November 08, 2019

Lori's picks: Milwaukee's best restaurants of 2019

It's time for Dining Month, presented by Deer District and its spooky Halloween-themed alter ego, Fear District. Throughout the month of October, we'll be serving up fun and fascinating content about all things food.

Each year I compile a list of my top restaurant picks in 40+ categories, based on our annual Best of Dining Poll.

You can check out the full article at OnMilwaukee here.


Heaven's Table BBQ
Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave., (414) 732-7109

It's been years since I've needed to lament the paucity of barbeque here in Milwaukee. Thanks to a mini explosion of new 'que joints over the past few years, there are multiple spots where I'm happy to get my fix. Most recently, I've become enamoured of the goods at Heaven's Table in the Crossroads Collective where Chef Jason Alston is smoking up the place with a menu of excellently prepared smoked meats. I'm a big fan of their brisket, which is consistently tender and flavorful and I've been pleasantly surprised by the juiciness of their smoked chicken. I'm also a huge fan of their firecracker corn bread. Don't miss the Texas cut beef ribs (Saturdays only).


Egg & Flour Pasta Bar
Crossroads Collective, 2238 N. Farwell Ave.

When I want the long view of Italy, I still look to Ristorante Bartolotta, which best represents Italy and the diversity of its regions. But if I'm simply feeling indulgent, I've been more than pleased to take a trip to Egg & Flour, the pasta restaurant in Crossroads Collective, which will soon add its own new brick and mortar location in Bay View.

There's nothing like housemade pasta, and Chef Adam Pawlak executes his well, tossing out a variety of shapes from simple pappardelle to shells and handmade ravioli. There's consistency in favorites like creste di gallo with basil pesto and the fantastic, fresh-tasting burrata salad which makes a meal in and of itself. Oh, and if the squid ink bucatini with lobster and tomato cream makes it to the specials menu again, you should hightail it to the East Side to try it out.


Kawa Ramen & Sushi
2321 N. Murray Ave., (414) 800-7979

I have a great deal of respect for sushi restaurants that aren't above purchasing great fish in small quantities, even if it means running out of it by the end of the day. It's a philosophy employed by Kawa Ramen & Sushi, a restaurant which has upped the ante for East Side sushi fans. Their dishes are beautiful and balanced, and their fish is fresh. I also respect their eye for quality, which is evident in numerous dishes right down to the tonkotsu ramen broth, which is made with sustainably sourced pork and perfected with the restaurant's adherence to Japanese techniques, including monitoring the broth for both salt and viscosity, ensuring a consistent bowl every time.


Snack Boys
814 S. 2nd St., (414) 509-5975

I'm a big fan of small plates, largely because I always want to try far more menu items than I can realistically eat myself; so sharing with a few other people always seems like the best laid plan. Of course, not all small plate spots are created equal, and each one presents its own unique experience. If you'd like your small plates with a dose of levity, you'll totally dig my 2019 pick. Because, if it's fun you desire, there's plenty to be had at the irresistibly 80s themed Snack Boys.

Yes folks, most of the plates are small; but they're also big on flavor. The selections change all the time, so I'm hard-pressed to give you hints on exactly what to eat at any given moment. But rest assured -- whether it's their rare-but-beautiful dilly wings, a creative little slider, a pasta special, a whacked-out take on pho, or a Thursday night pizza special -- it will be delicious. And things will get all the better when the boyz move into their new space on the East Side where they'll have a bigger kitchen (and a bigger, better menu).


1932 E. Kenilworth Pl., (414) 226-5160

I like wings. And I've eaten more of them in the past few years than ever before. While I love a minimally dressed, dry rubbed wing, I've also developed a keen appreciation for Korean fried wings, many thanks to the folks at Merge who make them so well they're tough to resist. Their Nashville dry rub is salty and savory; but I'm a sucker for the volcano sauced wings, which pack quite a cumulative punch.