I have been on a serious taco binge lately. I have eaten at Bel Air Cantina (always and forever), Iron Horse Hotel (The Yard), and Cloud Red all within a 3 weeks time, trying out a tempeh, fried cod, chorizo, and a veggie fajita skillet with chips and salsa over the weekend in Houston. I have even made my own seitan and cauliflower tacos for the past 3 weeks with avocados, cilantro and corn salsa. Making food at home has been something fresh and more exciting for me as I make more plant-based options, but going out is also something I thoroughly enjoy. (the reason I have this website) Each visit to the aforementioned restaurants has given me a chance to try a myriad of proteins/meats (fried tilapia, cod, carne asada, soy-based) flavors and toppings, along with drinks. Bel Air serves up refreshing ginger beer while Iron Horse serves up a gamut of margaritas, and even a non-alcoholic mint mojito and gin and tonic! Cloud Red also serves up a WIDE range of wine and brews.
Bel Air's $6 special (can choose from a selection of tacos, 3 get you free rice and beans) on Tuesdays and Thursdays is always a good deal, but the Iron Horse hotel recently just launched their own Taco Tuesday deal that gets customers all you can eat tacos (chicken, carnitas, fried cod) rice and beans, chips and salsas and two margaritas for only $20. (per person) This is a steal, especially when able to eat outside on Iron Horse's patio, also known as the yard. Live music also runs on Sundays from 3-5 p.m. and Fridays from 6 to 8 p.m at the Yard. This deal is impressive considering the tacos are all you can eat versus the drinks being all you can drink. Cloud Red (opens at 4 p.m.) also has a $5 taco special on Tuesdays that serves us plentiful tempeh, shrimp and one more meat-based option with strong chips and salsa. Although Cloud Red's taco deal is only a dollar off, it is still a great deal and gets you chips and salsa and a pretty nice portion. Drink specials run on Mondays at Cloud Red as well and provide people with a chance to kick back and have a couple drinks.
While there are some places I need to try including Mazorca, Gypsy Taco and the Laughing Taco, I do think the aforementioned deals are great buys and can grant you a lot of food for less money you would typically pay. Milwaukee is a great place to live on a budget while still enjoying some top-quality eats at moderate prices. If anyone has any other taco deals that they know about please let me know! Overall, all three spots provide Milwaukee folks with a unique set of taco deals, and I am excited to see what else comes inside these corn tortillas at other spots around town. Peace and grub!
Karma Bar & Grill is located on Milwaukee's east side on 600 E. Ogden Ave. and offers a wide range of bar eats including burgers, chicken and wraps. I had walked past this spot numerous times and decided to check out this place's Friday fish fry, which I had scoped out while doing research on venues near me!
But first, walking into Karma felt like home, as there were televisions everywhere showing NBA and MLB games. There was even a large scoreboard up on the walls that reminded me of a decrepit high school gym in small town America. (much to my chagrin this scoreboard did not actually turn on) There were long wooden booths and high chairs, which is normal, but when I went downstairs I was thoroughly surprised to come across what I saw-a lounge-like seating area that reminded of a place where jazz music is bursting through a saxophone amongst a well-dressed crowd. After further investigation, a waiter told me that the spot is called the Sutra lounge, a place where people host banquets and other upscale events. It was a nice touch to this otherwise typical American bar (other than some unique lighting fixtures and scoreboard) and seems like a revenue generator to supplement slow days for the bar area.
Once I got back to my seat, I decided to go for the cajun panko breaded fish fry with waffle fries. (I should mention they do have baked and beer battered options.) I did not know what to expect, but I knew the breading was going to be very crunchy, a wonderful contrast to an otherwise flaky fish, which happened to be cod. (typical of fish fries) The seasoning that was used on fish was paprika, cumin, garlic powder, among other spices according to our server. The waffle fries were crisped to a perfection, and paired with rye bread and coleslaw made for a tasty meal. The pieces of cod were extremely large, and filling, and the panko breaded exterior was absolutely phenomenal and will have me back for more in future. Karma lived up to its own name and provided me with good eats, good energy, and great service. (I asked the server at least 7 questions and she answered them all with no attitude.) I have returned the favor with this post and hope I receive some more eats with the same flavor in the future. Peace and grub!
