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I t’s Been a Difficult, Painful and Yes, INTERESTING YEAR

On a very important front, we, as a nation, have finally started to understand that America, even liberal America, has a long way to go in our struggle for racial justice. It was impressive to see how much of middle America rallied around “Black Lives Matter” including professional sports. It would have been a lot better if whoever coined the phrase “defund the police” would have had the political sense to have used something more like “structurally or radically reform the police” because I don’t know anyone who wants to eliminate police. I do know a lot of people that want to see very different policing. And finally, we went through a very rough presidential election. Since we had an authoritarian in the White House and since everyone knew it was going to be an extraordinarily nasty election, election officials from both parties made sure every safeguard and every effort at transparency was instituted. We had a record turnout elect ion, and our election officials from both parties have shown a patriotic commitment to ensuring all the votes were counted and the elections were free and fair. Our court system, Background Image by Radu Bighian/Getty images

including some Trump appointed judges, slapped away ridiculous lawsuits where there was absolutely no evidence of fraud. It all worked; actually, it worked quite well. We now must work to rebuild our institutions that were unfairly damaged over the last four years by neglect and corruption, and we must rebuild our credibility abroad. It will happen, but it will take time and there will be scars from the past four years.

The Shepherd’s “Best Of” Milwaukee

Currently too many Americans are hurting, and many small businesses have been devastated, about 20% closed for good. The Shepherd Express is a small business, and we really took our hit. Americans are a resilient people, and we will come back. Over the last several months, data shows there has been a record number of people starting new businesses. When we see our darkest moments, we also see pent up energy to create, innovate and build exciting new ventures. We see the beginnings of new for-profit businesses and nonprofit organizations focusing on making our communities stronger and our world healthier. To whatever degree you can, please try to patronize our locally owned small businesses. We need to make sure these businesses survive to see the end of the pandemic.

Much to our surprise and delight, there was a record number of votes cast this year, literally several hundred thousand, and it showed that despite being unable to be out socializing, people were still connected to what they believe are the institutions that make Milwaukee a great place to live, work and play. People know what they like and wanted to support those businesses and nonprofits with their votes even if they are unable to patronize them at the moment. There is a lot of hope, optimism and positive energy in our community despite the pandemic and the serious recession. When we hit the critical level with the vaccines and things begin to open up, we should hopefully experience a mini-Renaissance. Our Best of Milwaukee party went virtual this year but you can watch the video on our home page. We missed seeing you in person, but there will be a next year. Please stay safe and please take the vaccine when your time arrives. Louis Fortis Publisher/Editor-in-Chief

In the middle of all of this, we had our annual “Best of Milwaukee” election. We weren’t quite sure what to expect with so many businesses, various arts groups and other nonprofits partially or totally shut down and people sheltering at home. The Shepherd’s “Best Of” is the oldest, largest most prestigious reader generated annual “Best Of” contest in the Milwaukee area.

Photo by Tyler Nelson


s we all know, we survived a very difficult year of the pandemic that definitely altered our lives and left over 240,000 Americans dead. Unfortunately, Wisconsin became a hotspot, one of the leading states in deaths per 100,000 people. On the bright side, we had a vaccine in people’s arms by the end of the year, which was amazing. We see light at the end of the tunnel and our lives getting back to some level of normalcy by midyear. So please stay safe. You don’t want to test positive for COVID the week before you are scheduled to get your vaccine.

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NEWS 06 The Promise of Milwaukee’s Lakefront 10 The Real Political Populism of 'Middle Class Joe' Biden — Taking Liberties 12 Making Mental Health Care Accessible for Everyone — Hero of the Month 14 Why Redistricting is the Most Important Legislative Issue for the Next 10 Years? — Issue of the Month 15 This Modern World 16 Mandela Barnes Opens Up About Milwaukee — Off the Cuff


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20 Thai Grapefruit Shrimp Salad Flash in the Pan


24 Mixing Some Warm Winter Cocktails Beverages 26 Best of Milwaukee 27 Arts & Entertainment 30 City Confidential 33 Dining Out 46 Locally-Owned Retail Food



48 Milwaukee Food & Beverages 50 Milwaukee Music 52 Out & About

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60 Bought & Sold 63 Home Improvement 63 LGBT 64 Medical 65 Real Estate 65 Services Rendered 67 Sports & Recreation


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68 10 Milwaukee Area Arts Centers with a Neighborhood Focus


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60 Body, Mind, Spirit


72 This Month in Milwaukee

LIFESTYLE 74 How to Avoid ‘Death by Despair’ Out of my Mind 76 Marijuana Tourism — Cannabis 80 Finding the Perfect Sofa for Your Home Domicile SPONSORED BY

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82 Chalk It Up to Experience Dear Ruthie 84 LGBTQ Votes Were Crucial in the 2020 Election — My LGBTQ POV

ART FOR ART'S SAKE 86 From the City that Always Sweeps Cover Illustration by Tess Brzycki


26 PUBLISHER & EDITOR-IN-CHIEF: Louis Fortis (ext. 3802)

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GENERAL MANAGER: Kevin Gardner (ext. 3825) MANAGING EDITOR: David Luhrssen (ext. 3804) STAFF WRITER/COPY EDITOR: Jean-Gabriel Fernandez (ext. 3818) ASSISTANT TO THE GENERAL MANAGER: Blaine Schultz (ext. 3813) EVENT SALES COORDINATOR: Carrie Fisher (ext. 3823) ACCOUNT EXECUTIVE: Bridgette Ard (ext. 3811)




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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER: Chuck Hill (ext. 3822) IN MEMORY OF DUSTI FERGUSON (OCTOBER 18, 1971 – NOVEMBER 20, 2007) WEB EDITOR: Tyler Nelson (ext. 3810) WEB WRITER: Allen Halas (ext. 3803) BUSINESS MANAGER: Peggy Debnam (ext. 3832) CIRCULATION COORDINATOR: Blaine Schultz (ext. 3813) Distribution: Shepherd Express is available free of charge. The Shepherd Express may be distributed only by authorized distributors. No person may, without prior written permission of the Shepherd Express, take more than one copy of each monthly issue. Mail subscriptions are available. No refunds for early cancellations. One year (12 issues) via First Class mail: $100.00 207 E. Buffalo St., Suite 410, Milwaukee, WI 53202 Phone: 414/276-2222 Fax: 414/276-3312

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ilwaukee’s lakefront is widely considered our foremost public amenity. It may even rank as the city’s “best idea.” Miles of contiguous stretches of public land were created by filling in lakebed, which Wisconsin’s constitutional “Public Trust Doctrine” mandates can be used solely for public purposes. That effort dates back to the 1890s, when the city’s nascent Park Commission instituted far-thinking policies to guarantee public access along Lake Michigan. Socialist leaders later expanded upon that vision and dramatically increased parkland by filling lakebeds. The 22-acre Lakeshore State Park, completed in 2007 atop debris from Milwaukee’s Deep Tunnel sewer expansion, culminated this century-long public enterprise. A popular oasis in all weather, Lakeshore State Park also links county and state recreational trails.


The expanse known as Milwaukee’s “cultural lakefront,” located directly east of Downtown, includes Discovery World at Pier Wisconsin, Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest’s grounds), Lakeshore State Park, Milwaukee Art Museum (MAM) and Museum Center Park (formerly O’Donnell Park), the War Memorial Center and historic Milwaukee Pierhead Light. Various parcels of this public land are owned by the City of Milwaukee, Port of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. Additionally, most of this land is now stewarded by four nonprofit leaseholders: Discovery World, MAM, Milwaukee War Memorial, Inc., and Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. Lakeshore State Park, the main exception, is managed by Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources and supported by an active friends group. This baked-in complexity sometimes resulted in piecemeal planning and development. Fortunately, signs at several walkway entrances now affirm public accessibility. Nonetheless, unclear cues may confuse visitors or deter use. And simply getting to the lakefront from Downtown can be challenging, especially for pedestrians during colder months when many access points remain closed.

In 2015, the City of Milwaukee enlisted design concepts for a section of the cultural lakefront envisioned as a gateway plaza. However, funding has not been raised for any proposed projects, according to Jeff Fleming, spokesperson for the Department of City Development. For this story, visitors and professionals offered suggestions for unifying and clarifying Milwaukee’s cultural lakefront and to address new realities and opportunities. Environmental, inclusive and anti-racist perspectives, as well as people-centered design, were cited as ways to help fulfill the immense potential of this common ground.

A PLACE OF BELONGING FOR EVERYONE. Many people head to the cultural lakefront as dawn chasers, walkers, runners, cyclists, photographers, anglers, bird watchers, rollerbladers, skateboarders, museum visitors, restaurant patrons and festival attendees. Nonetheless, not everyone feels fully welcomed, said Robert S. Smith, the Harry G. John Professor of History at Marquette University. Smith said Milwaukee can become a truly dynamic “cosmopolitan city” by encouraging the full expression of diverse people, including within

major public spaces. “Catering mostly to certain types of people, especially those with greater wealth and privilege, does not make a city feel cool and lively,” he said.

RECOGNIZE THE LAKEFRONT’S BROAD APPEAL. “It feels more intimate than Chicago’s lakefront,” said Smith. When he moved here 10 years ago, easy proximity to Lake Michigan was a major draw. “Having previously visited Milwaukee, I appreciated how beautiful and special it is. It’s one of the healthiest places in Milwaukee.” Smith, who also directs Marquette’s Center for Urban Research, Teaching and Outreach (CURTO), said, “We have to want to make it more inclusive. We need to acknowledge that everyone wants to be near this beautiful freshwater lake, including black and brown people and those of Southeast Asian descent.” He said that regardless of what we do or don’t do, people from all backgrounds will increasingly congregate at the lakefront. Smith, who is African American, said, “It would be useful to have a healthy public conversation about how all people of Milwaukee want to use it. We will be better off if we maximize the potential for social and cultural exchange in our most valuable public spaces.”

CREATE COMFORTABLE SPACES FOR EVERYONE. That includes unified wayfinding; having inviting, flexible and fully accessible spaces; varied options for seating in both sun and shade; and multiple reasons to spend time in spaces, rather than for single or restricted uses. “It’s absolutely crucial to meaningfully involve the community in improving amenities and equitably expanding access,” said landscape architect Ernie Wong, founding principal of Chicago’s site design group, ltd. Wong is consulting on several public landscapes in Milwaukee and commits only to projects that will include robust community engagement. “Spaces rarely succeed in serving public functions without meaningful and transparent community input,” said Wong. “Simply being public or publicly accessible does not guarantee that spaces provide real value to the public.”

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INCLUSIVELY TELL THE LAKEFRONT’S STORY. “When we call this space our cultural lakefront, whose culture are we talking about? Who decides and under what circumstances?” asked Torney Scott, a writer and poet born in Mexico, adopted at age 10 and raised in Madison by parents who did not speak Spanish then, nor did she speak English.

VIEW THE CULTURAL LAKEFRONT AS A WHOLE. Stephen McCarthy sees potential to create a flowing and seamless experience for visitors by integrating and accentuating existing landscape features and design elements. The landscape architect for the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewerage District’s innovative multi-county Greenseams program, McCarthy pointed out disparate elements during a walk, which could be remedied. “A design program for the entire lakefront could help define priorities and fix problematic areas,” such as a highly visible dead zone just northeast of the War Memorial, along Lincoln Memorial Drive. The sidewalk abruptly ends and becomes a neglected area and dirt path. Also, ecologically restoring Veterans Park’s lagoon could make it healthier and more visually appealing, said McCarthy. “It could bookend the cultural lakefront, echoing native plantings in Lakeshore State Park and the nearby War Memorial parking lot, which was recently redesigned to collect storm water.”

EQUITABLY ADDRESS TRANSPORTATION. Metro Milwaukee’s car-centered culture decreases the potential for inclusive access to the cultural lakefront. Fully multimodal mass transit could help remedy this inequity. Maria Elena Torney Scott, a former Milwaukee Public Schools bilingual-education teacher, said that some of her students never had been to the lakefront before a field trip to the Art Museum. “Imagine living so close to this jewel of a resource and not knowing all of its wonders,” she said. A transportation concourse is planned within the Couture, a heavily subsidized 8 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

skyscraper with luxury units and “high-end retail” to be built across from the cultural lakefront. Current plans call for incorporating stops for “The Hop” streetcar and bus rapid transit (BRT). Standard Milwaukee County buses, the area’s primary form of mass transportation, do not directly access the lakefront except during Summerfest and other major festivals.

KEEP KNITTING TOGETHER ASSETS AND EXPERIENCES. The Dan Kiley-designed lakewalk, east of MAM, spurred the linking of Milwaukee County’s Oak Leaf Trail and state-managed Hank Aaron Trail. Lakeshore State Park’s informative interpretation of landscape features and history could be echoed in other lakefront areas. The just-launched “Light the Hoan Bridge” effort is drawing more people to Lakeshore State Park’s southern entrance off Erie Street. Opening Summerfest’s lakewalk in the off-season for pedestrians and bicyclists has increased connectivity with the Historic Third Ward. A new children’s play area in Summerfest’s grounds will add a year-round family friendly amenity to the cultural lakefront. Another alluring feature is Ned Kahn’s Wind Leaves, a site-specific installation north of Discovery World. Diane Buck, who co-authored a book about Milwaukee’s public sculptures, considers Wind Leaves one of the city’s most remarkable creations. “It’s one of the only major pieces that is interactive,” she said. “It changes with the light, weather and seasons. Visitors can adjust the shimmering ‘leaves,’ and make sounds using mallets attached to benches.”

“It’s good that we are beginning to think about broader expanses of time and to represent different voices,” said Margaret Noodin, director of the Electa Quinney Institute for American Indian Education at UW-Milwaukee. “We can build upon efforts to acknowledge Milwaukee’s Indigenous history and the contemporary presence of members of Tribal Nations,” said Noodin, who is also a nationally recognized poet. “We Are Water” celebrations hosted by the Milwaukee Water Commons and the now-suspended Indian Summer Festival of tribal culture “have been important temporary cultural expressions, but there is little that is permanent,” she deplored. “There are many complex layers of history and a lot of diversity represented here in Milwaukee. There are opportunities to tell the long and rich history of Indigenous peoples, dating back 12,000 years, and to permanently express more recent stories,” said Noodin.

CONTINUE ACCENTUATING THE LAKE. “We have come together to identify a community goal of building coastal resilience,” said Noodin. “We can also think about what that means in terms of how people come together, how they can be engaged in policy making.” Lake Michigan itself is the premier attraction, said McCarthy. “Any development, or even significant tweaks, must preserve the lake’s health as well as lake views,” said McCarthy. One frequent visitor said we should be wary of “hanging too many ornaments on the tree” by overbuilding or overwhelming the cultural lakefront. Viewing the ever-changing lake from afar is among the ways people appreciate it. Virginia Small is a veteran journalist and communications professional. The Milwaukee Press Club recently awarded her a silver medal for a story published in the Shepherd Express.

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‘Middle Class Joe’ Biden By Joel McNally


here’s probably no description in politics that has become more meaningless in the last four years than “political populist.” The proof is that political reporters regularly apply that term to both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, two politicians whose political values, driving passions and most devoted followers couldn’t be any more different if they came from different planets. They kind of do. But beginning Wednesday, Jan. 20, Americans are going to be reminded once again what a real political populist in the White House actually looks like. If populism still means anything, it has to include improving the lives of ordinary, working-class people instead of simply passing enormous tax cuts for the rich and powerful “elites” at the top. Golly, I wonder which president actually cares about doing that. Could it be incoming President Joe Biden, “Middle-Class Joe” as he was known when he was the


poorest man in the U.S. Senate, or the departing (kicking and screaming all the way) President Trump, the billionaire heir to a family fortune whose only legislative achievement was passing another massive Republican tax cut costing $1.9 trillion over 10 years going overwhelmingly to millionaires and billionaires?

IF POPULISM STILL MEANS ANYTHING, IT HAS TO INCLUDE IMPROVING THE LIVES OF ORDINARY, WORKING-CLASS PEOPLE Trump’s claim to actually care about “forgotten Americans” left behind was just another lie among more than 25,000 that Washington Post factcheckers couldn’t keep up with because Trump was fabricating such a blinding torrent of lies during his term and reelection campaign.

The irony is the early model of fiery populist demagoguery in American politics was Huey Long, the corrupt Democratic political boss elected governor of Louisiana in 1928 and Senator from 1932 until his assassination in 1935. Long ruled through corrupt political patronage, but he also delivered real results for the poor and working-class Louisianans he roused with his rhetoric. He expanded social programs, including free medical care, free textbooks for students, college financial aid, prison rehabilitation and massive job-creating public works. Long was an avowed enemy of the political power of multimillion-dollar corporations, the primary beneficiaries of Trump’s corruption along with himself and other wealthy Americans.

A NEW NEW DEAL? Long was an early Democratic supporter of President Franklin Roosevelt but split from FDR in 1933 and began attacking the president from the left. Long was preparing to run against FDR in 1936 with his own

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Share Our Wealth movement proposing massive social spending and a wealth tax to fund wealth redistribution. After Long was shot by the son-in-law of a Louisiana political rival, FDR incorporated many of Long’s ideas in New Deal social programs that Republicans—including Trump—have tried to dismantle ever since. The only Long political action replicated by Trump was the corruption. Trump’s most absurd attacks on President Biden have tried to smear him as a tool of dangerous leftwing socialists. Biden enters the White House with aspirations of building on the nation’s most popular social programs that began with Social Security and unemployment benefits under FDR’s New Deal and have been expanded by Democrats ever since with civil rights laws, Medicare and Medicaid under President Lyndon Johnson and the Affordable Care Act and economic stimulus under President Barack Obama. Early advocates of those proposals were democratic socialists in Wisconsin and populists like Huey Long, but they’re now recognized as

the most universally beneficial programs of American democracy. Almost as ridiculous are Republican attacks on Biden as an elitist for appointing well-qualified cabinet secretaries with good educations to run his administration instead the corrupt, cruel incompetents favored by Trump. The charge is laughable against Biden, who grew up in a working-class Scranton family receiving a University of Delaware state college education: “We’re used to guys who look down their nose at us,” who think, “you must be stupid if you didn’t go to an Ivy League school” like the rich kids. He was proud to run for president as “Scranton versus Park Avenue” where Trump lived in his gold tower. Trump publicly demonstrated his contempt for the working class by assuming the best way to attract their support was to openly appeal to racism and religious bigotry. It was disturbingly successful for a while, but it failed to recognize the growing racial diversity of America’s professional class and

its workforce ultimately alienating increasing numbers of urban and suburban voters from the Republican Party. Republicans have to rely on voter suppression and dishonest gerrymandering to win elections because their economic and taxation policies overwhelmingly benefitting the wealthiest among us no longer have majority support. Voters increasingly favor the Democratic economic agenda of raising minimum wages, requiring the wealthy to pay their fair share in taxes and making health care, higher education and childcare affordable. Trump’s reaction to his defeat in the election has been mudslinging. Biden has been proving him wrong by looking and acting as presidential as any great American president we’ve ever had. It’s good to have one again. Joel McNally was a critic and columnist for the Milwaukee Journal for 27 years. He has written the weekly Taking Liberties column for the Shepherd Express since 1996.

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Photo by Erin Bloodgood




ur mental health systems were never meant to help Indigenous and marginalized communities because they have been built inside a system of patriarchy and colonialization, according to Lea Denny, founder of the Healing Intergenerational Roots (HIR) Wellness Institute. For the last few years, Denny has been working nonstop to build an organization specifically for the healing of Indigenous people who have suffered from trauma passed down through generations. To effectively heal people who have been subject to oppression, she knew she had to look at mental health services in a new way and build her organization in a way that doesn’t mimic the power structure of this country’s mental health system.

A daughter of Pacific Islanders and married to an Oneida tribe member, Denny understands the pain that comes with having


By Erin Bloodgood Indigenous ancestors who were forced to assimilate to American culture. Both her ancestors and her husband’s experienced residential boarding schools and “genocide through culture and spirit,” she explains. The trauma created from that history gets passed down through generations as Indigenous people are forced to give up parts of their culture so that they can fit in with American norms. “American society has plasticized my culture into leis and bobblehead hula girls… We’re living in pained societies.” These experiences led her to her master’s thesis focused on intergenerational trauma, which became HIR Wellness in 2017. As she heard feedback from Native American communities, she continued to see this trauma and made a promise to them that she would never charge people for mental health services. “I just knew that [mental

health services] had to be different. It had to heal intergenerational roots,” says Denny. So, she built HIR Wellness as a nonprofit that could receive grants and donations to fund healing. By not accepting money or insurance from patients, she wasn’t constricted by the rules that were already built into the existing mental health system that has done so much damage.

COMMUNITY ACTIVATED MEDICINE Instead, Denny created a new method of therapy and healing based on her years of research and community feedback. Her approach, that she calls Community Activated Medicine or CAM, helps people heal alongside their community members. The traditional clinical therapy approach isolates the individual, but Denny learned that communities of color often heal in groups, such as church services or pow wows. “I knew from my experience working

in communities that grieving is communal, so healing needed to be communal too.” In order to offer an accurate mental diagnosis, Denny explains, you must first understand where a person comes from and the environment in which they live. Only after analyzing the factors that affect someone’s health and mental state can you begin to heal them. Her healing services involve a licensed therapist or social worker alongside healers from the community. So, community input is present

in every step of the healing process. Denny is determined to change the norms of therapy and redistribute the structure of power that is built into the mental health field. “The only place where therapy is actually welcome is in places of affluence,” she says. She wants to normalize seeking help in Indigenous communities, which starts by making services accessible and integrated into their culture. Healing starts with the acknowledgement by all of us that our society is still damaging these

communities. “The losses in the communities from homicide to suicide to missing and murdered Indigenous women and people—the genocide—is still happening. It just looks different.” Learn more about the HIR Wellness Institute at hirwellness.org.

Erin Bloodgood is a Milwaukee photographer and storyteller. Visit bloodgoodfoto. com to see more of her work.

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ust 10 years ago, Wisconsin was viewed nationally as a forward looking state alongside Massachusetts, Minnesota, Connecticut and California. People now ask why we often find ourselves listed with Alabama, Mississippi and Kentucky? How can Wisconsin Republican legislators who control both our Assembly and Senate feel they can arrogantly ignore the interests of their constituents in a democracy? Or how can the Republican leadership in both houses of our state legislature callously watch Wisconsinites die from COVID-19 as they fight against the science-based policies Governor Evers tried to institute to save lives? And why has Wisconsin become such an angry and aggressively divided state when not that long ago, we could disagree with our neighbors without despising them. Much of this stems from the gerrymandered 2011 redistricting map drafted by unethical elected officials, who only cared about gaining and maintaining power, rather than trying to improve the health, wellbeing, and economic opportunities of the average working person.


It’s all about corrupt redistricting called Gerrymandering. Unfortunately, Wisconsin 14 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

became the nation’s leader in this corrupt redistricting 10 years ago when the Republican majorities in both the State Assembly and Senate spent over $3.5 million of our tax dollars to pay lawyers to draw and later to defend legislative political boundaries. These gerrymandered district lines give Wisconsin the dubious honor of having the most corrupt and most gerrymandered legislative district lines in the entire country. Our legislative districts are so extreme and corrupt that a Federal three-judge panel (two of the three judges were Republican presidential appointees), ruled that Wisconsin’s legislative district lines were “unconstitutional,” but the Republican leadership managed to keep them from ever being redrawn. Governor Scott Walker enthusiastically signed the redistricting bill since it supported his “divide and conquer” strategy he often bragged about. Extreme gerrymandered districts create many problems, including a polarized legislature, because elected officials only to need to worry about winning a primary. The gerrymandered maps ensure that the Republican nominee will win the general election. The centrist legislators, who often lead the compromises, were defeated or retired in the subsequent election cycles, leaving only the extreme rightwing candidates in the majority party with a safe majority.

As a result, the Republican candidates quickly learned that they only have to appeal to a few groups: extreme rightwing voters, now known as the Trump base; extreme rightwing special interest groups and their check writers; and the lunatic conspiracy crowd to prevent being challenged and taken out from the right. Satisfying those groups makes you virtually undefeatable. The survivors quickly learned to play by these rules and unfortunately some actually believe all the lies. Very simply, if they can avoid a primary from the right, they are totally assured re-election and they can ignore the needs and the desires of the rest of their constituents.


Over a 10-year period, there can be major demographic changes in some areas and very few in others. Areas that either lost population or, more realistically, didn’t grow in population as fast as the rest of the state, could see some major changes in their legislative boundaries in order to comply with U.S. Supreme Court rulings. The most critical ruling was the “One Person One Vote” standard from the 1964 decision in Reynolds v. Sims. The Court ruled that legislative districts must be roughly the same size in population making every citizen’s vote equal. Another important

court decision insured maximum opportunity for minorities to elect representatives from their community. Redistricting is messy, but necessary for honest districts that give every citizen an equal impact on state policies. It can become every person for themselves, and leadership has life and death power over legislative careers. Every legislator is watching, negotiating and begging as the maps continually evolve. Some legislators are encouraged to retire so there are fewer conflicts. Incumbents don’t want to end up in an Assembly district with another member of their own party and have a primary against possibly a very good friend. This could be life or death for their political careers and not as a result of anything they did wrong. Split government obviously prevents gerrymandering, which is why it was so important that Tony Evers defeated Scott Walker since the gerrymandered districts prevented the Democrats from ever winning control of either the Assembly or the Senate. Split government forces a compromise, resulting in more fair and competitive districts or redistricting ends up in the courts. In the past several redistrictings—until the hyper-gerrymandered redistricting of 2011—the courts ended up drawing the maps. Neither side was totally happy, which is how it should end up.

efforts. Right now, our seven-member state supreme court has four conservatives, three of whom put politics over the law. Those three actually wanted to consider Trump’s ludicrous lawsuits, invalidating some of the votes cast in the 2020 elections, which other judges throughout the country ridiculed. The court’s fourth conservative, Justice Brian Hagedorn, has shown some indications that he will stand up to political pressure and follow the law, including Wisconsin Supreme Court precedent.


