Free Church Shuttle provided for Doors Open by Milwaukee Food & City Tours

On the weekend of September 21-22, 2013, Doors Open Milwaukee will open the doors to over 100 wonderful buildings free-of-charge to the public – from churches to office buildings, theaters to work sites, museums to hotels, clubs to universities. The event allows you to design your own itinerary to visit over 100 buildings that will open their doors to the public. In 2013, Milwaukee Food & City Tours is proud to be offering a complimentary church shuttle for guests to have a hassle-free way to enjoy Milwaukee’s historic steeples. You can enjoy the sights of the city and then hop-on and off for visits at the churches of your choice. Pick up points are: Milwaukee City Hall (200 E. Wells Street) Cathedral Church of All Saints (818 E. Juneau Avenue) Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church (1209 N. Broadway) ** Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church will be offering brats and beverages for purchase each day. Trinity Evangelical Lutheran Church (1046 N. 9th Street) St. James Episcopal Church (833 W. Wisconsin Avenue)

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Tickets are not required. The shuttle will be available on Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22 from 10 am to 5 pm. Shuttle picks up from each location approximately every 30 minutes. Last shuttle lap of each day departs from Milwaukee City Hall at 5 p.m.

To map out your day, view the list of all Doors Open Milwaukee buildings, including 17 churches accessible by using the Church Shuttle provided by Milwaukee Food & City Tours, at http://doorsopenmilwaukee.org/buildings/

Also, during Doors Open, more than 40 in-depth tours will be offered free of charge. Our sister company, Milwaukee Photo Walks, will be offering tours on both Saturday and Sunday at 10 am as part of this; pre-registration through Doors Open is however required. If you'd like to learn more about how you can sign up one of the in-depth tours offered during Doors Open Milwaukee, please visit here: http://doorsopenmilwaukee.org/event-guide/in-depth-tours/.

Christkindl Milwaukee Market launches in 2013!

When it comes to Christmas, every family has special traditions they call their own. In Milwaukee, family traditions include the Milwaukee Ballet performance of The Nutcracker, the Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s A Christmas Carol, the BMO Harris (formerly M&I Bank) window displays, ice skating at Red Arrow Park, Jingle Bus to view the holiday lights, and of course, Candy Cane Lane.

But, there has always been one thing missing when celebrating the holidays in Milwaukee. While we are a German town by nature, we have never had a Christkindlmarket. These open-air markets with their German roots have been popping up around the world in places including Chicago, Denver and Baltimore. In 2013, Milwaukee Food & City Tours is proud to be a driving force behind the start-up of the Christkindl Milwaukee Market. We are doing so because we want to bring home the traditional German Christmas market tradition to Milwaukee.

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The tradition of the Christkindlmarket can be traced back to the year 1294 when in Vienna they held what was known as a “December market.” The market was an opportunity for farmers to come into town to shop and at the same time as offering their wares. With the reformation of the church in the 16th century the markets changed. Saint Nikolaus was replaced by the Christkindl; Nuremberg was the very first city to hold a Christkindlmarket. As time passed the market developed into a celebration and embodiment of the holiday season. To this day, Christkindlmarkets light up communities with fun, laughter, friends, family, good food, and drink during the advent season. Towns throughout Germany and Eastern Europe hold markets unique to their community. Local tradesmen line the streets with their handmade wares that display distinctive regional characteristics. Although seasonal markets are held year round throughout Germany, the Christkindlmarket is an especially joyous event because it brings light and laughter to the cold, dark winter season.

Milwaukee residents may already be familiar with this concept because they have traveled to Chicago for a traditional Christkindlmarket experience. The Chicago market, which takes place in Daley Plaza in downtown Chicago, is known for bringing international traditions to Chicago as is the closest Christkindlmarket to Milwaukee.

