By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 14, 2023 at 10:02 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!

Cumin, coriander, cardamom, fenugreek, garam masala. The warming spices that define the Indian and Pakistani canon are also part of what makes the cuisine stand out from the crowd. In fact, if it’s flavor you’re looking for, its tough to go wrong with a comforting meal of butter chicken, chana masala and saag. 

That said, if you love Indian fare, you've also likely noticed that those dishes (all from Punjab in Northern India) show up on nearly every menu. Most venues in Milwaukee feature large menus showcasing a broad swath of popular dishes, rather than taking a deeper dive into the cuisine of the owners' hometowns and regions.  If I had my way, I'd love for us to have more of the latter.

That said, these restaurants were chosen because they've made an effort to showcase dishes that hint at the diversity found in the cuisines of India and Pakistan.  And yes, their food is delicious!

Bollywood Grill

Bollywood grill tandoori wingsX

1038 N. Jackson St., (414) 271-8200

I’ve never had a bad meal at this lower East Side restaurant, which stays true to its name by broadcasting Bollywood films on televisions throughout the dining room and serving up a menu of both Pakistani and Indian fare.

I’m particularly fond of a number of their vegetarian dishes including the buttery dal makhni featuring black and kidney beans; the bagara bainga (eggplant with sesame, peanuts and garam masala); and the masala dosa, thin flavorful crepes served with sambar and coconut chutney. But if meat is what you’re craving, opt for one of their sizzling platters of tangy, beautifully spiced chicken (or paneer, lamb or seafood), fresh from the tandoor. 

Get outside the box and try their Peshawari na'an stuffed with cashews, raisins and coconut. Though traditionally eaten for breakfast, it's delicious alongside a fragrant spicy curry.

India Garden

India Garden rice and pulseX

2930 N. 117th St., Wauwatosa, (414) 235-9220 

The menu at India garden is expansive, featuring dishes from both the north and south of India. Vegetable dishes are plentiful and include standouts like paneer mushroom masala, aloo chole (chickpeas, potatoes and tomato in a fragrant, spiced sauce) and beans porial, a great example of a dry southern curry featuring green beans cooked with mustard seeds, curry leaves, coconut, chiles and black lentils.

India Garden is also a good bet for date night; you can get dinners for two (meat, vegetable or seafood) for right around $50.


Peshawar chapli kebabX

7510 W. Layton Ave., Greenfield, (414) 800-4226


Among the newer Pakistani restaurants in the city, Peshawar offers a combination of Pakistani and Indian staples.

Their menu features an assortment of kebabs, a showing of vegetable, chicken and mutton curries, biryani and a number of notable Pakistani meat stews including the comfort food staple, beef nihari, and haleem, a flavorful stew of shredded beef with lentils, pounded barley and wheat which originated in Persia.

Don’t overlook the chapli kebab, richly spiced minced beef patties flecked with tomato, onion and pomegranate seeds; it’s delicious with the accompanying cilantro chutney. 

Ruta's Fresh Indian Fare

Ruta's spreadX

Ruta’s Fresh Indian Fare
207 W. Freshwater Way, (414) 509-6802

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Set your expectations aside. Ruta’s offers a whole new view of Indian fare thanks to its fast-casual model, which knits together the varied flavors of Indian cuisine, particularly that in Western climes like Goa, with Ayurvedic principles to create offerings that are convenient, customizable and easy to access.

At Ruta's, guests are invited to build their own meal, whether it be a bowl or a toasted na'an melt filled with a choice of protein sauces and vegetables. Even better, the options were created to be utterly foolproof, so any combination of elements you choose will taste good together. You can also spice things up or tone things back as desired.

If you like things spicy (as I do), try your choice of protein with mirchi sauce, alongside turmeric carrots, coconut slaw, kale slaw and mustard beets with a side of kali sauce!


Saffron Crispy CauliflowerX

223 N. Water St., (414) 539-4980

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If you're looking for Indian fare that reflects an evolution of the cuisine, there's also Saffron.  The food here is fresh and modern. It showcases the creativity found in fusion restaurants while also paying homage to the traditional flavors and techniques that make Indian fare so incredible. Even better, their menu changes seasonally, so there's almost always something new to try.

You'll find shareable plates like crispy spiced cauliflower redolant with ginger and garlic and served with their flavorful sauce; and incredible fusion dishes like soft shell crab bao and shrimp tawa tacos.

But you'll also find beautifully prepared dishes from the tandoor, like smoked lamb chops, prawns and marinated paneer; delicious dal makhani, saag paneer and chickpea masala; and gems like Southern Indian pumpkin palya featuring stir-fried pumpkin with spinach khichdi (a mix of spiced spinach, lentils and rice), pumpkin puree and curry leaves. Be sure to try the deliciously different fig na'an as well.

Don't sleep on the cocktails coming out of Saffron's bar. Most are creative takes on familiar classics; but they incorporate botanicals and spices that mirror Saffron's food menu, so every drink is also unlike anything you've tried before. Don't drink? Their mocktails are equally as thoughtful.

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.