When I first heard about Brunch opening, I was a bit skeptical, considering your restaurant's food HAS to be good with a name like that. Turns out it actually was bomb... Find out why in my latest Uncut Food Episode!
Honey Pie, pitted in a row of restaurants located on 2643 S Kinnickinnic Ave in Bay View, was the subject of my party's visit on Sunday afternoon. Having had their pie before and hearing a lot of good things about this restaurant led me to this spot. Likewise, I have been to Comet Cafe a ton and Palomino once so it seemed appropriate to finally visit their not too distant cousin in Honey Pie.
When arriving to Honey Pie, there is a pig plastered on the window outside of the window, serving as Honey Pie's logo, but I did question the choice of it considering a lot of their options do not seem to be pork based. My party and I asked our server a few questions, and specifically wanted to know more about Honey Pie's logo choice. To our dismay, the waiter actually did not know the answer to this question despite working there for almost five years. Although judging a restaurant based on a simple question like this one seems bit trivial, one would expect an employee who has worked at Honey Pie for multiple years to know the answer to a question related to the company's brand.
As my party and I sat down, we began to take in Honey Pie's ambiance, and it was a blend of both old and new, with dark black lined walls, maps and other unique fixtures and decor that resembled an older bar. Wooden seats and tables filled the restaurant and added to Honey Pie's old school feel while the lighting also added to this retro feel. Now that I have taken a look the restaurant, let's move on to the food.
My dish was a veggie grinder, which included mushrooms, tofu hummus (it was good so back off), asparagus, mixed greens among other things, all between two ciabatta rolls. This sandwich was outstanding and seasoned well, but the vegetables could have been cut more precisely. The corn muffins that Thasia and I ate were succulent, moist, and buttery. Paired with strawberry jam and whipped butter made for a filing appetizer. Thasia and John were somewhat pleased with their chicken biscuit pies, (read below) and we all agreed that Honey Pie was not too shabby in the comfort food category. Although I might give the nod to Comet Cafe upon first glance, it was a pretty good eating experience. (To be fair, I have not had brunch yet and need to try a few more options.)
I hate cherries unless they are in some type of ice cream, but I opted to try out Honey Pie's only fruit pie available that day, cherry pie. My fist couple of bites tasted like cherry overload, but I can honestly say that it was a sweet dish and not too tart. If I had to eat it again, I totally would with some vegan ice cream. John opted for key lime pie, and he said he loved this choice. Next time I might have to try a different pie option, as the graham cracker crust and whipped cream was something I missed. I asked the waiter how many pies does Honey Pie make per day, and there was a bit of disappointment as another question about the restaurant was not answered.
Overall, Honey Pie served up large portions at moderate prices, and I was pleased with my experience despite choosing from a limited menu. The service was not bad either and did its job, and I would recommend this spot to anyone looking for hearty dinner options and ingreidents from hyper local places in this area. Thasia also gives her take on Honey Pie which you can read below. It's very flavorful and fresh, so enjoy!
Thasia's take on Honey Pie:
When bae calls you sweetie pie but you’d prefer him to call you Honey Pie. Why you might ask? Well I’ll tell you. Over the past weekend I was able to experience good ol’ comfort style foods in the Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood. Tagging along with Mr. MKEFoodFinds himself and his friend, we visited a local spot called Honey Pie. There I indulged into one of their classics; the Chicken and Biscuit pot pie.
Although I could say that it needed a little salt (a lotta), and some more chicken chunks, it was still very tasty. But this was not the item that stole my heart. What really captivated my mind, body, and soul was their succulent and oh so magnificent, corn bread muffins. LAWD. The two sweet and savory treats came with a nice whipped butter as well as fresh strawberry jam. The jam caught me a little off guard but it added a little extra kicked to the classic southern muffin. The edges were crisp to perfection and the insides were soft and fluffy. Not to mention they were warm, which I appreciate, and were very moist. Because who likes rock hard corn bread? I do not… thank you very much! Any who, these muffins will forever be in my heart. Now do you get it why I insist on bae calling me Honey Pie? I will be back!!
