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JLK
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I recently visited a client in Milwaukee and enjoyed a pretty good meal at Mo's (the steakhouse). I say "the steakhouse" because as anyone who has been to Milwaukee knows, there's also Mo's Cucina, Mo's Irish Bar and Mo's something else, all in the same little one-block area.

Does anyone know the history?

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I'm about to get stuck traveling here every other week for the next few months.

Other than Mo's Steakhouse, are there any places worth eating at? I hate to think I'm going to land up getting dragged by colleages to Olive Garden every week...

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I'm about to get stuck traveling here every other week for the next few months.

Other than Mo's Steakhouse, are there any places worth eating at? I hate to think I'm going to land up getting dragged by colleages to Olive Garden every week...

I'm in Madison now and have been over to Milwaukee a handful of times. I've heard some good things about Roots lately and my wife and I are going to eat at Bacchus--a restaurant in the Bartolotta empire--for the first time next month. Last fall we had an excellent meal at Cempazuchi, a Mexican restaurant with Oaxacan leanings. One of the house specialities is fried grasshoppers, which we ate in tortillas with chocolate mole. Cempazuchi also has some terrific margaritas.

For what it's worth, here are a few other Milwaukee resources:

Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel top restaurants

Milwaukee Public Market

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Any Madison recs? I'll be there next week at a conference.....one night is dinner with friends but looking for a good spot for the second

I've got an thread on egullet about Madison worth checking out, but I'd recommend any of the following places: Harvest, Old Fashioned, Cocoliquot, Dotty's Dumpling Dowry, Greenbush Bar & Restaurant, Eldorado Grill, Tubb's Taco Palace, Muramota and the Tornado Club. Let me know about the type of meal/restaurant you're looking for, and I can steer you in the right direction.

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Given that Madison is distinct from Milwaukee, I thought it only appropriate to give it its own thread on DR.com.

Madison is not just custard, brats and beer -- not that's anything wrong with that. Madison's got a vibrant dining scene, including some old-school establishments as well as some fetching newcomers.

For fine dining, Harvest steals the show currently IMHO. This restaurant, established 7 years ago by veterans of Odessa Piper's L'Etoile -- which sits two doors down Capitol Square -- could easily survive in any American big city. Some newcomers of note include Cocoliquot, The Old Fashioned, Muramoto and Tubb's Taco Palace (the best inland fish tacos I've ever had!). But don't overlook some long-established restaurants should you come to town as well. They include Dotty's for burgers, Ella's Deli (an kitshy Kosher-style deli and ice cream shoppe), the Greenbush Bar for pizza and pasta (as well as a very affordable, appealing wine list) in the basement of the Italian American Club, Bandung for Indonesian, Yirgalem for Ethiopian, and the Tornado Club or Johnny Delmonico's for steaks. Other restaurants worth noting include Eldorado Grill, Eno Vino wine bar & bistro and the downtown/State Street location of Ginza of Tokyo for decent sushi in the Midwest.

In addition, Madison is a great place for breakfast or brunch. Sophia's -- a tiny place only open on weekends -- serves up yummy pastries and muffins as well as a couple/few daily specials which usually include an omelette and pancakes. There's also Marigold Kitchen and the very good but slightly lesser Sunprint Cafe on Capitol Square.

There's also an egullet thread about Madison worth checking out.

On Wisconsin!

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There is also a good thread at MouthfulsFood.com about Where to Eat in Madison.

Some tenuous recommendations in there--Cafe Continental (mediocre, overpriced) and Essenhaus--but I hadn't heard of this web site before. Thanks for pointing it out.

Two additional web sites where there appears to be discussion among Madison foodies are here and here.

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La Bamba for burritos. Yum. I have a La Bamba bobble head to remember it.

I've never been to La Bamba. One of our favorite Mexican restaurants in Madison is El Pastor at 2010 S. Park. Here is a review from the local weekly, Isthmus.

