To take advantage of the 3-day weekend, Mike and I headed up to Milwaukee for an overnight adventure with our good friends Hiral & Nick (Hiral is also a vegetarian and has been one her entire life!). It was surprising that although some of us grew up in the Chicago area, most of us hadn’t spent much time in Milwaukee before. Thankfully, our friend Kate lives in Milwaukee and knew exactly where to take us.
Milwaukee is a very manageable/walkable city and you can easily get a feel for it and see the key sites in just one day. At less than 2 hours from Chicago, it’s a great destination for a mini-trip for a change of scenery, even on a regular 2-day weekend.
Is anyone planning a road trip to Milwaukee this summer? If so, here are some of our favorite (vegetarian-friendly) discoveries.
I would also love to hear from you if you have any other recommendations in Milwaukee or any other great Road-Trip destinations from Chicago! Share your thoughts by adding a comment!
The Comet Cafe – www.thecometcafe.com 1947 N Farwell Ave (414) 273-7677
We started our day with brunch at the Comet Cafe, a very popular “slow food” restaurant & bar, just north of Brady Street. Expect to wait a little while, if you eat here!
At first, the menu didn’t appear to be too vegetarian friendly – until I read the key at the bottom that showed the restaurant’s logo as a symbol on the menu next to each item that could be veganized – and there were so many!
I ordered the “Leghorn Sandwich” – a Pulled-Chicken sandwich with cream cheese & peach jelly. The veganized version subbed in non-dairy cream cheese and field roast ‘meats’. I was dissapointed to find that the vegan substitution was deli slices, not a “pulled chik’n” imitation like Lightlife’s Smart BBQ which I was expecting. Also, while I love Field Roast’s other products, I was not a fan of the type of deli slices on this sandwich – they reminded me of what I’d imagine Pastrami to taste like.
However, the menu had so many other fabulous dishes on it (especially for lunch & dinner), that I would absolutely go back and try my luck again.
We also ordered one of their Vegan Red Velvet Cupcakes (though the Vegan Blueberry Lemon and Chocolate Coconut were calling my name as well…) and I think it may have been the best vegan frosting I’ve ever had. Wow!
Next, after a brewery tour at Lakefront Brewery, a nap at our cozy hotel (more on our hotel later), and a long walk, we were ready for a snack. Kate took us out for the most quintessential Milwaukee pairing – Beer & Cheese!
The Cheese Bar @ Milwaukee Cheese Mart www.wisconsincheesemart.com 1048 N. Old World 3rd Street (414) 272-3544
For a “Cheese Mart”, this place was surprisingly upscale, and would make a great date place on a Thursday, Friday, or Saturday night when they are open late. The menu was well-organized with several different cheese plates for pairing with wine, and several for pairing with beer.
We got the “Hot and Bothered” plate of spicy cheeses like Mango Habenero and Horseradish & Chive Havarti as well as the “On the Wild Side” plate including a Morel & Leek Monterey Jack and a Five Peppercorn Cheshire. Both plates had very generous portions of cheese, along with nuts, dried fruit, and crackers and paired well with our beers.
After a dinner at one of the many great options on Brady Street, we settled in for the evening at Hi Hat Lounge.
Hi Hat Lounge http://hihatlounge.com/ 1701 North Arlington Place (414) 220-8090
We got a table in the corner and stayed for a few hours enjoying the cool atmosphere (dark wood, old chandeliers, servers dressed up in vests & fedoras) and amazing cocktails. Their Bourbon Sour is perfection; it doesn’t taste as strong as it is, and it’s perfectly sour and not too sweet. We also enjoyed the Moscow Mule (ginger beer/vodka/etc) which was bubbly & refreshing and was served in a copper mug.
I highly recommend this Hotel for any visitors. It was in a cute, quiet residential neighborhood, and is just a short walk all the excellent bars and restaurants on Brady Street.
Most importantly, the prices were reasonable & the rooms were clean. Our standard room even had a whirlpool bath – what a nice surprise! Breakfast is also included, though is only free before 9am, so we missed out on that.
The Pub at the hotel is also quite popular and has live music several nights a week. The Late night menu is pretty limited (almost all fried), but I was excited to spot a Vegetarian Menu for their dinner service which looked amazing. It features Seitan Corned Beef and Cabbage, “Chicken” Curry, and more, and most of the items can be ordered vegan. I regret that we didn’t get to try it!
County Clare Irish Inn www.countyclare-inn.com 1234 N Astor St. (414) 272-5273
Since we missed the 9am cut-off for the free hotel breakfast by a couple hours, instead we decided to go to Fuel Cafe, which I am glad we didn’t miss!
Fuel Cafe http://www.fuelcafe.com/ 818 East Center Street 414.374.FUEL
We had to drive there from the hotel, and it wasn’t in the most scenic area, but both our meat eaters and the vegetarians were very happy with our choice.
It felt like a “hippie hang-out”, which in my opinion is a great thing! It was a very laid back place with funky decor, plenty of tables available, counter service and lots of regulars meeting up.
There weren’t too many breakfast options, so we all made it a brunch and got coffee and sandwiches. My friends loved the vegetarian Pesto Melt with Aioli Sauce. I had the Fat Vegan which was a tofurkey sandwich with spinach, tomato, cucumber, sprouts and vegan cream cheese.
But the real stand out was the COFFEE!!! It was so delicious the guys ordered two a piece, rationalizing “one for the road”. The house Sweetened Iced Cappuccino was addictive. The Malted, Milky Way, and Peanut Butter flavored Iced Coffees also got rave reviews.