In 2013, the inaugural Christkindl Milwaukee Market will be on Thursday, November 21, 2013 - Sunday, November 24, 2013 in downtown Milwaukee outside of Best Place on the Pabst Brewery site. Once visitors arrive at the Christkindl Milwaukee Market, they will be able to explore traditional timber houses with Christmas trees and décor, while shopping many ornament and Christmas vendors, and eating and drinking traditional German items. After the Market opens with a keg tapping ceremony, carriage rides, breakfast/photos with Santa, cookie decorating sessions, live performances, and a prayer service will be available throughout the Market. Of special note, the Market on Friday, November 22, 2013 will be welcoming field trips and provide unique educational and tasting opportunities for German high school students throughout the day.

Milwaukee Food & City Tours will again be offering the ever popular Christmas Around Milwaukee Bakery Bus tour, plus the Christmas Lights & Desserts Bus tour, throughout the holiday season.  For ways to celebrate the holidays with Milwaukee Food & City Tours, including details about the Christkindl Milwaukee Market, please call or email us at info@milwaukeefoodtours.com.

If you haven’t already done so, please be sure to become a fan of the ChristkindlMKE Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/christkindlmke as well as the Milwaukee Food & City Tours page at http://www.facebook.com/mkefoodtour

Fruit will fly at the Tomato Chomp

The fruit will fly on the East Side when the Tomato Romp returns this September. This is Wisconsin's only tomato festival, and the 1st tomato fight in America. The day includes entertainment and bands on the streets, a Bloody Mary competition and at 4 pm, a tomato fight! Keeping with the theme of celebrating all things tomato, NEW in 2013 is the addition of the TOMATO CHOMP. Saturday, September 14, 2013 from 11 am to 4 pm 

Attendees will have the opportunity to stroll through the East Side at their own pace tasting tomato-themed plates plates from 9 delicious restaurants including Beans & Barley, Chubby's, Divino Wine & Dine, G-Daddy's BBC, Ian's Pizza, Love Handle, Melthouse Bistro, Schoolyard Bar & Grill and Two Bucks.

Please be sure to reserve a ticket to guarantee your spot in the TOMATO CHOMP at: http://tomatochomp.brownpapertickets.com

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Limited tickets will also be available onsite beginning at 10:00 am on Saturday, September 14. Go to the outdoor registration tent at Beans & Barley, 1901 E. North Avenue, to purchase these day-of tickets.

PRICING: Green Tomato - includes 3 small plates for $20 Red Tomato - includes 9 small plates for $50 (FYI - If you would like, you can share a plate/divide the vouchers between guests.)

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Vegetarian items will be options; please be sure to indicate that you are a vegetarian during the Check Out process.

Suggestions for safe and low-cost parking options will be made to you at the time of purchase.

Upon check-in, attendees will receive their vouchers, listing of menu items, and a map of participating restaurants.

Although beverages are not included with the cost of the ticket, restaurants will be offering drink specials.

Please tweet photos of your favorite dishes with hashtag #tomatoromp to be entered to win our grand prize!

A list of restaurant menu offerings will be provided 1 day prior to the event via email to all pre-registrants.

Purchase your tickets at: http://tomatochomp.brownpapertickets.com

Milwaukee: Easy to Navigate & Accessible

Milwaukee Food Tours Historic Third Ward dinner tour has quickly become a go-to option for both tourists and Milwaukee suburbanites looking for a night out in the town. The tour takes guests to five trendy restaurants and helps visitors to understand the exciting and complex history of the area.

2012-05-13_12-56-00_702 (2)When we had the chance to talk with our guests last Saturday night, not only did we hear the stories of the Third Ward, but also the stories of those on the tour. One thing rang true with many guests, people love what Milwaukee has to offer.

John and Pat of Waukesha said that they decided to take the Historic Third Ward dinner tour because they have been hearing about the many new restaurants that are located in the neighborhood. The couple went on to explain that while they have always considered themselves to be foodies, this was actually only their first time ever going to the Milwaukee Public Market. We were honored to be a part of their experience, because helping visitors find new favorite eateries is one of the most important facets of the Milwaukee Food Tours.

Whenever we have guests from Chicago, we ask, “Why did you choose Milwaukee?,” Jen and Allison, native Chicagoans, explained that the reason they chose to visit Milwaukee rather than stay in their hometown was simple - vibe.  Jen said, “We travel to Milwaukee often. Milwaukee has so many free parking options and a slowed down vibe. It is a nice break from the hustle and bustle of downtown Chicago.”

