Friday, February 17, 2012

Dining Day Trip in Wauwatosa

Cafe Hollander

I took yesterday and today off from work, and I decided to spend today in one of my favorite parts of Milwaukee, the suburb of Wauwatosa.  I spend a lot of time there, shopping at Mayfair mall, going to festivals and the farmer's market in the "village" and dining.  

Wauwatosa has a lot of great restaurants and eateries to choose from.  Whether you want a casual lunch, fun happy hour or a great dinner, you can find it here.  I always think of this area as funky but relaxed, family-friendly but great for a single person such as myself.  And, one of the reasons I, like some of my friends, do not like to go to downtown Milwaukee after work is the parking hassles.  Wauwatosa has very little of that.  It's just a nice place to spend the day and evening.  

Anyway, back to my day.  I started out by having breakfast at one of my favorite places, Cranky Al's on 69th and North Ave (  In the evening, they make amazing single-serve pizza (as well as pizza for a group), and in the mornings, they make the best donuts.  They also have what they term "Shrink N Drink" the 3rd Thursday of every month where a professional therapist comes in and answers questions from the audience.  I've been to a few of these, and the questions can range from funny to quite serious.  You never know what the evening will be like.

Cranky Al's isn't the only place to get great breakfast in Tosa though.  You can get great food like omelets, french toast and pancakes at John's Sandwich Shop, La Reve and Cafe Hollander.  All three also have weekend brunch.

After spending time at the mall, I wandered down to what's known as the Village of Wauwatosa for lunch.  When I'm down there, I love going to a small restaurant called One-Way Cafe (  They serve a wonderful chicken salad sandwich, but they have much more for lunch and are open for breakfast as well. They also feature a revolving display of local artists, so there's always something new to see when you go.

You can also find casual dining in the "village" at Hector's (, Colonel Hart's (, and Pizzeria Piccola (, as well as chain restaurants Noodles & Company, Cousins Subs, George Webb's and Little Caeser's.  

Then it was time for dessert, which I took home with me from La Reve Patiserrie & Cafe (  This restaurant, which also has a happy hour, sells the most beautiful desserts I've ever seen.  I've been there for breakfast and dinner, but this was the first time I've ordered one of their decadent creations.  From what I hear, they taste better than they look.  I can't wait!  

Now, I admit I'm having dinner at home (leftover meatloaf and mashed potatoes, if you're wondering), but if I did decide to have dinner in Tosa, I would probably hit one of the city's many happy hours beforehand.  Firefly Urban Bar & Grill has one of the best (  They have great drink specials, a wide and truly delicious selection of food, and the atmosphere is cool and moody, yet relaxed.  If you have a group, see if you can get a table in one of their, what I like to call, wigwam rooms.  It's like being in a wigwam, except with cushy banquettes and a fireplace.  Very cozy.

You can also find great happy hour drink specials at The Chancery (, McCormick and Schmick's ( (near Mayfair mall), and Leff's Lucky Town (, which has been voted as having the best happy hour in Milwaukee.  Or, if you just want to relax with a glass of wine with your friends, go to Vino 100 in the village (, or Juniper 61 on North Avenue (

There are many, many great places to get a good dinner in Tosa.  My favorite place has to be Cafe Hollander ( which has a great European vibe and spectacular food from burgers to salads to fish.  They also have nightly specials with such a distinctive Belgian flair.  And they have one of the largest beer selections in Milwaukee, and that's saying a lot here.

I'm sure I've only scratched the surface on great places to eat in this suburban/urban oasis.  Did I miss any?  Please feel free to post them below.  I'm always looking for great and unique places to eat, and none of Milwaukee's distinct neighborhoods disappoint.  Happy eating!

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