Coffee Makes You Black, located on 2803 N Teutonia Ave. in Riverwest, is a place I love for numerous reasons. One, the fact that it is a black-owned business that supports all-things local makes me believe in this place as a form of economic development within the city. Two, the vibes that I feel when I step foot into this restaurant, with smooth jazz ringing into my ears along with African decor makes me feel right at home, as I explained on Instagram. Three, and most importantly, is how good the food is here. Everything is seasoned to perfection, whereas some popular brunch spots including Engine Company No. 3 serve pretty basic cuisine without a ton of flavor. There needs to be more attention brought to place like CMYB, and this blog will serve as just that as it celebrates Black Restaurant Week here in Milwaukee.
This was my fourth visit to CMYB so I wanted to see how the operations, service and food was still holding up. Needless to say, the service and overall visit was outstanding. The waiters and waitresses were all extremely friendly and asked us repeatedly if we were doing fine, something that seems to be taken for granted sometimes at restaurants. Even if something were to go wrong, I'd like to believe that these waiters would handle it with grace and attention to detail. As my brother and I were deciding on what food to get, we also opted to try coffee, a rare occurrence for both of us.
We decided to live on the edge a little with our coffee selection, but also because this spot includes coffee in their name. It is almost like going to Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory and opting to get a peanut butter-inspired treat. Adding hazelnut cream and whipped cream to the black coffee was a great decision, and this drink was delicious. A large mug (only $2) provided me plenty to drink throughout my meal and after. Although I do not drink coffee as I mentioned, it was a nice change of pace to my drink selection and left me satisfied with the taste and amount provided.
The prices at CMYB are stellar, as I ordered two biscuits, two salmon croquettes (fried salmon patties) a bowl of grits and my aforementioned coffee all for just $10.06. Justin ordered something similar, but opted for their potatoes with bell peppers and onions and a side of fruit for around $13. You can fill up nicely at this restaurant and not have to pay a ton either. Their chicken and waffles dish (which I have eaten before eliminating red meat, chicken and fish) is spectacular, as the sweet and salty combination of that option provides a serious punch, all coming to around $8 as well. You can feast at CMYB without feeling like you breaking the bank. This spot opens up at 7:30 AM on most days and closes shop at around 2 PM. Fridays they are open from 5 to 8 PM, with live music running from 6 until close.
The wait for our food was longer than usual, but I have learned to appreciate the art of scratch food and the preparation that is necessary when making food fresh. If your food comes out too quick, then you should probably be worried. As I looked around and ate my food, something dawned upon my brother and I during this trip. Black-owned business run similar to the way baptist churches function, as a safe haven and a place where laughs are heard from afar and the noise level is higher than usual. Interaction is paramount and seems to be a main focus of this place that does not have televisions or any forms of media around to watch. All kinds of races stepped foot into this establishment, something I particularly enjoyed, and everyone seem relaxed and very happy to be inside this place. It felt like you were in a family member's home relaxing and getting food prepared by them, and that was a great feeling.
Everything about the restaurant screamed informal, from a local high school student selling items for fundraising to a man named Anthony who was telling my brother and I about an organization he created that focuses on empowering black men through summits, community engagement and workshops. Although this place is a black-owned business, this place celebrates all races, ethnicities and cultures just like most restaurants should. After leaving from CMYB, it struck me that this place felt like a place I know very well--home. Considering this feeling I continue to have about this establishment, it is safe to say I will be back soon. Thanks for the good vibes, even better eats and showcasing Black Restaurant Week and cMYB; let's keep places like these top of mind when discussing top eats in Milwaukee. I know I will continue to do so with seasoned spots like CMYB that deliver on both connecting the community and its delicious dishes.
There is a new spot for poké bowls in Milwaukee's Murray Hill neighborhood, and it is located on 1806 E North Ave near the corner of Oakland & North Ave. Over the past few years, there has been a shift toward poke bowls, a Hawaiian-inspired dish, also known as unrolled sushi, that is starting to hit the Midwest. Luckily for those living in Milwaukee like myself, Fresh Fin gives city dwellers and others interested in poke bowls an opportunity to consume this newfound cuisine in a chic, minimalist setting on Milwaukee's east side.
