’Tis Dining Month, the tastiest time of year! This means we’re dishing up fun and fascinating food content throughout October. Dig in, Milwaukee!
Looking for new spots to try? Lori Fredrich will be dishing out her top five picks in 20 different dining categories throughout the month of October.
A great coffee shop is like a home away from home (with better coffee). But the best of them also have a certain je ne sais quoi that makes you want to return again and again. This list contains five of those very special places.
Vendetta might be the new kid on the block, but if you love a great cup of Italian-style espresso (or hard-to-find Italian pastries), this is the place to find it. The cafe itself has a lovely vibe and plenty of old world charm thanks to elements like the original tin ceiling, exposed Cream City brick walls and the ornate Brunswick bar, which dates back to 1906. And that alone makes it feel a bit like you've gone to Europe and stumbled upon an amazing decade-old cafe.
Of course, it's not every cafe that also offers beer, wine and a reason to linger. On weekends, during their extended hours, Vendetta also happens to be a lovely spot to stop for glass of wine and a charcuterie board.
If you’re looking for a new coffee drink to try, ask for a Shakerato, (espresso shaken with ice). It’s absolutely delicious sweetened or ordered straight up.
There’s always been something wonderfully quirky about Interval. Yes, you can get a (great!) cup of coffee and some of the best cold brew in town. But you’ll also find a breakfast sandwich on housemade ciabatta with three-year cheddar, sausage, a six minute egg and shoyu glaze.
It’s a vibe. And you know it when you feel it. Walk into the shop and you become part of something bigger than yourself. You’re inducted into a community of folks who care about the little things, the simple things… like a steaming mug of chai on a fall day.
Don’t sleep on their seasonal specials (a sugar plum espresso tonic is currently on the menu). Your ever-expanding palate will thank you.
3. Likewise Coffee
Every cafe strikes a different mood. At Likewise (formerly Wonderstate), it’s driven by modern design and floor to ceiling windows that create a sleek, sun-drenched space. Despite its clean lines, it never feels cold, largely thanks to the live plants that thrive at every turn.
Likewise is the sort of place where ordering an espresso can turn into a deep conversation with the barista about fair trade coffee, single origin beans and complex flavor profiles. But it’s also a place where you can just sit and enjoy one of the best honey lattes in the city. Oh, and did I mention their espresso tonic? It’s the best on a hot summer day.
4. La Finca
I’ve often driven out of my way to order a coquito latte or a chiles rellenos grilled cheese from La Finca, and it’s not just because both are delicious. There’s a little magic in this sibling-owned cafe with its boldly painted walls and staff that somehow always seem to be having a great day. And, for all of those reasons, it was one of my favorite places to hole up and write before the pandemic hit.
Even now, while they’re offering drive-thru-only service, it’s worth it to grab a cup of great coffee (sourced from the owners’ grandfathers farm in Oaxaca, Mexico), an agua fresca or something delicious off of their monthly-changing menu. After all, they’re just steps away from the Oak Leaf Trail and a short jaunt from Bay View Park. So you can take your lunch to the park, enjoy a gorgeous view of the lake, and reflect on this beautiful, wild life.
5. The Daily Bird
If you need some good vibes with your daily cup of joe, you’ll find it at The Daily Bird, a coffee brand built on community, recovery and hope. Born as a pop-up shop last April, the coffee concept serves up really great coffee, delicious treats from Honey Bear Baked Goods, and daily affirmations: reminders to “Stay Rad” and encouragement for the moments when you just need to get over that next big hump.
You don’t get that at just any coffee shop. But, Dan Zwart and his team offer it up by the bushel, with no strings attached.
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.