Thursday, November 1, 2007

City Sights

Everyone needs to get away once in a while. That’s why I like to go to Milwaukee to experience a different city and scene. Milwaukee feels like a big city but it’s still a manageable size to walk around and be familiar with—and the traffic isn’t terrible (compared to Chicago, for example). For a mere hour and a half (or less) you can experience all of this.

Yummy Eats
The Wicked Hop is one of my all-time favorite places to hang out and get a bite to eat. When it’s warm out, I relax on the patio outside and experience the laid-back scene of the Historic Third Ward. The food is affordable and easy to like—burgers, chicken sandwiches, wings and more. They’re also frequently named for having the best Bloody Mary in the city (they garnish with a mushroom, shrimp, blue cheese-stuffed olives, mozzarella whips and a beef stick).
Say “bonjour” when you walk in to Trocadero—this adorable French joint has great food, affordable wine and one of the best outdoor patios in the city. Their ham and gruyere crepe is one of my go-tos for a meal, but their spinach dip and cheese plates are also top-notch.
Elsa’s is an elegant choice for casual dining in an upscale, bustling atmosphere. Their martinis are the drink of choice here, and be sure to wear a cute outfit if you go here. If you go for dinner, get a burger—you won’t be sorry! Fun fact: local celebs are sometimes spotted here (Bucks and Brewers players).
Other places to try: Bella’s Fat Cat (awesome burgers), Oakland Trattoria (pizza to die for), Pasta Tree (mmm … pasta) and Eddie Martini’s (heavenly filet mignon). P.S.: if you want health food, don’t ask me … ha.

Hang Out
I’ve only been to Water Buffalo in the Third Ward once—but that was enough for me to want to go back again. This sleek restaurant/bar actually won “Best New Restaurant” by’s readers—quite a ringing endorsement. I haven’t tried the food but would like to soon!
Blu at the top of the Pfister offers a bird’s-eye view of the city. This classy, sophisticated cocktail lounge usually has live music and an interesting mix of people. It’s a little pricier than most area bars/lounges, but the atmosphere more than makes up for it.
The Nomad on Brady Street is the ultimate hangout, and is another place that’s fun in warm or cold weather. Sit outside and sip a brew while surveying the Brady Street scene or snuggle up inside in the wintertime for good conversation.
Other places to try: Hi-Hat Garage, (cool lounge-y place), County Clare (fun Irish-themed bar), Bar Louie (a bit rowdy, but fun with friends and nice outdoor patio) and Harry’s (casual but lovely establishment and good food).

Where to Shop
Um … do you think I forgot the most important category?! Of course not. Milwaukee’s got a lot of independent, locally owned boutiques.
Peruse Lela for beautiful, feminine clothing (dressy tops, cocktail dresses), a small selection of consignment goods and the latest trends by Milwaukee’s up-and-coming designers like Shanel Regier and Lauren Edgar Duff. Fun fact: This past summer Lela hosted Project Lela, modeled after Bravo’s Project Runway. The boutique carries clothing by the winner of the challenge, Erica Fox, as well as runner-up Kristi Schomberg.
Detour is Milwaukee’s answer for premium denim. Look for all of the hottest brands that will set you back a few bucks, but hey, you’ll look good!
Blush in the Third Ward offers the finest in cosmetics like Laura Mercier, DuWop and Paula Dorf. Their website also boasts that Blush is home to Milwaukee’s first Lash Bar. They also have a Brow Bar for shoppers to pick out their unique look.
Other places to try: Anomaly Design Shop (kitschy home décor products), Aala Reed (beautiful men’s and women’s clothing) Metropawlis (pet boutique and bakery) Milwaukee Public Market, and indoor food emporium featuring ethnic cuisine, meats, cheeses, Wisconsin products, flowers, coffee bar, candy, and more. Finally, check out George Watts for a really nice gift or for yourself, but be prepared to spend some money on this quality tabletop and gift specialty store.

Fun Things To Do
The Milwaukee Art Museum has really stepped up its exhibitions lately. Last year’s Biedermeier: The Invention of Simplicity, earned rave reviews.
Tour Lakefront Brewery, a local microbrewery on the Milwaukee River. For a mere five dollars take a tour of the charming brewery (complete with your tour guide singing and dancing to the theme song from Laverne and Shirley), get a free pint glass and tokens for four, yes four, beers. Be sure to bring your designated driver!
Summertime means Milwaukee is festival central. Check out Bastille Days, Summerfest or any of the local street/community festivals that go on (Brady Street, Locust Street, Bay View, etc.)

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