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There is a mini chain of grocery stores in Wisconsin and part of Illinois called Woodman's. The average Woodman's is literally 50% larger than the D. C. area Wegmans. The largest is about 250,000 square feet; Wegman's in Sterling is 130,000. They are NOT as good as Wegmans-still they are worth a look.

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Liam,

You should try Pasquals for tex-mex. I didn't get to go there much in college because it is not near campus but I recall it was a special treat. La Bamba has good burritos... as big as your head :0

Have you tried Himel Chile yet? It is Nepali food. I really liked it in college.

Oh and eat cheese curds for me... regular or fried either way there is nothing better :-) In lieu of a sweet pastry at the farmer's markets on Saturdays, I picked up a bag of curds to munch while shopping.

I made the (unfortunate to some people) decision to stop eating meat my first year in college and have never had the pleasure of a Dotty's hamburger though I recall enjoying their chicken sandwich and fries. However, have you had a Plaza Burger yet? They are supposed to be really good (or really good when drunk).

In the event that you are not affiliated with the University, it is worth joining the Student Union so that you can buy beer, get some pretzels and popcorn and sit on the terrace in the summer. Strange phenomena I have only seen at UW-Madison... taking pretzel sticks, dipping in mustard and then rolling in popcorn. Seriously weird yet common.

Another funny college food realization: muffins. We thought eating the bran muffins from Sunprint was a healthy activity. A number of years ago I returned to Madison for a weekend with a friend. She went on her run, I went for a walk and picked up muffins for us. By the time we met up at the hotel the bag was swimming in grease. Gross.

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Liam,

Do you know of anywhere slightly outside of Madison that is decent? My family is from Portage, and when I have gone back to visit I am usually in culinary purgatory.

Given that I only departed DC about a year and a half ago, I haven't had occasion to venture far outside of Madison to eat. I have a very cursory knowledge of the Milwaukee dining scene, but not much of the rest of Wisconsin. Sorry.

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Have you tried Himel Chile yet? It is Nepali food. I really liked it in college.

Oh and eat cheese curds for me... regular or fried either way there is nothing better :-) In lieu of a sweet pastry at the farmer's markets on Saturdays, I picked up a bag of curds to munch while shopping.

In the event that you are not affiliated with the University, it is worth joining the Student Union so that you can buy beer, get some pretzels and popcorn and sit on the terrace in the summer. Strange phenomena I have only seen at UW-Madison... taking pretzel sticks, dipping in mustard and then rolling in popcorn. Seriously weird yet common.

I haven't eaten at Himal Chuli on State Street but my wife has. It is known to be very good. My wife is a professor at UW-Madison so I've got a UW connection but I don't think you need any special credentials to grab a beer on the Union patio. It's actually one of the few places in Madison where you can drink & dine lakeside. If there's one complaint I have about Madison it's the poor usage of lake frontage for restaurants.

The best cheese curds I have had in Madison are at Avenue Bar on East Washington. We actually did our wedding rehearsal dinner last June. Avenue Bar has an excellent fish fry and fish boil every day of the week, not just Fridays.

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There is a mini chain of grocery stores in Wisconsin and part of Illinois called Woodman's. The average Woodman's is literally 50% larger than the D. C. area Wegmans. The largest is about 250,000 square feet; Wegman's in Sterling is 130,000. They are NOT as good as Wegmans-still they are worth a look.

I've been to the Woodman's on Madison's East Side and you're right, Joe, it is a LARGE warehouse style grocery store. I went in specifically to check out its wine selection that some locals had told me about. I wasn't particularly impressed. Woodman's has decent prices but stocks a largely lower-end, corporate-driven selection of wines -- some decent, some not. If you're looking for Columbia Crest, Hogue, Rosemount Estate, Villa Maria, and the like, this is the place. I never shopped at Wegman's while living in the DC area, so I'm not able to compare.

