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!
Staring down a list of new restaurants – and trying to determine which one to try next – is often a daunting prospect. But my hope is that this short list of promising spots makes your journey a bit easier.
Need more choices? Check out the full list of restaurants that have opened so far in 2023.
Don't forget to be kind, patient and tip well!
1033 S. 1st St., (414) 226-5754
1033 might be among the smallest restaurants in the city, boasting just 12 seats at the bar and a small table for two tucked back in the corner. But it’s a spot with big personality and a menu that features an ever-changing menu of raw bar items, tinned fish, charcuterie and cheese and a selection of shareable seasonal dishes.
Even more, the dishes at 1033 are ever-changing, offering diners the opportunity to visit more often without growing bored. Among the dishes of the moment you'll find options like caviar served with house sauce and mochi doughnuts; lobster brown butter bread pudding; a mushroom donabe with maitake, aged kombu, onions and salt infused with spruce; squash brulee served with crostini; and braised rabbit with potato and parsnip pavé and Swiss chard.
Want to dip your toes in? Stop in for happy hour, which takes place Thursday through Saturday from 3 to 5 p.m. or 9-10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. Reservations are recommended for full dinner service.
2378 S. Howell Ave., (262) 229-1157
What started off as a beloved food truck transformed into a new Bay View destination this summer, sporting a cozy eclectic dining room, an expanded menu and a full bar with local brews, a curated wine list and a collection of whimsically-named cocktails like the Reading Rainbow.
Head to heirloom for any number of soul-filling options from appetizers like hand-pulled burrata salad and steamed mussels, to casual options like well-executed burgers and chicken sandwiches and full-on entrees like grilled shrimp polenta, wild mushroom risotto and porcini-dusted Bavette steak.
Be sure to ask about the dessert menu, which changes daily! Reservations are recommended.
Hot Dish Pantry
4125 S. Howell Ave., (414) 231-3305
Midwestern comfort food is the name of the game at Hot Dish Pantry, a pop-up turned brick-and-mortar restaurant that offers both well-executed carry-out or fast-casual-style dining at truly affordable prices.
There's no wrong way to dine at Hot Dish, which offers both a long list of bites and shareable sides (think pierogi, housemade tater tots and hand-battered cheese curds) to soul-filling sandwiches, their playfully named "Lucy Goosey" burger (or pizza burger) and their classic hot dish (ground beef, mushroom cream sauce and vegetables topped with crispy tater tots).
You can't go wrong with their aloo chaat pierogi stuffed with fragrant Indian-spiced cauliflower, potatoes and chickpeas and served with yogurt sauce, arugula salad and crispy lentils. The same is true of their Hoosier-style fried pork tenderloin sandwich (and the Nashville Hot version, which is amazing if you prefer a bit of kick). Be sure to keep your eyes on their specials like Berbere shrimp and polenta pierogi (which debuted last week).
Red Circle Inn
N44 W33013 Watertown Plank Rd., Nashota,
The oldest restaurant in Wisconsin is new again thanks to some love from the folks at Geronimo Hospitality Group who purchased the 175-year-old restaurant, renewed its spaces with mindful updates and infused the menu with new energy.
It's worth the drive to Nashota to take a peek at the well-preserved bar and dining areas and indulge in the restaurant's somewhat supper club-inspired menu. Start off with French onion soup or shrimp cocktail and move on to steak or one of the Inn's beautifully executed dishes like the not-so-traditional (but exceedingly delicious) beef stroganoff (pictured above), pan-seared walleye or pheasant breast.
You can even top your meal off with housemade "frozen cocktails," including slightly lighter versions of classic ice cream drinks like the Grasshopper and Pink Squirrel. Reservations are highly recommended.
@ The Clark Hotel
314 W. Main St., Waukesha, (262) 899-2520
Delightfully unexpected. Those are the first words that come to mind for me when I think about Travieso, a restaurant that weaves the flavors of Latin America into a slate of largely familiar dishes.
Humble vegetables like brussels sprouts stand out when fried until crisp and paired with chorizo aioli. Caesar salad takes on a new thrill when dressed with poblano and lime infused dressing. And beef tenderloin shines when beautifully cooked, topped with chorizo bearnaise and served alongside scallops on a bed of vanilla buerre blanc. Sweet treats like churro cheesecake and sweet plantain creme brulee tie things up beautifully.
Those are the types of dishes you'll find at Travieso, which has transformed the formerly dark Irish Pub at the Clarke Hotel into a modern destination that offers guests an opportunity to adventure beyond the ordinary.
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.