Remember when I shared our 36 hours in Milwaukee challenge? It was basically forever ago (last month). I'm sharing part two of our adventure here today, so before you begin you might want to check out part one for a little refresher.
The 36 Hours in Milwaukee challenge was to follow the New York Time's 36 hour guide and visit some top sights in Milwaukee in a 36 hour period. Part one included the Milwaukee Art Museum, Bryan't Cocktail Lounge, Blue Jacket, Mitchell Domes, Usinger's, and Wisconsin Cheese Mart.
And here comes part two!
11:30 Mader's German dining at it's finest, Mader's is one of the most well known restaurants in Milwaukee. Everything on their menu has a "schnitzel" sound to it, and all of their decorations look like they were borrowed directly from old Germany. If you're looking for a place to experience Milwaukee's old German traditions, look no further than Mader's.
Because we had already decided we wouldn't be closing a bar Saturday night, we thought we would be really cool and open a restaurant. So yes, we were waiting at Mader's three minutes before it opened. We were those people.
This photo gives you an idea of Mader's decor. Check out the gorgeous bar, the beer steins, the stained glass, the ceiling, and the strange old weapons on the wall. This place has style.
Milwaukee doesn't have much of a celebrity scene (shocking I know), but if you were to see someone famous, it would probably be at this restaurant. The back hallways are lined with photos of celebrities who have visited Mader's, many with autographs and personal messages. My favorite was the John F. Kennedy photo (followed closing by Justin Bieber). We even sat at the table that Paul Newman had sat at many years before. Like I said, Milwaukee isn't big in the Hollywood scene, so we take what we can get.
1:00 Purple Door and Clock Shadow Creamery We fought off a potential food coma from Mader's by going right back out in the cold and driving to Purple Door ice cream and Clock Shadow Creamery. Both are located in one of Milwaukee's greenest buildings, though Purple Door has plans to expand into its own location soon.
Clock Shadow Creamery is the only cheese factory in Milwaukee's city limits, and it supplies delicious, fresh made cheese to Milwaukee's southside. Since we opted out of doing a brewery tour, we each paid $3 for a simple cheese factory tour and learned all about the cheese making process. Did you know that it's the bacteria added to the cheese making process that gives a cheese its flavor? So a cheddar bacteria makes cheddar cheese while a brie bacteria makes a brie cheese.
We washed our cheese down with some tasty ice cream from Purple Door. I'm just going to put this out there: Purple Door might be the best ice cream in Milwaukee (please note I said ice cream, not custard. Don't want any custard lovers biting my head off!). I got a single scoop that was half almond half vanilla. And it was like heaven in a cup. I always say that to tell the quality of an ice cream or custard you need to start by tasting their vanilla. If you can get the basics right, your specialties are going to be out of this world. If you can't, the specialities are just trying to hide a mediocre ice cream. Does that sound harsh? I guess I just take my ice cream and custard very seriously :)
Eating ice cream while wearing all of our coats inside. Must be Milwaukee!
2:00 Anodyne Coffee Though not an official stop on the NYT's list, we decided Anodyne needed to be included in a best of Milwaukee tour (plus it was right down the block from Purple Door and the Creamery). I loved how bright and open and airy Anodyne's space was. You could pass a lot of time here reading, working, or playing board games with friends. I plan on coming back for some live music this month.
At this point in the day, we needed to take a rest from all the festivities because we were all feeling old and tired. Plus our pups needed some attention. In the usual NYT 36 Hours, a brewery tour would have taken place at this point in the afternoon. If you're looking for a good tour in Milwaukee and are following our guide, a Milwaukee Brewing Company tour would fit perfectly here as would a Lakefront Tour. Both are excellent and both will give you a great taste of the Milwaukee beer scene.
7:00 Zaffiro's Pizza One of the best pizza places in Milwaukee, Zaffiro's is a local pizza institution. I especially love it because it reminds me of my favorite pizza places from The Hill in St. Louis. The checkered table cloths, the tiny seating space, and the thin crust pizza make for a very authentic Italian style dining experience. It was a very affordable experience too: all six of us ate for about $10 each and had a huge salad and plenty of pizza to fill us up.
9:30 Wolski's What follows a good pizza better than a cold glass of beer (or giner ale in my case)? After Zaffiro's we walked a few short blocks over to Wolski's, another East Side institution. Wolski's epitomizes the local neighborhood Milwaukee bar. Plenty of beers on tap, lots of interesting things to look at on the walls and ceiling, and a very friendly, low-key atmosphere. One thing especially makes Wolski's stand out among the dozens of bars in Milwaukee: their tradition of passing out bumper stickers saying "I CLOSED WOLSKI'S" to anyone who stays up late enough to close their bar. Unfortunately, we didn't join the club during our challenge, but you can bet that we'll be going back (since it's one of my 29 before 29 goals).
On the wall just to the left of us is a sign saying that any person at Wolski's is an honorary resident of Kokomo, Indiana. Don't ask me why.
S U N D A Y
11:00 Sobelman's Arguably the best burger joint in Milwaukee, Sobelman's was so busy at 11:00 on a Sunday morning we had to go to their expansion location by Marquette's campus. Jeesh. We thought we would be beating the crowd ordering burgers before noon! Apparently everybody had our same thought.
Walking into Sobelman's, you get the feeling you're about to have a great burger experience. It's a no frills joint, where the waitstaff wears Sobelman's t-shirts, the tables have plastic menus that are stored by the napkin containers, the chairs and tables are simple, Greenbay Packers decorations line the walls, the TVs have sports on at all times of day. In addition to good burgers, Sobelman's also offers a great black bean burger (and I've tasted enough to say that this one was excellent) and an out of this world bloody Mary. Do you see that thing Paul ordered? It came with celery, asparagus, green onion, shrimp, cheese, a brussel sprout, a lemon wedge, something red, and a mini burger! They do not mess around!!
1:00 Leon's Frozen Custard What better to finish up a tour of Milwaukee than a cone of custard on a freezing cold day? We rolled our bodies out of Sobelman's to stuff a few more delicious calories in our bodies to finish up our Milwaukee weekend of fun.
Each area of Milwaukee tries to lay claim to "best custard shop." Leon's is located on the southside of Milwaukee, and as far as I'm concerned, it wins the best Milwaukee custard award (though Ted Drewes will always hold the ultimate number one spot in my heart). I love the old sign, the white hats the staff wears, the connection to Happy Days - and the flavor. So creamy and delicious. We all got the butter pecan flavor, and it made our tastebuds and bellies so happy. And then we all went home and slept for the next 36 hours - because, dang, what a weekend!!
What a fabulous weekend! Having lived in Milwaukee for three and a half years, I loved that this challenge showed me that there is still so much of the city left for me to explore. It was a great time to do this challenge since winter can be such a dreary time here. I feel like I have a new found love for my adopted city.
Here is a summary of all the places we visited during our 36 hours in Milwaukee:
7:00 Milwaukee Art Museum
8:00 Bryant's Cocktail Lounge
9:00 Blue Jacket
10:00 Mitchell Domes
11:15 Wisconsin Cheese Mart
1:00 Purple Door and Clock Shadow Creamery
2:00 Anodyne Coffee
NAP or brewery tour at Milwaukee Ale House, Lakefront, or Miller
Ready to book your ticket? Come soon before you miss the Polar Vortex of Fun!