Hey y'all! I'm from the south where vegan food is like gold... it's usually not supper assessable. So, when I travel I do my best to take advantage of the vegan offerings in the area.
My husband, Jake, had a dream in mind. I wish it was to visit Hawaii or Australia, but alas, it was Milwaukee, WI. I don't mean to be disrespectful by any means. Milwaukee is lovely, and I can whole heartedly say that they know "WHAT'S UP!" when it comes to vegan food! I'm just a warm weather gal that's cold blooded like a baby lizard. So, the standard 30 degree Milwaukee weather doesn't necessarily sit well with my soul. HOWEVER, that's not my point today! The point is Milwaukee has some amazing vegan options, and I'm here to share them with y'all!
I documented the food highlights of our trip, and I'm ready to share them with y'all (head's up we took a day trip to Chicago, so be sure to read to the end to find out what we ate)
OK, first meal of the trip was PIZZA! This is near and dear to my heart. Jake and I celebrate a weekly holiday called "Pizza Friday". I was super excited to try this Ian's Pizza. It was recommended by many people (both omnivore and herbivore). Let me go ahead and start by saying Ian's met every bit of my expectations. I have zero regrets about eating at this place, and if I could go back again this Friday I would.
To start off, this BOMB restaurant is super focused on being as local as possible! Locally focused businesses always warms my heart. Granted some things they are supplying local aren't vegan, ya gotta at least say yay for local- it's best for the environment.
We got a half and half pizza. We kept one side simple, and wen't a little more experimental on the other side. The simple side was the vegan cheese and pepperoni. It seemed like it was made from seitan, but regardless of what it was made from it was really a good mock meat! The experimental side was their vegan taco pizza. It was decked out with lettuce, pico, and their vegan chorizo. If I had to pick my favorite... I COULDN'T. They both literally took my breath away. I was pleasantly pleased with the portions, the taste, and the atmosphere. If you're in Milwaukee or sounding areas check to see if Ian's is close! It's a great place to celebrate Pizza Friday.
This was our big meal out Friday, we ended up eating in Friday night to keep things simple. Our next stop on this food train was for coffee and a quick snack. We went to Brewed Cafe. We stumbled upon this establishment when exploring the nightlife Friday night. The sign debuts the word "VEGETARIAN", so I knew it was a must stop! It didn't let us down. They have wonderful coffee with two vegan milk options- almond and soy milk for those wondering. Their menu is clearly labeled (a must in my book), and their staff were friendly and knowledgeable! Jake got a banana matcha muffin while a drank my coffee. It was really good y'all. I know matcha can be over used since it's become trendy, but this was a really good flavor combination! ALL HAIL BANANA MATCHA (you should really go make some banana match muffins right now).
This wasn't our only visit to Brewed. We came back the morning we left! We couldn't resist trying a few menu items (and to be honest I had to get more of their coffee). Jake and I each got their vegan breakfast options. Jake got the tofu scramble that came with toast jam and butter. I got the Mexican breakfast burrito which was pretty darn tasty! If I had to make a recommendation I'd suggest the Mexican burrito. I'm a little picky when it come to tofu scramble, because honestly I love mine. I've been working on it for about a year. I'll be sure to post the recipe!
For my next recommendation I'd like to suggest you all try some amazing breweries we visited. One is a local favorite called Lakefront Brewing. They take pride in their gluten free and organic options on tap! It's honestly one of the best, and original breweries I've visited in a long time. I was floored by the local support. You could really ask anyone what brewery to visit in Milwaukee, and 9 out of 10 times people say Lake Front Brewery. It's that good! I'd highly recommend their tour. They are an all kosher brewery, with nearly all vegan beers!
The other brewery tour we went on was for the Miller Factory! I know some beer snobs are probably falling out of their chairs right now, that's fine... I drank enough of this in college, and to be honest it's still a go to (there's only so many IPAs I can have in a night). The tour was actually incredible. I was absolutely insane to see a manufacturing facility that works to this magnitude. They clear out a warehouse that's the size of five football fields every two days! Their tour also focuses on what they, as a company, are doing to reduce waste and help the environment. I'd highly recommend this tour. Not only was the tour genuinely fun, it was free! They also give you three free beers at the end, and also give you a free token to get a beer on them in the area. It was worth the zero dollars, haha! In all seriousness, I really enjoyed it and I'd highly recommend it.
As far as sight seeing goes I’d recommend visiting the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. The domes are a beautiful and captivating experience that will blow you away. Each dome has a different climate that showcases different flowers and fruits from around the world. The first dome was a Shakespeare inspired spring garden. This is what they call their showcase dome, where they rotate out different flowers. The next was a tropical dome with exotic flowers, banana trees, and lush greenery. The last dome was a dessert climate with cacti as tall as trees, succulents, and agave plants of all shapes and sizes.
One of my favorite meals of the trip was at an Ethiopian restaurant. They served us a large vegan platter (which is actually labeled vegetarian, but they can make it vegan) with amazing colors and flavors. I was taken back by the deliciousness. If you are in Milwaukee I’d highly recommend stoping by the Ethiopian Cottage.
Since we had a rental car visiting CHI-town was a no brainer. Milwaukee to Chicago is a quick hour and a half drive, which we were totally willing to take! When you consider the cost of the plane ticket from NC a hour and a half in the car is a piece of cake. We knew we didn’t have long in the city, so we did our absolute best to make the most of it! First and foremost we did a little sightseeing. We went to the bean, cruised by Wrigley stadium, and walked into some thrift shops. We even found ourselves feeling especially “local” when we stumbled upon an estate sale. I was able to get a winter coat and an old Elvis record for $7 (total score!).
That being said with only a few hours in the Windy City we were only able to hit one restaurant (but, don't worry we picked a good one). We decided to visit the Chicago Diner. Now when I tell you this food was the bomb, I mean it was a flavor EXPLOSION! It was mouthwatering and delicious. I dream of the day I can return to this restaurant. My only regret of the trip was being too full for a milkshake. I had a Bloody Mary, which typically aren’t vegan. This used to be MY FAVORITE DRINK, so it was really cool to have one veganized at a restaurant. Jake and I played it safe and got an appetizer and an entree to share, so we could try as much as possible. I also got a side salad, because ya know vegan stuff… gotta eat those veggies! All in all I’d give this place a solid 10 out of 10. The food was amazing, and the feel of the restaurant is local and comforting. It truly has a cool local diner feel, and in my personal opinion that’s hard to accomplish in 2018.
Well, that's all folks! That's what my recommendations are. Milwaukee, and Chicago, are a fun place to visit. They have vegan food offerings for days, and cool experiences that will keep you busy in-between!