In Madison, I prefer Barriques and Steve's for my wine shopping. Barriques, locally owned with four locations, features a "wall of 100" wines priced $10 or less.

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If there's one complaint I have about Madison it's the poor usage of lake frontage for restaurants.

The best cheese curds I have had in Madison are at Avenue Bar on East Washington. We actually did our wedding rehearsal dinner last June. Avenue Bar has an excellent fish fry and fish boil every day of the week, not just Fridays.

I loved the Avenue Bar! Great place for your rehearsal dinner... very Madison. As for outdoor dining on the lake, my dad swore by the gazpacho at the Edgewater. They have a nice deck if I recall in the Summer. that is the problem until global warming really kicked in, the lakefront was really only good 3 months a year. One April I had a major event on the terrace at the Union and it snowed as well as iced. It was the end of April!
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We ended up going to The Great Dane ----- it was nice to sit outside in the courtyard on a beautiful 70 degree day - I tried a sampler of their beers.....pretty good and had a peanut stew that was surprisingly good

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We ended up going to The Great Dane ----- it was nice to sit outside in the courtyard on a beautiful 70 degree day - I tried a sampler of their beers.....pretty good and had a peanut stew that was surprisingly good

Glad you enjoyed such beautiful weather for a visit. For the benefit of readers, The Great Dane is a Madison brew pub located downtown, just a block from the Capitol. During the academic year, it's very much a student hang-out, but during the day it gets a lot of business from downtown workers.

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I'm heading to Milwaukee Wednesday, staying at the Pfister (I hate saying that). Any recent reports you can share? I'll be dining with a very picky-eating client--kid won't even eat cheese. Barring any new suggestions, we'll likely go to Mo's Steakhouse, but I'd love to try something new that won't freak out my client.

Roots sounds really interesting, but said client would find it overwhelming.

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Yesterday in Milwaukee, I paid visits to Sabor, Club Rain, and Blu. I was a little hungover today, yes, but my client was reluctant to call it a night. :blink:

Dinner at Sabor, a Brazilian style rodizio, was very good. Having really enjoyed this type of restaurant (see the late Riodizio in NYC as well as Churrascaria Plataforma) and also finding others disappointing (see Fogo de Chao), I tried to keep my expectations in check.

We arrived on the late side for a Monday night in Milwaukee (probably about 8:45 pm), but fortunately the host recognized my client and there were still a handful of tables finishing their dinners so we were offered a table. Our food was remarkably fresh; nothing made us say "reheated."

The salad bar was fine, not the most expansive I have ever seen. We sampled the mixed greens, a tasty white bean salad with sun dried tomatoes, various cheeses and the potato salad. Nothing disappointed or wowed, but then again, we were being careful to save room for the main event.

Very quickly we were overwhelmed with meat on skewers. I thought the lamb chops were terrific, full of flavor and very tender despite being cooked past medium. The picanha was nicely marbled; it didn't have the chunks of fat that have turned me off the cut at other places. We were served a tender cut (top sirloin, I think?) that was generously dotted with chopped garlic - awesome. For me, there were no losers in the bunch and I didn't walk out guzzling water from the saltiness as I did at Fogo de Chao.

We received several side dishes including delicious pork-studded black beans, plain white rice (my client ate two dishes of it; just he liked it!), strangely bland mashed potatoes and sugary sauteed bananas which we liked so much that we emptied the serving platter twice. It worked great in lieu of dessert.

Sabor is a large, modern and stylish space with two main dining rooms and a nice bar up front where we caught the last few minutes of the Ohio State/Florida game. Dinner is $44.50 which many people in Milwaukee feel is too much. I'd definitely return though.

Rain doesn't serve food (thank god) so I'll keep the description brief. Looks like an old, tacky strip club. The carpeting all around the bar is sticky for reasons I just don't want to think about, and the music ain't so great either. Still, it seems like the only game in town on a Monday night.