Halfway through the tour, Mary and Karen, lifelong friends from Lake Country that spent their evening on this food tour declared, "Your food tours are such a service to Milwaukee and its restaurants - more people need to know about this! I love that you told us where to park in the Third Ward and now are escorting us through the area."

At times, any city can be seen as daunting, but with a good guide, good eats and good friends, our city of Milwaukee, WI is a bit easier to take on. Let us help make Milwaukee a more accessible city for you. How?

TOP 5 WAYS THAT MILWAUKEE FOOD TOURS HELPS TO MAKE THE CITY MORE ACCESSIBLE

5. Milwaukee Food Tours shows you the best of the best, so that you can return at a later time to show off your newfound hot spots to friends and family.

4. By learning about the vibrant history of Milwaukee along the way, you’ll want to learn even more about our amazing city.

3. Milwaukee Food Tours gives you an easy excuse to drive downtown for dining and entertainment.

2. Upon purchase of your tour tickets, you’ll receive suggestions on the best places to park in the neighborhood in which you are going to be visiting. Who doesn't love knowing where to park easiest and cheapest?

1. When on Milwaukee Food Tours, you have a chance to be personally escorted through downtown Milwaukee by a local expert who will embrace your desire to learn more about Milwaukee.

Delicious Bachelorette Options in Milwaukee

When choosing what to do for your bachelorette party, there are a lot of great choices. But, on one beautiful recent Milwaukee summer night, two separate bachelorette parties realized that a Milwaukee Food Tours outing was the best way to start the night. While the brides and bridal parties were very different, they both were able to share a fantastic night with their girlfriends.

One bride, Katie from Port Washington, was getting excited for her impending nuptials. She was following in the footsteps of her parents and in-laws by continuing a family tradition with a wedding planned for the first weekend in June. Her soon-to-be sister-in-law had attended the Brady Street tour and thought a food touIMG950544r would be a fun way to surprise the bride-to-be, who only knew that she should wear comfortable shoes. Since the group had chosen the Third Ward dinner tour to begin their night, the tour concluded right in the heart of the Third Ward so that they could continue on to The Wicked Hop for drinks and conversation.

Mary was celebrating with a group of girlfriends 10 days before her elopement recently as well. Her maid-of-honor said, “I was looking for an alternative to the bar scene for a bachelorette party that I was hosting. I came across a food tour link and it ended up being the best thing that we did that night. We learned about this awesome city that we live in and went to restaurants that we had never been to before. We left with a full stomach and a want for more....so I for sure will be booking another tour!”

But, these bachelorettes aren’t alone. Milwaukee Food Tours is becoming a destination for more and more bachelorette parties and showers. Popular Milwaukee blogs like Wed in Milwaukee and Married in Milwaukee are writing stories on bachelorette parties that have attended the Milwaukee Food Tours over the past few months.

All of these exciting bachelorette festivities have gotten us thinking, so we give to you... the top five reasons why an outing with Milwaukee Food Tours is the best way to spend your bachelorette party:

1. Perfect for a multi-generational outing with family before continuing on in the night for drinks and dancing. You won’t be embarrassed taking grandma to any of the locations!

2. The night is an all-inclusive experience, so no hidden costs once the night begins (unless of course you decide to go back for that great pair of shoes you saw while window shopping along the way)

3. If you choose to bring your friends on a public tour, you'll make new friends. Who knows, maybe you'll have a couple extra seats and invite them to the wedding!  (Private tours are available as well for bachelorette parties, at no additional cost.)

4. Now you will have a list of great restaurants in Milwaukee to take the in-laws to when they come to town- you’ve got to show off a little, am I right?

5. It's fun!!!!! And isn’t that what your bachelorette party or bridal shower is supposed to be?

We promise that we here at Milwaukee Food Tours will give you the best bachelorette party you could have ever dreamt of! Let Milwaukee Food Tours do all the work while you have all the fun. Okay, we might have a little fun planning the adventure too.

