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Beginning Wednesday, March 9, there will be a brand new concept to enjoy at Zocalo Food Park, 636 S. 6th St. in Walker’s Point.
Brew’d Burger Shop is bringing a brand new food truck concept to the table, which showcases a menu of beer-infused sides, burgers and sandwiches.
Behind the food truck concept is industry veteran Chef Ramses Alvarez, who has spent his career working at a variety of restaurants in Chicago and Milwaukee, including Sanford and Coquette Cafe, the Bartolotta Restaurants, Mason Street Grill, Water Street Brewery and La Merenda. Most recently, he has worked as a consultant and private chef after being furloughed from his role as executive chef of Bistro 333 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel.
By his side is Alvarez’s partner, Shannon Rowell, who he credits with playing a large role in assisting him in launching both his private chef business, as well as Dia Bom, a concept which opened at Crossroads Collective in January which fuses the flavors found in modern Latin American cuisine with Japanese kushiyaki (skewered, grilled foods) and Chinese bao (dumplings).
“She has been my right hand ever since I started my private chef business,” Alvarez says, “And I couldn’t do this without her.”
Brewing up a new concept
Alvarez says the concept for Brew’d Burger Shop developed after he struck up a conversation with Zócalo Food Park co-owner Jesus Gonzalez about hosting a dinner at the food park. Ultimately, Alvarez says, Gonzalez asked him if he had any interest in launching a food truck.
Alvarez says he found a great deal of appeal in joining a project like Zócalo which has inspired development in the Walker’s Point neighborhood while bringing the community together around food and drink.
“What they are doing at Zócalo is amazing,” he says. “It’s like a little mercado of trucks. I’ve spent a great deal of time in places like Florida that have great food truck scenes… and I think what they are doing at Zócalo is really moving our food culture in Milwaukee ahead. It’s helping to make us a world class city.”
He also loved the idea of piloting a creative new concept.
“Part of me has always wanted to have a food truck,” he says. “I think it’s a very humble way to bring food to the table. In fact it reminds me of home… of the food stands you find in Mexico. The food is always so heartfelt and comforting. And it’s a really intimate way to serve people food that they love.”
Alvarez says he brainstormed a variety of concepts for the new truck, but settled on the idea for Brew’d after Dairyland left Zocalo to open concepts at Central Waters Brewing and the 3rd Street Market Hall and Foxfire decided to give up their truck for other pursuits.
Not only are burgers and sandwiches popular items (and did well at the food park), he says, but he was excited about adding his own unique spin to the idea.
“When I worked with R.C.’s at Water Street Brewery in 2011, one of the first things I added to the menu were items that incorporated beer, like beer cheese sauces,” he says. “It was one of the cooking techniques that stayed with me, and I’ve used beer to add flavor to dishes in my cooking for many years.”
For Brew’d Burger Shop, he chose to partner with New Barons Brewing Cooperative, a nearby Bay View Brewery which he says makes high quality, richly flavored beer that works particularly well for incorporating into his dishes.
On the menu
On the Brew’d menu, guests will find a variety of sides, from thick-cut steak fries served with roasted garlic aioli ($5.95) to classic Wisconsin cheese curds served with New Barons’ Sunny Crank Cream Ale bacon ranch dip for dipping. ($6.95)
Alvarez says he’s also developed a unique recipe for Bavarian onion rings, which combines the advantages of a battered onion ring with the crispness of breading made with pretzel crumbs. The thin, crispy rings will be served with a side of New Barons’ Wit beer mustard ($6.95).
The menu also pulls inspiration from Alvarez’s Mexican heritage with offerings like carnitas poutine featuring steak fries loaded with beer-braised pork belly, cheese curds and jalapeno cheese sauce ($9.95).
On the burger side, Alvarez says most of his burgers will be made with 7-ounce griddled patties made from a custom beef blend that incorporates brisket, short rib and ground chuck. Those will include The Classic featuring two beef patties and cheese ($7.95) and the Brew City featuring two patties, bacon, New Barons’ Witches Bit Witbier cheese sauce ($8.95).
But guests can also order up The Mini featuring a stack of three slider style burgers with pepperjack cheese ($9.95) or the Mexican-inspired Chilango Chorizo featuring a 6-ounce smashed chorizo patty topped with New Barons’ beer cheddar cheese and guacamole ($10.95).
A variety of sandwiches will also be available, including The Waukee featuring New Barons’ beer braised short ribs, New Barons’ Pecan Porter beer cheese; onions and greens on a pretzel roll ($14.95).
“This sandwich is going to be amazing,” notes Alvarez. “The beer is full of flavor and body and it makes the braised short ribs really really delicious.”
There’s also a fried chicken sandwich featuring buttermilk fried chicken thighs seasoned with Mitchell Street seasoning and topped with pickles and New Barons beer cheese on a kaiser roll ($11.95), as well as one of Alvarez’s favorites: Dad’s Daycare, a grilled cheese sandwich featuring New Barons’ aged cheddar beer cheese, muenster and New Barons’ All Work No Play braised pork belly grilled on sweet, crisp slices of brioche bread ($11.95).
On Fridays, Brew’d Burger Shop will also be rolling out their signature fish fry featuring beer battered market fish served with steak fries and tartar sauce ($9.95).
“We’re going to work with Empire Fish to use what’s fresh, whether it’s cod, ocean perch or other high quality white fish,” says Alvarez.
Brew’d Burger Shop will be open during regular Zocalo hours: Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m., Thursdays from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m.to 7 p.m.
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.