Blu, on the other hand, is pretty darn decent for a hotel bar. Extra points for being up on the 20-something-th floor. Although downtown Milwaukee doesn't offer spectacular views, Blu was an awesome vantage point for last night's electrical storm and the wine list featured at least ten offerings by the glass.

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Went up to central Wisconsin this past weekend near Wild Rose for a weekend with friends by the lake.

On Friday, went to a Fish Fry at a local place called the Red Fox Food and Spirits- started with regional fav fried cheese curds.

For the fish, had the perch and the walleye - preferred the walleye. They only use tartar sauce and lemon in Wisconsin- no vinegar.

Had a delicious side of German potato salad as well.

At the lake house, friends brought up some amazing Bratwurst and Hungarian sausages (with paprika) from Schwies butchers. Went well with some Sprecher beers.

Then. in Milwaukee, before going to the airport- had a tasty burger, onion rings and butter pecan custard at Kopp's.

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Went up to central Wisconsin this past weekend near Wild Rose for a weekend with friends by the lake.

On Friday, went to a Fish Fry at a local place called the Red Fox Food and Spirits- started with regional fav fried cheese curds.

For the fish, had the perch and the walleye - preferred the walleye. They only use tartar sauce and lemon in Wisconsin- no vinegar.

Had a delicious side of German potato salad as well.

I have never understood how my fellow Wisconsin natives can eat fried cheese curds, I find even the best examples to be utterly vapid. Now a Friday fish fry I can get into, and you are right, walleye all the way.
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walleye is nice and tender- i think it is conducive to fish fry because the filets are long so the frying doesn't overcook the inside of the fish. i'm pretty sure the fish is in many northern lakes.

i know a&w fast food places have had fried cheese curds on occasion- i had it when i lived in vegas there- they were just ok. the important thing is to find fresh cheese curds which may be hard around these parts. perhaps a cheesemonger would know. i know that the saxelby cheesemonger in nyc supplied cheese curds for the poutine at shopsin's, but i don't know about around the midatlantic.

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Now I'm intrigued, never having eaten walleye. What's it like? And how far south do either the fried walleye or fried cheese curd phenomena extend? (Hey, more fodder for the roadtrip file)
Walleye is a tender and flavorful freshwater fish that is a fairly close relative of the perch but with a better flavor and texture. I do not fish (the idea of sitting in the heat while swatting bugs has no appeal to me) so I cannot tell you much about where one can hook some, but my Grandfather always caught them in lakes (specifically Lake Winnebago). For a long time they were stables of Friday fish fries that could be found all over Wisconsin and into that horrible state to the west (whose name shall not be spoken or written), but it has become depleted and has been commonly substituted with lesser varieties of perch.

As for cheese curds, they are horrible, not unlike frozen mozzarella sticks, but much worse. You start with balled-up versions of crappy industrial cheddar or brick cheese that unfortunately Wisconsin has become known for these days, bread them and fry them. They are just dreadful things, if I could get them make with decent cheese I might like them, but I have yet to find one that was made with anything better than store brand crap cheese. I am hoping that none of my realitives read this or I will be forever banished from using the family's Packer's tickets.

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Any Green Bay suggestions? I'll be there for 24 hrs on Sunday/Monday and assuming I don't die of the cold or the heavy drinking at the game are there places folks woud recommend for drinks/food/fun either prior to or after the game?

GO PACKERS!!!!

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Any Green Bay suggestions? I'll be there for 24 hrs on Sunday/Monday and assuming I don't die of the cold or the heavy drinking at the game are there places folks woud recommend for drinks/food/fun either prior to or after the game?
First, I must say that I hate you just as I hate my brother and nephew who will also be at the game. The Urban Frog makes some good sandwiches but they are closed on Sunday, I have also had good luck at Bistro John Paul (it has been more than a year and a half so I am not sure how it is now). Bay City Smokehouse has acceptable ribs for Wisconsin (beware they are sticky), and they make a decent burger, however the pulled pork has never done much for me.

