Where to Eat in Milwaukee – Hot Spots for Cocktails and Dining

Rounding up where to eat in Milwaukee with the coolest vibes, best food, fascinating history and where you can grab a cocktail or two as well!

Milwaukee Food and Drink

Located in the State of Wisconsin on Lake Michigan, Milwaukee is often overlooked when planning a vacation. People think of the sexier cities like Chicago, New York or Washington DC. but if you leave Milwaukee off your list, you are really missing out. It's a city filled culture, fine dining, incredible craft distilleries and micro breweries.

Let's Start with Food in Milwaukee

 There was no time to let our bellies feel hungry on this trip especially after meeting at the River Walk to start our Milwaukee Food Tour with our spunky guide Sandy and owner Teresa.

#1 Milwaukee Food Tour

Our tour took us through the Wisconsin Cheese Mart where we had a cheese and beer paring, we sampled Usingers Sausage and popped over to the spice house.

milwaukee food and drink sausage

It was interesting to note the large European influence of Milwaukee. Many immigrants from Germany settled here and brought their expertise in the dairy, butcher and beer business to the city.

After learning about their heritage, it's no surprise why their culinary scene in the city is thriving. Everyone has a family history in food and spirits.


#2 Mader's Restaurant

milwaukee food and drink maders

We ended up at Mader's Restaurant, voted the most famous German Restaurant in North America.

milwaukee food and drink wall of fame

Many famous patrons have gone through Maders including Justin Bieber (I had to put him in) but what was more fascinating was the  3-million dollar collection of Medieval Germanic weaponry. It's quite impressive.

The people of Milwaukee love to eat and drink well. And Drink we did

#3 Lakefront Brewery

Onward we went to The Lakefront Brewery  and it is by far the best brewery tour we've ever been on. Our “Brewery Navigation Specialist Josh, (@tourguidejosh on Twitter) was hilarious. His X-rated tour of the brewery kept us entertained while being informative to boot!

milwaukee food and drink lakefront brewery

He made the fermentation process simple for us all to understand, and with all that booze we needed simplicity. The Brewery Tour includes four pints of beer plus the tour for only $7.

Fermentation process made simple – “Yeast eats the sugar then poops out alcohol, farts out carbon dioxide – and reproduces asexually.”

milwaukee food and drink beer tour

Thanks to Josh, we learned many interesting facts about beer and yeast and the alcohol process. We found out that he performs with a local improve troupe and it showed.  This guy kept everyone in high spirits. Or was that the beer?

#4 Dream Dance Steakhouse

We had to slow things down a bit because our evening ended at the sophisticated Dream Dance Steak House at the Potawatomi Bingo Casino.

milwaukee food and drink fine dining

So we gave away the last of our beer coupons and set out to Dream Dance has the largest wine list in Milwaukee. It's all priced retail though to give everyone the opportunity to pair their wines with their quality meats.

milwaukee food and drink steak house

Our five course dinner consisted of signature Wisconsin Cheese curd fritters, fresh salad, kangaroo for Dave and my filet mignon for me.

Chef Matt Baier and the Dream Dance sommelier are top notch offering a world class fine dining experience for everyone to enjoy.

#5 Iron Horse Hotel

Our Milwaukee dining journey started on the Patio of the Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel. We're more of beer and wine kind of people, but sampling their craft cocktails like the 1907 Old Fashioned or Ghost White Manhattan nearly turned us into the cocktail-swilling girls of Sex in the City. (Yes, I'm including Dave in this reference)

milwaukee food and drink old fashioned

It's urban chic design attracts the rich and famous who enjoy a drink or two in the sleek atrium lobby lounge or private Library. After drinks, we had the chance to sample dinner in the Smyth Dining room that has an upscale sophistication yet is comfortable and inviting.

#6 Bryants Cocktail Lounge

You would think all the eating and drinking was over, but we had to visit the oldest cocktail lounge in the city, Bryant's Cocktail Lounge.


The dark red lighting gives and instant feel of intrigue and mystique. It feels as if it should be set in 1960's Las Vegas instead of suburban Milwaukee. There are over 400 specialty crafted cocktails, but don't even think of asking for a menu.

Instead, tell your server your mood or how you are feeling tonight. Let her know what type of drinks you like and she'll come up with something to suite your taste. Everyone in our party had something unique and exactly what they were looking for.

#7 Alterra Coffee Roasters


All that alcohol and red meat calls for some heavy detox, but not until you've had some caffeine to get you through the day. We ended it all with fresh brewed coffee at Colectivo.

milwaukee food and drink coffee

This coffee shop is an institution in Milwaukee and the line up out the door proves it. That only the cool cats go to.

The historic building was old River Flushing Station dating back to 1888, but now it's been converted to a comfy coffee house that attracts outdoor enthusiasts passing it's waterfront location.

#8 Speakeasy Milwaukee – Safe House

Drinks don't stop in Milwaukee and after more wine with our steak and lamb dinners at Smyth, we found our way to The Safe House. Don't ask me where it is because I can't tell you.

milwaukee food and drink speakeasy

Half the fun is trying to find it and once you do, you have to tell them the secret password to get in.

press club

It's fun and kitschy and filled with secret spy stuff including a swinging wall transporting diners to another room, a trap door shooting drinkers out from the cellar and a giant puzzle on the wall. The rest of the fun is trying to find the secret exit.

milwaukee food and drink newsroom

The entire place is filled with nooks and crannies to explore.

#9 The Milwaukee Press Club

What we found most intriguing was the Newsroom Pub, headquarters to the Milwaukee Press Club attached to the Safe House. This is the oldest continuously operating press club in North America dating back to 1882.

press club entrance

People like Roosevelt, Wilson, Bette Davis, Les Paul, Sarah Bernhardt, Hank Aaron, Babe Ruth and present day people like Barack Obama have signed their names on the wall here.

historic wall

They're on display for everyone to see and browsing the chalk board signatures can waste a huge chunk of time as you sip yet another specialty cocktail of the house.

famous patrons of milwaukee press club

Where to Drink in Milwaukee

The Great lakes Distillery tour was our very first distillery tour and we didn't quite know what to expect. It turned out to be very interesting to learn the process and taste the product.

great lakes distillery

This small batch hand-crafted distillery has a lot of tender love and care going into making their Rehorst Premium Milwaukee Vodka, Gin and Whiskeys. Using fresh ingredients like basil and ginseng for gin and real citrus fruit or pure Wisconsin honey for vodka sets them apart from other factory distilleries.

pumpkin spirit

We learned how they use mountain stream water distilled to perfection taking out chlorine and fluoride to a pure and smooth finish. We watched the staff bottle by hand and we  By the time we left that distillery, we knew about our spirits and we were ready to taste in the bar. We had a tasting of rum, whiskey, vodka, gin and absinthe.

It was here that I learned the proper way to serve absinthe should be filtered through ice when served and you do not need to add sugar contrary to popular belief.

About Food and Drinks of Milwaukee

Milwaukee was a surprising destination for us. We didn't expect to find so many unique drinking and dining establishments around the city, but as it turns out, everywhere you go, you'll find a place that has an interesting story, colourful history and genuine and authentic owners who have great passion for their city and their companies.

Their enthusiasm is contagious and we came away from our time in Milwaukee as huge fans of the city.

For more information on Milwaukee, check out Visit Milwaukee for all there is to see and do.

Read More:

About Milwaukee a Cool town that will Surprise You

10 Things to See and Do in Wisconsin

Summerfest Milwaukee – The Largest Music Fest You've Never Heard of

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