Check out our options at http://www.milwaukeefoodtours.com/bachelorette.php - we’d like to make your night spectacular!

Milwaukee-Style Pizza

Say “Milwaukee,” and your mind might conjure up some thoughts of beer, brats, bowling, Laverne & Shirley, Fonzie and pizza.  Wait, did I just say “PIZZA?”  Although most native Milwaukeeans know of our city’s great reputation for Milwaukee-style pizza, only recently is this well-kept secret getting out.

Zaffiros-PizzaIn comes Milwaukee’s Pizza Bus. Why would we choose to develop a tour dedicated just to Milwaukee pizza?  We’re frequently asked for restaurant recommendations and tour attendees are also often suggesting new tour ideas to us. Through the years we found that so many conversations revolved around pizza favorites that we set out on a mission to visit everything between old-school pizzerias to newer, upscale establishments to find Milwaukee’s top spots, and in the process, the concept of Milwaukee’s Pizza Tour was born.

Most people are familiar with Chicago or New York styled pizza, but most have no reference point when it comes to defining Milwaukee style pizza. Our signature pizzas evolved from the Sicilian and Italian immigrants of the late-1800’s that came to the area in search of a better life. With them they brought new ingredients and new cooking techniques. Two such Sicilian immigrants, John Caravella and Joe Todaro, started serving pizza at the Caradaro Club in 1945 when World War II was just ending and pizza was finding its way into the United States. Their marketing technique – handing out free pizza slices on Milwaukee’s downtown streets – was an allure that soon self-perpetuated.

Today, Caradaro Club stands in a new location but still serves its original recipe. Unlike a New York style pizza, this Milwaukee style pie continues to be cut in its signature tavern-cut, square pieces and the crust is unfoldable – it is cracker-thin, 1.25 mm to be exact! The sauce is basic, just enough to cover the crust yet not so thick as to overpower it, and the cheese is a shredded mozzarella. This pizza is crisp, light, airy, and thin yet every bite is filled with flavor. When we sit down to a Caradaro Club slice, we most look forward to the rich, near burnt flavors disbursed in each bite by a few dark spots on each crust.

Now how did this original slice influence the rest of Milwaukee pizza history?  As we traversed the city to sample Milwaukee’s many pizzerias, we learned along the way that many Caradaro Club employees left to start their own establishments. It seems that there are four commonalities that stem from the Caradaro Club original slice now found at other area pizzerias: cracker-thin crust, sauce, cheese, cut. Pizzerias such as Barbierie’s, Balistreri’s, DiMarini’s, Maria’s, Calderone Club and Lisa’s all offer the signature, cracker-thin crust along with a very basic, nearly naked tomato sauce. Despite that we are the dairy state, cheese is not abundantly found on these slices, and nearly all pride themselves on their tavern-cut, square slices of pie.  It is hard to define which pizza is best as Milwaukeeans are loyal to their local pizzeria, but all qualify as great examples of a classic Milwaukee style pizza.

Zaffiros-Pizza-02One of our personal favorites is in Milwaukee’s “Little Italy,” along Brady Street, where we often stop for a visit to Zaffiro’s Pizzeria. History began in 1954 for Zaffiro’s when two nice Italian boys, John and Liberio “Bobby” Zaffiro, created a pizza unlike anyone had ever seen or tasted before. Their pizza has a curiously thin crust – perhaps a mere two credit cards thick - proving even thinner than Caradaro Club’s pizza. To yield this perfection, they begin by par baking their dough, removing it from the oven, flipping it over to dress the pizza, and then returning it to the oven just long enough to finish off the toppings. It is topped with sliced cheese and then ladled with their secret recipe sauce to create a signature Milwaukee style pizza that has consistently been named a favorite among locals and food writers alike.

Milwaukee does have its share of pizzerias that don’t fit the classic Milwaukee style, thin crust mold. In a city of thin-crusted pizza, we are home to just one Chicago style, deep dish pizza joint and more recently have seen several New York style “by the slice” establishments as well. Most are newer restaurants offering Milwaukeean’s varieties such as wood firedpizza, as well as the more traditional Sicilian bakeries offerings Sfincione.

