By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Oct 16, 2019 at 3:15 PM

It's time for Dining Month, presented by Deer District and its spooky Halloween-themed alter ego, Fear District. Throughout the month of October, we'll be serving up fun and fascinating content about all things food. The signature dish, however, is our 2019 Best of Dining poll, who's winners we will dish out all month long. Get hungry, Milwaukee! 

The 2019-20 basketball season is gearing up with the Bucks hosting their home opener on Saturday, Oct. 26, with a 4 p.m. game against the Miami Heat. And if you’re planning a visit to Fiserv Forum for the game, there are a host of new dishes to satiate your game time hunger pangs.

The new foods (all priced between $7 and $14) are part of the Fiserv’s MKEats program, showcasing dishes created with the help of local restaurant partners.

"Based on guest feedback, we are continuing to innovate and push ourselves," says Senior Executive Chef Kenneth Hardiman. "That means we’re introducing more vegetarian dishes and gluten-free offerings, along with making improvements to the foods we serve across the arena."

Vegetarian options

Vegetable pizza at Canal Street Pizza

Rajas con queso tacos at Laughing Taco

El Rey chips, salsa and guacamole

Gyro Step Beyond Gyro, featuring a gyro made with seasoned Beyond meat

The Italian Grilled Cheese at Say Cheese

Fried pickle chips with ranch dressing at Sobelman’s

Brats, tortas and more

The MKE brat at Klement’s (and yes, that's cheese sauce plus fried cheese curds on top)

The gyro dog at Klement's (featuring a gyro-spiced hot dog topped with tzatziki and tomatoes)

The Iron Grate BBQ brisket plate

Pork carnitas torta from El Rey (featuring pork carnitas, sour cream, black beans, lettuce, tomato and onion on a telera roll)

The curry chicken bowl from Freshfin Poke

Pork belly burnt ends mac from Mac Shack

Happy Chicken from Dandan

There will also be Treat Street Popcorn in flavors like dill pickle, blazin’ cheddar, puppy chow, milk chocolate caramel and buttered caramel, served at stands throughout the arena.

And that’s not all. Hardiman says that there are at least 25 more new foods which will debut at Fiserv over the course of the season.

"Our goal is always to be a first class organization with first class food," says Hardiman. "We want to give people the same experience folks have at each of these restaurants right in the Fiserv Forum"

Exclusive offerings at the new Jockey Club

Earlier this month, Fiserv announced the debut of Jockey Club, a 6500-square foot mezzanine-level event space which will be in operation during all Bucks and Marquette University men’s basketball games as well as concerts and shows, and can be rented for private and corporate events for up to 125 people.

Food at Jockey Club will include dishes from local restaurants including Ardent, Calderone Club and Laughing Taco.

Among the offerings are burgers from Ardent, made with beef from Chef Justin Carlisle’s family farm in Sparta, Wisconsin. The Ardent Burger features a beef patty topped with whipped cheddar, shaved iceberg lettuce, pickles and shaved onion on a potato roll.

There will also be a French Onion burger, salt and pepper wings, loaded tater tots (with Nueske’s bacon and truffle cheese sauce) and the Tiger Dog, a foot-long hot dog topped with crispy onion strings.

Calderone Club will feature both a caprese and prosciutto panino, margherita and classico pizzas and the Original Meatball Sub.

Meanwhile, Laughing Taco offerings at Jockey Club will feature elevated ingredients like griddled queso and meats cooked on a trompo.

New beverages

Numerous new beverages will also be available including martinis made with Absolut Elyx single estate copper crafted luxury vodka and a new Red Bull and Absolut Juice (apple or strawberry) cocktail.

Also new will be a variety of slushie machines throughout the building serving refreshing Casamigos margarita slushies.

On the beer side, Fiserv will also continue to offer guests the opportunity to use the "Beer Button" a feature on the Bucks app which allows guests to order beer delivered directly to their seats (with no additional service charge or fees). Available options currently include Miller Lite and Coors Light, but Green says he anticipates an expansion of the Beer Button program, potentially by as early as the second half of the season.

An improved Fiserv experience

The new offerings follow on the tail of a year of research and development on the part of Hardiman and Justin Green, Vice President of Hospitality for the Milwaukee Bucks, who visited countless sports arenas and high volume event venues, including Disney World, to improve the guest experience in Milwaukee.

Green says they’ve spent the past year listening to guests and streamlining processes to give Fiserv Forum visitors a superior experience.

"We’ve also listened to every guest and their feedback over the last year," says Green, "and we’ve made numerous changes based on what we heard. From the top down, we’ve been given everything we need to be the best we can be … and our goal is not only to be the best in the area, but the best in the world."

That includes a focus on the quality of the food being offered, the speed with which guests are served and the overall food experience.

"We can’t eliminate lines," he says. "But we can make the overall experience as appealing and as stress free as possible."

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.