You didn’t come here for another list of the “best foodie finds in Milwaukee!!! :)”. Both Yelp and TripAdvisor are fantastic resources for finding the crowd-sourced “best” restaurants in the city. Instead, the following are some local favorites that we and our Milwaukee friends and family go back to time and time again, from divey to decadent.

(Follow along on The Food Tour map!)

The Greasy Pleasers
Sometimes you just need to have some fried or fatty deliciousness. Gold Rush Chicken‘s fried chicken and shakes haven’t been beat since the same family opened in 1961. Similarly, Points East Pub regularly has lines out the door, waiting for a spot to place an order of their grilled, flash-fried, and sauced chicken wings.

Looking for something a little more meaty? It’s impossible to describe the emotions of your first bite of a sausage at The Vanguard. It’s like a little bit of heaven was stuffed inside each meat casing. Any room left in your belly needs to be stuffed with an oversized slice of pizza from Ian’s Pizza. Though newbs will say you have to get the Mac & Cheese Pizza, an experienced mind recommends a) anything with potatoes on top and b) ALL THE RANCH.

The Dinner Winners

Though Lakefront Brewery is better known for their beer, locals stop by every Friday for their beer-battered fish fry. This year-round tradition in Wisconsin can be found in most restaurants and bars. While you can find lake and river fish in many restaurants, there’s no better seafood joint in town than St Paul Fish Company. With fresh deliveries from both coasts every day, and deals like the daily $16 lobster dinner, it’s hard to match.

It wouldn’t be a visit to German Milwaukee without some traditional fare at the historic Mader’s Restaurant. Since 1902 this institution has been hosting celebrities and locals alike. Their featured pork shank is fall-off-the-bone gloriousness.

The dining renaissance currently overtaking Milwaukee was arguably started by La Merenda, a tiny tapas joint hidden in Harbor View. Grab a couple friends (and a reservation) to be able to experience as many different globally-inspired small plates as possible.

The Fourth Meal
Originally started as a bowl-and-a-beer pop-up shop, Red Light Ramen now has their own (tiny) digs to sling bowl after bowl of piping hot ramen noodles in. With heaping portions of pork, scallions, mushrooms, bamboo shoots, nori, fish cake, egg, and greens, this ain’t your college 10-cent soup.

A night out in Milwaukee isn’t complete unless you stumble into line at Real Chili. Though technically “Cincinnati style” chili (in that it’s soupier and served over spaghetti noodles), the East Town Real Chili is as near and dear to every Milwaukeean’s heart as a cold can of Pabst.

Back to The Food Tour list.

All photos by Joe Powell for The Squeaky Curd.