If you are going on a pizza adventure, ask any local for a recommendation on their favorite thin crust establishment and dive on it, or you can join us on Milwaukee’s Pizza Tour where we’ll show off our city while sampling Milwaukee’s quintessential thin crust pizzas at some of the most historic area pizzerias.

Top Ten Restaurants Picks in Milwaukee, WI

Milwaukee has a rich history, and the city’s cuisines are reflective of the many German, Italian and Polish influences of its immigrant past. We love showing off our city through Milwaukee Food Tours, and the ten restaurants we most often recommend to visitors include:

Mader’s Restaurant, 1041 North Old World 3rd Street, 414-271-3377, www.madersrestaurant.com Visit Old World Third to step back in time on this cobblestone street once considered the heart of Milwaukee’s German activity. On your stroll you’ll cross paths with Usinger’s Sausage as they continue to make sausage with Fred Usinger’s original sausage recipe from four generations ago. And, be sure to enjoy a meal at Mader’s Restaurant. Select from their most famous dish - the Pork Shank with an apple demi-glaze - or dine on the Rouladen - a beef tenderloin rolled with pickle spear, smoked bacon, caramelized onions, and German mustard. Can’t decide from their extensive menu? You can’t go wrong with ordering the German Sampler complete with Wiener Schnitzel, Kasseler Rippchen, and Rheinischer Sauerbraten with potato dumpling, sauerkraut and red cabbage to sample the city’s German cuisine.

Caradaro Club Pizza, 5010 W. Vliet, .476.7700, www.caradaroclubpizza.com Milwaukee was strongly influenced by the Italians and Sicilians, and so how could you visit Milwaukee without a sample of excellent cracker thin crust Sicilian pizza? Any of the local favorites – Balistreri’s, Barbiere’s, DeMarini’s and Zaffiro’s – are divine, but for a special treat, try stopping at the The Original Caradaro Club for a slice of pie using the original recipe for the first pizza ever served in Milwaukee.

Ristorante Bartolotta, 7616 West State Street, 414-771-7910, www.bartolottaristorante.com Although you can’t go wrong by selecting any of Milwaukee’s Bartolotta Family restaurants, our personal favorite is Ristorante Bartolotta. Located in the quaint village of Wauwatosa just outside of downtown Milwaukee, Ristorante Bartolotta is the flagship restaurant for Joe Bartolotta. Menu favorites include any of Bartolotta’s hand-made pastas such as Pappardelle al Ragu d’Anatra, a hand-cut Tuscan ribbon pasta tossed with a traditional slow-braised duck ragu, or any of their seafood dishes such as Grigliata Mista di Mare, a seaside-style assortment of grilled seafood. Be sure to consider Executive Chef Juan Urbieta’s seasonal chef menu as well featuring delicious gems for your next visit.

Three Brothers, 2414 S Saint Clair St, 414-481-7530 Tucked away on an unassuming corner of the Bay View neighborhood you’ll find Three Brothers, a charming Serbian restaurant owned by Branko Radicevic, a 2002 James Beard award winner. The signature Serbian dish, burek, requires 45 – 60 minutes of attention in the kitchen before arriving at your table, but, it is worth every minute. While waiting, be sure to nibble on the stuffed grape leaves, as well as the Serbian hors d'oeuvres platter. (Please note - cash only.)

Polonez, 4016 South Packard Avenue, 414-482-0080,

www.polonezrestaurant.com Another great place for Eastern European food is Polonez. George Burzynski cook alongside his grandmother as a child, learning recipes to her traditional Polish dishes. Today, George still prepares the dishes taught to him by his grandmother and in our opinion, the pierogi – Polish dumplings - and Czarnina soup are a must.