I have started to eat more sushi as of late, so the idea of a poké bowl sounded like a good one to my taste buds. Likewise, Fresh Fin incorporates a bevy of spices into their dishes. I also love seafood, and thought this spot would allow me to enjoy it and much more and soon found myself eating lunch with a co-worker one day and my girlfriend two weeks later. When you walk into Fresh Fin, the environment stands out as a simple but unique venue, with white and gray permeating the interior of the restaurant. Clean lines, white walls, soft pastels and earth tones including gray and brown give this place a relaxed feel and make it a welcoming place to eat.
Upon setting foot into the establishment, I became immersed into a vibrant atmosphere, something that was created by the employes at the front counter. I did not know what to get both times I went to Fresh Fin, and the employees basically took me on a crash course for poké bowls. They provided me with recommendations on the dishes customers enjoyed, and what seafood options pair well with certain sauces and vegetables for their build your own bowl. The first time I went I ordered coconut curry shrimp bowl, sans coconut, I ordered a large. (although I had it with coconut last week at Wax Wing's 5th anniversary and thoroughly enjoyed) The shrimp pieces were generous, the crispy onions provided a nice crunch and everything in between was just right. The second time I visited Fresh Fin and ordered the zen bowl (regular size), which comes with sweet potato, salmon (which I added), avocado, mushrooms and your choice of rice or noodles, among other things.
The combination of spices and sweet flavors with the coconut curry shrimp option provided a kick that was enough for me. I am beginning to come around to spicier foods and thought it was manageable, so for anyone who is looking for an option that has bursting flavors and a little bit of spiciness, I'd go with that option. My zen bowl was also tasty (although I might not get mushrooms next time, really only like them grilled) and allowed me to appreciate things including eel sauce and vegetables without having any meat. Fresh Fin also has other options including their mango tango dish (more sweet than anything) and spicy tuna for those looking for an even hotter option. Spicy chicken with cilantro, edamame and spicy ginger, to name a few things, is a bowl that will certainly packed with protein and flames.
For anyone that knows me well, I can eat a lot of food in one sitting and in general so I thought the large would fill me up and allow me to feel content. I was wrong, as it was way too much for me. (I did take a trip to Insomnia next door right after, to be fair.) The regular poké bowl is $7.95 and does the job just fine, as it is packed densely inside the bowl, but if you are extremely hungry or wanting to share, the large option, for $11.95 works fine. Oh, and YOU DO NOT HAVE TO USE CHOPSTICKS. Forks are provided, and thank God, as I am a pretty novice chopstick user to say the least.
I have been told that I am really nice when doing reviews, but that is because I have found myself at establishments that are known for good service and even better eats. I do not think any of us would actively seek out bad restaurants, as that would be somewhat foolish and a disservice to you, the reader. I experienced all good things at Fresh Fin, and I can confidently say that after interacting with employees at their establishment and at Wax Wing's party. I also received a punch card, (you will too, just ask) and am excited to explore more of this seafood-friendly joint in the near future. Your food comes fresh inside of this trendy east side venue, arrives fast, and the endorphins arrive even faster.
Conejitos, Bel Air Cantina and Cielto Lindo are a few places that come to mind when thinking about good mexican cuisine in Milwaukee. I had not heard about Jalisco's and some of their eats despite living and working on Milwaukee's east side, but this past week decided to give it a try after having it brought to my attention.
This small restaurant runs along North Avenue and Prospect, near a boatload of other eats including Fresh Fin Poke, Chubby's, Ian's Pizza and Beans & Barley, to name a few. Jalisco's is open from 9AM to 4 AM everyday, something I do think is very convenient for all kinds of schedules. Their restaurant has a lot of traditional Mexican decor, and the wooden benches and tables give off a somewhat rustic and old timer feel. Ceramic vases, pictures and other decor around the restaurant make for an interesting environment. The service was pretty good, but chips and salsa was extra after going through a basket. Although it was not a lot of money to get extra, the simple fact that I would have to pay to get something that is usually free at other Mexican restaurants was a tad bit annoying.