Obviously, you don’t need to be a constitutional scholar to know that it was not the intent of the drafters of the Wisconsin constitution to allow the legislature to redistrict itself without the governor’s signature. If that were the case, all one party needed to do was have a majority in both houses during a redistricting year like the Democrats had in the 1991; they could have ignored the Republican

governor at the time, gerrymandered the districts and stayed in power forever. Every 10 years they would still be in control of the legislature thanks to their gerrymandered districts and would just do another gerrymander and again stay in power ad infinitum. So, it is important to be vigilant if we don’t want to end up with gerrymandered districts again in this redistricting process. We need to pay attention to what is happening. We need to speak up, organize and demand fair district lines so the American democratic process of compromise can work. It was working somewhat well in Wisconsin until the 2011 redistricting caused Wisconsin to be labeled the most gerrymandered state in the country. We can do better.

Louis Fortis is publisher of the Shepherd Express and a former state legislator and economics professor.


Much like his apparent role model, Donald Trump, the current Assembly Speaker, Robin Vos, is preoccupied with power and control and helping his personal interests, not about legislation to improve average people’s lives. People who know Vos say that he will do almost anything to try to stay in power. Since he knows that in almost all recent legislative elections, more votes are cast statewide for Democratic candidates than Republican candidates, he might try almost anything whether it’s constitutional or not. As Assembly Speaker, he has unlimited taxpayer dollars to spend on lawyers. So, one unconstitutional tactic that the speaker might try is to redistrict the legislature without passing a bill which requires the governor’s signature. The Republicans tried to redistrict the state legislature without the governor’s signature in the 1960s and the Wisconsin State Supreme Court ruled against their JANUARY 2021 | 15




ieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes is Wisconsin’s first Black lieutenant governor and, at 33, one of the youngest. Before becoming lieutenant governor in 2018, Barnes served in the State Assembly for four years, representing District 11 on Milwaukee’s North Side. He authored legislation on juvenile justice reform, out-of-home care for youth in the foster system, early prison release, expanding victim and witness advocacy services, a community schools grant program and tuition-free enrollment for technical colleges. Off the Cuff spoke with Barnes about his background and Milwaukee.

Where did you grew up? I was born in the city of Milwaukee, raised on 26th and Locust. My mother is a retired public school teacher. My father is a retired factory worker at a General Motors subsidiary. Both parents were very active union members throughout my life. Being a part of the middle class, my parents helped me stay in line—especially considering other difficult circumstances around me, whether with my neighbors or classmates. We weren’t rich, but we were able to have a stable foundation. My upbringing offered me the opportunity to go after the things I wanted to go after. In 2003, I graduated from John Marshall High School.

Photo by Tom Jenz

Were there other influences that helped you along on your path? Both my parents worked full-time. I spent a lot of time with my grandparents. They helped shape me. I think about my grandparents’ story. They moved to Milwaukee after my grandad served in World War II, and their moving was for the opportunity. My grandad worked at A.O. Smith. My grandmother worked for MPS. Like so many other people in their generation, Milwaukee was one of the best places for Black people to live at the time. This gave my grandfather a chance to work on an assembly line. He was also a very active union member.

You then went to college at Alabama A&M. How did that happen? My mother’s originally from Birmingham, Ala., and she went to Alabama A&M as well. Alabama A&M is an historically Black land-grant university in Huntsville, Ala. In college, I joined organizations like NAACP and student government. I studied broadcast journalism, TV, radio and print. In 2004, Barack Obama gave his Idea Freedom keynote speech at the Democratic National Convention, and it was a very inspirational moment for me. His speech made me think about the world a little bit differently and think about politics much differently. In Barrack, I saw someone

who had a unique experience, and it wasn’t like any other politician. Seeing that happen, seeing him on the stage, I knew it was something that I’d be interested in, being involved in politics in general. In 2008, after I finished school, I decided to go work on the Obama campaign as a field organizer, and I ended up in rural northwest Louisiana for about six months. After that election, I made my way back to Milwaukee, and I did an unpaid internship in Mayor Tom Barrett’s office. After a few weeks, I became the receptionist in the Mayor’s office.

You started at the bottom, but it got you going, right? It did! After that job, I went to the Milwaukee Area Workforce Investment Board. About a year down the line, I got laid off from my job, ironically when my job was to help people find jobs. Then, I got back into organizing. After Scott Walker took office and he dropped the bomb, I worked for MICAH, and I was able to engage in a number of issues—economic development, education, immigration reform and treatment inside of prisons. After banging our heads against the wall and not getting the responses we thought we should have, I was faced with a choice: Keep doing it this way or run for office myself if I thought it was so easy. So, I decided to run for office in 2012 for state representative.

JANUARY 2021 | 17


You have direct experience with Milwaukee’s current problems: segregation, racism, unrest and the decline of the inner city, even in your old neighborhood, 26th and Locust. Do you have any ideas to help improve these volatile situations? I think it’s important for us to provide opportunities. The decline and quality of life in those neighborhoods and those communities is directly correlated with the decline of business and job opportunities. When big factories like A.O. Smith departed, there was nothing left to replace them. Communities were left with a gaping hole. Homeownership declined, incomes declined. A lot of people left the area because what was once a hub of opportunity became much less. When you look at economic development, it hasn’t been dispersed equally or where the need has been. When you look at the revitalization of some of the other areas in Milwaukee, you’re talking about the Third Ward, Fifth Ward, Downtown, Walker’s Point and the Menomonee Valley. So, why hasn’t revitalization happened in other areas that were once hubs of opportunity like the inner city? There was the opportunity to create a strong middle class in the Black community; when that went away, I don’t think there were enough political efforts to replace what had been lost. The result? Along came all the negativity that came with loss of jobs, loss of upward mobility,


and there was a lot of desperation that turned into crime, drug abuse and every other societal ill.

For several years, I’ve been walking the neighborhoods of Milwaukee’s inner city including parts of your old district. I’ve been photographing people and telling their stories. The residents are mostly Black, and most are hurting in almost every possible way. The vast majority those residents hate the criminal culture that exists in many of their neighborhoods, the shootings, murders, drug deals, car stealing and reckless driving. Yet, when I talk to the local politicians, they seem to struggle with explaining why there is the crumbling infrastructure—abandoned buildings and houses, cracked streets, garbage in the alleys—and why there are not efforts to help create new businesses. Tell me what you think. What resident anywhere would want to experience these sort of challenges? No one wants to be in an area or situation where someone’s been shot the night before or where a neighbor may have been murdered. How did we even get to this point? Travel a few miles outside of those depressed areas, and you’ll find a different quality of life. That’s because you are traveling to areas that have jobs and businesses.

But the unfortunate part of the inner city is that the crimes are almost always Black on Black crimes, including shootings and robberies. This is kind of tragic. I would say a lot of it is crimes of proximity. A lot of these are familial instances, the murders, but there are also a bunch that aren’t. You may see a child that gets shot and killed way too soon. Nobody should ever lose their lives to violence. I think it’s important for us to look deeper into the factors surrounding each crime. We can go back to schools. Even if we were to use a 50% graduation rate, any school would be shut down. That 50% will be somewhat functional, but with the other 40%, there is something going on that had nothing to do with the school, whether it is poverty or living in a community that has been rocked by violence. You got children growing up with PTSD, things I never wanna see. They are carrying this condition to school, and they don’t even have an outlet, and they just reflect it in so many bad ways. I had friends who were shot and killed in high school and so many more shortly after. When violence becomes what people expect, it only gets worse with each generation.

Can anything be done? It takes a real effort. You can’t just sit and have one strategy and have meetings with people who couldn’t be more disconnected from the issue. I think it’s important to have people who have been a part of the

Photo by Sean Pavone/Getty Images

system, whether they’ve been to jail before, whether they’ve been associated with a violent crime in one way or another as a perpetrator or even as a witness. You gotta be able to talk to them. When we hear what people actually have to say, I think that puts us in a much better place to resolve some of this.

You did a lot with youths. How do we get strong role models? You look at the war on drugs and a lot of Black men got placed in prison for what they hoped to make millions of dollars off of. That had a seismic impact in those communities, just like the loss of industries. And then there were other issues, like family units were discouraged because of welfare. Having a man in the house would mean that families in need would not get the benefits that they needed to live a happy and somewhat healthy life. All these things played a role in the absence of having these solid role models.

I could give you the names of six or seven Black activists I know fairly well. I wish they would be included more in the meetings and policy making with the major politicians of Milwaukee. How could that be accomplished, how could there be more involvement with the street leaders and the higher-up politicians of Milwaukee? I do think there’s a way that can be done. It has to be where both sides come in neutral. A lot of times, politicians will come in with a sort of animus toward activists and vice-versa.

If the different leaders all come in on neutral ground and say “I’m gonna listen to you, and you listen to me,” does that make sense? I think so. It’s like any sort of relationship. If you show up ready for war, it’s gonna end in war. You can go into that relationship recognizing that, if we are all gonna exist in this space together regardless, we should try to make the best of it, especially if the end game for each side is safer communities, safer streets and more opportunities. It’s not easy for people to be open-minded, especially since there are so many reasons to be upset, be frustrated or mad. But if the goal is to rectify whatever problems we're dealing with, then I think there would be more opportunities for a productive conversation.

Do you think we can ever get past this racial hatred with one another? It’s ridiculous. Social media fuels it, mainstream media fuels it. Couldn’t we have a respect for one another’s culture? We have to. Yes, we have to. That’s one of the casualties in being in the most segregated city in America. I was able in my childhood to be around a lot of people who didn’t look like me and share similar experiences that I had. For them as well as me, there was an appreciation of who you were and knowing we were different on both sides. I think we greatly benefitted from that. Because that is not everyone’s experience, too many folks are existing with an unfounded resentment toward one another.

Tom Jenz is the writer and photographer of the Shepherd Express’ Central City Stories series. JANUARY 2021 | 19





y dad made sure his son knew how to choose a grapefruit, and he would have been excited by the contents of this bin. His technique is to press on the bottom—if the skin feels thin and you can press it in, it’s ready. If the skin feels thick and spongy, it’s not perfect. In my experience as a grapefruit chooser, the old, dented grapefruit like the ones I was digging through often fit that bill. I gently prodded the bottoms of these marginal-looking grapefruit until I had about 15.

The bitterness of grapefruit contributes to its medicinal aura, as most medicines are bitter. The high levels of vitamin C are important too, but the medicinal qualities unique to grapefruit are in that bitterness. “I eat grapefruit when I feel sick,” noted a friend of mine recently. “It just feels like it will help.”

At home, I peeled and opened one, and I saw the confirmation I was looking for: The membranes between sections had ripped open when I pulled the fruit apart, revealing the pink juicy vesicles inside. In less ripe specimen, the sections would separate from one another but not split open like the mouths of hungry baby birds.

Grapefruit seed extract is a popular, plant-based remedy with demonstrated antimicrobial and anti-fungal activity. Meanwhile, people with certain health conditions, like high blood pressure or high cholesterol, are well aware that they can’t eat grapefruit when they are on their medications. Grapefruit in your system will make certain drugs more potent—dangerously so—by inhibiting the breakdown of those medications, allowing them to accumulate in the blood. (If grapefruit is your medicine of choice, I guess you don’t have to worry about that effect.)

Once you get the hang of assessing grapefruit by pushing on their bottoms, you’ll realize how rare it is to find a grapefruit that is ready. Most, it seems, are harvested too early. Maybe the grapefruit merchants figure that people expect them to be a little too sour and a little too bitter. Those same challenging flavors are evident even in a perfectly ripe one, too, but they are balanced by enough sweetness.

The intense bitter, sweet and sour flavors in grapefruit allow it to hold its own when mixed with other strong flavors. In this Thai shrimp salad that I learned on an island in the Andaman Sea, the assertive and complex flavor of the grapefruit is countered with the likes of garlic, cilantro, fish sauce and hot pepper flakes. It makes for an exciting salad that’s exotic and in season all winter long.

Ari LeVaux has written about food for The Atlantic Online, Outside Online and Alternet.


Grapefruit Shrimp Salad I first had this dish in Thailand, where it was made with pomelo, a large, grapefruit-like fruit. Alas, the thick, heavy skin of a pomelo drives up the cost significantly if you are paying by the pound, and it also makes it difficult to do my dad’s assessment. I’ve also swapped the shrimp for imitation crab meat, which works fine. Like other Thai salads, this one contains no oil. Assuming you have chosen a ripe grapefruit, the juicy vesicles will come right out of the loose membranes with little effort. MAKES 4 LARGE SERVINGS 4 grapefruit, peeled and de-membraned (I eat the membranes) ½ cup lime juice 2 tablespoons soy sauce 2 garlic cloves, minced 1 tablespoon fish sauce 1 tablespoon (or more) hot chile flakes 1 teaspoon salt 2 tablespoons sugar ½ pound shrimp, boiled and peeled 2 cups grated carrots 2 cups grated cabbage 2 cups chopped cilantro ½ cup coconut flakes Optional garnishes: green onion, cilantro, toasted peanuts Combine the lime juice, soy sauce, garlic, fish sauce, chile flakes, salt, sugar and any grapefruit juice leftover from the peeling process. Add the cooked shrimp and keep it there until it’s time for the final mix. Grate the carrots and cabbage and combine in a large bowl with the coconut flakes, cilantro and peeled grapefruit sections, whole or broken into odd-sized clusters of juicy vesicles. At serving time, toss the salad with the marinated shrimp and sauce.

Illustrations by Yulia Fushtey/Getty Images

JANUARY 2021 | 21


Last month, we looked at recipes for the species of drinks called holiday cocktails. This month, we look at recipes for the genus of that species—the genus known as winter cocktails. All of us have our favorites. Those cocktails we settle into at the end of the day while nights are cold. They’re like a ritual. They offer us easy comfort and familiarity, like sleeves of an old sweater we tuck our arms into day after day. But these recipes ask us to leave our old rituals behind us. They invite us to the promise of a new year. They’re worthy of becoming our new winter rituals. Gaetano Marangelli is a sommelier and playwright. He was the managing director of a wine import and distribution company in New York and beverage director for restaurants and retailers in New York and Chicago before moving to Wauwatosa.



By Gaetano Marangelli

Illustration by Sasha_Shilo/Getty Images

Winter Cocktails

Background Image by daboost/Getty Images

Mixing Some Warm

B R ANCA MENTA S TING ER Dave Cornils, Bar Manager, Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge, 1579 S. Ninth St. “One of my personal winter favorites is a slight twist on a classic cocktail that's been around since the late 1800s, the Stinger,” Cornils says. “Combining two parts brandy or Cognac with one part light Crème de Menthe, it's got that minty sweetness that draws people to classics like the Grasshopper, minus the heaviness of a cream or ice cream base. Rather than using Crème de Menthe though, I like to sub Fernet-Branca Menta to add depth to the cocktail without making it any more difficult to prepare. “Fernet-Branca is an Amaro that’s often referred to as “the Bartender’s Handshake” because a shot of Fernet-Branca is a commonplace service industry request. So, perhaps it's not that surprising that I would reach for a variety of Fernet-Branca when modifying this drink. Fernet-Branca Menta has the herbal complexity of the original, but it’s slightly sweeter, with, as its name suggests, more pronounced qualities of mint.”

INGREDIENTS 2 ounces brandy 1 ounce Fernet-Branca Menta

METHOD • Combine over ice in a rocks glass. • Stir and enjoy!

POMME PU NCH Jim Meehan is an acclaimed mixologist and author of Meehan’s Bartender Manual and The PDT Cocktail Book: The Complete Bartender’s Guide. He began his bartending career while he was a student at UW-Madison. According to Meehan, his recipe “straddles the line between Dick Bradsell's modern Treacle cocktail and historic recipes tha t feature cider, such as the Stone Fence and Wassail. Compositionally, it's a classic five-ingredient punch, with aromatic pot-distilled rum, citrus, maple as the sweetener and cinnamon as the spice. Easy to prepare and refreshing, it can be made one drink at a time or batched and served from an insulated pitcher or warming unit.”

WINTRY IMPROVED OLD -FASHIONED Ira Koplowitz, Co-founder, and Brandon Reyes, Research and Development Manager, Bittercube Bar & Bazaar, 4828 W. Lisbon Ave., Milwaukee. “We love making and drinking classic Old-Fashioneds any time of year!” says Koplowitz. “But they’re especially rewarding during the winter months. And this riff leans into classic winter flavors, with the rich maple syrup and warm, aromatic Alchermes. Plus, the cedar-smoked glass evokes an evening of sitting by the fireplace.”

INGREDIENTS 1⁄4 ounce Tapped Maple Syrup 1 1⁄2 ounce Old Grand Dad Bonded Bourbon 1⁄2 ounce Heirloom Alchermes Liqueur 2 dashes Bittercube Root Beer Bitters

METHOD Ignite a cocktail cedar, place the cedar on a fire-resistant surface, then place a Bittercube Cocktail Cedar Smoked Rocks Glass over the smoldering cocktail cedar, and let the smoke rest in the glass while building the cocktail. • Combine all the ingredients in a stirring vessel, add ice, and stir until softened. • Turn over the smoked glass, add fresh ice, and pour ingredients from the vessel into the glass. • Garnish with a lemon peel by expressing oils from the peel atop the cocktail then adding the peel.

A MOONLIG HT MILE Joseph Kane, Beverage Director, Bacchus—A Bartolotta Restaurant, 925 E. Wells St. “This cocktail is a variation of a Black Manhattan, which is seldom ordered but delicious,” he says. “I try to incorporate wine into any of our cocktails because, well, Bacchus!”

INGREDIENTS 2 ounces Far North Spirits Roknar Rye 1⁄2 ounce Nonino Amaro 1⁄2 ounce Luxardo Abano Amaro 1⁄2 ounce Malmsey Madeira


Dash Angostura Bitters

5 ounces (hot) Cloudy Apple Cider

Dash Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters

1 1⁄2 ounce Banks 7 Golden Blend Rum


1⁄2 ounce lemon juice

• Combine the ingredients in a mixing glass and add ice.

1 teaspoon maple syrup

• Stir and strain over a coupe.


• Garnish and enjoy!

• Combine in a pre-warmed tempered mug or punch cup. • Garnish with a lemon wheel and freshly ground cinnamon. JANUARY 2021 | 25


MILWAUKEE’S BEST We won’t forget 2020. Many of us, our friends and family were exposed to the COVID-19 virus. The Democratic National Convention went virtual and, as we tabulated the finalists for this year’s Best of Milwaukee, we were aware that a few of them are no longer with us. However, all of the winners are still active, adjusting to the changes and continuing to make Milwaukee a great place to live. The Shepherd Express also survived the shutdowns, pivoting to digital in March and returning to print in August with a new, revitalized format. The monthly Shepherd Express magazine has retained many features of the weekly newspaper that our readers counted on. One of those features returns this month with our Best of Milwaukee issue, our city’s original “best of.” Unlike some of its imitators, the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee is entirely reader-generated, with winners and runners-up determined by voters living and working in the greater Milwaukee area. The selections made by our readers testify to the diversity and richness of Milwaukee. Ours is a city with problems, but we can work together with greater determination than ever to finally address them. Our city’s nonprofits and businesses, its activists and entrepreneurs remained resilient and engaged through the year that just ended. We will be here a year from now with another Best of Milwaukee, honoring our city’s strength and progress. Louis Fortis Publisher/Editor David Luhrssen Managing Editor




Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel 130 E. Kilbourn Ave. | 414-276-8686 saintkatearts.com If you’ve been wondering if there is a real Saint Kate, the answer is… Yes! This boutique arts hotel is named after Saint Catherine, the patron saint of artists. So, it follows that this is a hotel for artists and its gallery spaces have been the site of numerous exhibits filling the lobby and hallways. Hotel guests will even find art by local artists such as Todd Mrozinski, Christiane Grauert and Daniel Chung, among others, in their hotel rooms. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • Dream Lab • Inspiration Studios • James Steeno Gallery ART MUSEUM

Milwaukee Art Museum 700 N. Art Museum Drive mam.org With its distinctive Santiago Calatrava design, the Milwaukee Art Museum has been an attraction for its form as much as its content. The permanent collection includes a bit of everything from many continents and epochs, and its galleries have long housed impressive touring as well as self-curated exhibitions. COVID has kept the museum closed for many weeks in 2020, although it reopened for several months with social distancing and restricted movements. In January 2021, the museum’s newly installed Curator of Community Dialogue, Kantara Souffrant, will begin work to extend the museum’s outreach. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Haggerty Museum of Art • Museum of Wisconsin Art • Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum ART & CRAFT FAIR/MAKERS MARKET

Milwaukee Makers Market 414-765-9966 milwaukeemakersmarket.com This monthly arts, crafts and makers fair can typically be found at Discovery World

and features all manner of crafts people in many media. Participating artists can only sell what they themselves make. So prospective buyers get the chance to buy locally made products from area designers and artists, ranging from jewelry and clothing to leather goods, candles and more. Buy local and support local. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • East Side Makers Market • Holy Hill Art Farm • Washington Heights Artists Front Yard Pop-Up CHORAL GROUP

Kids From Wisconsin kidsfromwisconsin.org

When they got started in the ’60s, the Kids From Wisconsin represented the counter-counterculture and were hailed as the squeaky clean representatives of the Dairy State. In recent years, they’ve gotten hipper and funkier, but they continue to provide emerging generations of talented young people with a unique forum for performance. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Aperi Animam • Bach Chamber Choir of Milwaukee • Master Singers of Milwaukee CHURCH FESTIVAL

Greek Fest (Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church) For decades, the festival was held on the grounds of the Frank Lloyd Wright designed Annunciation Church and introduced many Milwaukeeans to gyros, baklava and chicken souvlaki—not to mention Greek music and dance. The event grew so big that it was moved to State Fair Park. It was drive-thru in 2020. Hopefully it will go live again in 2021. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • St. Romans Annual Festival • St. Gregory the Great Parish Festival • St. Matthias Parish Festival


Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra 1101 N. Market St. | 414-291-6010 mso.org The Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra (MSO) had hoped to open the 2020-21 season in spectacular fashion at the renovated 1930 Warner Grand Theater, now renamed the Bradley Symphony Center. COVID-19, which has impacted nearly all performing arts groups, prevented that but is not the only factor. This summer, the building sustained basement flooding damage in a storm. The most overused word of 2020 must be “pivot,” and circumstances have forced the MSO to pivot. In August, MSO announced plans for an all-virtual season performed by scaled-down ensembles. (Rick Walters)

RUNNERS-UP: • Aperi Animam • Concord Chamber Orchestra • Master Singers of Milwaukee COMEDIAN

Charlie Berens

charlieberens.com If you haven’t seen an episode of the “Manitowoc Minute” or any of Charlie Berens’ Wisconsin-themed comedy videos, you might not be living in Milwaukee. Chances are your aunt and uncle have shared one of Berens’ videos on their social media channels, and for good reason. The Midwestern charm bleeds through and is a constant theme in Berens’ work. He’s made a successful brand off of that as well, from hats, sweatshirts and even facemasks. We could be witnessing the birth of the next Larry The Cable Guy, Jim Varney or Jared Keeso, depending on how you look at it. (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP: • Dana Ehrmann • Pat McCurdy • John McGivern

Illustration by Tess Brzycki

JANUARY 2021 | 27



Milwaukee Ballet milwaukeeballet.org

The Milwaukee Ballet gained an international reputation after Michael Pink arrived as artistic director in 2002. While furnishing the stage with traditional favorites such as The Nutcracker, Pink brought an original take to such disparate literary sources as Dracula, Peter Pan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Working with stellar production teams, dancers and musicians, Pink is concerned with the contemporary resonance of the work performed as well as its technical execution. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Catey Ott Dance Collective • Danceworks, Inc. • Wild Space Dance Co. LOCAL RADIO PERSONALITY

Dori Zori (88.9FM) radiomilwaukee.org

Say “88.9,” and the name Dori Zori immediately comes to mind—or to your ears. She joined 88Nine in August 2012, where she began co-hosting the morning show and eventually became assistant program director. That turned into a solo host spot, and she’s been on the rise ever since. Before the pandemic, she was out and about in the city with artist appearances and public events and was easy to spot with that award-winning smile. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • Mandy Scott (106.9FM) • Reggie Brown (100.7FM) • Sandy Maxx (96.5FM) LOCAL TV PERSONALITY/ STAGE ACTOR

John McGivern (Milwaukee PBS) johnmcgivern.com

Milwaukee’s most recognizable local stage actor (and a perennial Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee winner), John McGivern has been seen in popular movies (Disney’s The Princess Diaries);


he won an Emmy and wrote a beloved comedic play (Shear Madness) while incorporating memories of growing up in Milwaukee into his charming one-man shows. His walking tours of Milwaukee and Wisconsin towns, “Around the Corner” on Milwaukee PBS, has won accolades and national attention. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP— LOCAL TV PERSONALITY: • Mark Baden (WISN-12) • Sheldon Dutes (WISN-12) • Shawn Gallagher (TMJ4) • Sandy Maxx (Milwaukee PBS) • Carole Meekins (TMJ4) • Ted Perry (FOX6) RUNNERS-UP—STAGE ACTOR: • Anthony Crivello • James Pickering • Andrew Varella MILWAUKEE AUTHOR

