I went to visit a friend in Milwaukee for a quick weekend trip and it was the first time this little New Yorker got to see the Midwest! I had heard it was the land of meat and cheese (Wisconsin license plates do call it “America’s Dairyland” after all) and I was curious what vegan eating would be like. Happy Cow listed lots of results though and it turned out to be fairly easy! I had great meals and I wanted to share what I discovered.
My friend lives in the North End of Milwaukee which is really residential and the population seems young. Although I didn’t get to try it, we walked by Lakefront Brewery which was so cute and has bar seating right on the lake. I’m eager to check it out next time I’m back. From a quick look at their menu, they have a good number of vegan and vegetarian options!
All around Milwaukee is Fresh Thyme, a supermarket chain around the midwest that I had never seen before. I picked up food here on Friday for lunch. If you’ve read the blog before, you know I’m a big proponent of hitting the supermarket when traveling since there will always be plant-based options and you can load up on snacks to keep around. I picked up Plant Perks cheese (the Dill Havarti is awesome), berries, carrots, and a Vegan Pepperoni American Flatbread pizza-- which had gluey vegan cheese I was not a fan of. All in all, it was a fun lunch that’s still nutritious and cheaper than it would be in a restaurant.
For our first night, we went to Easy Tyger where I had their fried Brussels Sprouts with Korean gochujang vinaigrette, herbs, and crushed cashews-- order it with no parmesan to make it vegan. They were the best Brussels Sprouts I have ever had. They were tiny sprouts that were so crispy and roasted with the perfect blend of sweet + heat. We finished the entire bowl and in typical me fashion, I was scraping the bottom. Okay, actually just licking the bowl. No regrets.
I also got their Spicy Miso Ramen which came with vegetarian broth, house-
made chili paste, crispy tofu, charred corn, scallion, sesame, togarashi, chili oil, and nori--ask for no egg to make it vegan. This was also incredibly flavorful, very spicy, and the tofu was lightly fried. Also probably the best ramen I’ve ever had. Do not miss this place!
Saturday morning we walked over to Beerline Cafe, a vegetarian cafe in Milwaukee’s Riverwest Beerline B neighborhood. We went there twice over the weekend because they have fabulous (affordable) juices and I was in love with their carrot and carrot-orange juice. Not to mention while traveling, I felt like I could use the Vitamin C boost. I tried their Hollandaise Cromlette which was oven-roasted asparagus & mushrooms with mozzarella cheese over tofu scramble drizzled with vegan hollandaise sauce. I had no idea vegan hollandaise was so attainable and now I have to try to make it. Even my omnivorous friend thought this dish was awesome.
Later in the day, we drove to Cedarburg, WI which is about 40 minutes north of the city and a cute town to walk around in. Oh, and wineries! We got lunch at Out and Out Custard which has all vegan quinoa bowls. I got the Thai Peanut Quinoa bowl and added tofu. It was affordable and had a nice variety of veggies in it. This is an easy grab-and-go lunch spot.
The Milwaukee Public Market is a scene and we headed over there for dinner. It’s a large food hall with different stalls. On the Bus is all vegan so of course, I needed to check that out. They sell sandwiches, bowls, smoothies, burgers, ice cream, and to-go vegan snacks and drinks. I got the Club Sandwich which I didn’t love because it came with tempeh instead of seitan as it said. Tempeh is one of the few vegan foods I am not a fan of. I would definitely give this place another try though. Thief Wine Shop & Bar in the market is a nice place to sit too and they let you bring food over from any vendor. Note that the market closes at 8 PM, so if you're going for dinner, plan ahead.
Before heading to the airport, we went to grab lunch at Palomino Bar in the Bay View neighborhood. Their Vegan Hot Fried Chicken Sandwich was super fried and super delicious. From there, it was about a 12-minute drive to the airport so this is a great stop at the beginning or end of a trip!
Although we ate out for most meals, I also brought along my DIY oatmeal packets for breakfasts. I find having stuff around for breakfast and snacks can be really helpful since sometimes it can take time to find a vegan place to eat. Nobody wants to be a hangry vegan. Eating a homemade breakfast allowed me to start my day with time to plan rather than ravenously trying to find a place to eat. I also brought 2 slices of homemade pumpkin bread and walnuts to snack on. Advanced preparation is key when traveling as a vegan!
I left Milwaukee so excited to go back. It’s a beautiful city that’s young and has a lot going on. Most importantly, there’s lots more vegan eating to do.
I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’ve been to Milwaukee before or if you have favorite travel eating tips to share!