Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted! See all the winners for the month so far here.
Throughout Dining Month, we’ve been bringing you the best of what and where to eat in Milwaukee. There have been guides, great food articles and the local winners in dozens of different dining categories, all of which you can read about here.
Just like any random group of smart, attractive and food-consuming people, the OnMilwaukee staff has a wide array of culinary preferences, ranging from dining writer Lori Fredrich’s sophisticated gourmet palate to sports editor Jimmy Carlton’s proudly poor taste.
We've spent all of October writing about food, but we don’t often get to share our own personal dining opinions. With that in mind, here is every OnMilwaukee editorial staff member’s single favorite, all-time local-restaurant dish.
There are a number of classics that I thought about including here, like Calderone Club pizza or Kegel's fish fry, but then I decided to vote for the Wauwatosa sushi roll at Ginza Japanese Restaurant on Mayfair Road. Of course, I have selected probably one of the only sushi rolls that isn't actually good for you, since it has tempura shrimp and a "chef's special sauce" that's creamy and most certainly includes mayo.
The roll is tempura shrimp and avocado rolled in rice and nori and covered with spicy lobster and that sauce. It's completely and utterly addictive. And if you add a soft shell crab appetizer, I'll be in heaven.
Senior Writer, Food & Dining
If there’s one dish I find myself returning to over and over again — and feeling genuinely grateful that it’s remained on the menu in one form or another for years — it’s the spicy crab pasta at Goodkind.
Imagine toothsome bucatini lightly coated in a spicy red sauce dappled with pieces of ultra-flavorful soppressata and augmented with the foil of sweet flaky crab, tickled with rapini and topped off with rich basil oil. Now consider that the dish was born of Chef Lisa Kirkpatrick’s memories eating on the beach in Oregon. It’s truly comfort food with heart, and I can’t imagine anything better.
Co-founder & President
Sadly, my favorite Milwaukee dish, Osteria del Mondo's amazing tagliatelle verde al ragu, doesn’t exist anymore. But hope springs eternal, as Marc Bianchini says he is reopening in greater Downtown in the next year or so. Until then, I'm more than happy to go with another great Italian dish.
Calderone Club's capellini alla caprese. Oddly, this is about the only time I eat prosciutto. It's not only a treat but a moderately priced, amazing entree. Sure, there are more fancy dishes in and around town, but I love the Calderone Club's Downtown location, and its capellini alla caprese simply never fails. Let me a cheat a bit and add another one. The braised veal short ribs at La Merenda. These Strauss free-raised short ribs are braised in red wine and tomatoes and served over amazing caramelized carrot risotto. So very good.
My favorite dish in town has also recently gone away, so I’m paying homage to it here. AP Bar & Kitchen was my go-to spot for "I want dinner but I’m not sure what I want." I always knew I would want the Hamachi Crudo to start, though. This dazzling array of flavors changed with the seasons depending on what was fresh, and it never disappointed me.
Pop Culture Editor
Why in god's name would you force me to pick my favorite dish in Milwaukee? That's like picking your favorite child and also you have 127 kids. Do I pick Red Light Ramen's signature tonkotsu ramen, so warm and rich? Or do I pick Ricardo's Eat Your Spinach pizza, which is the perfect meaty, chewy satisfying slice – and even some spinach so I can say I ate a vegetable? And what of any number of the sausage selections at Vanguard? This is awful, and I'm not going to play your silly game, listicle.
*sulks some more*
OK, fine, if there's one dish I find myself truly craving, it's an order of hot wings from Points East Pub. They're what made me like bone-in chicken wings – and even if they hadn't converted me to the church of chicken, they're just phenomenal. The meat is always moist and tender, the heat is always on the right side of spicy and the skin always has that slight crunch that's just so addictive. So, fine, I've made my Sophie's choice. Now, as payment, somebody get me some wings.
Co-founder and Publisher
My favorite meal in Milwaukee is the one that I’ve been eating my entire life. It hasn’t changed one bit: a cup of matzo ball soup, half a corned beef sandwich on challah and a Dr. Brown’s cream soda at Benji’s Deli is exactly the same as it was 43 years ago. And that’s just great. For dessert, a raspberry Joys chocolate bar. That’s comfort food that never, ever goes out of style.
Senior Writer/Editorial Manager
I've eaten the shrimp soup at the original La Fuente ever since high school, when I decided shrimp wasn't disgusting. Today, it remains one of my favorite meals in the city and I crave it often. (Luckily I only live a few blocks from the restaurant.) I have sampled many other shrimp soups, but I like the slightly sweet and tomato-y broth, diced avocado, onion, cilantro and the large number of shrimp in each bowl.
Other restaurants add rice to their shrimp soup, and although I like rice in other dishes, I prefer my shrimp soup without. I also appreciate that this meal is relatively healthy, and after consuming it I feel pleasantly full but not stuffed.
This staff roundup was my idea, but I’m putting myself last because my favorite dish is typically whichever one I had last. Or will have next. Anyway, you have to take it one meal at a time, not look backward, it’s a long season and … sorry, I’ve been listening to Mike McCarthy a lot lately. Foodball!
My favorite dish, if you can believe it, is the Siga Keay Wot at Alem Ethiopian Village Downtown. I had Ethiopian food for the first time with my dad when I was 12 years old in Washington, D.C., and – despite my otherwise basic predilection for pizza and sandwiches – it remains by far my most beloved ethnic food. The spicy Siga Keay Wot is tender beef chunks braised in Ethiopian red pepper sauce and cooked with onion and assorted spices, with a couple vegetable sides and Injera (a slightly spongy flatbread made of barley, wheat and teff flour that functionally serves as a plate, utensils, napkin and vehicle for sopping up remaining juices). It’s delicious and interactive (you get to eat with your hands!) and you feel mega-cultured.
Born in Milwaukee but a product of Shorewood High School (go ‘Hounds!) and Northwestern University (go ‘Cats!), Jimmy never knew the schoolboy bliss of cheering for a winning football, basketball or baseball team. So he ditched being a fan in order to cover sports professionally - occasionally objectively, always passionately. He's lived in Chicago, New York and Dallas, but now resides again in his beloved Brew City and is an ardent attacker of the notorious Milwaukee Inferiority Complex.
After interning at print publications like Birds and Blooms (official motto: "America's #1 backyard birding and gardening magazine!"), Sports Illustrated (unofficial motto: "Subscribe and save up to 90% off the cover price!") and The Dallas Morning News (a newspaper!), Jimmy worked for web outlets like CBSSports.com, where he was a Packers beat reporter, and FOX Sports Wisconsin, where he managed digital content. He's a proponent and frequent user of em dashes, parenthetical asides, descriptive appositives and, really, anything that makes his sentences longer and more needlessly complex.
Jimmy appreciates references to late '90s Brewers and Bucks players and is the curator of the unofficial John Jaha Hall of Fame. He also enjoys running, biking and soccer, but isn't too annoying about them. He writes about sports - both mainstream and unconventional - and non-sports, including history, music, food, art and even golf (just kidding!), and welcomes reader suggestions for off-the-beaten-path story ideas.