John Gurda

johngurda.com John Gurda is one of Milwaukee’s familiar faces for his collaboration with John McGivern on Milwaukee PBS’s longrunning “Around the Corner.” Before that, his book, The Making of Milwaukee, was transformed into an Emmy-winning PBS special that aired coast to coast. He continues to produce lavishly illustrated and solidly researched accounts of Milwaukee’s unique history, including Milwaukee: A City Built on Water and Milwaukee: City of Neighborhoods. It’s an honor, being defeated by Gurda as Best Milwaukee Author. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Mikey Cody Apollo • Tea Krulos • David Luhrssen MOVIE THEATER

Oriental Theatre 2230 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-276-5140 mkefilm.org/oriental-theatre One of the things I missed the most during this year of shutdowns is watching movies at the Oriental Theatre. This 1920s East

Side movie palace is an architectural mélange of Near East and East Asian motifs, and its three theaters have long been central to Milwaukee’s film culture, screening an array of foreign, independent and classic films. The lavishly appointed venue has also been the hub of the Milwaukee Film Festival, which will run mostly if not entirely virtually in May of 2021. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Avalon Atmospheric Theater • Marcus Majestic Cinema • Marcus Ridge Cinema (New Berlin) • The Times Cinema MUSEUM (NON-ART)

Milwaukee Public Museum 800 W. Wells St. | 414-278-2728 mpm.edu With its dinosaur skeleton, the “Streets of Old Milwaukee” and panoramic displays of natural and cultural history—and more recently, its IMAX theater—the Milwaukee Public Museum has always been a destination for locals and tourists alike. With COVID, the museum reopened with new policies designed to encourage physical distancing, and it was then forced to close again. Meanwhile, the Milwaukee Public Museum and Betty Brinn Children’s Museum announced plans to share a new facility to be constructed north of the Fiserv Forum. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Chudnow Museum of Yesteryear • Discovery World • Jewish Museum Milwaukee MUSIC EDUCATION

Wisconsin Conservatory of Music Multiple Locations | 414-276-5760 wcmusic.org The Wisconsin Conservatory of Music (WCM) is Wisconsin’s largest nonprofit music education institution serving over 16,000 students annually. Founded in 1891, WCM currently has a 100-member faculty that provides instruction on an individual, group and ensemble basis. Ages range from five and older with styles and genres taught including:




African Percussion, Afro Caribbean, Blues, Broadway, Classical, Contemporary, Finger Style, Flamenco, Jazz, Orchestral Percussion, Pop, Rock and World Drumming. Featured instruments include: guitar, piano, percussion, strings, vocal arts and wood woods and brass—literally something for everyone. (Harry Cherkinian)

Stars and Stripes Honor Flight

starsandstripeshonorflight.org Local organizers were fortunate to fly some of the last surviving veterans of World War II to Washington, and they continue their work by honoring veterans of more recent wars with a trip to the nation’s war memorials. (Frank Gary)

RUNNERS-UP: • Milwaukee Jazz Institute • Music Together North Shore • Sound Check Studios OUTDOOR FESTIVAL

Wisconsin State Fair 640 S. 84th St. | 414-266-7000 wistatefair.com Milwaukee’s “Best Outdoor Festival” actually started out in Janesville in 1851 along the banks of the Rock River. Like its vendors and Midway carneys, it travelled to different cities throughout Wisconsin for the next 41 years. It finally found its home in 1892 in West Allis, celebrating its 170year anniversary in 2021. Over the course of the event’s 11-day run, more than a million fairgoers will visit—and that’s not including the famous “Racing Pigs.” (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bastille Days Milwaukee • Irish Fest Milwaukee • Summerfest



Laura Gordon The Milwaukee-based actress has filled local stages with both her acting and directing skills for many years. Whether it’s directing Shakespeare, Greek classics or Russian epics or in her leading acting roles in Death of a Salesman, Doubt or The Beauty Queen of Leanne, Gordon brings a range and depth that commands attention. Gordon changed her college major three times before settling on acting, picking up directing in the process. Lucky for us. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP • Megan Rose Miller • Rana Roman • Tami Workentin THEATER COMPANY

RUNNERS-UP: • Dryhootch Coffeehouse • Float Milwaukee • Wisconsin Veterans Chamber of Commerce LOCAL ACTIVIST

Frank Nitty Frank Nitty emerged from Black Lives Matter and quickly became a phenomenon. In a few months, dressed in his trademark dreadlocks under a flatbilled cap, he attracted some 100,00 followers across Wisconsin and led a cross-country march to Washington D.C. in honor of Martin Luther King Jr.’s legacy. (Frank Gary)

RUNNERS-UP: • Dr. Monique Liston • Markasa Tucker • Vaun Mayes LOCAL CHARACTER

88.9 Radio Milwaukee

Milwaukee Repertory Theater

414-892-8900 radiomilwaukee.org

108 E. Wells St. | 414-224-9490 milwaukeerep.com

88Nine wins again for its blend of new, cool, independent and communityfocused radio. Whether it’s the station that gets up and moving in the morning or dancing at night, there is something for almost everyone. Radio Milwaukee is one of the jewels in a city with an unusually rich array of non-commercial radio. (Morton Shlabotnik)

Originally founded as Drama Incorporated in 1955, the Rep adapted its new name— and philosophy—eight years later as the Milwaukee Repertory Theater. Dedicated to performing the classics and premieres of new work with a resident group of actors, The Rep continues that commitment today with Artistic Director Mark Clements at the helm. The Rep’s dedication to diversity, inclusion and equity fills all three of its performing spaces, broadening its artistic horizons—and our own. (Harry Cherkinian)

The stuff of legend or just a guy who prefers to walk? Milwaukee has a rich history of local characters including John Hamann (aka Milverine), whose resemblance to a certain Marvel Comics character has made him a recognizable face in his hometown for little more than walking, often shirtless, from Downtown to Bay View. (Blaine Schultz)


RUNNERS-UP: • Milwaukee’s NPR 89.7 WUWM • Milwaukee’s Hometown Rock 89.7 WKLH • WMSE 91.7


RUNNERS-UP: • Next Act Theatre • Skylight Music Theatre • Village Playhouse


RUNNERS-UP: • Flannery Pendergast • JMatt • John McGivern


Lilo Allen The Bronzeville Collective MKE 339 W. North Ave. | 414-403-1438 bronzevillecollective.com

Photo Courtesy of Gwen Moore

The Bronzeville Collective MKE is a collaborative store in its namesake neighborhood that bolsters the works of local artisans, in particular black, brown and LGBTQ creatives. More than 25 artisans have their products—jewelry, wellness products, clothing, artwork, etc.—available in a space that honors Bronzeville’s rich history of black-owned businesses. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Geoff Hoen (Beard MKE) • Jamie Andrzejewski (Nourish Natural Products) • Ryan Laessig (Milwaukee Makers Market) MILWAUKEE ALDERPERSON

Milele Coggs District 6 Alderwoman Alderwoman Milele Coggs has been leading community-oriented efforts, such as Milwaukee’s Bronzeville Week celebration of African American culture and history. She takes any occasion to lift up young women and communities of color, as a black woman in a position of power and the youngest woman ever elected to Milwaukee’s Common Council. (JeanGabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Marina Dimitrijevic • Michael Murphy • Nik Kovac MILWAUKEE COUNTY SUPERVISOR

Ryan Clancy District 4 Supervisor Milwaukee County’s newly elected supervisor Ryan Clancy has made a name for himself as an activist rather than a politician—leading up to him being arrested for attending a protest honoring George Floyd. He is also an MPS teacher and owner of Bounce Milwaukee, an activity center that has become a hub

for Milwaukee’s progressive community. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Jason Haas • Marcelia Nicholson • Sequanna Taylor MILWAUKEEAN OF THE YEAR

Derek Mosley Judge of Milwaukee Municipal Court 414-286-3800 Judge Derek Mosley is the current presiding judge of the Milwaukee Municipal Court, where he has been serving since 2002. Mosley is a Milwaukeean through and through, serving on the board of several nonprofit organizations and cheerfully partaking in Milwaukee’s cultural and culinary scenes. After a recent bout with coronavirus, Judge Mosley pulled through to keep serving our local communities. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Frank Nitty • Jamaal Napoleon • Shavonda Sisson


Gwen Moore U.S. Representative, Wisconsin District 4 Rep. Gwen Moore, who represents portions of Milwaukee and Waukesha, has made a name for herself by representing the underrepresented in Washington D.C. In November 2020, she once again won by a landslide against Republican Tim Rogers. Moore is the first African American congressperson from Wisconsin, bringing a much-needed dab of diversity. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Mandela Barnes • Tammy Baldwin • Tom Barrett MOST DESPISED POLITICIAN

Scott Walker He’s out of office now but left a trail of destruction behind his terms as Wisconsin governor, damaging the environment, labor unions, the UW system and signing doubtful deals with corporate interests who promote greed over public interest. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Robin Vos • Ron Johnson • Tony Evers JANUARY 2021 | 31


C IT Y CO N F I D ENTIAL Tony Evers Governor of Wisconsin evers.wi.gov In the face of mindless opposition from the GOP-controlled Legislature and special interest groups, and despite the uncaring disdain of the White House, Tony Evers proceeded calmly in the face of the pandemic, implementing measures designed to protect the public and shore up local businesses. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • David Bowen • David Crowley • Gwen Moore NON-PROFIT ORGANIZATION

Love On Black Women loveonblackwomen.com

“Black women are the backbone of our community, let’s love on them” says fundraising enterprise Love On Black Women. People can donate to a fund that is then entirely distributed to black women according to their needs, be it for rent, food or emergency supplies. “We don’t ask for follow-up, and we don’t want dollars that come with a burden of proof,” they assure. “100% of the money raised goes directly into black women’s pockets.” (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Courage MKE • Ignite the Spirit • Leukemia & Lymphoma Society Wisconsin Chapter PHILANTROPIST

Herb Kohl

herbkohlphilanthropies.org The businessman, former U.S. Senator and onetime owner of the Milwaukee Bucks continues his legacy of caring for his hometown through Herb Kohl Philanthropies, disbursing millions of dollars to Wisconsin nonprofits doing positive work in their communities. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Les Weil • Sean Lowe • Shavonda Sisson



them the political tools to stand up for themselves. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

Beans & Barley

RUNNERS-UP: • Leaders Igniting Transformation • UBUNTU Research & Evaluation • Voces de la Frontera

1901 E. North Ave. | 414-278-7878 beansandbarley.com Beans & Barley was serving healthy food in its café and selling organic products from back in the days when most Milwaukeeans rolled their eyes at the mention of “health food.” Despite competition from national chains, B&B remains a bustling place, a crossroads of the city’s East Side. (David Luhrssen)

Photo Courtesy of Mandela Barnes


RUNNERS-UP: • Metro Market • Outpost Natural Foods • Pick 'n Save PLACE TO WORK FOR ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGE

Urban Ecology Center Multiple Locations urbanecologycenter.org


Mandela Barnes Lieutenant Governor of Wisconsin mandelabarnes.com

If you walk along Milwaukee River’s east bank, north of Humboldt Avenue, you can experience the results of this organization’s labors. The Urban Ecology Center has been dedicated to restoring, protecting and anticipating the needs of our green spaces. They have worked to educate Milwaukee on the natural history and changing animal habitats of our area. (Morton Shlabotnik)

Mandela Barnes is Wisconsin’s first Black Lieutenant Governor. He previously served in the State Assembly, representing Milwaukee’s North Side. He authored several pieces of legislation, including juvenile justice reforms, extending out-ofhome care for youths in the foster system, early release reforms, expanding victim and witness advocacy services, as well as a grant program for community schools. (Tom Jenz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Milwaukee Riverkeeper • Walnut Way Conservation Corp. • Wisconsin Conservation Voters

RUNNERS-UP: • David Bowen • Marcelia Nicholson • Ryan Clancy



Black Leaders Organizing For Communities (BLOC)

Chris Larson


Social justice goes hand in hand with grassroots efforts to support local black communities, which is the mission of Black Leaders Organizing For Communities (BLOC). With campaigns, petitions, dialogue and hands-on communications with local populations of color, BLOC aims to energize black voters and bring the communities together. Their stated goal is to educate black Wisconsinites and give

State Senator Chris Larson has lived and worked in the community he represents for his entire life, and he has consistently reached out to his constituents for their thoughts and guidance on the effect of statewide public policy on their neighborhoods. (Frank Gary)

RUNNERS-UP: • David Bowen • JoCasta Zamarripa • Jonathan Brostoff


Alem Ethiopian Village 307 E. Wisconsin Ave. | 414-224-5324 alem-ethiopianvillage.com The first thing you notice is the aroma of spices—an invitation to sample the menu of lamb, beef, chicken and cooked vegetables often served in the form of a spiced stew called wat. The heart of an Ethiopian meal is the injera—a spongy, flat bread with a slightly tart flavor that traditionally serves as the plate holding the wat and as the eating utensil. Just break off a piece and scoop. Until COVID has passed, Alem is open for takeout only, daily from 4-8 p.m. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Blue Star Café • Ethiopian Cottage Restaurant • Immy's African Cuisine BAR FOOD

Camino Multiple locations caminomke.com In Walker’s Point and West Allis, Camino sets a high bar for bar food without being fussy. One of their trademarks is serving comfort food classics with a twist of multicultural flavor influences; fries are taken up a notch with poutine gravy, for example, and one can enjoy pierogi to snack on. The heartier dishes include sizeable sandwiches, sausages and chicken wings, all with piquant seasonings. Patrons are also sure to appreciate Camino’s variety of craft beers, liquors and daily specials. (Anastasia Skliarova)

and a cornbread muffin so moist and sweet it could be mistaken for dessert. The trademark pulled meats are also served as sandwiches. Take-out business is brisk, and they deliver within a 10-mile radius of the restaurant. (Jamie Lee Rake)

RUNNERS-UP—BARBECUE: • Ashley’s Bar-B-Que • Heaven's Table BBQ • Iron Grate BBQ Co. • The Saucy Swine RUNNERS-UP—RIBS: • Sandras on the Park • The Saucy Swine • Saz’s State House BREAKFAST/BRUNCH

Blue’s Egg 317 N. 76th St. | 414-299-3180 bluesegg.com Blue’s Egg won both the breakfast and brunch categories, imposing the restaurant as the king of early-day fare. As the name hints, they offer top-of-theline egg dishes, omelets and pancakes alongside classic hash browns, grilled cheese, bacon, veggies and salads. Blue’s Egg greets early risers with a myriad coffees and sweet drinks, but alcohol is on the menu as well—patrons can order a house cocktail or a “coffee with a kick.” (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP—BREAKFAST: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • Mad Rooster Café • Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern RUNNERS-UP—BRUNCH: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • Mimosa • Uncle Wolfie's Breakfast Tavern BREW PUB

Lakefront Brewery 1872 N. Commerce St. | 414-372-8800 lakefrontbrewery.com On December 2, 1987, Russ and Jim Klisch sold their first barrel of beer to a tavern within “rolling distance” of the original location in Riverwest. Since they rolled out that barrel, Lakefront Brewery moved to the current location on Commerce St. Today, Lakefront offers 20 different beers available in over 30 states and distributed to Ukraine, South Korea, Sweden, China and Canada. Currently, there are no tours due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but the restaurant and taproom are offering takeout and dine-in every day of the week. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Good City Brewing • Eagle Park Brewing & Distilling • The Explorium Brewpub

RUNNERS-UP: • Brass Monkey Pub • Miller Time Pub & Grill • The Saucy Swine BARBECUE/RIBS

Double B’s BBQ Restaurant 7420 W. Greenfield Ave. | 414-257-9150 doublebs.com Double B’s takes smoked meat a step up with head chef and pit master Mark Timber’s scrumptious servings of pork, beef and chicken. Full meals are accompanied by creamy coleslaw, given a tinge of tanginess with apple cider vinegar JANUARY 2021 | 33



Maharaja 1550 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-276-2250 maharajarestaurants.com It’s a fiercely-contested category in Milwaukee, where most people first tasted the foods of many nations by sampling them at lunch buffets. Milwaukee was crowded with excellent noontime choices, and Maharajah is the longest-running buffet in this year’s Best of. It was also a great place to fill up on tandoori chicken, biryani and more. Here’s hoping all of our buffets will be back as usual in 2021. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Alem Ethiopian Village • Fushimi • India Garden BURGERS/ICE CREAMFROZEN CUSTARD STAND

Kopp’s Multiple locations kopps.com Kopps’ customers will never be bored with the ever-changing flavor of the day, featured sundae and shake of the month. Beyond just their featured flavors, Kopp’s offers 13 custard flavors and more than 20 different shakes daily. While Kopp’s offers a wide variety of comfort foods, their specialty is the mouth-watering Jumbo Burger. December’s shake of the month was eggnog, while the sundae was “Christmas Celebration.” (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP—BURGERS: • Crafty Cow • Miller Time Pub & Grill • Oscar's Pub & Grill RUNNERS-UP—ICE CREAMFROZEN CUSTARD: • Gilles Frozen Custard • Leon's Frozen Custard • Purple Door Ice Cream CARIBBEAN RESTAURANT

Sabor Tropical 2258 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-988-8030 sabortropicalmke.com Sabor Tropical’s bright décor and islandthemed drinks transport diners to a 34 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

cheerful refuge on blustery winter days. The menu weaves Latin and Caribbeaninspired dishes into a tapestry of offerings like bizcochos de cangrejo, Latin crab cakes; or platters like gambas (sautéed shrimp) and tacos vegetarianos (vegetarian tacos), all with flavorful toppings and sauces. Diners can try sides like yuca frita or Puerto Rican rice à la carte. Carryout or delivery through Eat Street is available. (Sheila Julson)


Chef Paz Restaurant 9039 W. National Ave. | 414-327-1600 chefpaz.com This West Allis by-way-of Peru restaurant offers dishes ranging from seafood, empanadas, plantains and lemon pie to Peruvian drink Chicha morada, made from purple corn with pineapple juice, cinnamon and lemon. The food at this unassuming former corner diner has stories to tell. Now serving dine-in with reservation. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • C-viche • La Masa Empanada Bar • Triciclo Peru CHEAP EATS

Conejito’s Place 539 W. Virginia St. | 414-278-9106 conejitos-place.com Conejito’s Place takes pride in being the South Side’s hangout since 1972. Their authentic Mexican food comes at affordable prices; four steak tacos are only $6. Their margaritas also come cheap at only $20 for a small pitcher. They credit their traditional Mexican recipes to their success. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • George Webb Restaurant • Ian's Pizza • Ma Fischer's


Adam Pawlak (Egg & Flour) His heritage, along with his heart and soul, are evident in the dishes he creates with… well, eggs and flour. Classic pasta dishes of Campanelle (meaning little bells) with pesto, choice of basil or walnut are coated beautifully and the pesto clings to the ruffled edges of the pasta. Wide strands of Pappardelle with meat sauce are hearty and rich. If you want to blast back to your childhood and shell-shaped pasta is what you crave, try a mac and cheese with a rich Egg & Flour cheese sauce. (Alisa Malavenda)

RUNNERS-UP: • Gregory Leon (Amilinda) • Mark Timber (Double B's BBQ) • Matt Nuetzel (The Saucy Swine) CHICKEN WINGS

Points East Pub 1501 N. Jackson St. | 414-277-0122 thepointseastpub.com Over the summer, Points East Pub improved the dining area with new wood flooring and a renovated bar. Points East was quick to respond to the pandemic, offering curbside service, later operating under reduced capacity, enforcing guidelines to keep customers safe. In response, customers have shown their continued support. Due to the pub’s resilience, it’s no surprise that their wings have been recognized as some of the best in the country. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • Double B's BBQ Restaurant • Limanski's Pub • The Saucy Swine • TomKen's Bar & Grill


DanDan 360 E. Erie St. | 414-488-8036 dandanmke.com DanDan, whose name is a playful double entendre on the Chinese noodle dish and the restaurant’s owners, "two guys named Dan,” offers a creative menu of Chinese favorites like egg rolls, crab Rangoon or kung pao chicken or tofu—and of course, dandan noodles—along with standouts like mungbean kimchee pancakes or eggplant in chili garlic sauce. There’s a full bar, and takeout or delivery can be ordered online. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Emperor of China • Jing's • Sze Chuan Restaurant COFFEE SHOP

Colectivo Coffee Multiple locations colectivocoffee.com While the Third Ward location is temporarily closed, you can still get your java fix at the other Colectivo locations. As long as the nice weather held out, their outdoor patios offered welcome safe spots to relax. With winter approaching, the handy Colectivo App is convenient for curbside pickup. The local coffee mainstay has been doing their part in maintaining safety throughout the pandemic. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. • Stone Creek Coffee • Valentine Coffee Co. DONUTS

Cranky Al's 6901 W. North Ave. | 414-258-5282 crankyals.com How about a donut? Why not try a local favorite with the Cruller, or perhaps a Long John filled with Bavarian cream or a maple glazed delicacy? Either way, Cranky Al’s has them all and more. They offer the finest donuts in dozens of varieties— including gluten-free and vegan. You might even find a donut served with Nutella, M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces to accompany the

usual chocolate, vanilla, sugar and fruity flavors. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Aggie’s Bakery & Cake Shop • Donut Squad • Grebe's Bakery • Holey Moley Doughnuts & Coffee FAMILY FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

Saz’s State House 5539 W. State St. | 414-453-2410 sazs.com/statehouserestaurant Saz’s State House offers carryout and delivery options so guests can still enjoy the rich offerings on the menu. Besides the entrées featuring the award-winning baby back ribs (served with their signature sauce, as well as house-made slaw or mac and cheese) and barbecue wings, clients can order half or full rack ribs a la carte to complement other dishes. Other favorites include cheese curds, burgers, Tex-Mex and a large variety of cocktails. (JeanGabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Landmark Family Restaurant • Ma Fischer's • Papa Luigi's Pizza FARM TO TABLE/GOURMET

Odd Duck 2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-763-5881 oddduckrestaurant.com Since 2012, the creative minds behind Odd Duck have been turning out beautiful, brilliant, small-plate dishes. Their menu showcases locally sourced items from Wisconsin farms, allowing for the freshest foods, passing through the fewest hands, before being served to Odd Duck’s lucky diners. This focus on freshness also plays into the inventiveness of the menu depending on which items are available seasonally. After eight years of happy customers, it seems Odd Duck has found the right ingredients for success. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP—FARM TO TABLE: • Braise Restaurant • Parkside 23 • Story Hill BKC • Wild Roots Restaurant

RUNNERS-UP—GOURMET: • Ardent • Lake Park Bistro • Sanford FISH FRY

Kegel's Inn 5901 W. National Ave. | 414-257-9999 kegelsinn.com Kegel’s Inn is a remnant of old Milwaukee in West Allis—a German restaurant with authentic Old World charm, many Bavarian dishes and a fish fry with many options (baked included). Kegel’s “Classic Fish Fry” includes five pieces of lightly battered, golden brown cod with two slices of hearty rye bread, homemade coleslaw and a choice of soup. French fries and mashed potatoes are the standard sides, but Kegel’s also offers some unusual alternatives: potato pancakes, red cabbage or spaetzle. It’s available for carryout on Fridays. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Packing House • Papa Luigi's Pizza • The Saucy Swine FRENCH RESTAURANT

Le Rêve Patisserie and Café 7610 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa 414-778-3333 | lerevecafe.com Part of the charm of Wauwatosa village comes from the diverse, delicious fare available in places like Le Rêve, where French food, wine and pastries are served in generous portions. Besides old favorites like Filet Mignon or French onion soup, Le Rêve serves mussels, charcuterie, vegetarian options and savory crêpes with Coquilles SaintJacques, duck confit or mushrooms and vegetables. Le Rêve added catering and a food truck to their offerings. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Fauntleroy MKE • Lake Park Bistro • Pastiche Brown Deer

JANUARY 2021 | 35



Lakefront Brewery 1872 N. Commerce St. | 414-372-8800 lakefrontbrewery.com There are few things that Wisconsinites universally hold dearly more than the cheese curd—except maybe beer and fish fry. Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall has it all, including a great fish fry whose selections include Eastside Dark-battered cod prepared in one of Lakeside Brewery’s distinctive hometown craft beers. Skip the fries and go straight for the potato pancakes or German potato salad the side. And don’t forget those cheese curds! (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Camino • Cousins Subs • Culver's • Miller Time Pub & Grill FROZEN YOGURT SHOP

Yo Mama Multiple locations yomamagoodness.com Yo Mama’s rotating flavors of the day keep customers coming back to create their own dish. Their self-serve option gives the customer full control over their frozen yogurt, and they only have to pay for how much their creation weighs. Yo Mama also offers the option to order online, bringing customers’ orders right to their cars. You can keep your fridge stocked with Yo Mama’s flavors by ordering pints of frozen yogurt for only $3. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • Daddy Yo's Frozen Yogurt • Yo Factory • YoFresh Yogurt Cafe GELATO SHOP

Glorioso’s Market 1011 E. Brady St. | 414-272-0540 gloriosos.com Glorioso’s house-made creamy gelato, a frozen dessert of Italian origin made with a base of milk and sugar, is crafted from an authentic Italian recipe and made with fresh ingredients. Flavors change weekly; call ahead for current varieties. Glorioso’s


gelato is available by the pint, pound or even by the tub for larger gatherings. At press time, Glorioso’s was open for in-person shopping and offered curbside pick-up and local delivery. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cold Spoons Gelato • Divino Gelato Cafe Ltd • Fazio's Chocolate GERMAN RESTAURANT

