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Oh Del's, please come to Milwaukee!
Oh Del's, please come to Milwaukee!

What I crave from the Milwaukee dining scene

For the sixth straight year, October is Dining Month on, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2012."

I don't really have a lot of complaints about the Milwaukee dining scene. For a city of its size, Milwaukee has amazing restaurants, chefs and diversity. In fact, per capita, one would be very hard-pressed to find a city that's better.

My biggest complaints, I guess, is that I don't have enough time to try everything.

But if I had to nitpick, there are a few additions I'd like to see in town. In no particular order:

Legit 24-7 fast food Mexican chain: One of my favorite parts about visiting Phoenix each spring is Filberto's, and Milwaukee really has nothing like it. You know that you'll get quality, cheap Mexican food any time of day or night, and with a zillion locations, they're close to everything. (No, it's nothing like Chipotle.)

Bagels in Bay View: I really love bagels, and the only thing that keeps me from eating more of them is their scarcity near my house. On the weekends, I can schlep Downtown or to 27th and Oklahoma for Einstein Brothers, but I'd love to see a real bagel place on the near South Side. And if it wasn't a chain, even better.

Jamba Juice: Speaking of chains, a couple smoothie places popped up in Milwaukee a while ago, but none had the staying power of Jamba Juice. Apparently, there's one at Carthage College in Kenosha, but I love smoothies, and would love to see one closer to home.

High-end Chinese food: When I lived in Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, there were a handful of high-end Chinese food places, and I'm not talking about P.F. Chang's. I adore Chinese food, but I think with a few exceptions, Milwaukee doesn't do it very well. I don't expect a Chinese Mexican fusion place like Las Vegas' China Poblano ... just somewhere with a little panache.

Taco Bell on the East Side: Go ahead and laugh, but Taco Bell is my guilty fast-food pleasure. Other than the location by Bayshore and the airport, there aren't any Taco Bells east of I-43. Weird, isn't it?

Matzo ball soup truck: This was an idea from my coworker, Bobby, but it's a good one. You've got only two good matzo ball soup options in Milwaukee: Benji's and Jake's. How about taking it on the road?

Del's Frozen Lemonade: You've probably never heard of Del's unless you spent time in Southern New England, but this summer treat is what I miss most from my five years in R.I. A franchise actually existed in Milwaukee in the mid '90s, but it's long gone. I would give just about anything to see a Del's come back to Milwaukee.


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