You suck! I hope that you have nothing better to drink than Point Light.

GO PACKERS!!!!

Amen

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I wish I could add more to the Milwaukee area section, because many wonderful sounding places to try have appeared in the downtown area (and nearby suburbs) since the last posts in this section; however, it is awfully hard to dine sit-down style with 4 adults, 3 kids, and 2 toddlers.

A cozy family-friendly, Korean-homestyle place to try is Seoul Korean Restaurant at 2178 N. Prospect Avenue, Milwaukee, WI - 414-289-8208. I say "cozy" because it only seats about 36 people, not counting the 4-seater at the mini-bar section they have. Apparently it's helmed by a Korean mother as its chef. The lunch buffet at $7.95 is not bad, with really, soft, chewy Korean rice (as well as Veggie Fried Rice) and comfort-style Jap Chae. Other items on the buffet were Korean BBQ meats, as well as a Beef-Daikon soup. Because of the small seating area and how busy it is at lunchtime, even today, the food doesn't taste like it's been sitting long on the sterno-steam tables. I wish I had more time to try other dishes at this place, but I like how family-friendly it is.

After a full-meal, right across the way is local coffee roaster Alterra Coffee. It is not as full-bodied as some of the roasters that people may be used to around the DC-area, but it holds its own in smoothness. Much better alternative than chain-coffee places. Has a nice bakery selection as well. With some seating area outside on a nice day, as well as open spaces indoors, one can become quite comfortable and lounge-y post-meals here.

ETA: Kopp's is still quite enjoyable with its myriad of flavors and sundaes in this area.

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I really wish there's something like Sendik's Market in the DC area, because I really appreciate their carrying local bakeries' goods in their bakery section. Otherwise, I wouldn't have been introduced to tonight's Elegant Farmer's Apple Crisp (no crisp link, unfortunately). This is unlike any crisp I have ever tasted, with their unique "baked in a paper bag" method bringing out flavors perhaps conventional methods fail to elicit. Paired with a Fat Tire Amber ale, the combination really hits the spot on the remainder of the last of the "hot" summer days of the cheeseland. Regina's Bay Bakery's fruit tarts are also worth trying, as are East Oven's cookies. This place carries a great selection of microbreweries that I can't seem to find in the DMV area, either. Suggestions are welcome!

The only unfortunate part is that this place is also a bit more expensive than Whole Paycheck.

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Heading to Milwaukee for work this week - probably staying in the Pfister. Any new dining recs? I've never been to Milwaukee, so any recs at all would be much appreciated.

I've not been here, but have heard interesting things about Kil@wat. Mr. B's, a Barlotta Steakhouse has gotten solid reviews from my BIL (this one is in Brookfield). I also love the Public Market downtown, which is an indoor farmer's market. The bakery in there is really good. Smyth in the Iron Horse hotel received solid reviews in the JS. Hope this is a good start. Sorry for a late response!
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I went a bit crazy trying to explore more of the Milwaukee dining scene this time around for my Thanksgiving trip; I am thankful that my mom and gelittleman were willing to participate in this eating adventure, as it was easier with 2 others as opposed to 2 + my sister's clan of 6.

First stop was Cafe Hollander, Tosa Village. Located in the heart of Wawautosa (affectionately known as Tosa), this place is the place to be if you are a beer drinker. Probably the best equivalent out here so far to a Beck or a Belga beer list, but can't say the same for the food or service. Stopped here for brunch, and while the food was not bad, I felt it was not as exciting as the beer list. There is also a tasting flight option of 4 tastes for $12. Service was awful, as our server would disappear for 5+ minutes at a time. Other servers were not like this however, as other tables' food and smiles flowed more generous than ours. The FOH manager on duty was very nice to respond and replaced gelittleman's super-runny egg asap and comped our drinks in response.

