St., but the food that's been heating up Milwaukee's palate for nearly 20 years stays the same. Perhaps the most famous dish on the menu is the Volcano Chicken, a tangy, but sweet dish of lightly breaded chicken that tastes great over sticky white rice. Despite its name, it's not overwhelmingly spicy.