Mader’s Restaurant 1041 N. Old World Third Street 414-271-3377 | madersrestaurant.com Remarkably, even after the closing of some prominent venues in the last several decades, Milwaukee is still home to many German restaurants. Of them, Mader’s (founded in 1902) remains almost legendary for its Teutonic ambiance, Downtown location and its menu of traditional German favorites in food as well as beer. Mader’s ample dining space meets COVID safety guidelines. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Bavarian Bierhaus • Jack Pandl’s Whitefish Bay Inn • Kegel’s Inn • Wegner’s St Martins Inn GLUTEN-FREE/ FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

Lazy Susan 2378 S. Howell Ave. | 414-988-7086 lazysusanmke.com Lazy Susan boasts on its website that “special dietary requests are always welcomed, just as if you were going home to dinner.” Gluten free, vegan or keto—they can do it all. At press time, the restaurant was temporarily closed to in-house dining but offered a menu of weekly pre-order dinners. Recent gluten free choices starred boar mole stew or Chicken of the Woods enchiladas, each served with imaginative gluten free sides. Friday featured the Ye Old Lazy Susan Fish Fry. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Beerline Café • Café Manna • Celesta


Oakland Gyros Multiple locations One of Milwaukee's favorite counter-service restaurants expanded beyond the UWMilwaukee neighborhood into the city’s South Side, keeping the name at both locations. Oakland Gyros offers gyros and shish-kabob sandwiches, spinach pie, Greek salads and even plain old cheeseburgers. The leg of lamb combo (the priciest menu item) features a large piece of tender, flavorful meat in a brown sauce, served with warm pita, black olives, feta and choice of fries or salad. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Apollo Café • Cosmos Café • Gyro Palace HOT DOG

The Vanguard 2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-539-3593 vanguardbar.com Although Vanguard has closed its dine-in area, it hasn’t stopped them from adding more delicious items to their menu. Their new menu items include more ways to order their house-made sausages, like the schnitzel wurst and the sartorelli, helping eaters find new ways to enjoy the basic hot dog. Vanguard’s diverse menu allows meat eaters, vegans and vegetarians alike to enjoy a wide selection of sausages. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Dogg Haus • Martino's Italian Beef and Hot Dogs • Portillo's Hot Dogs HOTEL RESTAURANT

Mason Street Grill (The Pfister Hotel) 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. | 414-298-3131 masonstreetgrill.com Located in the historic Pfister Hotel, the Mason Street Grill offers dine-in, takeout, curbside, patio dining and a Christmas dinner carryout. The impressive menu includes steaks, fresh seafood, ribs, pasta— not to mention desserts, handcrafted cocktails and an extensive wine list. All told,

D I N I N G O UT it puts the Mason Street Grill on the short list of destinations to celebrate a special occasion. (Blaine Schultz)


RUNNERS-UP: • Ash (The Iron Horse Hotel) • Café At The Plaza • Tre Rivali

2995 S. Clement Ave. | 414-431-1014 tenutasitalian.com


Cafe India (Bay View) 2201 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-837-6121 cafeindiamke.us Cafe India began as a still-popular counter service location in Walker's Point that drew business for its lunch buffet. A few years ago, a second location was added down the street in Bay View. It is larger with seating for up to 90 people, plus a full bar with a focus on Indian beer and wine. The space was remodeled and includes an outdoor patio with space for smoking hookah as well as dining. The menu can be ordered online for pick-up. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cafe India (Walker’s Point) • India Garden • Maharaja IRISH RESTAURANT

County Clare Irish Inn & Pub 1234 N. Astor St. countyclare-inn.com It doesn’t get any more Irish than the East Side’s County Clare Inn & Pub. Chances are you’ll hear legitimate Irish accents from some of the employees. A staple for traditional Irish music and classic Irish pub fare, Guinness Brewmaster Fergal Murray recognizes County Clare as the best Guinness pint in Wisconsin. Upstairs, there are 29 rooms available for rent for travelers or those looking to get away for the weekend. Sláinte! (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Mo's Irish Pub (Wauwatosa) • Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill • O'Lydia's Bar and Grill

Tenuta's Italian Restaurant Tenuta's traditional Southern Italian food is well prepared, as if made in a kitchen that has held tight to tradition. The presentation, however, is very contemporary. Quality starts with freshness, which brings not only the best flavors from the familiar ingredients, but also the richest colors. Emphasis is on pasta dishes and pizza. An extensive wine list is available. Tenuta’s has become a popular spot for carryout during COVID. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Papa Luigi's Pizza • SALA - Modern Sicilian Dining • That's Amore JAPANESE RESTAURANT

Hungry Sumo 2663 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-595-9656 hungrysumosushibar.com This sushi bar and Asian bistro has a vast menu with choices of starters, soups, salads, teriyaki bowls, sushi and ramen. Entrées include vegan fried rice, green or red curry and Pad see eiw. Donburi (rice bowl dish) offerings include salmon poke and trio don (tuna, salmon and yellowtail). Classic maki (a Japanese dish of sushi and raw vegetables wrapped in seaweed) choices include salmon, tuna, Philly or octopus. There’s also a veggie maki menu. Sushi bar combos allow diners to sample several different items. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Fujiyama • Kawa Ramen and Sushi • Kyoto JEWISH/KOSHER-STYLE RESTAURANT

Benji's Deli Multiple locations benjisdeliandrestaurant.com Benji's corned beef, often hailed as the city’s finest, is one of the many offerings that made the long-running deli famous, but the menu also includes an assortment of herring, borscht, brisket and matzo, as well as plate-dwarfing sandwiches.


D I N I N G O UT For breakfast, Benji's offers unique items like corned beef or lox omelets and their signature dish, Hoppel Poppel, a blend of fried salami, potatoes and eggs. Their menu is available for curbside pickup (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • Ferrantes at the JCC • Jake's Deli North KITCHEN OPEN AFTER 10 P.M.

Ma Fischer's 2214 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-271-7424 mafischers.com An East Side tradition since 1932, you know the pandemic is real when the winner of the late-night kitchen closes at 9 p.m. But the venerable 24-7 go-to is still offering their epic menu. Ma is open for dine-in 7 a.m.-9 p.m. and observing COVID-19 precautions in coordination with the Milwaukee Health Department. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Camino • Goodkind • The Vanguard


Maxie’s 6732 W. Fairview Ave. | 414-292-3969 maxiesmke.com A great cure for the winter “blahs” or just wanting to spice up your palate is a visit to Maxie’s Southern Comfort. Eat your fill of fresh raw oysters, shrimp and grits, jambalaya, fried chicken, and many other perfectly prepared southern favorites. One of the best parts of soul food is the traditional sides like mac and cheese, collard greens and red beans and rice, all of which are top notch at Maxie’s. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP— LOUISIANA-SOUTHERN: • Belli’s Bistro & Spirits • Crawdaddy's on Greenfield • Nino’s Southern Sides RUNNERS-UP—SOUL FOOD: • Arlanderz Soul Food • Daddy’s Soul Food & Grille • Tandem MEDITERRANEAN/MIDDLE EASTERN



Multiple locations


The lunch buffet was the signature feature for many longtime devotees of Casablanca but that—of course—is suspended until the pandemic has passed. Nowadays, the flagship Brady Street location opens for carryout at 11 a.m. and dinner at 4 p.m. The menu includes favorite dishes of the Near East/Eastern Mediterranean such as kifta and kabob (beef and chicken) and many vegetarian items including couscous, tabbouleh, hummus, baba ganoush and falafel. (David Luhrssen)

222 E. Erie St. | 414-885-2611 chardmke.com The food is prepared in the airy and cozy Third Ward dining space of Char’d— authentic Korean food “re-interpreted” by Korean chef Yosub Yoon. Many entries on the menu can be surprising, such as tofu stew and KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) wings. Kimchi, ssam sauce and grilled meat are staples of the menu, often accompanied with vegetables such as radish. Open for takeout and no contact delivery. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Merge • Seoul Restaurant • Stone Bowl Grill


RUNNERS-UP—MEDITERRANEAN: • Mistral • Pita Palace Mediterranean Cuisine • Shawarma House RUNNERS-UP—MIDDLE EASTERN: • Damascus Gate Restaurant • Holy Land Grocery & Bakery • Shahrazad Persian / Middle Eastern Cuisine


Café Corazón Multiple locations corazonmilwaukee.com Corazón translates to “heart” and it’s with heart that runs the gamut when describing this Mexican café. With locations in Riverwest, Mequon and Bay View, Café Corazón’s owners, George and Wendy Mireles, are on a mission to support local farmers. That produce is the heart of each dish prepared at the café. The atmosphere, service and thoughtfulness during the pandemic are all done with heart to heal our community. Café Corazón caters to all and has glutenfree, vegetarian and vegan options like the vegan tofu scrambler with soy chorizo, vegan enchiladas, burrito or taco plate. (Alisa Malavenda)

RUNNERS-UP—MEXICAN: • Botanas Mexican Restaurant II • Botanas Restaurant • Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant RUNNERS-UP—BURRITO • El Beso Mexican Restaurante & Cantina • Guanajuato Mexican Restaurant • Luna's Mexican Restaurant • Tavos Signature Cuisine RUNNERS-UP—TACO: • BelAir Cantina (Wauwatosa) • The Laughing Taco • Mazorca Tacos • Tavos Signature Cuisine



Egg & Flour Bayview

Pizza Man

2273 S. Howell Ave. | 414-885-0204 greateffingpasta.com

Multiple locations pizzamanwi.com

It just great effing pasta! Egg & Flour’s second location in the heart of Bay View (the first is at the Crossroads Collective food hall) has gone the extra mile to open its doors. All of the pasta is homemade, as well as the sauces and il condimento. The pasta has so much integrity and tradition that you get a sense that every Italian nonna is in the kitchen whispering in the ear of chef and owner Adam Pawlak. You can feel it with every toothsome al dente bite that is just the right thickness, firm but no chalky and cooked perfectly. (Alisa Malavenda)

Our older readers certainly miss the original Pizza Man at its Oakland and North location, a historic building lost to a fire. But the business emerged from the ashes like a proverbial phoenix since reopening on Downer Avenue in 2013 and expanding in the following years to Wauwatosa, Mequon and Oak Creek. The Downer location has the original bar, salvaged from the debris, and more importantly, much of the old menu. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • Pete’s Pub • Twisted Plants OUTDOOR DINING

Barnacle Bud’s 1955 S. Hilbert St. 414-481-9974 barnacle-buds.com Barnacle Bud’s is hidden among old warehouses and grain elevators and is filled with nautical charm. The main draw is a large wooden deck overlooking the Kinnickinnic River. The small menu sticks to sandwiches, salads, a few entrées, jumbo crab cakes, good soups and seafood pastas. The menu offers casual fare— mainly sandwiches and a few seafood baskets. The Friday fish fry features catfish, smelt, cod and grouper. Indoors, you will find a table with all of the fixings for a customized, do-it-yourself Bloody Mary. This is one of Milwaukee’s best summer spots. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bass Bay Brewhouse • Sandra’s on the Park • South Shore Terrace Kitchen & Beer Garden

RUNNERS-UP: • Fixture Pizza Pub • Jet's Pizza • Tenuta's Italian Restaurant PIZZERIA-THIN CRUST

Zaffiro’s Pizza & Bar 1724 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-289-8776 zaffirospizza.com Fans of traditional Milwaukee-style pizza will tell you Zaffiro’s is the place to go for that perfect cracker thin crust. Since 1954, the Zaffiro family has continued to own and operate this East Side landmark, serving generations of Milwaukeeans some of the best pizza in town. While some may have encountered Zaffiro’s pizza in a Marcus Cinema, you owe yourself a visit to the original location for a truly authentic experience. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • Balistreri's Italian-American Ristorante • Papa Luigi's Pizza • Pizza Man PIZZERIA-WOOD-FIRED OVEN

Santino’s Little Italy 352 E. Stewart St. | 414-897-7367 santinoslittleitaly.com Sophia Loren is usually behind the bar— not filling wine glasses but on the big screen in colorful scenes from Italy via vintage movies. The music, purring at conversation level, suggests that same mid-century era. The long bar-dining room is dark and comfortable as a womb but


D I N I N G O UT also suggests something theatrical—the perfect setting for a restaurant that refines Italian classics to a high level and offers a distinctive approach to pizza. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. • San Giorgio Pizzeria Napoletana • Wy’east Pizza PLACE TO EAT ALONE

Beerline Café 2076 N. Commerce St. | 414-265-5644 beerlinecafe.com Currently offering take-out only, this vegetarian café specializes in unique sweet and savory crepe creations, paninistyle sandwiches, soups, salads, healthy smoothies and fresh juices. Tucked away on Commerce Street, the location is perfect for a stroll along the Riverwalk. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • George Webb Restaurant • Lucky Ginger • Pete's Pub RAMEN

Red Light Ramen 1749 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-837-5107 redlightramen.com Returning champ, the subterranean Red Light Ramen grew from a pop-up by the good folks at Ardent into a legitimate destination. The traditional ramen offerings are complemented by sake, slushie cocktails, fusion appetizers and desserts. But it will be some time before you can experience this unique, cozy spot as all orders are currently for pickup or delivery. Friday and Saturday only, try the Red Light Chirashi Box made with sushi rice, fish, shellfish, vegetables and pickles. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Hungry Sumo • Kawa Ramen and Sushi • Tanpopo Ramen & Sushi Restaurant


The Packing House 900 E. Layton Ave. | 414-483-5054 packinghousemke.com Chinese restaurants are the usual destination for many of us on December 25, but Milwaukee’s long-running Packing House nudged out the competition in this year’s Best of. The supper club menu is delightfully mid-century (plus a few vegan, gluten-free additions) with steaks, chops, seafood, baskets of onion rings and French onion soup. Stick around for Lent and watch the traffic back up for blocks for the drive-through fish fry. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • East Garden Chinese Restaurant • Emperor of China • Fortune Restaurant RESTAURANT SERVICE

Sanford 1547 N. Jackson St. | 414-276-9608 sanfordrestaurant.com Founded in 1989 by Chef Sandy D’Amato and his wife Angie, the restaurant changed hands in 2012 when the couple sold it to longtime Chef de Cuisine Justin Aprahamian and his wife Sarah, also a longtime employee. So, service has always been at the top of the menu since its inception—and all in the family. With innovative cuisine and a stellar staff, the Aprahamians continue to score high marks with Sanford’s loyal customer following. There’s no place like home, especially at Sanford. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • Ardent • Papa Luigi's Pizza • Tavos Signature Cuisine RESTAURANT WITH A VIEW

Harbor House 550 N. Harbor Drive | 414-395-4900 bartolottas.com/harbor-house When you’re looking for a restaurant with a view in Milwaukee, it’s got to have a view of the stunning Lake Michigan, extra points if you’ve got a view of our beautiful Art


Museum, too. The Harbor House happens to achieve just that and serves food that is just as wonderful as the view. Always fresh, delicious and expertly prepared oysters, crab cakes, lobster, other seafood and steaks never fail to impress first-time diners as well as longtime Harbor House patrons. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bass Bay Brewhouse • Lake Park Bistro • VIEW MKE ROMANTIC RESTAURANT

Lake Park Bistro 3133 E. Newberry Blvd. | 414-962-6300 bartolottas.com/lake-park-bistro For those who eagerly await an intimate dinner with stunning views, your wish is now granted. The Bistro is back, open that is (as of December 9). The visual setting is iconic: a restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan with its rustic French interiors and menu that reflects just the same. Executive Chef Adam Siegel and his staff have won numerous awards, so it’s the place for special celebrations or just a meal for a twosome. Cozy, comfortable— and obviously, very romantic. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Pasta Tree Restaurant & Wine Bar • SALA - Modern Sicilian Dining • Sanford Restaurant SANDWICH

West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe 6832 W. Becher St. | 414-543-4230 westallischeese.com West Allis Cheese & Sausage is many things all rolled into one. It started as a retail store but added an eat-in café that’s part coffee shop, brunch spot, bar, sandwich shop and place for the community to gather. It wears all those hats effortlessly—and yes, the sandwiches are tasty and freshly made. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • Boo Boo's Sandwich Shop • The Saucy Swine


St. Paul Fish Co. Multiple locations stpaulfish.com St. Paul Fish Company brings New England ambiance to our Third Coast with a maritime theme, a retail fresh seafood case and prepared dishes. The dine-in and carryout menu features oyster shooters, shrimp cocktail, peel-and-eat shrimp, steamed clams or grilled fish dinners of ahi tuna, pan-fried catfish, tilapia, red grouper, Alaskan halibut and more. Choose from sandwiches such as Jamaican jerk swordfish, catfish po’boy, grilled tuna steak or lake perch (upon availability). Fish fry, Baja fish tacos, soups and salads round out the menu. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Barnacle Bud's • Harbor House • Third Coast Provisions SOUPS

The Soup Market Multiple locations soupmarket.com Yes, it is officially soup season. Twelve years in and The Soup Market boasts five locations. For Dave Jurena and Tim Talsky’s original Bay View location, 20 gallons a day was a big day. Today, 200 gallons is a walk in the park. A revolving soup menu (the Vegan Carrot Ginger is fantastic!) is enhanced by a selection of sandwiches and salads. Don’t forget a drink. Haley & Annabelle’s Vanilla Root Beer is made by Dave’s daughters and himself, and proceeds go towards paying their future college expenses. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS UP: • Soup Bros • Soup Otzie's • Cafe Zupas STEAKHOUSE/SUPPER CLUB

Five O’Clock Steakhouse 2416 W. State St. | 414-342-3553 fiveoclocksteakhouse.com Five O’Clock Steakhouse has been serving the finest steaks and cocktails in this supper-club style of dining since 1946. No wonder they have been the Shepherd Express Best of Milwaukee’s first-place restaurant year after year “Best Supper Club” and “Best Steakhouse.” In 2019, the Food Network named it the best place for steak in Milwaukee. The steaks are cooked on high heat so even the rarest orders


D I N I N G O UT develop a phenomenal char that seals in the juices, then topped with butter sautéed mushrooms. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP—STEAKHOUSE: • Carnevor • Mason Street Grill • The Packing House RUNNERS-UP—SUPPER CLUB: • Bass Bay Brewhouse • Joey Gerard's - A Bartolotta Supper Club • The Packing House • Sandra’s on the Park STREET FOOD VENDOR

Milk Can Hamburgers S73W16770 W. Janesville Road, Muskego (and multiple locations) milkcanfoodtruck.com You won’t want to miss where Milk Can Hamburgers’ food truck will be next. Beyond their Muskego location, Milk Can ventures around Wisconsin to serve classic comfort food that customers rave about. You can find out if the food truck will be at a location near you on Milk Can’s Facebook page. It’s constantly updated to their loyal fans who crave another famous Milk Can burger. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • Foxfire Food Truck • Mazorca Tacos • Meat on the Street SUB SANDWICH

Cousins Subs Multiple locations | cousinssubs.com Along with Suburpia, Cousins was the local chain that introduced submarine sandwiches to the city of brats and cheese back in the ’70s—and they didn’t have a hard time convincing people that a sub makes a good meal on the go. One of Cousins’ secrets came down to the sandwich’s foundation and was summed up in their slogan: “Better Bread, Better Subs.” (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Chocolate Factory • Goldcoast Subs • Suburpia




Screaming Tuna Sushi & Asian Bistro

La Merenda

Multiple Locations screamingtuna.com This is traditional sushi and Asian with a twist. So, let’s call it Japanese fusion with dishes like Crab Chipotle Wontons, Sake Maki, Ninja Pig and Thai Vengeance. For those meat eaters in the group, there plenty of steak and pork belly, as well as gluten-free dishes. As a Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch partner, the restaurants provide a menu composed of sustainably sourced seafood. Great food with a social conscience. (Harry Cherkinian)

RUNNERS-UP: • Hungry Sumo • Kawa Ramen and Sushi • Kyoto • Rice N Roll Bistro TAKEOUT/CURBSIDE PICKUP

Papa Luigi’s Pizza 3475 E. Layton Ave. 414-483-6111 papaluigiscudahy.com The star of the show here is pizza; it’s Milwaukee style, meaning a crackerthin crust cut into squares. Toppings are generously applied. Edge pieces are crunchy, while middles are easily foldable to prevent flopping. You can create your own pizza (including unusual toppings like broccoli, shrimp and pepperoncini), or try a specialty pizza in sizes from eight to 16 inches. Chicken Parmigiana, seafood with crab and shrimp and chicken alfredo are just some of the options. If you can’t decide, stick with the Papa’s Special Pizza, topped with the MKE favorite combo of sausage, mushrooms and onions. (Lacey Muszynski)

RUNNERS-UP: • Allie Boy’s Bagelry & Luncheonette • The Saucy Swine • Sticky Rice

125 E. National Ave. | 414-389-0125 lamerenda125.com Even on a slow night, La Merenda was always busy—and woe to you if you wandered in without a reservation. La Merenda took the lead in small plate dining for Milwaukee when it opened in 2007, and its seasonal array of meat and vegetarian tapas—globally oriented but locally sourced whenever possible—is still being served indoors with partitions and separations firmly in place. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Balzac • Movida at Hotel Madrid • Odd Duck THAI RESTAURANT

Thai-namite Multiple Locations thai-namite.com Whether you’re on the East Side, in Wauwatosa or at the Public Market, Thai-namite offers excellent options for a modern take on Thai favorites like curries and noodle dishes, as well as Japanese sushi and maki, and Asian-influenced chef specialties. While all of their Thai dishes are excellent, their fresh rolls are truly wonderful—petite rolls, stuffed with fried egg and tofu instead of meat, served with an extra-crunchy peanut sauce. Delicious! (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • EE-Sane Thai-Lao Cuisine • Lucky Ginger • Singha Thai Restaurant • Thai-namite VEGAN-FRIENDLY RESTAURANT

Twisted Plants 4905 S. Packard Ave. | 414-800-4005 twistedplants.com Cudahy has always been synonymous with bacon, due to the scent of pork products occasionally wafting through the air from the city’s namesake meat packing plant. But the South Shore suburb’s hot new

restaurant, Twisted Plants, exclusively serves vegan fare. They’ve done a steady carryout business since opening in May. The dining room will open at a later time. Twisted Plants puts vegan twists on comfort foods, with names inspired from movies. The burgers are quality plantbased patties such as Beyond Meat, topped with house-made sauces. (Sheila Julson)


Beans & Barley 1901 E. North Ave. | 414-278-7878 beansandbarley.com Beans and Barley began as a small health food store in 1973, and since then, the café-deli-market has become a go-to place for reliably consistent, healthy, vegetarian-friendly fare. The menu has changed little over the years, and that’s a good thing; if you haven’t

stopped in for a while, long-time favorites like the T.L.T. (tempeh, lettuce and tomato), tuna salad sandwiches and vegetarian chili are still there, welcoming you like old friends. Order online for curbside pick-up. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Beerline Café • Café Manna • Twisted Plants VIETNAMESE RESTAURANT

Hue Vietnamese Restaurant Multiple locations huerestaurants.com Phò (traditional noodle soup), spring rolls, curries, noodle dishes, Vietnamese pan-fried crepes are among the choices that keep customers returning to Hue in Bay View and Tosa. Their food truck was ubiquitous at Summer events around town as well. And sure, Milwaukee is home to the weekly fish fry, but Hue’s Vietnamese Fish Fry is a delightful twist on a classic. Turmeric-marinated, beer-

battered swai is served with garlic fried rice, Asian slaw and Thai basil aioli. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Lucky Ginger • Pho Viet • Vientiane Noodle Shop WINE LIST

Balzac 1716 N. Arlington Place | 414-7550099 balzacwinebar.com The preferred beverage at Balzac is wine, although the beer list is not bad, either. The menu enhances the winedrinking experience with thoughtful cheese plates and a myriad of smallplate courses. Regulars have learned to trust that whatever the warm staff brings will be perfect for their palates and pocketbooks. It’s an ideal spot for any kind of conversation. The décor is simple and handsome. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cooper’s Hawk Winery & Restaurant • Story Hill BKC • Thief Wine Shop & Bar JANUARY 2021 | 43






Rocket Baby Bakery

Bunzel’s Meat Market

Indulgence Chocolatiers

6822 W. North Ave., Wauwatosa 414-502-7323 | rocketbabybakery.com

9015 W. Burleigh St. | 414-873-7960 bunzels.com

Multiple locations indulgencechocolatiers.com.