Sanford, 1547 North Jackson Street, 414-276-9608, www.sanfordrestaurant.com Chef Sandy D’Amato presents an ever-changing menu to his guests at Sanford on Milwaukee’s East Side. Sandy has since received accolades both locally and nationally in Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Wine Spectator, Milwaukee Magazine, Chicago Tribune, New York Times and Esquire. He was one of 12 chefs in the nation to be personally chosen by Julia Child to cook for her 80th Birthday Celebration in her hometown Boston, and won the Perrier Jouet Best Chef Midwest award in 1996 from the James Beard Foundation. Our recommendation? Just ask for the Seven-Course Surprise Tasting Menu where caution is thrown to the Sanford kitchen and a custom tailored menu is created for you!

Wolf Peach, 1818 North Hubbard Street, 414-374-8480, www.wolf-peach.com Arguably offering one of the best views of downtown Milwaukee, Wolf Peach sits high above the city and offers a farm-to-table menu. Ask for seating on the patio with a view and dine on some of our favorites!

Comet Café, 1947 N. Farwell Avenue, 414-273-7677, www.thecometcafe.com Comet Café offers a wide lunch and dinner menu, but their passion is firm in everything bacon. Don’t miss their Sunday brunch complete with FREE bowls of bacon at each table, Bloody Mary’s topped with bacon, and their Bacon Cakes. You guessed it - pancakes with bacon in them!

Kopp’s Custard, 5373 N. Port Washington Ave., 414-961-2006, www.kopps.com Known equally for their jumbo butter burgers and frozen custard, Kopp’s Custard is a “must taste” when in Milwaukee. Nothing can fully describe that overwhelming taste of buttery goodness with your first burger bite, or the deliciousness of any of their rich custard flavors. Although there are multiple locations, be sure to visit the Glendale location just north of downtown Milwaukee – it is on the site of the former Milky Way drive-in restaurant; the rumored inspiration for the Happy Days diner, Arnold's Drive-In.

Lakefront Brewery, 1872 N. Commerce St., 414-372-8800, www.lakefrontbrewery.com You can’t leave Milwaukee without experiencing a classic Friday Night Fish Fry, and what better place to do so than Lakefront Brewery, complete with polka music by Brew Haus Polka Kings and of course, a pint of Milwaukee-brewed beer. Consistently voted the #1 fish fry in Milwaukee, chose between the beer battered cod or the lightly breaded perch. While you’re there, be sure to stick around for a tour of the brewery too – cheers, from Milwaukee!

Milwaukee Food Tour Guide - Sandy

Milwaukee Food Tour Guide - Sandy
Milwaukee Food Tour Guide - Sandy

Meet Sandy: Sandy is a born and raised Milwaukee gal with a long lineage of German ancestors, celebrating her 3rd tour season with Milwaukee Food Tours in 2013. When she’s not cooking a steak from a local butcher in her favorite cast iron skillet, Sandy enjoys biking with her family.

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Sandy leads many of our private and group travel outings, along with our specialty public tours such as the Christmas Around Milwaukee Bakery Bus. As a matter of fact, it is such a popular tour, she'll be leading a Christmas in July version of this tour on Saturday, July 20th at 9:30 am! If you'd like to join the fun, visit: http://www.zerve.com/MKEFoodTours/Bakery

Or, do you want to have Sandy lead your private tour for your group? Private tours can be arranged on any of our walking or bus tours, or tours can be completely customized with your group in mind. Unique themes include:

  • Takin’ it to the Streets tour – hosted in conjunction with the Milwaukee Public Museum, we begin the day with a stroll through the Streets of Old Milwaukee and European Village exhibits, then we’ll “take it to the streets” with a city-wide adventure created with your group in mind
  • Progressive Ethnic Lunch or Dinner in Milwaukee – enjoy a progressive lunch or dinner in which we provide history of Milwaukee’ immigrant tastes by highlighting three ethnic restaurants in downtown Milwaukee during a 3-course meal
  • Beer Barons of Milwaukee - explore Milwaukee’s long tradition of brewing great beers as we delve into the stories behind the famed brewers and their grand breweries of the yesteryear. Brewing isn’t just a thing of the past for Brew City, so we’ll enjoy craft brewery samples along the way too, along with lunch and more!

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To learn more about our many options plus how you can book a private tour, visit  our public tours page.