Wisconsin, known as “America’s Dairyland” isn’t laden with all the dairy-filled cities you might expect. Cities like Milwaukee make Wisconsin a lovely vegan-friendly state to visit. Though it is most well-known for its beer and cheese, Milwaukee has an abundance of vegan options, and delicious ones at that! Though the following list is far from comprehensive, it highlights the handfull of vegan and vegan-friendly bakeries, restaurants and shops I stopped by on my last visit. There are so many more left to try! Should you visit Milwaukee, I highly recommend roaming the Bayview neighborhood as it is packed with lots of excellent places.
Though this Irish restaurant isn’t even 100% vegetarian, I’m told that the head chef himself is a vegetarian, hence why County Clare has a separate menu just for vegetarians! Luckily this menu includes a handful of vegan options as well, which are clearly marked. Other items can be made vegan by omitting cheese and other animal products. Having wanted to eat like true Irishwomen, my sister and I ordered the Seitan Corned Beef and Cabbage, and the Corned Beef style Seitan Reuben. While I appreciate eating vegan Irish food, I must say that these two items were lacking in flavor. The only thing that helped was the prepared horseradish that was served on the side. Now if you have a sensitive tongue, I do not recommend horseradish as it will burn the heck out of your sinuses. Other than that, I would recommend getting one of the other vegan items on the menu as I’m hopeful that they are more enjoyable.
Riverwest Co-Op & Cafe
A cute co-op grocery store with attached cafe, Riverwest Co-Op is not to be judged by its small size. While small, both cafe and grocery store are bursting with goodies sure to satisfy. The cafe boasts a 100% vegetarian menu with most, if not all, items veganizable (Is that a word? If not, I’m making it one). Serving breakfast, lunch, dinner and smoothies, there is plenty to choose from. The Breakfast Biscuit (veganized) was delicious. With scrambled tofu, spinach, onion, tomato, soy sausage and vegan mayo on a buttery biscuit, it was an awesome start to my day. Their pancakes (with the option of adding chocolate chips, blueberries and other items), and granola and bananas are also delicious. Both pancakes and granola came studded with almonds which added an excellent crunch and added nutritional value. Having enjoyed our food so much, we returned again a couple of days later and ordered the Biscuits & Gravy (veganized) and French Toast. I can honestly say everything was delicious and left me wishing I could eat enough food for 5 people so that I could try everything. The next time I’m in Milwaukee, I’m planning on indulging in their sure-to-be fabulous lunch!
This hip pizza joint has two locations in Milwaukee. Having heard about Classic Slice’s football-sized calzones, we had to indulge. Opting for vegan cheese, sausage and black olives as our filling, the calzone came out of the oven piping hot and smelling delicious. Though the width and height of the calzone was football-sized, the depth (or thickness if you want to call it that) wasn’t. I could’ve used a bit more filling as the calzone seemed to have a lot of air filling, but it was still decent! A couple of days later we tried the breadsticks (opting for whole wheat) with vegan cheese and pesto, and a lemon lavender cupcake filled with fresh lemon curd. I’ve got to say, the breadsticks were tasty and smelled amazing. Where else can you get vegan pesto breadsticks!? And the cupcake? Delectable. From what I understand, Classic Slice also sells homemade cinnamon rolls in the colder months.
The Eatery on Farwell
A more upscale establishment with both indoor and outdoor seating, The Eatery on Farwell offers a few vegan selections, most of which are clearly noted on their menu. We began our meal with the Onion Strings (veganized). Basically sliced onion rings battered and fried, these puppies were delicious. It was nearly impossible to keep from shoveling the entire plate into my mouth. Delicious but regretfully not healthy. That’s what vacations are for though, right? For the entrees, we enjoyed the Portobello Linguini and Curry Tofu Wrap. The linguini came with sliced portobello, diced zucchini, yellow squash, red pepper and Japanese eggplant and was served with a side of basil toast. The sliced portobello tasted as though it was marinated in wine, which is a good thing, but it could have used a little more flavor, perhaps a pinch of salt or even some vegan buttery spread to kick it up. Perhaps what would have made it even better was adding a side of Field Roast Italian Sausage. Always a winner! The Curry Tofu Wrap is described on the menu as “Curry breaded tofu, dried cherries, granny smith apples, spring mix & a vegan ginger aioli wrapped in an herb tortilla”. Sounds delicious, doesn’t it? It was refreshing with the mixture of sweet and savory flavors. A great dish to have in the summer months.
Babe’s Ice Cream and Dessert
Offering a nice variety of vegan options, Babe’s Ice Cream carries multiple flavors of soy ice cream, in addition to shakes and vegan ice cream sandwiches. They even sell made-to-order vegan ice cream cakes! I want one….now. Unfortunately I only had the pleasure of trying an ice cream sandwich, and as you can see from the photo at right, it was a handful and quite delicious!
With an entire case filled with delicious vegan sorbetto, Cold Spoons did not disappoint. Lucky for us, we happened to stop by on Upgrade Tuesday, meaning we enjoyed large sorbettos for the price of mediums! The flavors being offered that day were avocado, blackberry, black plum, cantaloupe, coconut, cucumber mint, green apple, pear, pineapple, pink grapefruit, pomegranate and prickly pear melon. After trying nearly half of the flavors (avocado is surprisingly good), between the two of us, we decided on black plum, cantaloupe, cucumber mint and pineapple. The great thing about this place is that you can choose up to three flavors which are squeezed into a little cup. This place is so awesome on a hot day, or just any day you need something sweet and refreshing. Highly recommended if you’re craving that sweet, creamy treat!
Started by the same folks whom own Comet Café, Palomino, and various other establishments, Honeypie is a must for vegan cupcakes. If you enjoy big, beautiful, super sweet cupcakes, you’ll dig these! Baking different flavors every day, we enjoyed their chai, pistachio and red velvet flavors. Honeypie also sells breakfast, lunch and dinner. Though not all their offerings are vegan, those which are, are clearly marked. During our Milwaukee visit, we only had time to eat at Honeypie once, and, being that I am such a big breakfast fan, that is what meal we enjoyed. We chose the Breakfast Burrito (veganized) and Two Eggs Any Way (veganized). The burrito came chock full of tofu, roasted corn and bell pepper relish, black beans and poblano salsa. The Two Eggs Any Way were modified by using scrambled tofu with the addition of various veggies and served with breakfast potatoes and toast. Not too shabby although honestly I felt the food could use a little more flavor.
This intimate, dinner-only establishment is a must if you want to enjoy a nice, intimate Italian meal. Centro Cafe is a popular place so it is recommended that you get there early as they do not accept reservations. To start off, we had Centro’s Trio Spreads, featuring Bruschetta, White Bean Dip and Tapenade, and served with grilled bread and crackers. The appetizer was fresh and delicious. For dinner we chose the Capellini al Pomodoro and Vegan Meatball sandwich. The capellini, tossed with fresh tomatoes, basil, garlic and olive oil was refreshing and boasted a fresh, healthy flavor…something you feel satisfied eating, and without the guilt. It had a nice, natural flavor to it. I enjoyed the sandwich even more as I was pleasantly surprised by their homemade vegan meatballs. Described on the menu as having tofu mixed in, I was a little hesitant to order the sandwich at first, as usually, meat and dairy-based restaurants often have not mastered the art of tofu. Needless to say I’m glad I ordered the sandwich! Also included in these meatballs are mushrooms, onion, carrots, vegetable protein and herbs and spices. The meatballs are then topped with marinara and served on a baguette. YUM. Highly recommended!
Larsen’s Bakery (Racine, WI)
A 45-minute drive from Milwaukee sits Larsen’s Bakery, known for its Danish kringle. Lucky for us, the bakery makes not only vegan kringle but vegan doughnuts as well, and if you call and order ahead, you’ll have fresh, delicious goodies ready to devour within a day or two. At the time of my order, Larsen’s had a few doughnut options to choose from: chocolate iced, vanilla iced, jelly-filled, boston creme and long john. Needless to say I ordered a couple of each (begrudgingly I shared), and let me tell you, these are some of the best vegan doughnuts I’ve had. Now if only Larsen’s would create even more flavors for us to enjoy. *cough* apple fritters! *cough* Their vegan kringle is also delicious, tasting almost exactly like the animal-based version I grew up on, with flavors like almond, pecan, cherry, apricot, apple, raspberry and cranberry nut. I’m no stranger to this and get it every time I am in Milwaukee!
Health Hut (West Allis, WI)
Just a short 15-minute drive away from Milwaukee sits one of Health Hut’s three locations. Having visited the West Allis location, I was pleasantly surprised at what a nice variety of food and household items the store carried. Nowhere else have I found treeless paper towels and toilet paper! Very cool. Health Hut also has a great variety of dried bulk food items, frozen and packaged foods, pet food and various household items. I don’t recall seeing any fresh produce but who cares! This store was great! I recommend this store if you want to find some unique items.
Outpost Natural Foods
Don’t want to drive to Racine to stock up on Larsen’s vegan kringle? Go to Outpost! They have Larsen’s kringle in stock, just waiting for you to devour. With four locations (one in Wauwatosa), Outpost is the place to go for groceries. Though not a 100% vegan establishment, the store still has so much to offer including groceries and household items, as well as a little deli area where they can whip up some delicious vegan goodies, fresh for the taking. I highly recommend Outpost. This is a store I frequent any time I am in Milwaukee.