The vivid exterior of their North Avenue location offers little clue of what’s inside. The interior has the classic feel of an early 20th-century bakery with tile floors, marble counters and wooden ceilings. The front window includes a display of European-style bread baked on-site. The bakery also serves as a café and offers locally roasted Anodyne coffee. Choose from croissants, scones or a cookie for a snack. Currently open for curbside or delivery only. (David Luhrssen)

Bunzel’s is a Milwaukee institution and family owned for four generations. Beautiful cuts of beef, pork and chicken will tempt you every time you are in front of their well-stocked case. The knowledgeable, friendly butchers are always willing to answer questions and offer solid suggestions. Milwaukee is a place where people truly appreciate a good brat. If you’re looking for some of the very best the city has to offer, go to Bunzel’s and stock up before your next cookout. You’ll never go back to frozen grocery store brats again. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

Offering artisan chocolates and confections such as truffles, toffee, ice cream and chocolate bars, Indulgence is a paradise for those with sweet tooths. Owned and operated by chocolatier Julie Waterman since 2007, Indulgence has three brick-and-mortar locations— Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighborhood, East Tosa, and Shorewood—as well as an online store. Indulgence’s products are also sold at grocery and other stores in Wisconsin and the upper Midwest. (Catherine Jozwik)

RUNNERS-UP—BUTCHER SHOP: • Becher Meats • Kettle Range Meat Company • Ray's Butcher Shoppe

RUNNERS-UP: • Burke Candy • Tabal Chocolate • Ultimate Confections

RUNNERS-UP: • Aggie's Bakery & Cake Shop • Grebe's Bakery • Jen's Sweet Treats BEER SELECTION/ LIQUOR STORE/WINE SELECTION

Discount Liquor Inc. Multiple locations discountliquorinc.com A family owned business since 1960, Discount Liquor’s longevity is attributed to customer service, consistently low prices and lots of variety. There are 1,500 import, craft and domestic beers available and more than 8,000 wines, including from countries such as Serbia, Greece, Moldova, Uruguay and Slovenia. More than 3,500 varieties of spirits from both national and local distillers line the shelves. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP—BEER SELECTION: • Avenue Wine & Liquor Inc. • Otto's Wine & Spirits • Ray's Wine & Spirits RUNNERS-UP—LIQUOR STORE: • Avenue Wine & Liquor Inc. • Bert's Beer & Liquor • Otto's Wine and Spirits • Ray's Wine & Spirits RUNNERS-UP—WINE SELECTION: • Nonfiction Natural Wines • Ray's Wine & Spirits • Thief Wine Shop & Bar


RUNNERS-UP—MEAT SELECTION: • Becher Meats • Kettle Range Meat Company • Ray's Butcher Shoppe CHEESE SELECTION

West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe 6832 W. Beecher St. | 414-543-4230 westallischeese.com West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe is the go-to place for Wisconsin cheese. Most enticing are its amazing selections from Sartori Cheese and Carr Valley Cheese, two of the top cheesemakers in the state. But the store also offers some offbeat, addictive cheeses. You can also find a wide array of cheese from outside of Wisconsin, as well as curds and spreads. The Shoppe also has a booth at the Milwaukee Public Market. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Glorioso's Italian Market • Sendik's Food Market • Wisconsin Cheese Mart


West Allis Farmers Market 6501 W. National Ave., West Allis Since 1919, the West Allis Farmers Market has been a foundation of the community, serving as a lively, festive marketplace connecting urban residents with rural farmers selling vegetables, fruit, flowers, honey, maple syrup and artisan foods. For many years before the boom in farmers markets in the Milwaukee area, it was one of the few places aside from roadside stands to find produce fresh from the fields. (Sheila Julson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Fondy Farmers Market • Greenfield Farmers Market • South Shore Farmers Market GROCERY—ALL PURPOSE

Woodman's Food Market Multiple locations woodmans-food.com What began as John Woodman’s humble produce stand in Janesville in 1919 has expanded to 18 stores—each of them averaging 230,000 square feet—throughout Wisconsin and Illinois. In 1998, Phil Woodman, grandson of John, sold the majority of the company to his employees. Besides reasonably priced groceries,

LO C ALLY- OW N E D R ETAI L FOO D Woodman’s stores include liquor departments, gas stations and oil change centers. The company also offers online shopping, curbside pickup and delivery services. (Catherine Jozwik)


RUNNERS-UP: • Metcalfe's Market • Outpost Natural Foods • Sendik's Food Market

1030 N. Old World Third St. 414-276-9100 usinger.com


Glorioso's Italian Market 1011 E. Brady St. | 414-272-0540 gloriosos.com Glorioso’s house-made creamy gelato, a frozen dessert of Italian origin made with a base of milk and sugar, is crafted from an authentic Italian recipe and made with fresh ingredients. Flavors change weekly; call ahead for current varieties. Glorioso’s gelato is available by the pint, pound or even by the tub for larger gatherings. At press time, Glorioso’s was open for in-person shopping and offered curbside pickup and local delivery. (Sheila Julson)

Usinger's Famous Sausage

Fewer companies have a longer or more illustrious history in Milwaukee than Usinger’s Famous Sausage. Founded by Frederick Usinger in 1880, it is still family owned and operated by Usinger’s great-grandson Fritz at its historic Downtown location. Usinger’s boasts a truly impressive selection of sausages, deli meats, hams, bacon, brats and more. Usinger’s also offers holiday gift boxes and ships items to every state except Alaska and Hawaii. (Catherine Jozwik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bunzel's Meat Market • G. Groppi Food Market • Ray's Butcher Shoppe

RUNNERS-UP—ETHNIC: • Cermak Fresh Market • El Rey • G. Groppi Food Market • Parthenon Foods European Market RUNNERS-UP—GOURMET: • 5ive Seasons Farm • G. Groppi Food Market • Sendik’s Food Market RUNNERS-UP—TAKEOUT DELI: • Beans & Barley • Benji's Deli • Bunzel’s Meat Market GROCERY—ORGANIC

Outpost Natural Foods Multiple locations outpost.coop Founded at the start of the ’70s, Milwaukee's longestrunning natural food co-op helped introduce the city to the concept of healthy eating! Not surprisingly, they responded proactively to the onset of COVID-19. Outpost is a good place to look for organic, seasonable produce, as well as a fantastic array of wholesome packaged goods hard to find elsewhere. You don’t have to be a member to shop at Outpost. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Fresh Thyme Market • Good Harvest Market • Whole Foods Market JANUARY 2021 | 47



West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe 6832 W. Becher St. | 414-543-4230 westallischeese.com West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shoppe is the go-to place for Wisconsin cheese. Most enticing are its amazing selections from Sartori Cheese and Carr Valley Cheese, two of the top cheesemakers in the state. But the store also offers some offbeat, addictive cheeses. You can also find a wide array of cheese from outside of Wisconsin, as well as curds and spreads. The Shoppe also has a booth at the Milwaukee Public Market. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Clock Shadow Creamery • Widmer's Cheese Cellars BACON

Nueske's Applewood Smoked Meat 203 N. Genesee St., Wittenberg 800-382-2266 | nueskemeats.com Nueske’s Applewood Bacon is a tasty delight. It appears on restaurant menus all around town, paired with breakfasts, burgers, bloody marys, and even as a topping on doughnuts. Nueske’s really stands out because they use a lean cut that is slowly smoked over applewood, resulting in an incredibly flavorful, meaty bacon that crisps up to perfection when cooked. Next time you’re looking to elevate your bacon experience, seek out the Nueske’s! (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bunzel's Meat Market • Ray’s Butcher Shoppe • Usinger's Famous Sausage BRATWURST/SAUSAGE

Usinger's Famous Sausage 1030 N. Old World Third St. usinger.com No summer barbecue, tailgate or really any Wisconsin gathering would be complete without brats or sausages. Luckily, here in Milwaukee, we have one of the best and longest-running purveyors of these meats. Unsinger’s has been family


owned since 1880 and still operates in the same location as their original store. Following the family recipes all these years has meant that the brats and sausages we enjoy today from Usinger’s are of the same quality craftsmanship generations of Milwaukeeans have loved. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP—BRATWURST: • Bunzel's Meat Market • Kettle Range Meat Company • Klement's Sausage Co., Inc. RUNNERS-UP—SAUSAGE: • Bunzel's Meat Market • Glorioso's Italian Market • Kettle Range Meat Company CHEESE CURDS

Clock Shadow Creamery 138 W. Bruce St. | 414-273-9711 clockshadowcreamery.com Named for its proximity to the AllenBradley Clock Tower, this business was the first urban cheese factory in Wisconsin. While emphasizing environmental sustainability, owner Bob Wills makes the art of cheesemaking—and the art of savoring its results—an accessible experience for folks far from the dairy farm. The cheese is made fresh daily. Curds come in a variety of flavors, and their quark and chèvre are sure to appeal to a gourmet palate. (Anastasia Skliarova)

RUNNERS-UP: • Henning's Wisconsin Cheese • Pine River Dairy Inc • Widmer's Cheese Cellars CRAFT BEER

Lakefront Brewery 1872 N. Commerce St. | 414-372-8800 lakefrontbrewery.com Lakefront is a brew pub with a brewery tour, a great place for a fish fry and a polka band in normal times and a prime producer of craft beer. The roster includes organic, gluten-free varieties made with local ingredients. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Eagle Park Brewing • MobCraft Beer Brewery and Taproom • Third Space Brewing


Aggie's Bakery & Cake Shop 7328 W. Greenfield Ave., West Allis 414-482-1288 | aggiesbakery.com Aggie’s was always a pleasant place to stop for a cup of coffee and something sweet in the heart of downtown West Allis. But the main deal has always been Aggie’s delicious array of cakes and cupcakes. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Classy Girl Cupcakes • CupKate • Jen's Sweet Treats DISTILLED SPIRITS

Great Lakes Distillery & Tasting Room 616 W. Virginia St. | 414-431-8683 greatlakesdistillery.com Great Lakes was the first distillery in Wisconsin since Prohibition, and a tasting room was soon added. Great Lakes Distillery creates vodka, gin, rum, whiskey, absinthe, brandy and various liqueurs. Their 90-proof Roaring Dan’s Rum boasts a subtle maple flavor, and the Rehorst Vodka includes citrus and honey versions made with real fruit and local honey. (Jean-Gabriel Fernandez)

RUNNERS-UP: • Central Standard Craft Distillery • Eagle Park Brewing & Distilling • Twisted Path Distillery FROZEN PIZZA

Palermo’s 3301 W. Canal St. | 414-643-0919 palermospizza.com Frozen pizza was once dominated by a handful of national companies, but as in many other areas, Milwaukee fought back. One of several locally owned pizzamakers, family owned Palermo’s has several spinoff brands, including the tasty Screamin’ Sicilian. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cedar Teeth • Emil's Pizza Inc • Jack's • Lotzza Motzza


Knights Gourmet Popcorn 4435 W. Forest Home Ave. 414-541-0012 knightsgourmetpopcorn.com Popping the corn since 1952, Knights produces bags of the tasty stuff in a variety of flavors and have added cholesterol free and low sodium varieties. A tin of Knight’s makes a perfect gift—a great snack while watching Netflix. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Goody Gourmets • Lush Popcorn • Pop's Kettle Corn HARD CIDER

Lost Valley Cider Co 408 W. Florida St.

lostvalley.com In recent years, the expansion of the craft cider industry has been a huge boon to those who prefer cider over other types of adult beverages. Lost Valley Cider Company has fully embraced this trend. They offer a growing list of ciders that they make themselves and have also curated an excellent cider list from all around the world. Whether you are a cider lover or are just interested in giving cider a try, head to Lost Valley for a sampling flight of their draft ciders. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

cranberries and cherries. In the end, the quality craftsmanship really stands out when you sit back and enjoy a nice cold root beer, orange soda or any one of Sprecher’s delicious sodas. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • Dang That's Good Beverages • Dead Bird Brewing • Jolly Good Soda TEA

Rishi Tea 185 S. 33rd Court | 414-747-4001 rishi-tea.com Rishi Tea shares organic and directtrade teas ranging from green loose leaf, botanical loose leaf and cold-brew sachets to chai concentrates. In 1997, founder Joshua Kaiser wanted to bring organic teas from remote locations around the world to Milwaukee. Beyond tea, Rishi Tea also has a selection of teaware and recipes that can turn matcha tea power into matcha oreos. (Morton Shlabotnik)

RUNNERS-UP: • Fava Tea Company • Swaye Tea • Tippecanoe Herbs and Apothecary

RUNNERS-UP: • Cache Cider • Ciderboys • Island Orchard Cider SODA

Sprecher Brewing Co. 701 W. Glendale Ave. | 414-964-7837 sprecherbrewery.com While Sprecher Brewing may have made a name for themselves based on their craft beers, their craft sodas are every bit as special. Made with care using a fire-brewing system, their sodas are naturally caffeine- and gluten-free. Sprecher sodas use locally produced ingredients, like Wisconsin honey,

JANUARY 2021 | 49



Evan Christian The term virtuoso shouldn’t be used lightly, but in the case of guitarist Evan Christian, it is well deserved. While he can demonstrate immense technical style while playing plugged in, Christian also has the capability to emote soulful, heartfelt tones when playing acoustically, merging blues, soul and folk together seamlessly. A lengthy discography and back catalog of written works have cemented Christian’s legacy as one of the most skilled musicians in the city. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Jake Williams • Keith Pulvermacher • Myles Wangerin ALT-COUNTRY/BLUEGRASS BAND

The Whiskeybelles whiskeybelles.com

With big personalities and traditional country charm, The Whiskeybelles have become a staple of the Milwaukee country music scene for several years, including previous Best of Milwaukee Awards. Beyond their stage presence, however, lies a sound rooted in old-school country, with a uniquely Milwaukee flavor to it. The trio of Chrissy Dzioba Clobes, Kimmy Unger, and Sara Moilanen play expertly off of one another

with a hee-haw flare that can entertain generations of country fans. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP—ALT COUNTRY: • Chicken Wire Empire • Rebel Grace • Road Crew RUNNERS-UP—BLUEGRASS BAND • Chicken Wire Empire • Sawdust Symphony • The MilBillies BLUES BAND

Robert Allen Jr. robertallenjr.com

With several accolades already to his name, Robert Allen Jr. shows why he is one of Wisconsin’s stars within the world of blues every time he touches the stage. With a passion for a genre of music that requires emotional investment, Allen Jr. and his band are stellar, with an energy that the guitar slinger brings not only to his instrument, but his songwriting and vocals as well. The Robert Allen Jr. Band continues to regularly play out, consistently providing listeners with an entertaining experience. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Altered Five Blues Band • Blind Fiction • Tweed


DJ Shawna

djshawna.com DJ Shawna lives by the motto to “dare to be,” and that comes across not only in her open-format DJ sessions, but in the success she’s seen as a live performer throughout the city. A former collegiate basketball standout at the University of Wisconsin, Shawna has taken her talents off the court to becoming the official DJ of the Milwaukee Bucks, as well as standout events like the NCAA Women’s Final Four. There’s no telling where DJ Shawna will turn up next. (Allen Halas)


Cherry Pie A longtime fixture of Milwaukee’s many festivals, hair metal tribute band Cherry Pie generally gets to make thousands of heads bang every summer. With a repertoire that includes covers of everyone from Def Leppard to Guns N’ Roses, including namesake band Warrant, there’s an undeniable fun atmosphere whenever the tribute act takes the stage. If you crave the nostalgia of ’80s hair metal, Cherry Pie delivers that, from authenticsounding covers to the look and feel of their live shows. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP—COVER-TRIBUTE BAND: • Clove • Failure to Launch • FM RODEO • Smart Mouth RUNNERS-UP—ROCK BAND: • Almighty Vinyl • Betsy Ade & the Well-Known Strangers • Fightin' Bob ELECTRONIC ARTIST

Immortal Girlfriend Synthwave act Immortal Girlfriend continues to take Milwaukee and the world by storm. The brotherly duo of Will and Kevin Bush have made their name with a sound that evokes images of a cool, latenight drive along the city’s lakefront, which

M I LWAU K E E M US I C you fittingly hear on their 2020 EP, Ride. With dark, brooding textures and an everconsistent thump to their beats, Immortal Girlfriend create tracks that feel like they could score the most futuristic of video games and movies. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • 0pticBox • Guerrilla Ghost • Immortal Girlfriend • Moonbow FOLK BAND

Chicken Wire Empire chickenwireempire.com

Chicken Wire Empire offer a distinctly Midwestern take on modern bluegrass, bringing a down-home approach to music not generally associated with their geographic area. Incorporating elements of Americana and country, the band has a twang that is inescapable and has catapulted them from regional performances to overseas tours and festival bookings, deservedly so. Chicken Wire Empire continue to make music that stomps, howls and plucks its way to your heartstrings, and that is truly something special. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Frogwater • Nickel & Rose • Thriftones JAZZ COMBO

We Six Attempting to encapsulate the wide range of jazz’s many subgenres is no easy task, but local ensemble We Six have demonstrate that they are more than capable of doing those styles of music justice with their diverse individual skill sets. Whether performing original material or standards that have been passed on for generations, the Milwaukee Jazz Institute musicians find ways to give their music personality, creating an identity for themselves as a group. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cosmic Endeavors • J. Ryan Trio • No Seatbelts



beatallica.org The what-if mixture of The Beatles and Metallica have been thrashing along with a little help from their friends for nearly two decades. In that time, they’ve toured the world, shared the stage with metal legends and released four albums that blends the two iconic bands together. The combination of songwriting styles into musical parody works extremely well, and that has left Milwaukeeans cheering for years. Beatallica are truly a unique experience for anyone that is a fan of metal. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • American Bandit • Chief • Thrasher MUSIC PRODUCER

Vincent Van Great Before taking over on the microphone as well, SAFS Crew emcee Vincent Van Great was primarily a beatmaker. Now a dual threat, Van Great brings lethal beats to projects for himself as well as others in the circle of artists that he works with. With top notch skill behind the boards and in front of the microphone, Vincent Van Great is a force to be reckoned with in the realm of local hip-hop. (Allen Halas)

facelift but keeps the spirit of its roots alive. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Alpine Blast • Blaskapelle • November Criminals RAP/HIP-HOP ARTIST

Kaylee Crossfire 2020 has seen women rise to the top of hip-hop from a mainstream standpoint; locally, it has been another big year for Kaylee Crossfire. The “Baddie Alert” rapper has gotten plenty of attention off of her radio-friendly single, as well as an appearance on Netflix series “Rhythm and Flow,” where she performed in front of the likes of Cardi B, T.I. and Chance The Rapper. The potential is high for Kaylee Crossfire in the near future. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • D'Aych • Maal Himself • Spaidez

RUNNERS-UP: • 40Mil • ChefboiJc • Moonbow • Renz Young POLKA BAND

The Squeezettes Polka in Milwaukee is not only beloved by the city’s residents but embedded deep within traditional roots. For The Squeezettes, that tradition is not only embraced but expanded upon, working in the standards alongside pop hits from a smattering of decades. The quintet continues to adore audiences throughout the city, injecting an energy within their genre that can only be beneficial if done exactly right. Fortunately, the band’s technical prowess not only gives polka a

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Amanda Huff With a brooding, operatic tone that commands the room from the moment she begins to sing, Amanda Huff is a talent unlike many others locally. She continues to ascend the ranks of Milwaukee’s music scene, both as a solo act and with her altpop collaboration “You Win!!!” alongside producer This Random Machine. Huff’s vocal performances make her a standout amongst her peers, and the sound lends itself to just about any style of music. (Allen Halas) Photo Courtesy of Axe MKE

RUNNERS-UP: • Abby Jeanne • Alexa • Aly Wangerin


Cactus Club 2496 S. Wentworth Ave. 414-897-0663 cactusclubmilwaukee.com


Lex Allen

theofficiallex.com As one of the stars of Milwaukee’s burgeoning R&B scene, Lex Allen has continued to shine with his strong vocal range and dynamic approach to creating music. Whether on heartfelt tracks like “Mama’s Boy” or the liberating anthem “Let Go,” Allen is a combination of personality and performance. There’s a clear influence from the pop and soul greats of the past that transcends into Allen’s vocals, making him a fan favorite and frequent headlining attraction throughout the city. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Adam Fettig • Nick Montag (Smart Mouth) • Tr3y 52 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

Since taking over the booking responsibilities for Cactus Club, owner Kelsey Kaufmann has made important strides to create an inclusive space for all, and that includes all ages as well. After successfully helping alter the restrictions for all-ages concerts, Cactus Club have previously hosted youth showcases and all-ages matinées, as well as made younger acts part of their digital programming. Going into 2021, the venue is one of the best spots to discover Milwaukee’s musical talent for all. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Hangout MKE Cafe & Lounge Co. • The Rave / Eagles Club • X-Ray Arcade ARCADE/GAMING

Up-Down MKE 615 E. Brady St. | 414-585-0880 updownarcadebar.com With two floors of nostalgic gaming on classic arcade games, pinball machines, skee-ball alleys, patio activities and more, Up-Down MKE is a great stop for

group activities, large and small. The craft beer selection and house-made pizza by the slice make it a one-stop shop for a night out. The walls are decked out with memorabilia from the ’80s and ’90s, and all games cost only a quarter to play. It’s no surprise Up-Down MKE is a winner. (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • First and Bowl • The Garcade • Hangout MKE Cafe & Lounge Co. ART STUDIO/CLASSES (NON-BAR)

Find Your Light Art School and Gallery 3701 E. Layton Ave. | 414-759-1253 findyourlightartschool.com The goal of Find Your Light Art School and Gallery is to provide to artists, novice to experienced, the tools needed to grow within a welcoming, positive and inspiring environment. Find Your Light offers group classes, private lessons, a gallery for art produced there and on Sundays for five hours, they hold an open studio where artists can work on projects and share a little knowledge. (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP: • KitscheCoo Unique Gifts & Classes • NEIGHBOR art studio • Vibez Creative Arts Space


Milwaukee County Zoo 10001 W. Bluemound Road 414-771-3040 | milwaukeezoo.org Did you know that the Milwaukee County Zoo is home to the largest group of bonobos in North America? Bonobos also share 98.7% of their DNA with humans, making them—and chimpanzees— the closest living relatives to us. The Milwaukee County Zoo started in 1892 in Washington Park but moved to the 190acre Bluemound Road location in the late 1950s. With special activities going on all year round, it’s easy to find something to do at the zoo. (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • First and Bowl • Milwaukee Art Museum • NorthSouth Club • SafeHouse AXE THROWING BAR

AXE MKE 1924 E. Kenilworth Place 414-488-9340 | axemke.com Looking for a fun activity where you and your friends can throw axes in a controlled environment and drink beer? Look no further! One of the first of its kind in the area, AXE MKE has 12 lanes for up to six people per lane. Groups with reservations get a 90-minute session along with a lesson from an “Axe Master,” while walk-

ins get 60 minutes. Before COVID, guests were encouraged to come sit at the bar, watch some axe throwing and enjoy some local beer, craft cocktails or wine. What a way to blow off some pent-up steam! (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP BAR FOR QUIET CONVERSATION: • Bryant's Cocktail Lounge • Sugar Maple • The Tin Widow

RUNNERS-UP: • Falls Axe • Fling Milwaukee • NorthSouth Club

RUNNERS-UP—COCKTAIL LOUNGE: • Blu at the Pfister Hotel • Bryant's Cocktail Lounge • Lost Whale

At Random

RUNNERS-UP—COCKTAIL KIT: • Lost Whale • The Packing House • Twisted Path Distillery

2501 S. Delaware Ave. | 414-481-8030 atrandommke.com



Some real estate money-grubber wanted to tear it down and build a condo, but fortunately, At Random was saved. Although located on a corner, it’s no mere corner bar. At Random is more like the side room at a Vegas casino circa 1955—there’s Frank and Dino and Sammy, chuckling quietly as they trade quips over luscious tropical and ice cream drinks topped with colored umbrellas. You want beer or wine—you can find it down the street. With COVID, At Random began offering cocktails that customers can assemble and consume at home. With the colder weather, hot cocktails have been all the rage for customers. One huge hit has been “Under the Volcano,” which is made with hot chocolate, Mezcal, nutmeg, cinnamon, hot pepper and vanilla topped with marshmallows. Yummy. (David Luhrssen/ Griffin Bradley)

Landmark Lanes 2220 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-270-8770 landmarklanes.com Landmark Lanes is the East Side’s destination for bowling, arcade games, live music and a bar with drink specials offered daily. The bar’s happy hour is Monday through Thursday from 5-7 p.m., offering $2 pints and rail mixers. While Landmark has had to reduce their capacity to 25%, pausing karaoke and league nights, they have continued to provide an affordable, wide variety of drinks to their customers who have shown unwavering support. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP BAR ON A BUDGET: • The Drunk Uncle • The Newport • Redbar RUNNERS-UP KARAOKE BAR: • Amelia's • The High Note Karaoke Lounge • Nomad World Pub BAR TO BE SEEN IN

Elsa’s on the Park 833 N. Jefferson St. | 414-765-0615 elsas.com With its marble and terrazzo surfaces, Elsa’s classic, never-out-of-fashion look has endured after more than 35 years in the same Downtown location. The menu includes some of the town’s best burgers, the bar serves a potent martini, and walls have seen a changing array of local art. It’s always been busy at night with a

JANUARY 2021 | 53



RUNNERS-UP: • Brewskis • Nettie's Irish Pub - NIP’S • NorthSouth Club • Trailer Park Tavern BAR TO WATCH SOCCER

The Highbury Pub 2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. | 414-294-4400 No matter what club you support, The Highbury Pub in Bay View is an atmosphere that feels inclusive for all soccer fans. With matches from the Premier League and Bundesliga all the way to the Serbian SuperLiga on TV at any given point throughout the day, owner Joe Katz and his staff help transport Milwaukeeans to another part of the world to watch the beautiful game however they please. If you’re looking to roar with your fellow supporters at all hours of the morning, you’d be hard pressed to find a better place to do so. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Moran's Pub • Nomad World Pub • Red Lion Pub BAR WITH A PATIO

Von Trier 2235 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-272-1775 vontriers.com The hue and cry that went up when rumors spread of Von Trier closing—you’d think they were tearing down the Hoan Bridge or removing the dinosaur from the Public Museum! This beloved reminder of Milwaukee’s Germanic past, all dark wood, stained glass and beer steins, is a womblike retreat in the winter months. But come summer, the enclosed backyard is the place to sit at the crossroads of the city’s and watch the crowds go by. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Lost Whale • Nettie's Irish Pub - NIP’S • Nomad World Pub • Station No. 06 • Three Cellars



