Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted! See all the winners for the month so far here.
It would only make sense that a neighborhood as eclectic as Riverwest would have a dining scene just as eclectic and unpredictable, providing a taste of something for all appetites. From high-minded meals to binge-worthy bar food, divine dining spots on the main drag to tucked-away treasures, Americana cuisine to foods of all nations, Riverwest restaurants are all cooking up something as special and unique as the neighborhood they call home.
Here's where to check out next time you find yourself roaming through Riverwest with a rumbling gut.
722 E. Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880
Art Bar may be a bar first and foremost, but for those sauntering in with an empty stomach – never an optimal way to walk into a bar – the art-focused Riverwest watering hole does offer some tasty Milwaukee Pizza Company pizzas to go along with its new art installations hosted every couple of months, live entertainment and creative drinks.
3129 N. Bremen St., (414) 810-3941
Located deep in the heart of the Riverwest neighborhood lies Cafe Corazon, a classic Mexican restaurant who's name fittingly translates out to "heart." There, you'll find a selection of tasty tacos sourced from primarily locally-sourced foods, refreshing margaritas and a brunch menu on Saturdays and Sundays that's sure to warm your heart and get your blood pumping.
808 E. Center St., (414) 455-3751
What this intimate Italian-focused restaurant lacks in space – though the back room and porch area allow for stretching out a bit – it more than makes up for in absolutely delicious dishes, often coming from the chefs working in front of you in the main hall's open kitchen area. There's always a sold selection of specials each day – but if none of those speak to you, there's a whole menu of pasta and pizza perfection calling your name.
2999 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 292-3320
Colectivo has won over much of Milwaukee with its coffee, but its assorted cafes also offer up a menu of all-day breakfast, bakery, lunch and dinner options that can serve perfectly as a light mid-day snack or the necessary brain food to help motivate you to finish up that project you're working on. Plus, at the Humboldt location, you can watch the roasters in action.
735 E. Center St., (414) 930-0909
Company Brewing – located in the former Stonefly space on Center Street – may be one of the youngest Riverwest restaurants, but it's also one of its finest and most buzzed about. Deservedly so as well with its menu of intriguing options – fried pigs ear as an appetizer perhaps? Or maybe the house burger arriving on an English muffin? – that are as unique as they are scrumptious.
808 E. Chambers St., (414) 562-9171
Reopened in 2014 by the original owner's grandsons, Lawrence and Anthony, the family-owned Italian restaurant serves up a menu of cozy classic dishes and new updated favorites, along with a Friday fish fry.
818 E. Center St., (414) 374-3835
Don't let all of the motorcycle photos and general motorhead aesthetic, neon sign declaring "lousy service" and sometimes loud music put you off to one of the city's comfiest spots for a good cup of joe – courtesy of Colectivo. And if you need some culinary fuel to go along with your caffeine boost, Fuel provides a mean menu of soups and sandwiches – many of which vegan and vegetarian focused – with El Rey's tasty chips served on the side.
2713 N. Bremen St., (414) 702-1420
Quickly tucked away just off the main drag of Center Street, Kabob Hub serves up a crave-worthy menu of sandwiches, wraps, shawarma and, of course, kabobs – ranging from charbroiled chicken to beef or lamb sirloin.
920 E. Locust St., (414) 263-2424
A classic Riverwest tavern with plenty of modest, humble neighborhood history, Klinger's East is a good local place to grab a refreshing brew and an even better place to grab a Friday fish fry – or sample the rest of the menu, from lunch specials to the self-proclaimed "best butter burger" according to its outside signage.
Milwaukee Beer Bistro
2730 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 562-5540
If you're going to put the word beer in the name of your restaurant, you better go all out – and the kitchen does at Milwaukee Beer Bistro, cooking up beer-infused cuisine (including a Friday fish fry) alongside its hefty list of craft, local and macro brews. It even comes Travel Channel approved.
2778 N. Weil St., (414) 264-8466
Tucked off the main drag, it might be easy to miss Nessun Dorma – but you'd regret it. The modest bar and restaurant cooks up scrumptious Italian dishes – ranging from several types of bruschetta and paninis to nightly specials – served alongside an extensive wine, beer and liquor selection. All affordable, all foodie-approved.
733 E. Clarke St., (414) 264-7933
Few places in the city have the ability to fill you up and make you feel as good as Riverwest Co-op can. The natural food store and cafe is community-based, member-owned and volunteer-run with a mission statement proclaiming "food for people, not for profit" and a focus on organic, local and fair trade products. Choose some produce from the grocery section, or grab breakfast, lunch or dinner from the cafe's vegan menu. Either way, it'll taste as good as it feels on your conscience.
Riverwest Filling Station
701 E. Keefe Ave., (414) 906-9000
The Riverwest Filling Station certainly scores a lot of attention as one of the city's first growler bars. The Filling Station, however, also showcases a food menu as worthy of attention as its hefty beer selection, featuring a variety of sandwiches, entrees and apps – and, of course, a Friday fish fry.
930 E. Wright St., (414) 269-9703
While the idea of a Riverwest pizza joint might at first inspire thoughts of quick and greasy-style slices, Riverwest Pizza is anything but. The restaurant cooks up an impressive menu of inventive pizzas, each given a charmingly local-focused name like Bremen (a kale, mushroom, tomato and garlic pizza), Pierce (a sausage, pepperoni, mushroom, olive, onions and funnel pizza) or Greenfields (parmesan and arugula on top of a house-made pesto sauce). So don't let any preconceived notions fool you, and give these pies and try.
822 E. Chambers St., (414) 395-3369
Food is in no short supply at Scardina Specialties, an Italian deli crafting delicious sausages, cold cuts, spiedini and other specialty meats both for your home and for other Riverwest restaurants on this very list (such as Riverwest Pizza, Lakefront Brewery, Centro Cafe and Dino's). But if cooking up the sausages or crafting a sandwich of your own is just a bridge too far, Scardina also puts together some mean sandwiches and wraps of its own to offer – plus a cannoli to top it off.
Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar
2060 N. Humboldt Blvd. #1, (414) 763-6324
Whatever gastrogrub may be, it's definitely better wordplay than gastro pong – and it's definitely working over at Stubby's, cooking up eclectic bar/comfort food including sandwiches, nachos, wings, flatbread pizzas, smaller plates, salads, a Friday fish fry and a Sunday brunch. Add in a strong beer list and a scenic riverside patio, and there's no real reason to hold back from going along with gastrogrub.
The Tracks Tavern & Grill
1020 E. Locust St., (414) 562-2020
The Tracks makes for a great place to take in a game – and take in some tasty bar food, including burgers, sandwiches, soups, salads, wings and apps. They also host a popular Friday fish fry. And if all that sports watching makes you want a little activity yourself, the bar and grill hosts sand volleyball leagues during the spring and summer months. What better way to work off the burgers and beer?!
Shi Chai Hookah Lounge
832 E. Center St., (414) 755-4455
While hookah may be the star menu item at Shi Chai, the Center Street lounge also offers some flavorful foods to go along with its flavorful vapors, including hummus, chicken or lamb kabobs, chick or lamb shawarma and other Middle Eastern eats.