After a series of previews late last week and into the weekend, Crossroads Collective, the East Side’s new food hall, opens today at 2238 N. Farwell Ave., just next door to the Oriental Theatre.
The space itself boasts a sleek, minimalistic look featuring warm wood, black and white hexagonal and floral-inspired tiles along with selective pops of color. Seating is available for up to 94 guests at a variety of tables in the common seating area, plus additional seating at the main bar where guests can order beer, cocktails, sparkling wine and oysters on the half-shell.
Meanwhile, tucked around a variety of corners, guests will also spy murals created by local artists Carli Ihde and Charity Ekpo.
Look a bit harder and you'll also spy at least one remnant from a past occupant of the building: an old school cash register repurposed from the former Oriental Drugs.
Amenities in the food hall include free Wi-Fi as well as myriad outlets and USB ports to recharge devices. To encourage sustainability, vendors throughout the hall will be using compostable food containers, cups and flatware along with re-usable metal trays.
Then, of course, there's the food. Crossroads will open with six food vendors, including Beerline Cafe, Falafel Guys, Heaven’s Table BBQ, Frida, Laughing Taco and Scratch Ice Cream.
Crossroads is a second location for Michael Allen’s Beerline Cafe, 2076 N. Commerce St. However, food hall guests will find not only a few favorites (like the spartichoke crepe) but a variety of new menu items.
That includes new vegan crepes in both sweet and savory flavors like lemon poppy seed and blueberry (pictured above); apple cinnamon and peanut butter with bee-free honey; chipotle "crab" (made from jackfruit) with cilantro chimichurri and tomatoes; and the florentine with mushrooms, sundried tomatoes, spinach and spicy puttanesca sauce (pictured below). Pricing runs $5.50-$8. Build-your-own crepes and a variety of fresh juices, smoothies, coffee and tea are also available.
The menu at Falafel Guys, a business owned by Ron and Chrissy Stroli, features an extensive menu (much like the restaurant’s brick and mortar location in Thiensville). It includes pita sandwiches filled with ingredients like falafel eggplant, kefta, shawarma and chicken schnitzel.
These options are also available in the form of bowls (kefta bowl pictured above, $13) and salads with sides like kibbeh, baba ghanoush, hummus and sweet potato cigars. Pricing for individual items runs from $4 to $15 with most entrees in the $7-10 range.
Expect inventive sandwiches and soups at Frida, a new concept named after Mexican artist Frida Kahlo and owned and operated by Mitchell and Ashley Wakefield of Tess, 2499 N. Bartlett Ave.
Options include comfort food staples like tomato and butternut squash bisque, a duck po’boy (pictured), shrimp roll and grilled veggie sandwich, along with a few Mexican inspired soups and sandwiches like chicken chile verde and pork pozole and a chicken tinga torta served up on a telera roll.
Soups are priced $4.50 per cup or $7 a bowl (served with foccaccia) while sandwiches fall between $9 and $10. Soup and sandwich combos are $12.50. There will also be a menu of rotating sweet treats including options like brown butter rice krispie treats.
Heaven’s Table BBQ
This barbecue stall run by former SURG chef Jason Alston features hickory smoked meats including Texas brisket, smoked chicken, St. Louis-style ribs, rib tips and pork shoulder as well as Lao sausages made by Alex Hanesakda of Sap-Sap and smoked by Alston.
Guests can purchase meats by the pound or in three-, four- or five-meat combos ($18-$30) with sides including jalapeño cornbread, fried corn, vinegar-based coleslaw, grits and macaroni and cheese. Specials include smoked beef ribs (pictured with a three-meat combo platter featuring pork shoulder, brisket and sausage with cornbread and macaroni and cheese, $18), which will be available on Saturdays only. (The meaty ribs are $13 each.)
There’s also smokepot chili featuring a variety of smoked meats ($3.99/$5.99) and sliced, smoked sweet potato with brown sugar cinnamon butter ($6.99), a nice option for vegetarian or vegan diners.
Sauces include Alston’s white Alabama-style barbecue sauce, Firewise barbecue sauce and peach-mustard barbecue sauce made with a recipe from B’s Cracklin BBQ in Georgia.
If you’re in the mood for tacos, there are also options from Laughing Taco, 1033 S. 1st St., operated by Chef Justin Carlisle and his wife Lucia Munoz-Carlisle including popular options like pirata (steak, cheese and avocado), trompo (slow roasted marinated pork), bistec (steak), nopalitos (cactus in guajillo sauce) and papas (potatoes cooked in savory tomato sauce).
Tacos are between $2.50 and $5 each or $10-12 for three to five tacos (depending on selection).
Scratch Ice Cream
Meanwhile, there’s also a first-ever scoop shop from Scratch Ice Cream, the wholesale small batch ice cream company owned by Ryan Povlick and Dustin Garley. The shop will serve up cones and dishes of ice cream in a variety of rotating flavors like vegan peanut butter, cotton candy, dirt cake, salted caramel waffle cone and cold brew and toffee ($3.99 single scoop or $4.99 double scoop in a dish or standard cone, $4.35 or $5.55 in a waffle cone).
There are also ice cream and cookie sandwiches for $3.99 each and pints available for $5.25.
Things to come
Among things to look forward to at Crossroads is the opening of Shanghai, the speakeasy-style bar, which will boast an old-school vibe and a covert entryway.
Watch OnMilwaukee for more details on that later this week.
Crossroads Collective is open daily from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. with vendor service hours from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Lori Fredrich (Lo) is an eater, writer, wonderer, bon vivante, traveler, cook, gardener and girlwonder. Born and raised in the Milwaukee area, she has tried to leave many times, but seems to be drawn to this quirky city that smells of beer and alewives.
Some might say that she is a little obsessed with food. Lo would say she is A LOT obsessed with food. After all, she has been cooking, eating and enjoying food for decades and has no plans to retire anytime soon.
Lo's recipes and writing have been featured in a variety of publications including GO: Airtran Inflight Magazine, Cheese Connoisseur, Cooking Light, Edible Milwaukee, Milwaukee Magazine and the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, as well as on the blog Go Bold with Butter, the web site Wisconsin Cheese Talk, and in the quarterly online magazine Grate. Pair. Share.