South Shore Terrace Kitchen & Beer Garden 2900 S. Shore Drive | 414-617-1147 southshoreterrace.com Milwaukee’s Bavarian heritage makes beer gardens a natural fit. Our limited outdoor season means we enjoy them to the fullest. We can boast four permanent beer gardens, a wine and beer garden and a Traveling Beer Garden, which visits 12 Milwaukee County parks each season. As a bonus, when you drink at a beer garden, you're helping to fund future projects in the parks. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Estabrook Beer Garden • Franklin Beer Garden at Croatian Park • Hubbard Park Beer Garden BLOODY MARY

Sobelmans Multiple locations sobelmanspubandgrill.com

as the tour. For those who seek a more immersive experience, Lakefront offers once a week a three-hour, technical tour which allows in-depth educational opportunities with experts and a posttour pairing menu. (Susan Harpt Grimes)

RUNNERS-UP: • Miller Brewery • Milwaukee Brewing Company • Sprecher Brewing Co. CRAFT BEER SELECTION AT A BAR

Sugar Maple 441 E. Lincoln Ave. | 414-509-6035 mysugarmaple.com Milwaukee lager lovers and hop-heads alike will not be surprised by Sugar Maple’s victory in this category. Dozens of tap lines pour a constantly rotating list of craft beer from all over the United States. There are also hard seltzers, wines and even handmade cocktails available, but beer is definitely the reason customers come through the door. One of the best things about the bar, besides

What used to be a simple cocktail with the base of tomato juice and vodka has turned into a pageant where the most exotic sides included in the mug are rewarded. Sobelmans has a long history as one of the best burger bars around and is also home to the original Bloody Mary Bar. Not long after first being offered, their signature Bloodies with cheeseburgers as garnish made national news. Since then, they even offer one Bloody served with a whole fried chicken. (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Café Hollander (Tosa) • Steny's Tavern & Grill • The Wicked Hop BREWERY TOUR

Lakefront Brewery 1872 N. Commerce St. | 414-372-8800 lakefrontbrewery.com Lakefront Brewery provides one of the most fun, yet informative tours in town. Your paid ticket guarantees four sixounce samples, a free souvenir pint glass and a ticket for a free beer from a sizable list of area bars to be used the same day

Photo Courtesy of Sobelmans

diverse crowd locked in conversation and looking for familiar faces. (David Luhrssen)

O UT AN D AB O UT the comedy, music and other events, is the fact they don’t have any televisions inside. (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Brass Tap • The Drunk Uncle • Sugar Maple • WhirlyBall Brookfield DANCE CLUB

Mad Planet 533 E. Center St. | mad-planet.net A Friday Night Retro Dance Party at Mad Planet was one of my firsts tastes of the scene in Riverwest and fond memories of a genuinely fun night out. There’s definitely a mood that brings people back. You’ll catch people from different backgrounds, different generations and suburbs making the trek to let loose and set their worries aside. Depending on the entertainment on nights of shows, that same energy comes out. Would recommend. Do recommend. Will continue to recommend and can’t wait until it’s time to get weird again, the oldfashioned way. (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Jo-Cat’s Pub • LaCage NiteClub • RWB Milwaukee • This is it! ESCAPE ROOM

Escape MKE 3333 N. Mayfair Road | 414-301-7183 escapemke.com Immerse yourself in a world of breaking codes and solving crime at Escape MKE. Players can choose between a selection of missions to take on with their friends, families or coworkers. Employees are dedicated to providing a realistic, entertaining experience, going into character to explain how teams can complete their mission before time runs out. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • City 13- Milwaukee’s Premier Escape Room • Save Milwaukee Escape Rooms • TeamEscape 262


Maxie's 6732 W. Fairview | 414-292-3969 maxiesmke.com Cajun restaurants have come and gone, but Maxie’s keeps chugging along. Over the years, their focus has changed slightly, but their consistency in quality and creative food has not wavered since the day chef Joe Muench opened it in 2007. In recent years, as Southern cooking has become more popular in Wisconsin, there’s been more of an emphasis on Carolina Lowcountry cuisine and barbecue on the menu. The posted happy hour schedule is 4-6 p.m. daily with $1 fresh shucked oysters. (Lacey Muszynski)

RUNNERS-UP: • Mason Street Grill • Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill • Trailer Park Tavern HOOKAH LOUNGE

Casablanca (East Side) 728 E. Brady St. | 414-271-6000 casablancaonbrady.com Forty years ago, in most of the U.S., hookahs were known only to Middle Easterners and druggies. Since then,

the tactile pleasure of holding the longstemmed pipe and drawing smoke through a water bowl has gone mainstream. But still, a restaurant serving Middle Eastern food sets a great atmosphere for the experience of filtered tobaccos in many flavors. Due to the pandemic, hookahs are available only on the patio when weather allows. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Casablanca (Brookfield) • Dream Lab • Oakland Cafe HOTEL LOUNGE

Ash (The Iron Horse Hotel) 500 W. Florida St. | 414-374-4766 theironhorsehotel.com Branded and Ash Hearth and Bar at the Iron Horse Hotel serve pub fare, beer, cocktails and more than 75 bourbon and scotch selections. The outdoor space, The Yard, is open from Memorial Day through October. It offers communal fire pits and cozy lounge furniture, and it is always petfriendly. (Blaine Schultz)

RUNNERS-UP: • Kimpton Journeyman Hotel • Pfister Hotel • Saint Kate—The Arts Hotel

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Café Benelux 346 N. Broadway | 414-501-2500 cafebenelux.com The Third Ward would not be the same without Café Benelux and their extensive beer selection. Benelux emulates the grand cafés of Europe’s Lowlands right in Milwaukee. The café takes their beer selection seriously, hand-picking beers from their yearly visits to Belgium and Holland in order to bring home the best. Café Benelux has recently opened their Lux Domes, private domes that allow customers to enjoy the cafe’s rooftop during the winter. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • The Brass Tap • The Drunk Uncle • Von Trier IRISH PUB

County Clare Irish Inn & Pub 1234 N. Astor St. | countyclare-inn.com It doesn’t get any more Irish than the East Side’s County Clare Inn & Pub. Chances are you’ll hear legitimate Irish accents from some of the employees. A staple for traditional Irish music and classic Irish pub fare, Guinness Brewmaster, Fergal Murray recognizes County Clare as the best Guinness pint in Wisconsin. Upstairs, there are 29 rooms available for rent for travelers or those looking to get away for the weekend. Sláinte! (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Campbell's Irish Pub • Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill • Nettie's Irish Pub - NIP’S JAZZ CLUB

The Jazz Estate 2423 N. Murray Ave. exploretock.com/jazzestate The Jazz Estate has been serving drinks and live music since 1977. Now under new ownership, that same business model is in place. It is perfect spot with everything you would imagine in a jazz club: It’s dark and cozy with a regular stream of local and national acts performing. Obviously,


there’s not much opportunity for live music while they’re adhering to safety measures put in place during the pandemic. While the music is not happening, they’re serving up some pretty serious to-go cocktails! (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Caroline's • the cheel / baaree • Snifters Tapas & Spirits LIVE MUSIC VENUE

Pabst Theater 144 E. Wells St. pabsttheater.org The historic building in Downtown Milwaukee is a legacy of the city’s German cultural heritage and has seen just about every kind of performance since opening in the 1890s. Under its current management, the Pabst has been one of many venues for touring bands that have kept Milwaukee in the music promotions spotlight while also serving as a stage for comedy and the performing arts. (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP: • Cactus Club • Linneman's Riverwest Inn • Saloon on Calhoun with Bacon


Café Corazón Multiple Locations corazonmilwaukee.com The Corazón Margarita started thousands of legendary nights. The simple concoction, now served at three Café Corazón locations, is part of the reason the small restaurant from Riverwest has been around and expanded after all these years. Add the fact that they’re farm-totable and support local farmers through Restaurant Supported Agriculture and you’ve got yourself a regular spot for Mexican food and a guilt-free margarita or two whenever the opportunity knocks. (Tyler Nelson)

RUNNERS-UP: • Blue Bat Kitchen & Tequilaria • Botanas Restaurant • Conejito’s Place MARTINI/ROMANTIC BAR

Blu at the Pfister 424 E. Wisconsin Ave. | 414-273-8222 thepfisterhotel.com It’s an elevator ride to an incomparable view—at least in Milwaukee where, unlike Manhattan, bar windows seldom take in a 23rd floor skyline. Perched atop the

O UT AN D AB O UT Pfister Hotel in the heart of Downtown, Blu has been a lounge where local jazz singers and combos perform. Perhaps the sophisticated audio ambience, plus the view and those potent martinis, equals romance? (David Luhrssen)

RUNNERS-UP—MARTINI: • Don's Grocery & Liquor • Elsa's On the Park • JoJo's Martini Lounge RUNNERS-UP—ROMANTIC BAR: • At Random • Bryant's Cocktail Lounge • Painting with a Twist MICROBREWERY/TAPROOM

Eagle Park Brewing 823 E. Hamilton St. eagleparkbrewing.com Eagle Park Brewing is working its way into becoming a staple on the Lower East Side of Milwaukee. In the taproom, you’ll find a long list of flavorful and hoppy creations, whether you’re a fan of NEIPAs, milkshake IPAs or imperial fruited sours. Grab some suds to-go or stop in and order some food with your brews. The Friday fish fry is the perfect way to enjoy some local beer and kick off the weekend. (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP: • Black Husky Brewing • Indeed Brewing Company & Taproom Milwaukee • Vennture Brew Co MILWAUKEE TOUR

Edelweiss Milwaukee River Cruise Line 205 W. Highland Ave. | 414-276-7447 edelweissboats.com Whether you know the ins and outs of Milwaukee or you’re new to the city, Edelweiss Cruises and Boat Tours are the go-to for public and private cruises. While they provide narrated tours for sightseeing, customers can reserve a tour to celebrate any occasion. Edelweiss has shown a passion for Milwaukee, teaming up with Milwaukee Riverkeeper to collect

trash from bridges downtown to help keep the city’s rivers clean. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • Gothic Milwaukee • Herb Walk (Tippecanoe Herbs) • Historic Milwaukee, Inc. NEW BAR (OPENED IN 2020)

Eagle Park Brewing & Distilling S64 W15640 Commerce Center Parkway, Muskego eagleparkbrewing.com


Painting With a Twist 155 E. Silver Spring Drive | 414-988-5050 paintingwithatwist.com What started as a small business hoping to bring together a community devastated by Hurricane Katrina became so successful that it’s reached 41 states. Painting With a Twist provides an escape from the reality of everyday life. The studio’s step-by-step instruction allows even a beginner to create a work of art. Painters can enjoy wine while they complete their masterpieces. (Quinn Clark)

Banking off the success of their East Side location, Eagle Park Brewing opened their newest branch in Muskego this year, where they’re offering a whole lot more than just their sought-after beer. This location features a tasting room, restaurant, distillery and private event space. Not an easy feat in 2020, but there’s enough space to stay socially distant and you can always take a pack of tall boys or a growler or two to enjoy at home. Definitely worth the drive to Muskego! (Griffin Bradley)

RUNNERS-UP: • Charmbiance Wine Bar & Arts • The Farmhouse Paint Bar & Banquet Hall • Splash Studio

RUNNERS-UP: • The LOKAL Beer Garden • Pete's Pub • UNION HOUSE | Public House & Bakery

Sip and Purr Cat Café serves coffee and pastries that can be enjoyed with the company of adoptable cats, and since its opening in 2018, it has already helped more than 600 cats get adopted. In 2020, COVID-19 forced the small business to


Sip and Purr Café 2021 E. Ivanhoe Place | 414-585-0707


JANUARY 2021 | 57


O UT AN D AB O UT a good neighborhood partner committed to creating a welcome and inclusive environment. Rules include: no sexism, no racism, no ableism, no ageism, no homophobia, no transphobia, no fatphobia, no hatefulness. (Benjamin Dover)

RUNNERS-UP: • Paulie's Pub and Eatery • Saloon on Calhoun with Bacon • Shank Hall SPORTS BAR

The Mecca Sports Bar & Grill 1134 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. 414-908-0401 | themeccamke.com

rethink how it can safely continue to care for the cats and get customers in the door. At the beginning of the pandemic, owner Katy McHugh decided it was best that the 10 cats inside the café remained there. They were cared for a few times daily by staff members. Then, until the café reopened in June, McHugh decided to start doing one-on-one adoptions. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: • Black Husky Brewing • The Highbury Pub • Twisted Path Distillery PLACE FOR FAMILY FUN

Hangout MKE Café & Lounge 1819 N. Farwell Ave. | 414-808-1006 hangoutmke.com Located on the East Side, Hangout MKE Café and Lounge is a place that encourages patrons to turn off their phones and socialize with one another. With a gaming area that encompasses the entire location, there’s plenty to do, including a giant soccer billiards table, 58 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

table tennis, pop-a-shot machines and more. Whether you’re taking someone out for a date night, spending the day with friends or just looking for something new and interesting to do in the city, Hangout MKE is a gem. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • First and Bowl • Little Sprouts Play Cafe • WhirlyBall Brookfield ROCK CLUB

Cactus Club 2496 S. Wentworth Ave. | 414-897-0663 cactusclubmilwaukee.com Music fans of a certain age fondly remember bands playing the Cactus Club and having to duck under the ceilingmounted heating unit. For nearly 25 years, the little-club-that-could has attracted such acts as The White Stripes, Queens of the Stone Age, Interpol and Death Cab for Cutie before they hit big. They also club such legends as The Reigning Sound, Scott Morgan and Brazilian singer-songwriter Sessa. The forward-thinking venue is also

There’s a giant 38-foot television, need we say more? Located in the heart of the Deer District, The Mecca Sports Bar & Grill is a great place to not only watch the Bucks, but also Brewers games, the Packers and just about any major sporting event. If you’re looking to recreate the arena experience, there are fan cams and a rotating ticker board of sports updates to accompany great drinks specials and food. The Mecca Sports Bar & Grill is a massive celebration of all that’s great about sports, all in one convenient location. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • First and Bowl • The Highbury Pub • Moran's Pub STRIP CLUB

Silk Exotic Gentlemen's Club Multiple locations | silkexotic.com Who’da guessed every night at a gentleman’s club would come to look like the Dance of the Seven Veils minus six? The newest location, Silk Exotic on Water—the former home of Art’s Performing Center, for art’s sake— completes a trifecta of local locations here in the city that always sweeps ain’a’? (Benjamin Dover)

RUNNERS-UP: • Encore • Heartbreakers • On the Border


Three Lions Pub 4515 N. Oakland Ave. | 414-763-6992 threelionspub.com Three Lions Pub is Shorewood’s “community living room,” bringing patrons together to enjoy an authentic British experience, from the menu to their emphasis on hospitality. Every Wednesday night at 7 p.m. is Three Lions’ trivia night. Trivia night is so important to the pub that they’ve modified it to be more COVID-19-safe. Even if you’re not well-versed in trivia, if you come up with the best team name you may still win a prize. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP • Campbell's Irish Pub • Mulligans Irish Pub & Grill • Painting with a Twist VIDEO ARCADE

Up-Down MKE 615 E. Brady St. | 414-585-0880 updownarcadebar.com/milwaukee Up-Down MKE has brought back the original arcade games from the ’80s and ’90s, recreating the classic arcade feel. Up-Down’s daily specials offer affordable deals on game tokens, drinks and pizza. The arcade bar has become a birthday favorite, offering 40 free tokens to patrons celebrating their day. Up-Down is bringing back the fanny pack, reloading customers’ Up-Down fanny packs with a pound of tokens for just $20. The arcade’s customer appreciation and wide range of specials has made it a Milwaukee favorite. (Quinn Clark)

RUNNERS-UP: Bounce Milwaukee The Garcade JB's On 41


The Vanguard 2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. 414-539-3593 | vanguardbar.com You may know The Vanguard primarily for their delectable sausage combinations, but the drink selections can be as smoky as you prefer. With a wall of spirits that lines the Bay View bar, chances are there’s just the right whiskey for you. The bar also has their own signature Private Select blend of Maker’s Mark, with the bourbon purists in mind. Straight or neat, be sure to grab yourself a pour to pair with your food, or just to watch vintage WWF Superstars episodes on their TVs. Be somebody at The Vanguard. (Allen Halas)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bass Bay Brewhouse • The Tin Widow • Trailer Park Tavern JANUARY 2021 | 59







Milwaukee Community Acupuncture

Katy Alexander (Legacy Gym MKE)

The Tool Shed

RUNNERS-UP: • Heaven and Earth Acupuncture and Wellness • MKE MindBody Wellness • Orchid Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture

RUNNERS-UP: • Margaux Chandler (Shred415 East Side) • Mira Beaudoin (MKE FIT) • Jorge Valle (Xperience Fitness)


Flying Squirrel Pilates

HoneyBee Sage Wellness & Apothecary RUNNERS-UP: • Lakeside Natural Medicine • MKE MindBody Wellness • Zuza's Way Integrative Care BOUTIQUE FITNESS

Shred415 East Side RUNNERS-UP: • Iron Fist Fitness, LLC • MKE Yoga Social • Peak Physique Personal Training CROSSFIT-STYLE GYM

BrewCity CrossFit RUNNERS-UP: • Orange Theory • Shred415 East Side • Stallis Strong Fitness GYM

Wisconsin Athletic Club RUNNERS-UP: • BrewCity CrossFit • THE GYM WB • Shred415 East Side MASSAGE THERAPIST

MKE MindBody Wellness RUNNERS-UP: • Jay by the Bay Massage and Wellness • Originails Salon and Spa • Alyssa Stabenaw • Shay Vetterman LLC



RUNNERS-UP: • Club Pilates • East Side Pilates • IMX Pilates & Fitness REIKI STUDIO

MKE MindBody Wellness RUNNERS-UP: • Creating Wellness Center • Milwaukee Reiki, LLC • Your Siesta Wellness Center SPA

Well Spa Salon (Pfister Hotel) RUNNERS-UP: • Illume Cosmetic Surgery & MedSpa • Lula Mae Aesthetic Boutique • Originails Salon and Spa YOGA STUDIO

Healium Hot Yoga RUNNERS-UP: • Embody Yoga • MKE Yoga Social • Tosa Yoga Center

RUNNERS-UP: • After Hours Lingerie & Gifts • Bedroom Secrets • City News & Video • Temptations ANTIQUE STORE

Antiques On Pierce RUNNERS-UP: • BC Modern • Clocktower Antiques • Dandy - Midventurous Modern AUTO DEALERSHIP – DOMESTIC

Holz Motors RUNNERS-UP: • Ewald's Venus Ford • Lake Ford • Soerens Ford, Inc. AUTO DEALERSHIP – IMPORT

Schlossmann Honda City RUNNERS-UP: • Andrew Toyota • David Hobbs Honda • Reina International Auto AUTO DEALERSHIP – PREOWNED

David Hobbs Honda RUNNERS-UP: • All Star Honda • Ewald's Venus Ford • Lake Auto Group BIKE SHOP

Wheel & Sprocket RUNNERS-UP: • Emerys Cycling, Triathlon & Fitness • ERIK'S - Bike Board Ski • South Shore Cyclery



Boswell Book Company

Beard MKE

RUNNERS-UP: • Downtown Books Bought & Sold • Half Price Books • Voyageur Book Shop

RUNNERS-UP: • Haus of Oge • MILWORKS • Yellow Wood



Sparrow Boutique Gift

Sparrow Boutique Gift

RUNNERS-UP: • Haus of Oge • JazzyRae' Jewels and Accessories • Yellow Wood

RUNNERS-UP: • Haus of Oge • SHOP • Yellow Wood




Collector's Edge Comics South

RUNNERS-UP: • Cabela's • Sherper's • Yellow Wood CARPET/FINE RUGS

RUNNERS-UP: • Collector's Edge Comics North • Lions Tooth • Lost World of Wonders

Shabahang and Sons Persian Carpets (Milwaukee)


RUNNERS-UP: • Carpetland USA West Allis • Kerns Carpet One • Shabahang Rug Gallery, Persian and Oriental Carpets (Waukesha)

RUNNERS-UP: • Bronze Optical • Metro Eye • Warby Parker


The Waxwing

Knuckleheads CBD & Vapes RUNNERS-UP: • Beyond Full Spectrum • Canni Hemp Co • Kind Oasis • TerraSol CBD Dispensary CLOTHING - CHILDREN'S

Sparrow Collective RUNNERS-UP: • BlackBear Children's Boutique • Little Monsters • Raising Good

Be Spectacled


RUNNERS-UP: • Beard MKE • The Bronzeville Collective MKE • J. Riley • Ramie and Co FINE JEWELRY STORE

MKB Jewelry RUNNERS-UP: • Gold'n Treasures Ltd • The Jewelry Center • Tobin Jewelers Inc

JANUARY 2021 | 61






Knuckleheads CBD & Vapes

Bark N Scratch Outpost

RUNNERS-UP: • Alfa Flower & Wedding Shop • Belle Fiori, Ltd. • Flowers for Dreams

RUNNERS-UP: • Blue on Greenfield • Pipe Dreams LLC • Smokin’ Glass Franklin

RUNNERS-UP: • Bentley's Pet Stuff • Mac's PET DEPOT Barkery • Pet Supplies Plus




BILTRITE FurnitureLeather-Mattresses

BBC Lighting

The Exclusive Company

RUNNERS-UP: • Elektra Lights & Fans • Ferguson Bath, Kitchen & Lighting Gallery • LUCE Lighting & Design, LLC.

RUNNERS-UP: • Acme Records • Record Head • Rush-Mor Ltd Music & Video


Stan's Fit for Your Feet

RUNNERS-UP: • Colder’s Furniture, Appliances, and Mattresses • Matthew Gramling Woodworks • Penny Mustard Furnishings • Steinhafels • Warren Barnett Interiors FURNITURE – RESTORED

Cream City Restoration RUNNERS-UP: • Brew City Salvage • Greg’s Refinishing • Mid Century Meow GARDEN CENTER

Plant Land RUNNERS-UP: • Bayside Garden Center • Minor's Garden Center, Inc. • Stein's Garden & Home GIFT SHOP

The Waxwing RUNNERS-UP: • Beard MKE • KitscheCoo Unique Gifts & Classes • Sparrow Collective HARDWARE STORE

Bliffert Hardware RUNNERS-UP: • Elliott Ace Hardware • Greg's True Value • Village Ace Hardware


Verlo Mattress of Greenfield RUNNERS-UP: • BILTRITE FurnitureLeather-Mattresses • IKEA • Steinhafels MOTORCYCLE DEALERSHIP

House of Harley-Davidson RUNNERS-UP: • Sportland 2 Inc • Suburban Motors Harley-Davidson • Wisconsin Harley-Davidson MUSICAL INSTRUMENT STORE

Cream City Music RUNNERS-UP: • Brass Bell Music Store • Dave's Guitar Shop • Wade's Guitar Shop NEW RETAIL STORE (OPENED IN (2020)

Sparrow Boutique Gift RUNNERS-UP: • Clocktower Antiques • The Glass Pantry • Kind Oasis


RUNNERS-UP: • DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse • Shoo Inc • Yellow Wood TOBACCO SHOP

Knuckleheads CBD & Vapes RUNNERS-UP: • Pipe Dreams LLC • Tobacco World LTD • Uhle Tobacco Company VAPE SHOP

Knuckleheads CBD & Vapes RUNNERS-UP: • Erth Dispensary • Kind Oasis • Pipe Dreams LLC VINTAGE/THRIFT STORE

Goodwill Store & Donation Center RUNNERS-UP: • BC Modern • Plume • Value Village






Racinowski Design Studio

Design Group Three

RUNNERS-UP: • Design Group Three • Logic Design & Architecture, Inc. • RINKA

RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • Design Tech Remodeling • Refined Renovations

Hamburger Mary's Milwaukee



Design Group Three RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • Design Tech Remodeling • Sazama Design Build Remodel LLC BATHROOM REMODELER

Refined Renovations RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • Design Group Three • Design Tech Remodeling LANDSCAPER/LAWN MAINTENANCE

RUNNERS-UP: • D.I.X. • LaCage NiteClub • This is it! LGBTQ ADVOCATE

Michael Damian RUNNERS-UP: • Elle Halo • Jinx Oge • Luke Olson

Design Group Three

Bluemel's Garden & Landscape Center


RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • Design Tech Remodeling • Refined Renovations • The Tile Kings

RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • Flagstone Landscape Design • Goodland Property Services

RUNNERS-UP: • Courage Gala • I Matter Ball • March With Pride For Black Lives


Closet Concepts

Joe DeBelak Plumbing & Heating Co Inc

RUNNERS-UP: • California Closets • COR Improvements • Design Group Three

RUNNERS-UP: • Borth-Wilson Plumbing • Schoofs Plumbing Co Inc • Viking Plumbing



Roman Electric, Plumbing, Heating & Cooling RUNNERS-UP: • Current Electric Co • KWK Electric Inc • Simons Electrical Systems HOME BUILDER

Milwaukee PrideFest


Allrite Home & Remodeling RUNNERS-UP: • Community Roofing & Restoration • Rob's Roofing LLC • Weather Tight Corporation WINDOW & SIDING

Bielinski Homes

Lisbon Storm, Screen & Door

RUNNERS-UP: • C. Y. Tri-County Construction LLC • John Sauermilch Jr Gen Contractor • Lakeside Development Co

RUNNERS-UP: • Abby Windows • Allrite Home & Remodeling • Weather Tight Corporation

JANUARY 2021 | 63





epic MedSpa

Be Spectacled

Eddie Morales, DDS

RUNNERS-UP: • Illume Cosmetic Surgery & MedSpa • Originails Salon and Spa • Susan Schmidt Skincare Savant

RUNNERS-UP: • Knight Vision & Glaucoma • Metro Eye • Milwaukee Eye Care

RUNNERS-UP: • Cynthia T. Jarzembinski, DDS • Dale A. Newman DDS, SC • Dental Associates




Serenity Inns Inc.

