By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 07, 2022 at 11:01 AM

Following a private friends and family preview on Tuesday evening, the highly anticipated North Avenue Market has softly opened its doors at 5900 W. North Ave.

The West Side food hall, which will continue to evolve over the course of the next few months, has already been transformed from a bank into a lovely food hall with modern amenities and a nice selection of vendor options. However, the Market's aesthetic will continue to change as artwork is hung on the walls, murals are completed and the guests who utilize the space begin to shape the personality of the Market.

A similar evolution can be expected of the vendors. Some will be starting off with slightly abbreviated menus and limited hours, and everyone will need a bit of time to adjust to operations in the new food hall. So, when you visit, be sure to tip well and exercise patience and grace as the vendors establish their strides.

For the first week, guests will need to order their food in person at the food hall. But starting on Monday, the North Avenue Market will also introduce online ordering with pick-up available at the food hall’s drive-thru. Runners will also be put in place so that guests who are eating at the food hall can place their orders and have them delivered to them at one of the nearby seating areas.

Outdoor signageX

Ultimately, the West Side food hall, which straddles the Uptown Crossing, East Tosa and Washington Heights neighborhoods, aims to function as a community center for the surrounding neighborhoods, providing a meaningful gathering place for social interaction and innovation. It combines a diverse collection of food vendors and retail shops with rentable office and conference space, a stage and multiple areas for gatherings and events.

The ground floor

Walk in through the Market’s front doors and you’ll find a comfortable lounge-like area on the left featuring soft seating and an indoor-outdoor fireplace that connects to the West Side Patio.

LoungeX

A stage area near the lounge will eventually accommodate regular entertainment, including live music, comedy or events like poetry readings. 

Just to the right of the stage is the food hall’s coffee shop, Taste of Java, which  offers a full menu of coffee drinks made with Pilcrow Coffee, along with a variety of other beverages. 

PatioX

Guests can order coffee inside the market or at a patio-side walk-up window which operates daily from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. daily.  Starting this weekend, they will also begin offering drive-thru service.

S'Blendid Boba TeaX

Round the bend from Taste of Java and you’ll find S’Blendid Boba Tea, a vendor which offers a combination of milk teas, fruit teas and Thai teas, many of which are made with a base of organic loose leaf tea. Traditional toppings include items like bursting boba, black tapioca, grass jelly, housemade passionfruit honey jelly, rainbow jelly and aloe vera jelly. S'Blendid is also serving up Korean fried chicken sandwiches with housemade sauces.

The focal point of the main floor is the Bittercube Bar, a four-sided gathering place which will serve a combination of classic and modern classic cocktails along with specialty drinks which pair well with the food from each vendor in the food hall. Not sure what you’d like? Trust the well-trained bartenders to guide you toward something you’ll enjoy.

Bittercube BarX

As you move toward the back of the Market, you’ll find a wall of open air garage-style windows along with seating to accommodate meetings, coffee dates or full meals.

Seating

Vendors near the seating area include Fresh Farm Bowls, a locally-focused vendor who will be offering a somewhat limited menu for the first few days. However, moving into the weekend, guests will be able to order from a menu featuring a combination of bowls (falafel, macaroni and cheese, beef curry, chipotle pork and lasagna), wraps (chipotle chicken, veggie, turkey) and salads, along with a variety of beverages.

Seating and vendorsX

Adjacent to Fresh Farm Bowls is Sam’s Deli, an accessible lunch and dinner spot which will offer an assortment of deli-style sandwiches, gourmet grilled cheese, housemade soups and charcuterie and cheese boards.

Garden level

For sweet treats, head down to Dessert Alley on the Garden Level, where A&B (Austin & Bobby's) Dessert Counter is serving up an evolving menu of sweet snacks, popcorn, Scratch ice cream, smoothies and milkshakes.

A&B DessertsX

You’ll also find Arty’s Sweet Talk Cupcakes offers a rotating selection of seasonally driven cupcakes in over 30 flavors like chocolate, vanilla, lemon, carrot cake, red velvet, cookies and cream along with Orbs (cake pops), bundt cakes (small and large) and cheesecake cupcakes. Sugar free and keto cupcakes will be available as well. Owner, Artaynia Westfall will also be offering a variety of children's culinary classes in the lower level space starting as early as October.

Arty's Sweet Talk CupcakesX

Opening soon on the Garden Level is Mosler’s Vault. In fact, if you loved the former Dock18 at the Lincoln Warehouse in Bay View, you’ll want to plan a visit to this cozy speakeasy-style bar which seats about 12. The space, which pays homage to the building’s former tenant (a bank), sports a faux green ceiling (in keeping with its location in the Garden) and a bar faced by former safety deposit boxes. The bar is expected to open up for reservations in the next week or two with hours in the evening Wednesday through Sunday. 

While you’re perusing the Garden level, be sure to check out the innovative seating area where area the stools, which fold into the wall, spell out the word “WELCOME” when pulled out.

Also take a peek at The Greenhouse, a series of well-appointed office spaces, each bearing its own botanical name. Each space includes at least one desk and pinnable walls to facilitate idea generation, brainstorming and collaboration. The Workshop, a shared conference room or classroom space that accommodates about 20, features its own distinct audio system, a television, a pinnable wall and a dry erase wall.

Opening hours

Moving forward, North Avenue Market will be open Monday through Wednesday from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday from 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Market vendors will all have the liberty of maintaining their own hours, but all will be open during core business hours of 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

For more in-depth profiles on each of the vendors, head here.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.