By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 17, 2023 at 11:02 AM

’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee! OnMilwaukee Dining Month is served up by Educators Credit Union and Potawatomi Casino Hotel

Looking for new spots to try? During Dining Month, Lori Fredrich is dishing out must-tries in 20 different dining categories, from brunch to BBQ and everything in between. Here's what she's recommended so far!

People often ask me: What’s the best barbeque in the city? I’m more than happy to answer that question based on the quality of the meat used, combined with technique and execution. 

But, more often than not, what people really want to know is: What barbeque tastes the best? And that, my friends, is largely based on what style of barbeque you like. (Alabama, fire-smoked with white sauce; the Carolinas: smoked meat, vinegar-based sauce; Kansas City: variable, served with sweeter sauce alongside; Memphis: pit-smoked with tangy sauce; West Texas: wood-smoked with tomato-based sauce...I could go on). 

Here, in my list of must-trys, I'm showcasing a couple of the distinctive BBQ styles you can find in Milwaukee, all of them executed with a high level of technique and attention to detail. It might be useful to note that my baseline for judging a BBQ spot is always its brisket. It's a cut that requires time, patience and (due to variables like the size of the brisket and the weather), a true knack for the craft.

Double B’s

Double B's smoked wingsX

7412 W. Greenfield Ave., (414) 257-9150

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This family-friendly West Allis staple has been turning out smoked meats, sandwiches and sides since 2015.  Largely inspired by Memphis-style barbecue, meats at Double B's are pit smoked with hickory, giving them their distinctive flavor.

Highlights include their St. Louis spare ribs and brisket, though I'm especially fond of their smoked wings, which are tender with a nice little exterior snap. And their smokehouse beans (made with drippings from the smoker) are delicious enough that the side portion always feels too small.

Looking for an indulgence? Try the brisket burnt ends sandwich featuring bite-sized pieces of smoked brisket points, coated in Kansas City style sauce and double smoked. They're topped with crispy onions.

Firewise Barbeque Co.

Firewise BBQ spreadX

Food truck, (414) 403-1375 

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Who's got BBQ chops? Count Alex Obradovich among those who do. This certified Kansas City Barbeque Society judge, competitor and pitmaster left his job behind to launch his food truck in 2016. And he's never looked back.  

Meats like beef brisket, pork belly, turkey breast, pulled pork and chicken, spicy Polish sausages and bologna are smoked with fruitwoods (and sometimes a touch of hickory) and served with sides like smokey baked beans, creamy mustard potato salad, crisp vinegar-based slaw and cornbread.

But you'll also find fun offerings like BBQ nachos and Moinks, housemade beef and pork meatballs (hence the "moo" and the "oink") that have been wrapped in bacon, smoked and glazed with sweet BBQ sauce. Be warned: they're delicious, so they sell out quickly!

Definitely go for Firewise's flawlessly tender brisket, which needs no sauce to be delicious. And don't sleep on the full-flavored, garlicky Polish sausage which is perfect alongside Firewise's flavorful baked beans.  Oh! And if you enjoy heat (serious heat), be sure to try the Fire Sauce. It takes everything to a seething new level (it even adds a really nice kick to the beans).

Hacienda Taproom + Kitchen

Hacienda Taproom + Kitchen brisketX

2018 E. North Ave., (414) 296-7200 

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If you’ve not been to Hacienda since they shook things up with a new chef and full concept rebrand last fall, the integration of smoked meats into their menu is one of the reasons to give it a try. Chef Ashley Turner, a native Texan who definitely knows her barbeque, has merged the taproom’s inaugural Southwestern theme with distinctive Texas influence, creating what she calls  “Texacana,” a menu that seamlessly blends elements of classic southern fare with Tex-Mex and Texas BBQ.

Highlights include Turners’ Texas brisket chili, which also appears atop Hacienda’s BBQ Nacho Bites along with cheddar, red onions, radishes, cilantro crema and cilantro.

Guests can also indulge in build-their-own BBQ tacos, thanks to plates filled with proteins like smoked salmon and Texas-style brisket along with warm tortillas and accompaniments like cotija cheese, cilantro, radishes, pickled vegetable slaw and smoked red cabbage.

Keep an eye on their social media for special offerings and menu additions like smoked Duroc pork ribs with black garlic bbq sauce. Mmmhmm.

Heaven’s Table BBQ

Heaven's Table BBQ spreadX

5507 W. North Ave., (414) 732-7109

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Milwaukee’s BBQ game has gotten stronger over the past few years. Among the newest spots to tackle the art of smoked meats is Heaven’s Table, which moved into its own location at the end of 2021. 

Meats are hickory smoked and served up sans sauce with sides including house baked beans, macaroni and cheese, delicious greens (weekends only) and some of the best cornbread I’ve had in the North. 

Highlights include the Texas-inspired smoke brisket, juicy smoked chicken and pastrami (buy it by the pound for sandwiches).  Be sure to place your order early; like all good BBQ joints, when Heaven's Table is sold out, they're sold out.  Also note: if you can't place your order online, give them a call.  

Sweet Smoke BBQ

Sweet Smoke BBQ spreadX

Food truck, (414) 253-3553

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It was a desire to replicate the masterful barbeque at Franklin BBQ in Austin, Texas, that led to the birth of Sweet Smoke, a mobile barbeque operation that popped onto the scene in 2022.

While offerings vary based on where the truck is serving (and could include BBQ tacos, burgers or seared bologna sandwiches), Sweet Smoke’s foundational offerings include hickory smoked pulled pork, sliced brisket, pork spare ribs, chicken thighs and house sausages along with sides like cornbread muffins, smoked baked potatoes, baked beans, cucumber salad, coleslaw and potato salad. 

Highlights include the fattier cuts of their Texas-style brisket, which is tender and flavorful in its simplicity (or daubed with a bit of their vinegar-forward sauce); and their spare ribs, which are seasoned with a blend that reminds me a bit of pastrami. Leftover ribs were even sublime when rewarmed (in the oven at 250 degrees F for 20 minutes) and eaten with one of Sweet Smoke's delicious jalapeno corn muffins!

It would also be irresponsible not to mention that Sweet Smoke also serves up a phenomenal smoked brisket burger which holds its own against many of the best burgers in the city.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.