Nearby Cafe Hollander was a very busy patisserie and restaurant: Le Rêve Cafe, which I was *excited* to find, since I have not seen a French bakery in this area before. Except that I was to be disappointed by its wares. This is only a partial sampling, since I have not tried their breakfast fare yet (crepes! quiche! croissants!); however, the "Classically French" goods were, um, adapting to Midwestern tastes. Or adapting to something. Macrons were not airy and really sweet; the creme brulee was not set and barely carmelized; and the napoleon cream filling was gooey, while the pastry was not flaky. Everything tasted like eating spoonfuls of sugar straight from the jar. Hopefully this opinion may change after a return trip some day, but the surrounding tables were definitely enjoying themselves on their breakfast offerings.

An O&Co shop was right next door (Harwood Avenue).

The atmosphere and service were top-notch at Molly Cool's Seafood Tavern, a 2 location (the other in MN) seafood restaurant in the Third Ward district. This is probably the Legal Sea Foods equivalent out here, with a similar menu layout, but maybe a tad lower on the price. For right now, on Sundays, a 1.25lb lobster is $19.95. Otherwise, it is $29.95. The Kids' Menu is the typical fare of Chicken strips, Fish sticks, and the like. The drink list is average, but I like how they support local breweries like Horny Goat and Lakefront. The best part was the view and the little lobster tank in the center of the dining area -- nothing like seeing the cook hand-pick your dinner....

The most high-end place of this trip was Nanakusa, a would-be sister to Sei. The internal, sterile elegance that Sei tries to capture is also haunting here, prevalent on a dark, cold, and rainy night. For $21, the Chirashi special feeds one, if that, and is thinly and professionally-sliced, accompanied by a great variety (specie? type?) of rice (not too firm, a bit fluffy, a good chew) topped with nicely pickled yellow radish and a purple something (pickle?). The order of Uni at $7.50 for 2 pieces paled in comparison to those served at Sushi-Ko; the bite was too big and clumsy. Gelittleman happily finished every bite of the Chicken Katsu, but I was surprised it was not served with rice. Rather, it was served with Japanese-style mashed potatoes, which was really good. Despite being fine dining, it was also family-friendly, as a few other families were there that early evening. I also really like that they serve more Japanese beer than domestic brews; Hitachino Nest and Baird Beers were available for $7 a bottle, in addition to the typical Sapporo, Asahi, and Kirin options. The sake list looked really solid, but I have no basis in that observation, other than seeing some of the brands on there that I have heard about. Overall, I would return here in a heartbeat.

If you are looking for local fare that is more family-friendly and still offers Milwaukee Custard, then you want to head to Culver's for your fix (turn down the sound though, if you click on the link). I am hooked on their Fried Walleye, but the Culver's Root Beer, burgers, and cheese curds offered is pretty good too. Although their custard is not on par compared to some of its competitors, the food and casual atmosphere should make this an oversight.

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I'll have a lot of time to kill on an upcoming Sunday afternoon, waiting for a flight out of Milwaukee. What's good these days? (Not really interested in fine dining.)

There is not much outside of General Mitchell Airport, sadly. Inside the airport, there is a custard shop in the main-pre-security area that I have not been too. Inside Concourse C (and maybe another concourse as well), Alterra Coffee is a great way to kill time with good coffee and good baked goods.

Also in Concourse C (that is the Airtran concourse, so I am more familiar with that one) is a new French market that I did not have the time to try.

Otherwise, I would pull up a chair to the nearest bar, order a Brat, bad beer and buy some cheese curds/hats/cow-tipping t-shirts for the road.

Downtown Milwaukee is another 25-30mins by car, depending on traffic. Nearby the airport is the town of Greenfield that is about 10mins away that has the beloved Kopp's Custard that I really heart.

You can google Milwaukee magazine for more ideas, as the Journal-Sentinel recommendations are not helpful. Chow is a good source too, actually.

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