Y is for Yen Ching



Whenever we select a restaurant I’ve never been to, I am eager to go online and see the reviews.

Thanks to Michelle’s winning entry of Yen Ching (Adam also picked it), I found mixed results of a curious, unsurprising variety. I saw claims that Yen Ching is the best Chinese in Milwaukee. I saw that Yen Ching was featured on Dirty Dining.

I was eager to form my own opinion, so on a sunny Friday evening in early June, we made the half-hour trek from Bay View to Brown Deer and pulled up in front of a restaurant festooned with life-size golden lions, red siding, green shingles and large Chinese characters.

The interior carried the theme further. The large dining space was decorated with items meant to evoke ancient China, and they looked like they had been in place for about as long. Adam said:

I loved the gold Buddha statue and paper-style lantern light fixtures.

The mostly windowless dining area was maybe a third full on a Friday night–no reservations necessary. Although, Cindi notes: “I noticed a lot of people picking up their take-out.” Read More


X is for Wildcard: Harbor House



Since there are no ‘X’ restaurants in Milwaukee, we decided to make this round a wildcard round.

Harbor House is one of Milwaukee’s premier restaurants because of its location. Set out into Lake Michigan between Discovery World and the Milwaukee Art Museum, Harbor House’s best tables allow diners a picturesque perspective of Milwaukee’s skyline and its changing reflections upon the lake.

Besides its view, Harbor House is known for seafood. Everyone but Mike had been there (it was Michelle’s submission). Read More

V is for VIA Downer



This winter has been pretty rough on Wisconsin. Frigid temperatures and mountains of snow make it easier to stay home, underneath the covers with wine and Netflix.

But on a Friday in early January, we found many similar souls braving the weather for pizza and drinks at VIA Downer on Milwaukee’s Eastside, which was chosen by Adam, Cindi, Michelle, Mike and TJ (Michelle’s entry was selected).

I walked in, kicked the snow from my shoes and when the fog cleared from my glasses, I was in a large dining room with a modernist, industrial feel featuring high ceilings, artwork on the walls, exposed beams, wires and pipes. To my right was a hostess stand, to my left was a large, crowded bar and beyond were tables full of people.

VIA, the sister restaurant of Transfer (near the Allen Bradley Clock Tower AKA “The Polish Moon”), was crowded and our reservations, with a group our size, came in handy. Mike said:

The atmosphere was cool. You can tell they were busy but you could also hear everything any of us were saying and sometimes that doesn’t happen with seven people at a table.

We were seated near the middle of the room at large table. It seemed like a good mix of people on dates and large groups of friends. Read More

F is for Fajitas Grill

It takes moxie and panache to name your restaurant after a well-known dish.

I love fajitas, so, despite badly wanting to go to Fox and Hounds because I thought the experience would be so much fun for our little group of diners, I was excited to try Michelle’s pick, Fajitas Grill.

On the steamy final Thursday in June, we made our way down to a restaurant on Farwell Avenue for the second month in a row and the third time since we started this quest.

I swear we almost walked right past the place, the unassuming facade gave way to an aggressively modern, bright room that couldn’t have had more than 10 tables. Read More

D is for Distil

My favorite restaurant on Milwaukee Street is Cubanitas. Its crazy that in the numerous times that I’ve been there, I’ve never noticed Distil, a mere two doors down. Distil was selected by both Adam and Michelle, though it was Michelle’s submission that secured the first trip there for most of us (TJ had been).

I instantly felt comfortable at Distil; the lighting is low and the ambiance elegant but somewhat nondescript. The restaurant was relatively busy when we arrived–8:45 p.m. on a Friday night–but we didn’t have a problem finding seats at the bar and getting expedient service from the bartender, who was knowledgeable and helpful. Cindi appreciated the care put into the cocktails, she said:

The bartender whipped me up a delicious cucumber ginger and mint cocktail at a very reasonable price. I give extra credit to any bar that muddles a non-alcoholic drink for a pregnant lady with as much care as their signature cocktails.

Read More

A is for AJ Bombers

Since opening around two years ago, AJ Bombers has established itself as one of the key stops for burger lovers in Milwaukee. I’ve heard some people suggest that this has more to do with their social media prowess than their food, but to those people, I simply say this… try a burger.

It is ironic that AJ Bombers is located in the same building that previously housed The Corner bar (Water and Knapp), which was closed after receiving one too many violations for exceeding capacity. When we arrived at AJ Bombers (Michelle’s nomination) on Friday night at around 7:45, it was packed, but we were seated quickly.

Most of our party had dined at AJ Bombers before (some of us with more success than others) and were excited to try some new things. The drink fare is pretty standard, but I tried Shannon’s Bloody Mary (it had a cheeseburger in it) and it was pretty tasty, you can read a review of that by going to Bloody Marys of Milwaukee. I had a Lakefront IPA, which is my typical standby, but also an absolutely great IPA. Read More