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10 Iconic Milwaukee Food & Drinks to Indulge in
February 21, 2019 | By: Taylor Randolph
“America’s Dairyland” is known for its cheese and dairy products, amongst other noteworthy foods that are unique to this region. A trip to Milwaukee is not complete without indulging in some of the classic Wisconsin-fare that has made it world-famous. There is a long culinary history in Wisconsin, dating back several centuries. German, Polish, and Italian immigrants settled here and brought with them the very best of their cuisine. This melting pot has created an entirely unforgettable food scene not found anywhere else in the world.
Fried Cheese Curds from the Wisconsin State Fair
My absolute favorite Wisconsin snack has to be cheese curds. You can have them fresh or fried and either way, they are so delicious. Cheese curds are a by-product of baby cheddar that hasn’t aged. Fresh cheese curds should be salty, squeaky, and eaten within 12 hours of production. After 12 hours, they start to dry out and lose their squeakiness. That is why you will rarely find these delicious cheesy nuggets outside of Wisconsin. So if you are visiting Milwaukee, cheese curds are a must!
Milwaukee Food Tours
Friday Fish Fry
The Friday Fish Fry is a classic Wisconsin food tradition that dates back a couple of centuries. Catholic immigrants brought the practice of eating fish on Fridays during Lent. During the Prohibition era, the Friday Fish Try became popular in taverns as a way to continue making money (and perhaps disguise selling alcohol). The beer-battered fried cod is a popular comfort food and a favorite amongst Wisconsinites. If you want to learn more about the history and eat some delicious fried fish goodness, you can go on a Fish Fry Tour with Milwaukee Food Tours.
VISIT Milwaukee: Kopp's Custard
Milwaukee is nicknamed the “unofficial frozen custard capital of the world” because it has the most frozen-custard shops in the world! This frozen treat was actually invented in New York City but brought to the Midwest during the 1933 World Fair in Chicago. Egg yolks are added to frozen custard in order to make it much thicker than regular ice cream.
Cream Puffs at the Wisconsin State Fair
Cream puffs are buttery, flaky pastries filled with fresh cream and they a legendary dessert in Milwaukee. People are actually petitioning to make it the official Wisconsin dessert. Every year during the Wisconsin State Fair, over 400,000 cream puffs are consumed in just 11 days. I would really recommend attending the Wisconsin State Fair because there are so many incredible desserts, like deep-fried Twinkies or chocolate-dipped cheesecake. If you can’t, then you can still find these sweet treats around town at Peter Sciortino’s Bakery or Le Rêve Patisserie and Café.
Milwaukee’s first brewery opened in 1840 and since then the Milwaukee beer industry has become world-renowned. For many years, the city was home to the four largest breweries in the world, earning it the title of the "Beer Capital of the World." Pabst Brewery was opened in 1844 and Miller Brewery in 1855 and both of these breweries are still located here. Fans of microbreweries will love bar hopping between the amazing 27 local breweries in the Milwaukee area. If you are taking a visit to the Brew City, then you must try at least one of the local craft breweries around Milwaukee. Many of them are located along the river where you can relax and enjoy a drink with a beautiful view.
Bratwurst at a Brewers Game
German immigrants originally brought the bratwurst tradition to Milwaukee. Since then, they have become one of the most popular summer food traditions in Milwaukee. The Milwaukee Brewers stadium is the only baseball stadium where brats actually out-sell hot dogs. But if you aren’t able to catch a Brewers game while you are in Milwaukee, you can sure to find brats in almost any pub in the city.
Butter burgers are an entirely original Wisconsin invention dating back to 1885. These mouth-watering, fatty delights are a must-try when you are in Milwaukee. Staying true to its name, everything in this dish is cooked in butter. The meat patty is cooked in butter, onions are cooked in butter, and the bun is seared in butter. Top it all off with a slice of cheese and you have the perfect juicy burger.
Milwaukee Food Tours
Brandy Old Fashioned
The Brandy Old Fashioned is a popular drink in Wisconsin that is completely unique to the state. If you order an Old Fashioned in Wisconsin, then the bartenders will use brandy instead of bourbon. It is believed this tradition started when Josef, Antone and Francis Korbel’s brandy was showcased at the 1893 World Fair in Chicago. Check out a Pre-Prohibition Historic Bar Tour to learn more about the fascinating history and popular libations of the city.
Milwaukee Food Tours
Yes, there is actually such a thing as Milwaukee-style pizza! Many Italian immigrants migrated to Milwaukee and over the years, formed their very own style of pizza. Milwaukee-style pizza is defined by a cracker-thin crust with slices cut into squares, rather than triangles. It is traditionally cooked in a wood-fired oven and topped with sausage, mushroom, and onion. You have to give it a try when you visit so you can compare it with traditional Italian and New York-style pizza. Check out the Milwaukee Pizza Tour from MKE Food Tours.
VISIT Milwaukee: Sobelmans Bloody Mary Beast
While the origins of the Bloody Mary may be unclear, Wisconsin indeed perfected them. Wisconsin added the classic Bloody Mary garnishes that turn this drink into a meal. Some bars in Milwaukee are famous for adding attention-grabbing garnishes like macaroni and cheese, jalapeno cheese balls, or even a whole fried chicken like this massive beast from Sobelmans! It’s also tradition to add a beer chaser with the cocktail in Milwaukee.
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