Horizon Home Care & Hospice

Wisconsin Orthopedic Physical Therapy

RUNNERS-UP: • Ability GROUP, lLC • Comfort Keepers Home Care • Hearts To Home Senior Home Care

RUNNERS-UP: • Evolv Physical Therapy & Performance • Geromove Physical Therapy • INVIVO

Chiropractic Company Greenfield



Froedtert Hospital

Integrative Psyche

RUNNERS-UP: • Alive Chiropractic • Strive Chiropractic • Shorewood Family Chiropractic

RUNNERS-UP: • Children's Hospital Of Wisconsin • ProHealth Waukesha Memorial Hospital • West Allis Memorial Hospital

RUNNERS-UP • A Deeper Well Counseling • Carlyle H. Chan, MD • Milwaukee Counselor


Thrive Holistic Medicine

RUNNERS-UP: • Dewey Center • Meta House • Rogers Behavioral Health CHIROPRACTOR


Eastside Dental RUNNERS-UP: • Dental Associates • Modern Touch Dental-Whitefish • Stephanie Murphy DDS COSMETIC SURGEON

Lorelle L. Kramer, MD RUNNERS-UP: • Christopher Hussussian, MD • Mark Blake, MD • Thomas G. Korkos, MD DENTIST

Dental Associates RUNNERS-UP: • The Dentists South Shore • Shorewood Dental LLC • Stephanie Murphy DDS


Milwaukee Eye Care RUNNERS-UP: • DeCarlo Eye Center • The LASIK Vision Institute • LasikPlus ORTHODONTIST

Bell Orthodontic Solutions RUNNERS-UP • Barden Orthodontics • Dental Associates • Holzhauer, Hewett & Barta Orthodontics


RUNNERS-UP: • Envision ADHD • Muslim Community and Health Center • Thrive Massage & Wellness WOMEN'S MEDICAL SERVICES

Planned Parenthood Milwaukee-Water Street Health Center RUNNERS-UP: • Ascension Columbia St. Mary's Hospital Milwaukee • Aurora West Allis Medical Center • Moreland OB-GYN Associates, S.C.






Shorewest Realtors


RUNNERS-UP: • Corcoran Realty & Co. • Founders 3 Real Estate Services • Keller Williams Realty

RUNNERS-UP: • Gut'em Good Interiors • Kwik Finish Colors Autobody • Mander Collision & Glass

Kimpton Journeyman Hotel



Sharon Tomlinson (Shorewest)


RUNNERS-UP: • Autumn Peach (Shorewest) • Caitlin Dennis (Shorewest) • Dee Renee Harper (Shorewest)

RUNNERS-UP: • Creative Detailing • Sir Waxer • Waukesha Wolf Detailing



My Dwelling RUNNERS-UP: • Bielinski Management • Founders 3 Real Estate Services • Mandel Group


Brett's Auto Repair RUNNERS-UP: • Manyo Motors • Pope Auto Worx • Riverside Automotive Service BANK

Associated Bank RUNNERS-UP: • BMO Harris Bank • Chase Bank • North Shore Bank



Nelson Tax Accounting Ltd

County Clare Irish Inn & Pub

RUNNERS-UP: • Acc-U-Rite Tax & Financial Services • CLA (CliftonLarsonAllen) • Hawkins Ash CPAs


RUNNERS-UP: • The Muse Gallery Guesthouse • The Stagecoach Inn Bed and Breakfast • Washington House

Wisconsin Humane Society Milwaukee Campus


RUNNERS-UP: • Humane Animal Welfare Society HAWS of Waukesha County • JR'S Pups N Stuff • Milwaukee Area Domestic Animal Control Commission

RUNNERS-UP: • Avant-Garde • Golden Crystal Body Piercing • Pewaukee Tattoo Parlour

Atomic Tattoos LLC

RUNNERS-UP: • Dubbel Dutch Hotel • The Iron Horse Hotel • Saint Kate - The Arts Hotel CATERER

Bunzel's Meat Market RUNNERS-UP: • Double B's BBQ Restaurant & Timbers MKE Style BBQ Food Truck • Over the Moon Bartending • Tall Guy and a Grill Catering COLLEGE / UNIVERSITY

University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee RUNNERS-UP: • Carroll University • Concordia University • Marquette University • Milwaukee Area Technical College CREDIT UNION

Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Landmark Credit Union • Summit Credit Union • UW Credit Union DOGGY DAY CARE/BOARDING

Bay View Bark RUNNERS-UP: • Central Bark (Wauwatosa) • Playtime Doggy Daycare II • Spa Paw & Tail FINANCIAL INSTITUTION FOR GETTING A BUSINESS LOAN

Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Guardian Credit Union • Spring Bank • Summit Credit Union

JANUARY 2021 | 65



Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Landmark Credit Union • Summit Credit Union • Wisconsin Mortgage Corporation FINANCIAL INSTITUTION FOR OPENING A CHECKING ACCOUNT

Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Bank First • Summit Credit Union • UW Credit Union FINANCIAL INSTITUTION PROVIDING BEST CUSTOMER SERVICE

Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Bank First • Summit Credit Union • UW Credit Union FINANCIAL PLANNER/STOCKBROKER

Educators Credit Union RUNNERS-UP: • Financial Solutions • Northwestern Mutual • Summit Credit Union GREEN BUSINESS

The Glass Pantry RUNNERS-UP: • Fresh Coast Guardians • Green Up Solutions • Recycle Technologies Inc HAIR REMOVAL

High Brow Boutique RUNNERS-UP: • Arch Apothecary • District 108 Salon & Spa • Originails Salon and Spa



Beard MKE

Karp & Iancu, S.C.

RUNNERS-UP: • District 108 Salon & Spa • Groom for Men • Stag Barbershop

RUNNERS-UP: • Debra Riedel Law Offices • Fox, O'Neill & Shannon, S.C. • Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP



District 108 Salon & Spa

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP

RUNNERS-UP: • The Establishment Salon • Marie & Ebe Salon • Well Spa + Salon HOTEL ROOMS

The Pfister Hotel RUNNERS-UP: • The Iron Horse Hotel • Kimpton Journeyman Hotel • Saint Kate - The Arts Hotel LAW FIRM – BANKRUPTCY

Debt Advisors Law Offices Milwaukee RUNNERS-UP: • Bankruptcy Law Office of Richard A. Check S. C. • Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP • Miller & Miller Law, LLC LAW FIRM – BUSINESS

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP RUNNERS-UP: • Fox, O'Neill & Shannon, S.C. • Glaser Business Law • Littler Mendelson P.C. LAW FIRM - CRIMINAL DEFENSE

Jones Law Firm LLC RUNNERS-UP: • Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP • Jacob Manian • John Schiro


RUNNERS-UP: • Angermeier & Rogers, LLP • Fox, O'Neill & Shannon, S.C. • Wessels & Liebau LAW FIRM - FAMILY LAW

Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP RUNNERS-UP: • Debra Riedel Law Offices • Fox, O'Neill & Shannon, S.C. • MacGillis Wiemer, LLC LAW FIRM - FULL SERVICE

Groth Law Firm, S.C. RUNNERS-UP: • Fox O'Neill & Shannon • Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP • Halling & Cayo LAW FIRM - PERSONAL INJURY

Groth Law Firm, S.C. RUNNERS-UP: • Cannon & Dunphy S.C. • Gimbel, Reilly, Guerin & Brown, LLP • Hupy and Abraham, S.C. PET GROOMING/SERVICES

Embark Pet Spa RUNNERS-UP: • Fancy Pants Pet Salon • The Feed Bag Pet Supply • SideKick Dog Training






Eric Ellis

Landmark Lanes

Moorland Road Golf Center

RUNNERS-UP: • Amaya Marie Photography • Eric Ellis • Glenda Mitchell of GM.CREATIVE • Jamie Robarge Photography

RUNNERS-UP: • Bay View Bowl • JB's On 41 • South Shore Bowl • WhirlyBall Brookfield

RUNNERS-UP: • Nine Below • Prairieville Park • Swing Time Germantown



Nail Bar Milwaukee

Milwaukee Lakefront Marathon

Urban Ecology Center

RUNNERS-UP: • Lovely Salon and Spa • Originails Salon and Spa • Well Spa + Salon RIDE SERVICE

Milwaukee County Transit System RUNNERS-UP: • Go Riteway Transportation Group • Reds Party Bus LLC • Uber TATTOO PARLOR

Walker's Point Tattoo Co. RUNNERS-UP: • Cornerstone Tattoo • Ghost Light Tattoo Parlor • Rockstar Tattoo & Co. VETERINARIAN

Community Veterinary Clinic RUNNERS-UP: • Bayshore Veterinary Clinic • Greenfield Veterinary Clinic • Spirit Of 76 Veterinary Clinic WEDDING VENUE

The Ivy House RUNNERS-UP: • The Gage • The Pfister Hotel • Story Hill FireHouse

RUNNERS-UP: • Milwaukee Beer Run 5k & .05k • Scenic Shore 150 (Leukemia & Lymphomy Society) • Tough Mudder FAVORITE BREWERS PLAYER

Christian Yelich RUNNERS-UP: • Brent Suter • Lorenzo Cain • Ryan Braun FAVORITE BUCKS PLAYER

Giannis Antetokounmpo RUNNERS-UP: • Brooke Lopez • Khris Middleton • Pat Connaughton FAVORITE PACKERS PLAYER

Aaron Rodgers RUNNERS-UP: • Davante Adams • David Bakhtiari • Jaire Alexander GOLF COURSE

Grant Park RUNNERS-UP: • Broadlands Golf Club • Oakwood Park Golf Course • Whistling Straits Golf Course


RUNNERS-UP: • Brew City Kayak - Milwaukee Kayak Rentals and Tours • Milwaukee Kayak Company • Wheel Fun Rentals ROCK CLIMBING VENUE

Adventure Rock RUNNERS-UP: • Bounce Milwaukee • Turner Hall Climbing Gym • Urban Ecology Center


10 Milwaukee Area Arts Centers

WITH A NEIGHBORHOOD FOCUS By Harry Cherkinian, David L uhrssen and Kevin L ynch


outheast Wisconsin can claim several visual and performing arts centers that stand apart as destinations for residents from across the state and northern Illinois. But Milwaukee and adjacent counties are also home to many active centers with a more local, even neighborhood focus. All are worth keeping an eye on for programming that adds color to greater Milwaukee’s cultural tapestry.

Arts @ L arge

1100 S. Fifth St. | artsatlargeinc.org In 2019, Arts @ Large raised its profile by opening a gallery-studio-class space and café in a rehabbed historic Walker’s Point building. The organization offers programs specifically tailored to local schools that incorporate experiential learning through arts activities. More than 20% of students in Arts @ Large’s programs have special needs; the majority of kids touched by the programs are faced with poverty and are non-white. Last spring, Black Box Fund and Arts @ Large will distribute 6,000 free “My Art Bag” kits to children in underserved areas of Milwaukee. Arts @ Large Café is open for counter or curbside pickup.

Cedarburg Cultural Center

W62 N546 Washington Ave. cedarburgculturalcenter.org Take a stroll down the main avenue in historic downtown Cedarburg and you’ll find the Cedarburg Cultural Center, a crossroads for arts and entertainment. For over 35 years, the CCC has provided a free gallery with frequently changing exhibits, surrounding performance space, which features music, theater, comedy


and educational presentations. And then, the Age of Pandemic showed up. “The CCC has been innovating to stay current during this unprecedented time,” says Kathy Lanser, talking for the CCC “We offered a safely distanced outdoor concert series to support a diverse line-up of local bands all summer with guaranteed small-capacity events.” Right now, art exhibits are virtual, explains Lanser. So, here’s a way to safely visit the CCC and take in some art.

Inspiration Studios 1500 S. 73rd St. inspirationstudiosgallery.com

Housed in a rehabbed, historic West Allis building, Inspiration Studios includes an art gallery and performance space. The gallery recently mounted an exhibition by West Allis folk artist Ronni Shmauz and the performance hall has been the site of concerts by a diverse array of Milwaukee

area musicians and dancers. After moving to West Allis from Wauwatosa, the long-running Village Playhouse theater became an anchor tenant. The Playhouse’s Elizabeth Havican recently called Inspiration Studios’ owner Erico Ortiz “amazing” for “working with us through this difficult time.”

Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts 926 E. Center St. jazzgallerycenterforarts.org

The Jazz Gallery Center for the Arts strives to build “community through opportunities to create, present, and experience the visual and performing arts in an open, collaborative environment,” explains director Mark Lawson. The center boasts a fairly new, inviting website and a redesigned logo, which now adorns a large black sign over the entrance. Honoring its


namesake venue, a community-oriented jazz night club, the JGCA still embraces jazz alongside hip-hop, experimental and indie-folk music, as well as the visual arts. The center is raising funds for an 18-track recording system for “sharing of recordings” at the venue, through streaming and perhaps a recording catalog.

L atino Arts

1028 S. Ninth St. | latinoartsinc.org Ensconced in a gallery and auditorium within the sprawling United Community Center campus, Latino Arts has hosted performances by touring Latinx musicians and mounted exhibitions of visual art. It’s especially recognized for its annual Dia de los Muertos exhibit, usually featuring installations by local artists and contributions from Mexico’s consulate in Milwaukee. “The vision goes back to Walter Sava,” says UCC Executive Director Laura Gutierrez, referring to her predecessor who guided the facility from 1989 through 2002. “He wanted to make sure that culture was embedded in UCC. Part of our job is to foster creativity!”

Racine Art Museum

441 Main St., Racine | ramart.org RAM holds the largest contemporary craft collection in North America, with more than 9,500 objects from nationally and internationally recognized artists. “RAM collects artists with regional,

national and international reputations in craft media,” explains Bruce Pepich, RAM Executive Director. “[RAM] frequently collects major figures in-depth with multiple pieces representing a span of years in their careers.” Founded in 2003, RAM plays a significant role in arts education in Racine through its Wustum Museum, where it offers community outreach programs, studio art classes and workshops. Currently, there is programming for all second and fifth grade students. Adds Pepich: “Based on the impressive response RAM has received to its entry into virtual programming, RAM expects to maintain a suitable portion of its programs online into the future even when in-person participation becomes possible again.”

Sharon Lynne Wilson Center for the Arts 3270 Mitchell Park Drive, Brookfield wilson-center.com

With its ample parking and purpose-built structure nestled in a 400-acre park, the Wilson Center has given Waukesha County residents an opportunity to witness performances by some of Milwaukee’s top performing arts groups within a short drive from home. The Wilson Center is a hub for arts education and runs Beyond the Classroom programs with area schools. It has also been a venue for national touring acts ranging from

Roseanne Cash and Suzanne Vega to the Kronos Quartet and the Venice Baroque Orchestra. Last summer, that parking lot became the site of drive-through concerts by Milwaukee groups.

Sout h Milwaukee Performing Arts Center

901 15th Ave., South Milwaukee southmilwaukeepac.org SMPAC was founded in 2004 and is designed to serve and work in conjunction with the South Milwaukee School District. Until the pandemic in early 2020, it hosted, managed or produced more than 500 events annually, including an annual Performing Arts Series, student matinées, educational workshops and community outreach events. “Our mission is to provide creative, innovative and diverse performing arts experiences and lifelong learning experiences for people of all ages,” says Rachel M. Sorce, SMPAC Executive Director. “It relates to today's programming in the same sense that it always has, but with an interesting layer due to the pandemic. That layer for us has been flexibility in an unpredictable environment.”

Villa Terrace Decorative Arts Museum

2220 N. Terrace Ave. | villaterrace.org An Italian-style villa on the bluffs overlooking Lake Michigan, Villa Terrace is interesting to visit for its architecture and interior design, and it has been the site of interesting exhibits such as the recent “The Trajectory Series,” which maneuvers within the slippery territory between fine art and science. The onetime residence is available for weddings and other events. In the summer months, Villa Terrace becomes a neighborhood gathering place for its Sunday morning series in the museum’s courtyard, which is dominated by a statue of Mercury, messenger of the gods. Café Sopra Mare features coffee, pastries and live, low-amplitude music in a variety of styles and genres.


Walker’s Point Center for the Arts

839 S. Fifth St. | wpca-milwaukee.org WPCA was founded in 1987 and has been a community resource for more than 30 years, providing a voice and advocacy to underrepresented artists in Milwaukee and the surrounding communities. Its main

gallery hosts seven to eight exhibitions annually, including in-house curated and collaborative shows with local, national and international art groups. In addition, there are a number of free or affordable youth arts education programs. A central part of the WCPA mission is to “prioritize BIPOC and LGBTQ voices” in its work. Art, community, education; that’s Walker’s Point Center for the Arts.

Harry Cherkinian, a longtime Shepherd Express arts critic, has also written for the Chicago Tribune, Milwaukee Journal, Milwaukee Sentinel and The Onion; David Luhrssen is Managing Editor of the Shepherd Express and was the paper’s Arts and Entertainment Editor from 1994-2015; Kevin Lynch was a staff arts reporter for the Capital Times in Madison and has written for the Milwaukee Journal, Down Beat, The Village Voice and New Art Examiner.


This Month in Milwaukee


CACTUS CLUB’S DIGITAL DREAM (SATURDAY NIGHTS ON VIMEO) Cactus Club is continuing regular independent online programming in addition to regular carryout and delivery orders from their Bay View location. Digital Dream is an online streaming series featuring performances from Milwaukee artists on a weekly basis, including concerts on the weekends and REACHout Radio DJ sets on Friday nights. You can support the club on Patreon and get the full schedule of digital programming at cactusclubmilwaukee.com. SUNDAY, JAN. 10 BIRDING WITH POET CHUCK STEBELTON @ LYNDEN SCULPTURE GARDEN The 40-acre park in River Hills, dotted with modern sculptures, is one of Milwaukee’s unique treasures. It’s a wonderful place for a stroll and, with binoculars in hand, a great place to spot the many species of birds who call the garden home. On the second Sunday of each month, Milwaukee poet Chuck Stebelton leads a small group for a socially distanced birdwalk on the Lynden grounds, seeking life in the branches and sky overhead. Dress for the weather and wear sturdy shoes as well as masks. Register at lyndensculpturegarden.org.




NOVELIST NICK PETRIE CONVERSATION SPONSORED BY BOSWELL BOOK CO. The Breaker, Nick Petrie’s latest novel, is packed with local color: It is set in Downtown, the Third Ward, Walker’s Point, Bay View, Silver City and the Rufus King neighborhoods, and it’s peppered with well-known local places such as Colectivo, Anodyne, The Public Market, Milwaukee Makerspace, Speed Queen, Mobcraft Brewing and Bliffert Lumber. It starts with a call to help, when the protagonists spot a rifle-toting baddie heading into the Public Market, but nothing is what it seems. Petrie will discuss The Breaker with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Jim Higgins at 7 p.m.

RIVERWEST RECORDS LIVE: SPARE CHANGE TRIO Spare Change Trio is known largely for their eclectic live performances that incorporate the Australian Yidaki (or didgeridoo) into flowing soundscapes of reggae, funk and jazz-fusion. The band has been a staple of the Milwaukee music community since their inception and have developed a following in the local jam band community. Join the band at 8 p.m. Friday, Jan. 15 for a livestreamed set on Facebook with this edition of Riverwest Records Live.

Record Image by Alexlukin/Getty Images

ACA MUSIC & ENTERTAINMENT’S TUESDAY NIGHT JAZZ Emanating from the North Coast Center for the Arts performance space, ACA Music & Entertainment have been producing regular weekly live streams to keep jazz artists playing during the pandemic. All of the proceeds from the shows benefit the artists. January’s lineup includes Andrew David Weber, Cameron Webb’s Soul & Blues Revue and many more, Tuesdays at 7 p.m. on Facebook. Get full details on ACA Music & Entertainment’s Facebook page.


On Being Here (and There) Installation View

Adolph Vandertie, Untitled

“SUSAN MEISELAS: THROUGH A WOMAN’S LENS” @ MILWAUKEE ART MUSEUM It’s uncertain as we go to press when the Milwaukee Art Museum will physically reopen. But starting virtually in December, the museum mounted an exhibition focused on the early work of veteran photographer Susan Meiselas. Women are her subject. Included here are pictures from her coverage of the 1976 Democratic National Convention, Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolution and shots of “women living and working at the edges of the mainstream” such as mail order brides and carnival strippers. “Through a Woman’s Lens” was conceived in honor of the centenary of the ratification of the right of women to vote in the U.S.

Adolph Vandertie, Untitled

Roseann on the way to Manhattan Beach

On Being Here (and There) Installation View

Lena on the Bally Box


THROUGH SUNDAY, JAN. 17 “GOOD ROAD TO FOLLOW” @ JOHN MICHAEL KOHLER ARTS CENTER David Eberhardt is a Twin Cities photographer and documentary filmmaker who literally spent years riding the rails and documenting the lifestyle of modern-day hobos. “It can become addictive,” says Eberhardt, who took his first cross-country train trip from Minneapolis to Seattle and back while still a student at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. “When you’re living on the edge, everything is heightened and you can feel the adrenaline rushing through your heart and soul. It’s like the Bob Dylan song lyric, ‘When you ain’t got nothin’, you got nothin’ to lose.’ It helped me appreciate life a whole lot more.” Eberhardt chronicled his experiences on film, and 24 of his black-and-white photographs are displayed as “Good Road to Follow,” part of the Kohler Arts’ exhibit “On Being Here (and There).”

College Sorority, Madison, Wisconsin All Photos Courtesy the artist. © Susan Meiselas/Magnum Photos

Photos courtesy of John Michael Kohler Arts Center

JANUARY 2021 | 73



‘Death by Despair’ BY PHILIP CHARD


disturbing feature of our entropic universe is how many things can kill us. Chronic disease, accidents, acute illness (think COVID), old age, poisoning—the list is long and unsettling. However, one widely overlooked threat to life, in terms of both quality and longevity, begins with the psyche, not the body. This condition illustrates the mysterious phenomenon we call “mind over matter.” Patrick proved an unhappy case in point. “I’m a wreck,” he told me at our initial session. “My doc says I’m depressed, so he sent me here.”

The “wreck” underway included abusing alcohol and prescription meds, a sedentary lifestyle, social withdrawal, a junk food diet, obesity, sleep deprivation and heavy smoking. These, in turn, created a growing list of downstream health problems, including metabolic syndrome, hypertension, inflammation, bronchitis and frequent illnesses. However, after thorough vetting, I concluded Patrick was not depressed in the classic sense. Rather, he was experiencing deep despair, a different psychological animal than your standard issue melancholia. What’s more, it can catalyze far more deleterious physical impacts... like death. Patrick was quickly approaching what researchers call “death by despair.” What’s more, he fit the profile of those most susceptible to this mortal threat; which includes roughly one-third of the U.S. adult population. He was middle-aged, white, without a college degree, under-unemployed, battling chronic pain and embedded in a dysfunctional family. While average life span has steadily increased for many socio-economic groups, those like Patrick are experiencing the opposite,

Image by agsandrew/Getty Images

a development that first emerged in the 1990s. A similar trend appeared among African Americans beginning in the 1970s, one that continues today for many of the same reasons. When researchers examined all the variables contributing to despair among these two groups, the single most salient factor was the absence of a college degree.

The Benefit of Hope Now, those of us with that piece of parchment can affirm that, in and of itself, a college diploma does not pave the yellow brick road to happiness. However, because our socio-economic system rewards those with higher education or skilled crafts more than their less educated and untrained counterparts, a degree does provide a crucial psychological benefit—hope. Education and skills open doors to opportunity, which is often a prerequisite for hope.

EDUCATION AND SKILLS OPEN DOORS TO OPPORTUNITY, WHICH IS OFTEN A PREREQUISITE FOR HOPE. Regarding Patrick and those of his ilk, the term despair is derived from the Anglo-French word “despeir,” which translates roughly as “total loss of hope.” Granted, hopeless feelings are common among those with depression. However, the emphasis here is on “total.” All emotions vary in intensity along a continuum from mild to extreme. Despair is extreme. When it sets in, even the faintest glow from hope’s lingering embers goes dark. Researchers believe the potential for developing this condition during middle

age forms earlier, often in one’s late teens and 20s, when people are coming of age and entering a key life-building phase. Deprived of the opportunities enjoyed by their more educated or affluent counterparts, they become increasingly aware that fewer doors are open to them. While not yet despairing, their hope gradually erodes, leaving them feeling left out, marginalized and disrespected. This, in turn, leads to increased abuse of alcohol, poor physical habits, less access to health care and low self-esteem, setting the stage for more serious impacts later in life. While mental health types treat folks like Patrick, that does nothing to address what causes their distress, which is an increasingly rigid class system. Deaths by despair are rising in tandem with increasing income and wealth inequality, as well as decreasing opportunities to build a middle-class lifestyle. It is a socio-economically induced disease. In describing people teetering between life and death, we often reference “the will to live,” which is another term for hope. Often, when that will vanishes, death’s door opens wide. When mind and spirit give up, the body usually follows. This form of self-destruction may culminate in a single act, like suicide, or draw out like Patrick’s version of death by a thousand cuts. Either way, in the absence of hope, the influence of mind over matter becomes ruinous, depriving psyche and spirit of the power to help sustain life. For more, visit philipchard.com. Philip Chard is a psychotherapist and author with a focus on lasting behavior change, emotional healing and adaptation to health challenges. JANUARY 2021 | 75




ost of Illinois’ recreational marijuana dispensaries are bunched up near the Wisconsin state border. This could be chalked up to the proximity to Chicago, but dispensaries like the Mapleglen Care Center in Rockford, Ill., a 20-minute drive from Wisconsin, or even the Sunnyside dispensary in South Beloit, Ill., clearly exist to take advantage of Wisconsinites’ dollars.

