By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 05, 2023 at 10:01 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!

A great coffee shop is like a home away from home (with better coffee). But the best of them also have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes you want to return again and again.

This list contains five of those very special places. 

The Daily Bird

The Daily BirdX

808 E. Center St., (631) 438-7505

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The Daily Bird is a place I wish I could make it to more often. That’s because it’s a place filled with joy, good vibes and reminders that life is absolutely worth living.

Built on the foundations of community, recovery and hope, The Daily Bird not only serves up really great coffee, a solid dirty chai and a worthy food menu (watch their Facebook page for weekend specials), but also daily affirmations: reminders to “Stay Rad”, “Be Kind”, and “Keep Going”. 

You don’t get that at just any coffee shop. But, Dan Zwart and his team offer it up by the bushel, with no strings attached.


Chant: espresso, chanterelle syrup, oaked maple chai, oat milk, candied chanterelle powder, applewood smoked sea salt, orange

Flagship cafe: 1020 N. Broadway
Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.
Milwaukee Art Museum Cafe, 700 N. Art Museum Dr.[Forthcoming location at Radio Milwaukee]

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Milwaukee has become an amazing coffee city, and the rise of spots like Discourse is just the proof in the pudding.

Head to either Discourse location and you're guaranteed an experience. You can play it safe by ordering up a cup of standard drip coffee. But you can also opt for a pour-over made with coffee from a boutique roastery you've probably never visited.  You can order a standard latte (it will be excellent) or you can branch out and try Moonwater, a beautifully balanced drink graced with warming cinnamon and telicherry black pepper that might just change your world with its nuanced sweetness and unpredictable (but sublime) pops of smoky saltiness.

Wanna take it further? Order the Open Seas-ame featuring banana peel sous vide coffee (what!?), zero-proof rum, black sesame banana caramel, chai concentrate, Jamaican #2 bitters, toasted coconut, oat cream, tropical powder and black sesame seeds.

La Finca

La FincaX

3558 E. Sivyer Ave., St. Francis, (414) 394-0722

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I don't have many reasons to bop down to St. Francis on a regular basis. And yet, I’ve often driven out of my way to order a coquito latte or breakfast tacos from La Finca. It’s not just because both are delicious.

There’s a little magic in this sibling-owned cafe with its boldly painted walls and staff that somehow always seem to be having a great day.  It's inspiring. And, for all of those reasons, it has become one of my favorite places to meet friends or hole up and get some writing done.

Never been there? Make it a point to stop in and grab a cup of great coffee (sourced from the owners’ grandfathers farm in Oaxaca, Mexico), an agua fresca and something delicious from their monthly-changing menu. Hopefully you'll feel the same kind of magic.

Valentine Coffee

Valentine Coffee cortadoX

5918 W. Vliet St., (414) 988-8018
189 N. Milwaukee St., (414) 208-6000
5835 W. National Ave., West Allis, (414) 928-8677

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Valentine Coffee has earned a place in my coffee-loving soul, largely because they approach coffee roasting in a way that resonates with me. It’s about nuance, sensory experience and terroir. It’s also about respect for the coffee itself. Owners Joe Gilsdorf and Robb Kashevarof don’t talk about it much (let alone boast); but they’ve quietly created a great coffee brand that’s backed by a true dedication to all of those things, and it shows. Valentine makes a darned good cup of balanced coffee.

Lately I’ve been spending time at their new West Allis Cafe, which has an amazing vibe, truly friendly baristas and great outdoor seating thanks to the community space created by the Kegel’s beer garden. It’s currently my go-to spot for an afternoon cortado when I’m on the West Side.

Vendetta Coffee Bar

Vendetta Coffee BarX

7613 W. State St., Wauwatosa, (262) 722-3158
524 S. 2nd St.

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When Vendetta first opened on State Street in Wauwatosa, I loved it for the way their coffee conjured memories of European travel. Built to resemble an Italian cafe, their coffee reflects a distinctive flavor profile and their drinks reflect a culture that views coffee differently than we do in America. 

I still love that about them. But I also love their spaces, each of which has its charms. The Wauwatosa cafe is great for coffee meetings and chats, while I can hide out a bit and get work done in the second-floor loft at the Walker’s Point location. The ability to stop in for a panini at lunchtime or negroni or aperol spritz after work doesn’t hurt either.

Having come of age during the grunge era, I also appreciate the live music element at both cafes. It reminds me of coffee shops' role over the years in supporting art communities, culture and subculture.

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.