By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 10, 2024 at 11:02 AM Photography: Richard Wood

In March, we briefed you on large-scale changes happening at North Avenue Market, 5900 W. North Ave., including a shift in its focus to better serve the surrounding neighborhood.

Among the changes is a pivot from the Market’s identity as a food hall to a community gathering showcasing Christopher’s, a full-service Southern restaurant on the ground floor and an event center on the garden level.

“We are excited to continue providing an amazing space for our community to come together, eat, fellowship, and grow,” says North Avenue Market Founder Chris Harris Morse. “My vision for North Avenue Market remains for it to be a hub for the four surrounding neighborhoods – a place where anyone feels welcome no matter who they are or where they come from.”

June 4-9, Harris Morse will be hosting a community Open House at North Avenue Market to officially introduce Christopher’s Southern Kitchen & Bar (with its full menu), as well as the enhanced lower-level event center. During the Open House event, guests will receive a 20% of discount on all food purchases.

North Avenue Market  (Photo: Lori Fredrich)
North Avenue Market (Photo: Lori Fredrich)


In the meantime, Christopher’s Southern Kitchen & Bar has quietly opened its doors, serving a pared-down menu of Southern-inspired fare and preparing for its official debut. 

Christopher’s Bar, the focal point for the restaurant, continues to be operated by Bittercube, long-time cocktail experts and makers of Bittercube Bitters. Guests will find a full complement of beverages, including top-notch cocktails. In fact, guests will find an expanded menu featuring Southern-inspired drinks along with frozen specialty cocktails meant to hit the spot as the weather warms. Bittercube also continues to operate Mosler’s Vault, the Garden-Level speakeasy specializing in elevated cocktails in an intimate environs.

The remainder of the restaurant concept is inspired by the Southern Roots shared by Harris Morse, a native of North Carolina, and Chef and General Manager Michael Pyle-Harris, who hails from Virginia where he owned and operated a barbeque restaurant.

Art in restaurantX

Guests who’ve visited the market in the past will note some cosmetic changes, including additional seating, walls filled with whimsical Southern-themed art and two vendor stalls transformed into private dining areas. 

Themed dining roomsX

The themed dining rooms include the House of Cards Dining Room, which accommodates six and the Just Jazz Dining Room, which can accommodate groups up to 12 at communal tables.  Both private dining areas are available for reservations.

On the current menu, guests will find starters like hand-battered fried pickle chips with Bar-ranch-ala sauce ($10); deviled eggs ($10); spicy cornmeal-battered fried green tomatoes with cajun remoulade ($12); hush puppies served with pimiento cheese ($10) and house wings served with a choice of housemade Buffalo, bbq or signature seasoning with ranch or blue cheese dressing (eight for $14). 

Sandwiches include a classic single smash burger topped with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles ($14; make it a double for $16); a chicken fried tofu sandwich featuring pickle-brined crisp-breaded tofu topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles and vegan Cajun majo ($16);  and a spicy fried shrimp roll with lettuce, tomato and cajun mayo piled high on a baguette with a side of cole slaw ($18).

Entree-style items include fried catfish prepared with a special seasoned batter and served with hushpuppies and homemade tarter sauce ($19); and vegan Louisiana-style gumbo chock full of bell peppers, onions, garlic, okra and kidney beans along with housemade Andouille-style seitan and crispy fried tofu ($18).

Diners can also indulge in classic Southern-style desserts like banana pudding and sweet potato pie.

Music and promotions

In addition to comedy shows and other events taking place in the lower level event space, Christopher’s will showcase free live music Thursday through Saturday evenings. Guests can also take advantage of daily specials including:

  • Happy Hour:  Tuesday through Saturday from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring $2 off cocktails and $1 off beer
  • Tuesday Neighborhood Night featuring 15% off on food for neighbors (residents of zip codes 53208, 53210 and 53213)
  • Wednesday Educators’ Night featuring 15% off for teachers
  • Sunday All Day Happy Hour featuring $2 off cocktails and $1 off beer all day long

Art on display

Guests who’ve experienced the public art displays at North Avenue Market can expect more of the same, with exhibits rotating in the space every two months. Currently, the back of the hall features an installment by local artist, Vince Tripi, which will be on display through May 28. 

The historical exhibit, entitled “Blossom & Wilt: Queerness under Fascism, c. 1791 – 1944” features profiles of both people and ideas in Germany that advanced the development of modern gay, lesbian and bisexual identities and gave voice and bodily expression to the transgender experience. The installment also highlights the Nazi destruction of research from the likes of Magnus Hirschfeld and the reimprisonment of the men with the pink triangle, even after surviving slave-labor death camps, efforts which resulted in the erasure of diversity in both gender and sexuality prior to (and between) the World Wars.

The exhibit incites thought-provoking questions, including: How could awareness of these individuals and ideas have impacted and advanced our culture’s view of same-sex relationships and the transgender experience? 

Event Center

In response to feedback from local organizations that have made regular use of the space, the North Avenue Market’s garden-level event center has been reimagined in recent months 

The former co-working spaces/rentable offices have been replaced by a third conference room, The Greenhouse, offering variable seating and AV capabilities. 

The GreenhouseX

Two other conference-style rooms, The Stable and The Workshop, remain available, as well as the main lounge area and two semi-private rooms, Park Place (which features seating and photos of local parks) and Fairview Court (which features seating and photos of the Wisconsin State Fair). 

Event spaceX

The event center is available for gatherings of all sizes, from single rooms for small groups to the entire space. Thanks to its flexible design (with potential for break-out rooms) and AV capabilities, it can easily accommodate corporate and nonprofit events, training sessions and retreats along with social gatherings or both public or private entertainment and performances.

Catering will soon be available from Christopher’s restaurant to accommodate scheduled events.

Christopher’s Southern Kitchen & Bar is currently in its soft-opening phase with hours Tuesday and Wednesday from 4 to 9 p.m., Thursday from 4 to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 to 11 p.m. Saturdays from noon to 11 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 9 p.m.

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.