Friday, September 26, 2014

Milwaukee Food Tour: Brady Street

Dave's aunt visited us from New Jersey recently. She's visited before and lived in Chicago for a few months out of school so she was familiar with Illinois and the city. She had never been to Milwaukee. Dave thought that touring Milwaukee would be better traffic-wise on a Friday afternoon vs. the hassles of getting into Chicago from our house. Her stipulation was to find an activity Dave hadn't experienced yet. After some searching online he picked the Milwaukee Food Tour of Brady Street.


Brady Street was like a mini Lincoln Park (in Chicago). There were trendy shops, eateries, and a few newer places filled with craft beer and pub fare. The touring area was about 1.5 miles away from the main downtown tourist area of Third/Water Streets and very easy to get to by car. Dave's aunt was surprised how little traffic there was in the downtown area.
The tour material sent us to meet the group and guide at Zaffiro's Pizza. Our guide Damien, a retired journalist, met us outside and led us to our group's table where two other women were sitting. We were it today. After intros we were given a brief overview of the area, history of pizza, and Zaffiro's cultural reference as one of the city's longest standing pizzerias. We shared a large thin crust pizza. We're used to thin in Chicago, but this was cracker-thin (but very good).

Next up was Cempazuchi's, a vibrantly decorated Mexican restaurant. As we strolled over in the slight drizzle Damien pointed out some of the architecture and history of several buildings we passed. In Cempazuchi's we had very traditional (non Tex-Mex) sauce and chips plus a tinga taco: Ground pork and chicken simmered with peppers, onions, and cilantro on a soft corn tortilla. This was the best item we had of the day. Really simple and fresh. We had time to get drinks (not included in the price) so Dave tried a Mexican craft brew and his aunt a margarita.

Damien was like, "drink up folks....." so the four of us downed our beverages and moved onto Sciortino's Bakery. Simple story here is a guy used to buy bread everyday and his three kids worked there during school. When the owner was ready to sell he offered first crack to the kids and they (or their family) have owned it since. We had canolis here, it it all just happened so fast we didn't take a picture. Dave doesn't like canolis but this one was different since the filling didn't have that usual cheese taste.

Halfway there....

The next stop was at Glorioso Brothers Grocery: an Italian Market that's been in the same family since it opened after World War II. It recently moved from it's original location to a modern building across the street. You can buy almost everything you need here to make the perfect Italian feast. They also carry beer and wine at decent prices. Here we sampled salamis, prosciutto, and olives on napkins. Not the most well thought out stop of the tour for the food, but the history was there.

We walked a bit to get to our next stop, which was Brocach Milwaukee. Along the way we learned about Polish flats (houses raised to build a lower level addition vs. adding a top floor), Milwaukee's tannery history, and the city's cream colored local clay bricks. Brocach is your stereotypical million dollar remake of an Irish Pub. It's done really well, but when you walk in you see the formula at work. Here we had corn beefed sliders and fries. The thought of having to taste corned beef gives Dave the fits. However this was good: pretzel roll, not-so-salty meat, cheese, and onions. It all worked well. A beer would have been great, but it seemed like we were all ready running longer than anticipated.

Our final stop was Wolski's Tavern. Apparently this a a Milwaukee institution. We learned about how the bar has been in the same family for over 100 years and how the building used to be on Brady Street (now on Pulaski Street). On the outside it looked updated, but the inside still had that dank 100 year old bar charm we love so much. Food offering here was a local beer from LakeFront Brewing. We spent some time talking to one of the owners about the bar and some of the fixtures. You could tell he was proud to own a Milwaukee landmark.

Our total time on the tour was 3 hours. Damien directed us to our car's location and left us to. Enjoy Wolski's as long as we wanted.

The tour was definitely worth it. It was fun to see things off-the-beaten-path of Milwaukee's downtown and lakefront. At $45/pp (plus tip) it was a reasonable value. Dave and his aunt both said they would take another tour from Milwaukee Food Tours.


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