Everyone knows the hotspots for food in the area: 5th and National’s Mexican restaurant cluster, Milwaukee Street’s hip and trendy eateries, and the great restaurants in Bay View, Third Ward, Downtown Tosa, and Walkers Point. Even Waukesha has established a small, but vibrant dining scene downtown. But what about the underrated places? This series will focus on the lesser known restaurant clusters.
The first installment is about S. 13th Street from around Morgan Avenue to Dakota Street This might be the most under-the-radar 6 blocks in the City of Milwaukee.
Bombay Sweets (3401 South 13th Street) has been a favorite of Milwaukee Vegetarians and Indian Food lovers for years and is probably the best known restaurant in this area. Their extensive menu of vegetarian Indian fare features everything from roti and dosas to an incredible veggie korma, and the best part is that most dishes are under 6 bucks, with several in the 3-5 dollar range. They also have a variety if Indian snacks for sale by the pound. Visit the Indian Grocery next door for an impressive array of spices, snacks, frozen naan and other Indian food staples. bombaysweetsmilwaukee.com
Christie’s Burger with Bacon and Blue Cheese
Christie’s Pub and Grill (3261 South 13th Street) might not remain the best-kept secret on the South Side for long if the Yelp! love doesn’t slow down. This unassuming bar has a small kitchen that is kicking out some delicious food. There are nightly specials as well as a regular menu. The burger can hold its own with the best pub style burgers in town (and it’s one of the largest), the steak sandwich is made with tender slices of hanger steak (my favorite cut) and is probably the best steak sandwich I have ever eaten. The fried shrimp po-boy is a massive, delicious take on the New Orleans classic. I cannot wait to try some of the nightly specials. The bartender/owner is very friendly and has a small, but nice selection of microbrews on tap, including Lakefront Summer Pils and Great Lakes Edmund Fitzgerald Porter. Regulars rave about the French Onion Soup, which is so large that many order it as a meal. You’d be hard pressed to visit and not see someone ordering the wedge salad too. Be forewarned that there are usually only 1-2 people working the kitchen so you are going to wait a while for your food, especially when it gets crowded. There are signs notifying customers of this fact on the door as well. Just sit back and have another beer if your food isn’t out yet. It is well worth it. No website.
J.C. Kings (3128 S. 13th Street) is a small restaurant that specializes in Tortas, Mexican Sandwiches stuffed with meat, cheeses, avocados, lettuce, beans, jalapenos, and anything else you can imagine. JC’s has well over a dozen Torta creations from breakfast tortas to a torta dipped in red guialljo chile sauce (think of it as the Mexican version of a French Dip. On a recent visit I ordered one with chorizo and breaded steak. The small torta was enough to keep me stuffed for hours. It was a perfect combination of crispy breaded steak, creamy avocado, spicy chorizo, and tangy jalapeno peppers. Do yourself a favor, go with a friend, split a small Torta and then check out something else on the menu like tacos or tamales. The steak tacos come with an impressive amount of meat and they are simple yet tasty. Each dinner is served with this spicy bean and bacon soup. Its a tad salty but a nice change from salsa. I like dipping the complementary chips into it. No website.
Arandas Taco Truck (usually parked around 13th & Holt Avenue) – Great, cheap taco truck. Love the pastor, steak, and tripe tacos. Tacos are a steal at $1.50 and you can get lunch for under 5 bucks. Grab a Jarritos soda and eat your tacos on the counter at the back of the truck. No Website
Mi Super Foods Costillas in Red Chilie Sauce
Mi Super Foods (3101 S. 13th Street) Lesser known that the El Rey chain but the small Taqueria located in a corner of the store is outstanding. The tacos are excellent (I’d give them the edge over Arandas and JC Kings) and the daily specials are inexpensive and delicious. I recently had some tamales, which were pretty good and a rib dish (costillas) that featured braised baby back ribs in a spicy red sauce, a nice change of pace from typical Mexican fare. They also have a huge meat counter with homemade chorizo, and marinated carne asada and al pastor meat. The prepared food counter with items like tamales, carnitas, and chicharones also looks enticing. http://misuperfoods.com
As if this isn’t enough there are still more spots in and around this area that I have yet to visit including: