So, you’re planning a visit to Wisconsin (AKA America’s Dairyland), and you’ve sorted your hotel, the attractions you’re going to visit, and anything else you need to book. Everything is arranged. Aside from one last thing — what are you going to eat?
At City Tours MKE, we love the food our state produces and we are proud of our food and drink heritage. Today, we would love to tell you all about it!
If you’d like to experience Wisconsin’s most famous city as part of a fun, activity-filled tour, take a look at our Milwaukee tours… you won’t regret it!
Without further ado, let’s discuss the best foods Wisconsin offers, with a focus on Milwaukee itself — because we think our city is the best place around to grab a bite to eat!
Booyah is a Wisconsin staple. It’s a stew made with meat including chicken, beef, and pork. Not only is it arguably our most famous dish, but also a super fun word to say!
Traditionally, Booyah is eaten during fall. Can you imagine anything better than sitting inside next to a cozy fireplace with a warm bowl of Booyah to warm you through? No, we can’t imagine anything better either.
Did you know? In Wisconsin, getting together for Booyah is considered an event. So usually, you’ll receive an invitation if you’d like to get together for a booyah. How awesome is that?
If you want the best Booyah experience, we recommend going to the MOTOR Bar & Restaurant; it’s also right across the street from the Harley Davidson Museum, so you’ll get to experience two Milwaukee essentials in one day!
If you’d like to learn more about some attractions in Milwaukee, take a look at our guide offering some of the best things to do in Milwaukee.
Brought to the US by German immigrants in the 19th century, Bratwurst is another Wisconsin staple. Bratwurst originates in southern Germany, with recipes dating back to the 14th century. They are fresh link sausages generally made from a blend of beef (or veal) and pork meat mixed with a variety of spices. And they pair perfectly with beer!
Bratwurst (pronounced Brot-vurst) is, in fact, so famous in Wisconsin that the state is often said to be the Bratwurst capital of the world. These delectable sausages have been sold at Brewers’ games since 1954 and are a perfect choice if you want to participate in some Milwaukee Tailgating.
To try Bratwurst local to Wisconsin, look out for Sheboygan Bratwurst.
If there’s something we do better than anyone else, it’s frozen custard. The delicious sweet treat is a delicacy from our state, and our residents have a deep love and nostalgic appreciation for it.
If you’re looking for frozen custard during your stay in Milwaukee, we recommend you try Gilles Frozen Custard on 76th street and Bluemound road. They have been in business since 1938, and their expertise in frozen custard really shines through.
Make sure to try out whatever their newest flavor of the day is, and you HAVE to try their custard floats (especially their raspberry custard floats).
A kringle is an oval-shaped Danish pastry made with 36 layers of dough and filled with cheese, fruits, and nuts. It’s topped with icing, cinnamon, or crushed nuts. The kringle is a huge part of Wisconsin’s culture, so much that it’s been declared Wisconsin’s official pastry!
The Kringle has been a staple in Wisconsin for nearly 200 years and originated not far from Milwaukee in a small town called Racine.
Make sure to try the pecan kringle — it’s a classic flavor for a reason!
Brandy Old Fashioned
Perhaps the Badger State’s favorite drink, the Brandy Old Fashioned is a cocktail that oozes class and is dangerously moreish. As the name suggests, a Brandy Old Fashioned is made with brandy replacing the whisky or bourbon more typically found.
Korbel brandy made its way into Wisconsin in 1893 when the Korbel brothers were selling their liqueur at the World’s Fair in nearby Chicago. Wisconsin’s sizeable immigrant population immediately embraced it as it offered a taste of their European homelands. Then, when cocktails were all the rage in the ‘20s and ‘30s, the Brandy Old Fashioned was born.
You’ll find this drink across Milwaukee, with different bars giving the drink their own unique spin. MilwaukeeINSIDER compiled a handy list for their Where to Find the Best Old Fashioned in Milwaukee? article.
However, if historic pubs and incredible drinks are your thing, we recommend you join us on our Dive Bars Tour of Milwaukee, where you’ll get to explore some of the city’s most iconic pubs in the company of expert local guides.
You cannot come to America’s Dairyland and not try their specialty — cheese curds. For those of you who don’t know, cheese curds are cheddar that hasn’t aged.
Traditionally, when curds are separated from whey during the cheesemaking process, they are molded into a cheese wheel. Cheese curds, however, are sliced up and sold straight away.
As well as being downright delicious, cheese curds make a distinctive squeaking sound when you chew them. If you’re wondering why they squeak, it’s caused by a calcium and protein bond, this bond only lasts 12 hours, though, so cheese curds need to be sold straight away.
The short life of cheese curds means that they need to be eaten ASAP, so it’s best to get them straight from Wisconsin as we do them better.
Looking for more cheesy dishes? Give Milwaukee-style pizza a try! Though perhaps not as famous as the Chicago-style pizza found in the neighboring state of Michigan, Milwaukee’s own take on the classic Italian dish makes for a satisfying dinner or snack.
What distinguishes Milwaukee-style pizza is its super-thin crust and light spread of tomato sauce. It’s a distinctly light pizza, with the modest base and sauce allowing the taste of the shredded mozzarella and other toppings to shine! The classic Milwaukee toppings are sausage, onion, and mushrooms.
This is a dish that is interwoven with Wisconsin’s immigrant and religious history. Three things brought about the creation of the fish fry: prohibition, Catholicism, and freshwater fish. Let’s dive in and find out why.
First, many Wisconsin residents descend from Polish and German Catholics, and it’s a tradition within the Catholic Church to eat fish on Fridays.
Also, there is plenty of freshwater fish in Wisconsin, which is cheap to buy. And, during the years of prohibition, bars sold fish to survive. So, it eventually just became a tradition in Wisconsin to go out for fish on Friday.
If you’re looking for the best fish fry in Milwaukee, look no further than Pat’s Niche Pub and Grub. It’s a family-run restaurant that offers the authentic Milwaukee experience. Make sure to pair their fish fry with potato pancakes.
Also, if you’d like to learn about another aspect of Milwaukee’s food and drink scene, why not take a look at our Milwaukee Beer Tour so that you can find out firsthand why Milwaukee is affectionately nicknamed Brew City!
That’s it! Our tour of Wisconsin’s most famous foods has come to an end. We hope that this has inspired you to check out everything our state offers. If you’d like to explore Milwaukee and experience other aspects of Wisconsin life, check out our tours and get in touch if you have any questions.