Next week, an estimated 600 of the top Weightlifters in America will gather in my little adopted home town so I thought it may be helpful to give suggestions on where to go and where not to go; which sites to see (dude, miss the Bronze Fonz and you’ll be sorry), and hopefully helpful hints to not be carjacked or freeze your cinnamon balls off along the shores of Lake Michigan.
First off, I guess I’ll give a little disclaimer. I’ve only lived here 7 years and there’s a lot I haven’t seen (like the MKE Museum of Art or the Veterans museum, duh.) Also, these are my opinions. If you’re from Milwaukee and don’t like them, suck it. My blog. I love that you’re all coming here so I get to watch three days straight of awesome weightlifting (some sessions will include my Team SAW teammates, yeah Team SAW) without more than a 10 minute drive. See, everywhere you go in Milwaukee takes about 10 minutes to get there. Oh sure, it may be 12 minutes or even 18 minutes but it’ll feel like 10. That is, unless there’s a shooting road rage incident on the 43 curve which is kinda likely these days.
See, MKE patrons love their road rage. Are really quite good at it. I’ve had a grown man in a truck halfway hanging out of his window screaming at me while flipping me two birds because I didn’t blow through a red light like he wanted me to (which begs the question, was there a third hand driving the truck?) I dunno, I try not to ask those questions. Merging along the highways is a personal attack which must be defended at all costs so good luck with that. Of course then there’s the awesome new trend of shooting at people along the 43 corridor which runs north and south on the west end of downtown.
I’m sure you’ll be fine though.
The downtown MKE section of town is actually very easy to maneuver. It’s small and filled with lots to do and the local cheeseheads aren’t bothered at all by this thing called winter so you’ll see walkers all over. Including the panhandlers who tend to focus on Wisconsin Ave where the venue is located. Look, we all like to think we’re helping out when we donate to a panhandler but really, please don’t. Panhandlers of MKE can make up to $700 a day and actually can become quite aggressive. Not so much fun for us locals. Because of this, depending on where you’re staying and if there are vacant buildings along your path, please consider taking the 4 minute Uber/Lyft ride back to your hotel. Especially if you’re a female…and alone. Please.
The last little bit of black light we need to shine on the ‘rent by the hour hotel carpeting’ is the little fact that MKE is the carjack capital of America. Not. Even. Kidding. If you DO have your car or a rental, please do not keep any valuables in your car. Please do not, for one second even if filling up your gas tank, leave an unlocked and running car unattended. Just. Don’t.
Now on to the fun stuff. First, food (food is always first with us.) We do not have a fancy Whole Foods downtown but there is a Metro Market on the East Side and if it’s like ours here in Wauwatosa (just West of Milwaukee) you’ll be fine. There is also a Sendiks 2go on the campus of Marquette which is just West of you. The Metro Market will be larger and a little more convenient since you don’t have to deal with a small campus with lots of lights and entitled little shitheads running around. There is also the Milwaukee Public Market just south of downtown in the 3rd Ward. You can even hop on The HOP which is the new streetcar which is a colossal waste of money and has already cost the city and county (aka, us) millions of dollars in lawsuits for injuries to cyclists along the route but hey, have at it. Just be warned, the Public Market is a miniature version of what you would expect in Seattle so if you want true groceries, stick with Metro Market.
*An honorable mention goes to Glorioso’s Italian Market. If you’re keto, you’ll cream your jeans for this place. If you’re not, you’ll still love it. Also on the East Side.
As you can tell, MKE is split up in so many miniature sections that I have no idea what most places are called. I now know that the Metro Market is on the East Side which in reality is about a mile and a half or so from the Milwaukee Center. The 3rd Ward is south of the MKE Center and has lots of fun eats and shops. If you’re from anywhere with good BBQ, don’t go to the Smoke Shack. The $25 they’re asking for 3 ounces of brisket will enrage you to the point of wanting to lecture the rude waitress on REAL BRISKET and how much it should really cost. Oh, that’s just me? Anyways. We don’t often go to the 3rd Ward but just south of that (like, a couple of streets away) is Walkers Point and we DO do (doodoo) that area.
But I’m getting ahead of myself.
Downtown. I need to preface this next section with an explanation of all that is good and holy for Milwaukeean’s (totally a word.) Cheese curds; Brats/Sausage, and Friday Fish Fry. The best place to get all 3 is Lakefront Brewery. If you go on a Friday night, you get polka. Not even kidding. Don’t worry if you don’t drink, they have soda’s and water and you still get to enjoy the German style beer hall and eat the best deep fried cheese curds in Wisconsin. Other places probably have deep fried cheese curds and fish fry, dunno, I don’t go to other places. Lakefront is technically in the Riverwest section of town which is just west of the Milwaukee River that flows through town and on the North part of downtown.
**This is a good place to discuss where not to get lost. The North side of downtown. Stay off North Ave and Capitol Ave. If you need your Wendy’s fix, you’ll have to drive a little more west of me to get it and I highly recommend you come around the freeway. Basically, just skip it.