I decided to try their shrimp burrito that was stuffed with rice, lettuce and tomatoes and of course, shrimp. I was simply not impressed at all with this lack of flavor inside this stuffed option. Burritos typically only come with so many ingredients, but this burrito just did not meet my expectations. There was basically no seasoning on the shrimp, and the rice was also lacking flavor. The guacamole on the side somewhat saved my burrito, but still was not enough to leave me happy. The prices at Jalisco's are not too bad for a lot of their entrees, but some of their sides seem bit overpriced. I paid an extra dollar to basically get a dollop of extra guacamole. Luckily, rice and beans came with my burrito (beans were decent), along with aforementioned guacamole and sour cream on the side.
To be fair, my party enjoyed their nachos and made me wonder if their other meat options were tasty, but if their burrito with shrimp did not taste good, I could imagine their other burritos and tacos to be somewhat the same. I also had seafood at a place that is probably known for their traditional burrito with ground beef or steak, so I cannot speak to their famous burrito. The bottom line is food should be somewhat seasoned or taste up to par, regardless of the type of cuisine is offered.
The drinks at Jalisco's are probably the reason they are in business, as they have a wide range of deals that happen over the course of the week. My party decided to get strawberry margaritas, and although I do not consume alcohol, the sip I did have tasted good. Overall, Jalisco's relatively cheap eats and drinks seem like they bring people to this restaurant time and time again, but my first visit to this venue was not too stellar and leads me to believe I will not be back for more.
2207 E North Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202
Phone: (414) 291-0645
Hours: 9AM to 4AM everyday
It's a week from Christmas which means the obvious--family, food, gifts and NBA basketball. Did I mention NBA basketball? Just checking. Anywho, I recently went to Build-A-Burger/Build-A-Breakfast and thought coming up with 7 reasons, an ode to my favorite holiday that arrives in a week--Christmas, would be a unique way to talk about this local Milwaukee venue that I frequently attend.
My 7 Reasons
1. They serve all-day breakfast (Think McDonald's, except real food.) including granola pancakes and a warriors feast that tests your stomach and mind.
2. They serve a gamut of burgers including their Walnut option. (my favorite)
3. You can create your own meal from a long list of options.
4. None of their food runs past $14, most breakfast running close to $8.
5. Their burgers are made fresh-to-order. (Frozen burgers = no)
6. You can order their food online, requiring you to do basically nothing.
7. I have been here enough (say at least 10 times) to know if their food is actually good or not, as I think my taste buds know when something is delcious.
I hope you take my word on Build-A-Burger/Build-A-Breakfast being a good breakfast/brunch/dinner spot and these seven reasons and try out this local joint located at 633 W. Wisconsin Ave in Milwaukee's downtown area. Please hit the like button below and provide feedback if you decide to visit this spot!
As you all know, I go to a lot of restaurants. Probably way more than I should, but hey, who doesn't love going out to eat, socializing and having a good time? When I go to restaurants, I eat my food, get the check and look at the most annoying/dreadful part of my meal-the tip amount. I never know what to put and neither does the person that is usually eating with me, whether it be family, friends, enemies, you name it.
Everyone then proceeds to take out their smartphone and do the old percent calculations thing, as if they planned to put that amount on their bill as their tip. Most people just opt to go lower than the 15, 18 or 20 percent that their calculator just spat out after doing some serious number crunching and sweating for three minutes. After hearing about the history of tipping during a podcast that included Aaron Task & Restaurant tycoon Danny Meyer, who started Shake Shack and a host of other eateries around the United States, I began to do further research about tipping and where it's headed. Upon gathering information and having deeper thoughts of my own, I have been taken aback about the sheer thought and action behind tipping, leading me to a few points as to why I am done tipping and you should be too.
Tipping has become annoying and adds unnecessary stress to our lives. Think about a meal you ate with a friend or loved one. A meal that included eats that were locally-sourced, plentiful and priced relatively well. Now think about the emotional distress that ensued once your check arrived because you are trying to figure out how much extra money you should spend for basically getting your food in a timely manner and free refills on your Diet Pepsi. (Anyone who drinks those should stop, as they are worse than regular soda. Wait, regular soda is also bad for you, yikes.) Why am I paying a restaurant extra money for great service, something that should exist anyway?