When the South Beloit dispensary opened, it was the largest recreational marijuana store in the state, and the strategic location chosen for such a massive venture was a tiny town with less than 8,000 residents. One might think that it was aiming to attract Wisconsin residents: The store is just 1,000 feet south of the state border, a straight shot from Madison through the I-39/90 interstate. According to South Beloit Mayor


Ted Rehl, the dispensary is expected to generate sales tax revenue for the town of up to $700,000 per year after seven years—as long as Wisconsin doesn’t legalize marijuana, Rehl added. His town’s budget now relies on the failure of Wisconsin to enact progressive policies in order to divert revenue away from the Badger State. By refusing reform and allowing dollars to pour out of the state into Illinois and Michigan, both of which legalized adult-use marijuana and are a short drive away, Wisconsin is routinely losing millions of dollars. In September 2020 alone, the Illinois state government reported nearly $18 million in legal marijuana sales to out-of-state customers. Since the beginning of the year, Illinois received more than $100 million from out-of-state marijuana tourists.

Illinois is not alone in that respect: In Michigan, half-a-dozen marijuana dispensaries have cropped up—with several more in the process of opening—in the Upper Peninsula alone. The Upper Peninsula is home to barely 3% of Michigan’s population, but it is a stone’s throw away from the northern Wisconsin border. Dispensaries like Rize U.P. in Iron Mountain, Mich., are located virtually on the state border. The message is clear: “Come on in for legal weed since your state refuses to legalize it.”

THE BUDDING MARIJUANA TOURISM INDUSTRY To be clear, it is a federal crime to bring marijuana over state borders, since cannabis is still federally banned. Which means that, unless we assume that literally millions of Wisconsinites committed federal crimes to legally buy marijuana in a neighboring state then illegally bring it

home, we have to assume that countless people visit legal marijuana states and stay there long enough to enjoy the experience—which means paying for lodging, food and activities on top of the marijuana products themselves. As such, a new category of economic actors appears: marijuana tourists. Marijuana tourism is not a new phenomenon; Amsterdam coffeeshops have been attracting millions of visitors to the Netherlands every year since legal consumption of marijuana became widespread. It is a billion-dollar industry that has been sustaining more than 10% of all jobs in Amsterdam. Within the United States, ever since Colorado and Washington legalized adult-use marijuana, inter-state marijuana tourism has been booming. Marijuana tourists have two main options for lodging. A Wisconsin resident spending a week in Illinois, for instance, can either stay in a private property or in a hotel—but they must keep in mind that marijuana being legal in the eyes of state government does not mean that it is accepted by all private businesses. While eating edibles is discrete and can be done anywhere, smoking marijuana in public is often not allowed, meaning that tourists will need a private space to consume whatever they buy in local dispensaries. “Only private rentals are fully 420-friendly, and they advertise that way,” explains Eric Pine, founder of Green Tripz, a marijuana travel guide that supplies information about weed-friendly hotels, but also adultuse dispensaries and activities—where to stay, buy and enjoy legal pot. Even if a hotel in a legal state does not explicitly allow marijuana, they are likely to tolerate it and look the other way if they have accommodations for cigarette smokers. “Bigger hotels are not really going to advertise that they are weed-friendly. We point people towards the ones that have private balconies in the rooms and smoking rooms for guests. Getting a room with a balcony is the way to go.” “While it’s not a legal issue, the last thing you want is to be stuck in a 100% non-smoking hotel, in a room with no

Left Image by OpenRangeStock/Getty Images


private balcony. Having to go all the way downstairs and outside to find a hidden smoking spot (and break the law by smoking in public) sure takes the fun and enjoyment out of being in a state with legal weed!” Green Tripz clarifies. Green Tripz identifies more than 50 hotels in Illinois and 25 in Michigan that explicitly allow smoking—including large chains like Marriott International and Radisson Blu. Although these larger hotels have refused to comment for this story, they have confirmed that they treat smoking marijuana like smoking tobacco; but it must be consumed in a specific space or in a manner that leaves no scent and is respectful to other guests.

It's akin to wine tourism: Y ou go somewhere to experience activities with a host or a guide who has experience in cannabis

“We are seeing hotels in recreational legal states that have not only smoking areas but specific areas for cannabis consumption. There are some that provide vaporizers to let people smoke on the deck or even inside their rooms,” testifies Sean Roby, founder of Bud and Breakfast, a marijuana-friendly AirBnB-like service. Through this service, he gets a glimpse of the more dedicated marijuana tourists, the sort who are willing to pay extra for private lodging and marijuana-friendly accommodations. “Bud and Breakfast has more than 1,000 hosts, and we get dozens of bookings per day, even with COVID. Our average booking is three nights, and our average price per night is $290; one booking is close to $900. Before COVID, we were tripling our revenue every year, and we’re forecasted for a U-shaped recovery next year,” Roby explains. “We are not really getting the budget travelers. Generally, we get people who are specifically traveling to learn and engage with the cannabis industry, they are not usually worried about funds. They are spending close to $900 per booking on average; when they get there, a lot of them want to experience everything there is.” Naturally, marijuana tourists do not remain cooped up in their hotel room or rental property—although quarantine put a damper on in-person activities for a time— and they do what all tourists do, spending money in the local economy. “It's akin to wine tourism: You go somewhere to experi-

Right Image by viennetta/Getty Images

JANUARY 2021 | 77


A large portion of marijuana tourists is made up of enthusiasts looking to experience recreational pot, but there are other cohorts, as well. Wherever it develops, the legal cannabis industry sprouts indoor and outdoor activities, locations to visit, eateries to enjoy and products to purchase. This, in turn, leads to a significant number of intra-state movement from people seeking to experience everything that their own state has to offer, creating influxes of money towards smaller communities.

Image by Fudio/Getty Images

ence activities with a host or a guide who has experience in cannabis,” says Sean Roby. “They want a top cannabis chef who knows how to microdose meals, they want a CBD-infused massage therapy, they want tours and music and activities and education. In Napa Valley, we have a zipline over a cannabis field. We have sushi and joint rolling classes. We have wine and cannabis pairing… It’s not that taboo anymore; it’s just something that many people are interested in.”

Additionally, there are numerous medical marijuana tourists. “Up to 15% or 20% of our activity is based on medical tourism,” Sean Roby reveals. “If a loved one or yourself is suffering and you know you can go to a neighboring state to get therapy, you are not going to think twice. For instance, a child from Alabama with an autoimmune disease; their parents might bring them to Colorado to get CBD therapy without looking over their shoulder, in a safe and legal environment.” Until Wisconsin chooses to legalize marijuana, marijuana tourists will keep pouring out of our state and into our more progressive neighbors, bringing their money with them. And until the state allows medical marijuana, Wisconsin families will have no choice but to seek therapy away from home. For more information, visit greentripz.com and budandbreakfast.com.

Jean-Gabriel Fernandez is a French journalist and Sorbonne graduate living in Milwaukee. He writes about politics, cannabis and Milwaukee’s rich culture for the Shepherd Express.


Finding the Perfect Sofa




ime for a new couch. Those five words either excite you or agitate you, and both reactions are justified. After all, a new sofa can reinvigorate a room, but the wrong choice can leave you with an expensive and uncomfortable eyesore. The good news is that you don’t have to be a designer to find the ideal sofa. By keeping a few aesthetics in mind, getting a handle on color and learning construction secrets, choosing the right couch is more pleasure than pain.

WHAT’S THE BEST COUCH FOR YOU? Start by asking yourself how the piece will be used. Is this a high-traffic couch for daily TV watching or a formal sofa reserved for entertaining? Next, consider the room décor. If you live in one of 80 | SHEPHERD EXPRESS

By Mark Hagen Milwaukee’s turn-of-the-century homes, you may want a Victorian settee. If you’re in an East Side condo, you might gravitate toward a leather piece with a sleek silhouette. Maybe your home is casual, calling for a couch with large welcoming cushions. If you’re replacing a couch, you know what size works best, but new homeowners should measure before hitting furniture stores. Map things out on the floor with painter’s tape to get a feel for how much room a couch might take. Similarly, measure doorways for smooth delivery. While there are many online buying options, commit to trying it before buying it. All too often, furniture bought online is anything but comfortable. Plan to visit a few stores in person and sit yourself on a sofa before forking over any cash.

SIZE MATTERS When it comes to comfort, it’s all about seat depth—the amount of space from the front of the couch to the back pillow. Furniture with a low seat depth looks quaint; however, the larger the depth, the more you can “sink into” the couch. Think of seat depth like this: 18 inches: “That new couch is gorgeous! It’s not really for sitting, though, is it?” 22 inches: “Let’s sit here for a minute and have a cocktail.” 24 inches: “Your new couch is as pretty as it is comfortable.” 30 inches: “Wow! I’m never leaving this couch. Can we move the kitchen table over here?” 36 inches: “Did you pick this up outside a frat house?”

The second area to consider is seat height—the amount of space between the floor and the seat of the couch. Anything lower than 16 inches may prove difficult to get out of, so consider couches with a higher seat height if that’s a concern.

COLOR ME HAPPY Today’s homeowners are letting vibrant colors steal the show; a bright-orange sofa in front of a brilliant white wall, an emerald-green leather Chesterfield against Cream City brick or a deep-purple velvet chaise set in a corner of heather gray. If color isn’t your thing, stick with neural tones. You can always kick things up with throw pillows. If you’re customizing the fabric of your couch, ask to take a swatch home. You may decide that you need a bit more color than expected. Whether you go bold or traditional, avoid matching the couch’s color to the walls. Your goal is to complement the wall, not duplicate it.

FANTASTIC FABRICS Much like color, the upholstery of a couch can affect a room’s overall vibe. Current trends include denim, nature-inspired prints and highly textured fabrics. Leather couches in a clean design never go out of style, and cotton and linen fabrics are common and affordable options. If you have a large family but want something striking, try a cotton-velvet blend. It has a classic look and soft touch yet offers durability. Similarly, performance fabrics hold up well to food and beverage stains, pets and daily wear and tear. If you’re shopping for a low-traffic sofa, splurge on silk!

FILLER UP Just as you inquire about the quality of the fabrics, it’s important to understand the condition of the cushions. Most are

made of firm, long-lasting foam, making them a smart choice. Feather-filled cushions are soft and appealing but can appear lumpy and worn over time. Consider the best of both worlds: foam cushions with feather wrapping. They combine comfort with durability at a decent price. For something a bit sturdier, ask about foam cushions wrapped with fiber fill. Want even more support? Try inner-spring cushions. This option involves springs wrapped in fiber that help cushions keep their shape.

FRAME IT You can always replace the filling and reupholster, but if the frame of your couch isn’t strong, you’re asking for trouble. Couches with economical particle board, pine wood and plastic frames won’t last long. Look for hardwood constructions of oak, ash and beech instead. If the wooden frame is kiln-dried, you’ve got a high-quality sofa. Give the frame a test by lifting the front corner of the couch 6 inches off the floor. If the opposite front leg stays on the floor, then the frame is likely twisting and not particularly solid. You’ll want a sofa with great joints, too. Wood dowels, wood corner blocks and metal screws and brackets are key when selecting well-built furniture. Bypass pieces held together with glue or staples. Mark Hagen is a décor enthusiast whose home has been featured in numerous national publications. His work has appeared in Fresh Home and Your Family magazines.

Common Sofa Styles

There are so many types of couches it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. Start by brushing up on these basic designs. BRIDGEWATER: This is about as traditional as a couch gets. Its rolled arms and high back offer comfort with simplicity that goes with any décor. CHESTERFIELD: For the ultimate classic seating, this sofa features a tufted or quilted back seat. Often seen in leather, the sofa is comfortable regardless of a shorter seat depth. ENGLISH ROLLED ARM: Low arms and a high back are the hallmarks of this couch. Tightly stretched upholstery covers plush cushions with rounded arms that are particularly padded. LAWSON: Possibly the most common sofa design, this boxy style features large back pillows not attached to the frame. MID-CENTURY MODERN: Spotlighting clean lines, this design works well in a contemporary setting with its low back seat and even lower arms. SECTIONAL: Ideal for gatherings such as football-watching with the guys and slumber parties with the girls, these 3- to 5-piece sofas need ample space. TUXEDO: This timeless couch instantly spruces a room. The arms are the same height as the back, offering modern flair.

JANUARY 2021 | 81


CHALK IT UP TO EXPERIENCE DEAR Major who mama got susare

RUTHIE, problem over here. I’m gay, but I have a good friend says he’s is straight. I hang out with him and his baby a lot. Things were fine until the guy and I got drunk, naked and had sex one night. The baby mama is now picious, figuring out that something happened between him and I, and I don’t know what to do. Things awkward and cringy between all three of us.


Confused Karl DEAR KARL,

Let’s start with a reminder to keep it in your pants, honey. Just because someone invites you to do the horizontal tango doesn’t mean you have to take him up on it. That said, I understand that alcohol can make people do stupid things. We’ve all been there, sugar, so chalk this up to experience and know better moving forward. Don’t hit the sheets with your amigos! Look, doll face, this guy is raising a child with the woman involved. They’ll have a bond for many years that you simply are not part of. That said, talk to the guy and ask how he’d like to proceed. After all, he may have to deal with the repercussions of your little tryst long after you’re out of the picture. Speaking of which, you might need to walk away from the friendship with both parties. Acknowledging that their relationship has greater importance due to their co-parenting obligations will make it easier to move away from the friendship should the awkwardness prove too great.


Ruthie Have a question for Ruthie? Want to share an event with her? Contact Ruthie at dearruthie@shepex.com. Follow her on social media, too! Facebook: Dear Ruthie | Instagram: RuthieKeester | Twitter: @DearRuthie



Ruthie’s Social Calendar JANUARY 5 MEN’S COMING-OUT VIRTUAL GROUP VIA MILWAUKEE LGBT COMMUNITY CENTER: This free support group is ideal for anyone 18 and older struggling with the coming out process. Make new friends, share experiences, concerns and ideas, and explore the steps to self-realization and acceptance every first and third Tuesday of the month. See the calendar at mkelgbt.org for access to the 6-7:30 p.m. online meeting. JANUARY 7 RENDEZVOUS AT LACAGE NITECLUB (801 S. SECOND ST.): Didn’t quite get enough New Year’s hijinks? Hit up this 10 p.m. party and get your fill. Three tiers of drink specials, go-go boys and midnight karaoke give you a jumpstart on the weekend. JANUARY 12 ONLINE SCREENING OF EMBODIED TRUTH: FINDING WAYS TO MOVE TOGETHER VIA COOPERATIVE PERFORMANCE: Take in this streaming, on-demand film that examines parenting through gender and race in accordance with the BLM and Me Too movements. The 30-minute film combines the spoken word with dance and storytelling. Visit cooperativeperformance.org for more on the film that streams through February 7. JANUARY 16 WINTER’S FARMERS MARKET AT MITCHELL PARK DOMES (524 S. LAYTON BLVD.): Looking to eat healthier in 2021? Keep your fridge stocked with fresh produce when you swing by this popular marketplace. Held in the Greenhouse Annex at The Domes, the 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. event features dozens of local vendors selling everything from veggies, fruit and honey to handmade soaps, beverage and more. JANUARY 18 MONDAY MOVIE MATINÉE AT THIS IS IT! (418 E. WELLS ST.): Get cozy at Milwaukee’s longest running LGBTQ bar with a free 5:30 p.m. movie and popcorn. The movie changes every Monday, but the good times, friendly bartenders and insane drink specials always stay the same! JANUARY 22 ICE CASTLES AT GENEVA NATIONAL RESORT (1221 GENEVA NATIONAL AVE. S., LAKE GENEVA): Relish the beauty of winter when you explore this one-of-akind castle featuring tunnels, slides, caverns, crawls spaces and more, all made of ice. You’re sure be mesmerized by the wintery wishing well, thrones, fountains and more. The family friendly attraction is open 4-10:30 p.m. through February 28, weather allowing. See icecastles.com/wisconsin for tickets. JANUARY 29 ‘DEAR RUTHIE’S DINING WITH THE DIVAS’ AT HAMBURGER MARY’S (730 S. FIFTH ST.): Join me and my special guests for what’s been named Milwaukee’s best drag show. Get your groove on with beer, burgers, cocktails and queens during the 7 and 9 p.m. shows. Come for one or stay for both. Seating is limited, so make a reservation via hamburgermarys.com/mke, and I’ll see you there!



The 2020 Election BY PAUL MASTERSON


t goes without saying that no one played Frank Sinatra’s “It Was a Very Good Year” on This Is It’s jukebox this past New Year’s Eve. In these times of social strife, economic woes and a deadly pandemic, even the most ironically inclined would not have dared venture there. On top of everything else, regime assaults on LGBTQ rights made life exasperating. Even in defeat, they continued. A month after the election, the U.S. Department of Labor moved to allow federal contractors to discriminate against LGBTQs. Michigan followed suit, ruling that the state’s anti-discrimination law doesn’t protect gays. But let’s not dwell… For all the negatives the year brought, there were positive developments as well. The parental gay penguins made headlines. A LGBTQ marching band appeared for the first time in the Macy’s Thanksgiv-


ing Day Parade. And, among the various government positions to be filled under President-elect Joe Biden, a gay guy will become the White House Social Secretary, and Mayor Pete Buttigieg was picked for transportation secretary.

81% OF LGBTQ AMERICANS VOTED FOR THE BIDENHARRIS TICKET, WHICH HELPED TIP THE SCALES TO WIN THE ELECTION FOR THE DEMOCRATS. The year 2020 was, above all, a political one for LGBTQs. Nationally, 81% voted for the Biden-Harris ticket, adding a significant tally to the vote. Especially in swing states, their ballots helped tip the scales to win the election for the Democrats.

Of the hundreds of LGBTQ candidates who ran for office, more than 40% were successful. In Milwaukee, an equivalent number, three of seven, won their respective races. Brett Blomme was elected to a seat on the Milwaukee County Court, Issy Ramón took the office of County Registrar of Deeds, and the city’s 8th District voters chose JoCasta Zamarripa as their alderperson. Jessica Paige Katzenmeyer, the second transwoman in Wisconsin to seek a State Assembly office, made her inaugural run for political office against a long-term incumbent. Although unsuccessful, she garnered an impressive 45% of the vote. While the pandemic cancelled PrideFest and the Pride Parade, as well as other LGBTQ events, the void gave rise to Black LGBTQ activists Broderick “Montell Ross” Pearson (organizer of the March with Pride for Black Lives Matter), as well as Solana

Image by wildpixel/Getty Images

Of the hundreds of LGBTQ candidates who ran for office, more than 40% were successful.

Patterson-Ramos and Elle Halo amongst a host of others who lead in the struggle for racial equality. Worldwide, the movement against conversion therapy made strides (Germany banned it entirely). In June, our contrarian State Assembly Republicans stopped a statewide Wisconsin ban. West Allis and Kenosha, however, passed local ordinances forbidding the practice.

REACHING MILESTONES Several community entities reached milestones of longevity. Milwaukee and Madison Bowlers Against AIDS (Milmaids) fundraising tournament celebrated its 35th anniversary, the G/L Community Fund and the Washington Heights Rainbow Association reached their silver anniversaries. Other community changes include the LGBT Community Center’s announcement of its upcoming move and Cream City Foundation’s hire of Gary Balcerzak as its new President and CEO. The year’s obituaries included social justice luminaries activist Phyllis Lyon and equality advocate Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, as well as lawyer David Buckel. Also lost were playwrights Larry Kramer (The Normal Heart), Mart Crowley (Boys in the Band), Terrence McNally (The Ritz, Kiss of the Spider Woman) and rock ’n’ roll architect Little Richard. Aimee Stephens, fired for being transgender, died a month before her U. S. Supreme Court case arguing LGBTQ protection under the 1964 Civil Rights Act was decided in her favor. Locally, we should remember Mike Bader (affectionately known as Queen Mum) who died on December 31, 2019, as well as Randy Neff, psychologist, and Rick Kowal, the owner of the Ball Game, one of Milwaukee’s oldest gay bars (it closed in 2012 after 40 years). Meanwhile, for the third consecutive year, Milwaukee attained the maximum Equal Rights Commission 2020 Municipal Equality Index Score of 100. Congratulations to us! For 2021, we can only hope for a bit more sanity and for LGBTQ progress to continue, perhaps with a little less stress… but don’t hold your breath. Happy New Year!

Paul Masterson is an LGBTQ activist and writer and has served on the boards of the Milwaukee Gay Arts Center, Milwaukee Pride, GAMMA and other organizations.

JANUARY 2021 | 85


From The City That Always Sweeps I

’m Art Kumbalek and man oh manischewitz what a world, ain’a? So, how was my merry focking Christmas the other week closing out the year that best be not named? I’ll tell you. I thought I’d take it easy on Santa, and so I had but two items on my wish list. #1: A bevy of Vegas showgirls. #2: My own private compartment on all buses that run the No. 30 line (as I’ve said before, I find Tod Browning’s Freaks to be an interesting movie, but I’d rather watch it than have a cameo in it, I kid you not.) And wouldn’t you know, just like a Milwaukee Brewer at the plate with runners in scoring position, I came up empty. But hey, thanks for asking. And now, it is January 2021, good lord, and so I ask you’s: Do I dare offer my traditional new year “Look Back/Watch Out Ahead” essay? To wit, in early January 2020, I wrote: And now, without further ado, my “Look Back/Watch Out Ahead” essay, and remember that pithiness is the soul of brevity; so here it is for you to pith on: The Year 2019: Sucked, but good. Watch Out Ahead, 2020: Will suck even more. Hard to believe, ain’a? No sir, retrospectively not hard to believe at all and so not possible to argue that kind of accuracy, what the fock. Just so you know, I’ve been putting out these essays for more than 30 years and dag-focking-nabbit if I’ve ever been off the mark. For example, here from Dec. 30, 1993: The Year 1993: Sucked. Watch Out Ahead, 1994: Will suck. And let’s go back to Dec. 30, 2004, when I opined:



The Year 2004: Sucked. Watch Out Ahead, 2005: Will suck even more. And what about January 2017? Here: The Year 2016: Sucked, but good. Watch Out Ahead, 2017: Will suck even more. Can you believe it? And the only surefire thing I predict is that there will be a sucker born at least every minute. As you can see, when it comes to flinging the soothsaying, who else deserves one of those Noble prizes but me? Hey, you tell me. And then, I’ll lay the new sooth thusly: The Year 20**: Sucked the historical suck of all time. Watch Out Ahead, 2021: Will suck, but the suckage to abate ’cause how the fock could it not? There you go. Clean, economical and near-elegant, ain’a? And that’s all I’ve got to say about that, ’cause I’d like to break this off right here, right now, and do something nice for myself like crank up the thermostat and mix another hot focking toddy, you betcha. Yeah, hate to disappoint you if you were in the market for a next-year’s prediction a tad rosier, but you got to remember that disappointment is a fact of life. Albert focking Einstein was disappointed that he never found a way to wrap up his Theory of Everything before he croaked. And I’m extremely disappointed that I’ll never get to meet Marilyn Monroe, not to mention my deep disappointment cum despair that my bonehead ancestors thought it was a better idea to settle here in the Upper Midwest instead of the temperate and libertine lifestyle climes of Ta-focking-hiti, what the fock.

But that’s life, mister. Yes, you’ll be disappointed sometimes, maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and maybe for the rest of your life. Your Auntie Mame may once have said, “Life is a banquet, and most poor suckers are starving to death,” but your Uncle Art says, “Life’s a crap casserole and all you can do is strap on the ol’ feedbag and say ‘bon appétit.’” So happy focking New Year. But before I go, I’d like to mention that for Christmas, I received a nice little story from my buddy Little Jimmy Iodine, but I already had it so I thought I’d re-gift it to you ’cause what the fock. Here, try it on: So, on Christmas morning, this cop on horseback is sitting at a traffic light, and next to him is a kid on a shiny new Schwinn. Cop says to the kid, “That’s a very nice bicycle you’ve got there. Did Santa bring that for you?” The kid replies, “You bet, officer.” And the cop says, “Well, next year, tell Santa to put a taillight on that bike.” The cop decides to give the kid a lesson for Christmas and proceeds to issue a $20 bicycle-safety violation ticket. The kid takes the ticket, wishes the cop a merry Christmas but before he rides off says, “By the way, officer, that’s a nice horse you’ve got there. Did Santa bring that to you?” Upholding the spirit of the season, the cop says, “Yes son, he sure did.” And the kid says, “Well, next year, tell Santa to put the focking asshole at the back-end of the horse instead of on top, would you?” Ba-ding! So again, you’s have a happy new year—hey, at my age I still like to think anything’s possible, what the fock, ’cause I’m Art Kumbalek and I told you so.

Photo by Deagreez/Getty Images

Profile for Shepherd Express

Shepherd Express - January 2021 Issue