Water street has the best sausage houses in town (yes, it’s a sausage house. Get’cher mind out of the gutter Perv, they serve brats. Duh.) If you’re looking for some nightlife, Water street is also one option. My 20’somethings enjoy the EastSide a little better with a little less pretense and cheaper.
As much as I seem to be bagging on my adoptive city, I’ll tell ya what, we do food right. You just really can’t do wrong. We love tacos at Laughing Taco and Ice Cream and Purple Door. We love small plates at The Rumpus Room and La Merenda. Milwaukeean’s love their Custard and Burgers but I don’t so I have no idea where you should go for that. Downtown also has the Safehouse. It is a spy themed restaurant that will require a password to get in. If you don’t know the password, the ‘M’ host will have you act out a quick mission for entry. Don’t even ask, I don’t know the password. I do; however; know where the lever (say it like this, “leeever”) is to get in but I’m not telling. I’m a bitch that way. It’s pretty fun and the food is fine. Either before or after the Safehouse, you need to walk around the corner and pay homage to the Bronze Fonze.
Just go get your picture taken here. Sure, it’s silly but then you have a picture with the Bronze Fonz and do you even think you’re life is complete without it?
Now, if you’re feeling VERY adventurous, I highly recommend heading both south and west. South to Bayview and West to Wauwatosa (hey, I live there!) First, Bayview. This is another one of our fav hang outs. A very very naughty cheat night is The Vanguard. Made from scratch brats and sausages with toppings that include cheese curds (duh) or even macaroni and cheese. The best part besides the food? They play old Wrastling videos all night so you can be entertained by Mean Gene Okerland and his motley crew. We haven’t gone in a while because I haven’t been good enough for a good cheat but it’s perfect for after lifting. The main street in Bayview is Kinnickinnic (also known as KK) and there are lots of fun places to eat. Bayview is super hippy dippy and fun. We love it over there.
And while East Tosa doesn’t have as much as Bayview, we do have the best donuts in town at Cranky Al’s. Again, if you’re venturing to East Tosa, please take the 94 West freeway. Do not cut through Lisbon or North. Anyways, Cranky’s is a Milwaukee institution. When Alton Brown comes to town, he goes to Cranky’s. This past October, Matt and I flew to Texas through Minneapolis where we picked up the Ozman so he could have fun with his bestie. On the way to the airport, we stopped at Cranky’s and grabbed a bag of donuts for Oz and were rewarded with a huge smile. It’s one of the only things he asks for. When Oz was much younger, we met Cranky at Costco. When Matt told Oz that it was the actual Cranky, I thought he was going to cry. The absolute respect and reverence he showed was pretty lulz. I’ll be bringing boxes of Cranky’s to the meet. For friends.
Two other stops are McBobs and Ono Kine Grindz. McBobs has the best corned beef you will ever have. They have a burger named The Highlander which is a half pound beef added to a half pound of corned beef. Matt has ate 3 in one sitting when he was still competing with Champions League. He was pretty sick afterwards but was eating my leftovers about an hour later. They have other food too and McBob’s is technically in Milwaukee but it’s worth the 10 minute drive. I guarantee it!
Also, if you’ve been to Hawaii and miss the food, you need to come over to Ono Kine Grindz. When Matt and I started dating, Ono’s was just getting up and running. Matt told me there’s a Hawaiian food joint open a block away from his house and I was all, “Ya, I don’t think so” but then, ya, I was wrong. David and Guy will warm your tummy with authentic food and Poke and warm your heart with aloha. Also, they have a market so you can take some chocolate covered mac nuts home. Really.
Of course in Milwaukee there’s Harley Davidson. If you’re into bikes, take a tour of the museum. We’ve gone a few times and I love it. They have an amazing gift shop and restaurant.
Also, new this year on the grounds of the brand new Milwaukee Bucks arena is a Christmaskindlmarket. I went the first weekend it opened at it was an absolute blast! I did a bunch of Christmas shopping and had amazing hot cocoa cocoa (geez, now I want hot cocoa.)
The best pizza in Milwaukee is Ned’s closer to the airport. Another Milwaukee institution.
In conclusion, Milwaukee is just like any other city. We have great food and bevvies; some crime; and some cold this time of year. Be smart and you’ll be fine. I want to wish all the lifters white lights; the judges little reason to turn down a lift; the friends and families success to your loved ones, and joyous coaches celebrations.
Wayne Campbell: So, do you… come to Milwaukee often?
Alice Cooper: Well, I’m a regular visitor here, but Milwaukee has certainly had its share of visitors. The French missionaries and explorers began visiting here in the late 16th century.
Pete: Hey, isn’t “Milwaukee” an Indian name?
Alice Cooper: Yes, Pete, it is. In fact , it’s pronounced “mill-e-wah-que” which is Algonquin for “the good land.”
Wayne Campbell: I was not aware of that.