When I worked for the Milwaukee Bucks as a Guest Service Representative, no one gave me a tip for providing them great service while they were at the game. (Granted that was not allowed, but that just shows you the underlying issue here.) The restaurant and sport industry have similar parallels including entertainment of some kind, being able to socialize, and of course, eating food under one roof. Food options might be sky high at the BMO Harris Bradley Center, but at least they are taking into account the numerous variables that inflate these prices and do not make you tip. Whenever I see a tip amount line after buying something at a small ice cream stand within this same arena, I scoff and proudly put a line through it, as if to say "I showed you who's boss" and then proceeding to feel guilty as I go back to my seat.
Another reason to stop tipping: Its roots (pardon the pun) stem from a system that is connected to slavery and exploitation of numerous races, cultures, genders and is downright wrong. To go into greater detail, below is a quote from the Washington Post by Roberto Ferman about tipping and explains where some of its origins come from:
"In fact, among the six states that passed tipping bans, five of them were southern states, and it was based on this idea that black workers were the only workers making tips, because there was this idea that you only tip inferiors. That is what I mean when I say the origins are noblesse oblige. The origin is that you tip an inferior. When the practice came to the United States, the newly freed slaves, the black workers, were the equivalent of the proletariat in the feudal s system."
If that quote does not speak to you, I don't know what else will especially considering minorities still are given positions in restaurants that pay lower wages than their non-black co-workers. One thing I try not to do is to partake in customs just because it is tradition. I like to do my research, and more importantly, have valid reasoning as to why I'm doing it. Unfortunately, tipping is something that I have been victim to always doing, because well, it's always been done. When tipping arrived in America, something else came here with it-slavery and discrimination that women now have to deal with when they're working as waitresses as well. To be clear, I am not here to discuss race or gender relations, but here to inform you about the practices we have perpetuated for some time and should think about our actions the next time we go to a restaurant and tip based off the person serving us food, a perfect way to dive into my next segment.
Even if you think tipping is acceptable, you are tipping the wrong person. How many times do you base your tipping amount according to the service of the waiter or waitress, who is simply transferring your food from the kitchen to your table? I'll answer that for you-every time. Do you even know who made your food? It was the cook, if I am not mistaken, yet we are not really tipping them because they're out of sight out and out of mind. We might say, "Man, that was excellent," but we won't go into deeper thought about this hierarchy within the workplace or consider it when tipping. Yes, we as customers interact more with the person serving us our food, but they are not making it. Yet, we continue to tip them because we know that these servers are getting paid crumbs just for the off chance someone like yourself, hands them a bill with Ben Franklin, Andrew Jackson or even Harriet Tubman's face plastered on it. (2025, wait on it.)
While I do tip my barber, drivers who takes me to airports from hotels (services where I am able to see the elbow grease and finished product), and donate to various charities when I see fit, I am done tipping at restaurants. I do not know how that money is dispersed, if the person who served me even gets that money, or if a company even allocates this money correctly to their servers. What I do know is most of these same servers at Comet Cafe, Hi Hat and Coffee Makes You Black are getting paid less per hour than the $10 you gave them as a tip, and that is simply wrong.
How is it acceptable that employers can pay servers as little as $2.13 an hour, as long as they are able to get tipped? That is ludicrous. Some of you reading this might work at a higher-end restaurant and be fine with this circumstance, but there are other people out there who may not get a $50 tip from a retired, wealthy individual who is able to do this and not break his or her bank. If we all stopped tipping restaurants, that is when we can make a difference. We would force restaurants to create an environment where employees actually want to provide good service regardless of their paycheck or added incentives while also raising the minimum wage to ensure people aren't paid in pennies and dimes for their services. Food prices would obviously be higher, but you would be paying the few extra bucks as a tip anyway so it is a win-win for both parties.
Think about it: if a restaurant raised their food prices by 15, 18 or 20 percent and got rid of tipping, would you eat there? I'd be the first person in line. An owner of a restaurant in Maine did just that, along with Danny Meyer, the aforementiond restaurant CEO who thought of this move as a positive change to the restaurant industry and how hospitality is delivered to customers. These are two recent examples that show owners are starting to pay attention to this issue of tipping, and we as customers should too. We should expect top-quality service whenever we are interacting with and consuming brands, and restaurants are no different. So together, let's think about the history and art of tipping, why we do it and try to create change instead of giving it.