Cari Taylor-Carlson

Hot Wax Is a Meat Eater’s Delight

My favorite place at Crossroads Collective can elevate a sandwich or a burger to something memorable.

By - Oct 4th, 2022 12:21 pm
Crossroads Collective. Photo taken Aug. 30, 2022 by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Crossroads Collective. Photo taken Aug. 30, 2022 by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

If you haven’t visited Crossroads Collective at the corner of Farwell and North, you might want to check out this hip east side food hall, a primo place for people watching, good food, or to grab a cup of coffee or a drink. It’s next to the Oriental Theater and occupies the corner where the popular Oriental Drugs formerly resided. After the demise of Oriental Drugs in 1995, a couple of restaurants tried and failed at this location which brings us to the latest tenant, Crossroads Collective. All signs point to its continuing popularity. There are multiple restaurants in the complex; some will stay, and others will move on to open their own place, like the popular barbeque restaurant Heaven’s Table BBQ.

Crossroads Collective is a potpourri of flavors and cuisines. Here are a few current tenants: Egg & Flour Pasta with house made pasta topped with their delicious sauces; Ruta’s Indian cuisine where they add a contemporary spin to traditional dishes; E & F. Pizzeria, an Egg & Flour sibling where artisan pizza is on the menu; Dia Bom, featuring the fusion of Latin American dishes with Chinese and Japanese cuisine; Triciclo, where they make a variety of Peruvian empanadas; The Pharmacy, a throwback to Oriental Drugs where you can grab a drink or your morning coffee; Discourse, another place for morning coffee; and for dessert, look for Scratch where scoops of gourmet ice cream will satisfy your sweet tooth.

This brings me to a personal favorite, Hot Wax, where meat stars on the brief but tasty menu. Owner Ben Crevensten told my companion and me that they are filling the “meat niche” which went missing after Heaven’s Table took its barbeque and moved to 5507 W. North Ave.

Hot Wax has always been about meat starting in 2020 when Crevensten opened a food truck, Meat & Co. at Zocalo Food Park, 636 S. 6th St. He said he has a long-term plan to open a restaurant, but meanwhile, he’s serving meat-centric comfort food at Hot Wax.

On my first visit, I ordered the signature Meat & Co. Lunch Box. It was not what I expected, a fat yummy sandwich filled with griddled mortadella, white cheddar, slaw, mayo, and topped with potato chips. Every delicious bite crunched. If you order this, you will see how even a simple sandwich made with care and thought can be an unexpected delight. It was salty from the griddled mortadella and the chips, sweet and sour from the slaw, oozy from the melted cheese, and bound by tasty sauce-like mayo.

For the Special Bacon Jam Hot Dog, Crevensten took an oversized hot dog and raised it to something far beyond ordinary. He placed the spiral cut meat in a toasted bun, topped it with bacon jam, mustard, and barbeque sauce, and fancied it up with pickled red onion. Maybe $13 seems a lot to pay for a common dog, but my companion and I agreed this six-napkin meal in a bun was well worth the price.

I returned for the Tenders and found enough in the basket for a second meal at home. Four large chicken tenders were breaded, deep-fried, and served with ranch sauce and my choice, Honey Molasses BBQ. At first glance the tenders appeared dry, but not so when I bit into the tender, juicy, white meat. For additional flavor, there are more sauces: Mild Buffalo, Hot Buffalo, Chipotle Mayo, Honey Mustard, Blue Cheese, Burger Sauce and Barbeque.

For my vegetarian companion on this occasion, Crevensten offered to craft a sandwich with some Portobello mushrooms he had on hand. He pulled together a delectable combination of grilled Portobello, shredded cabbage, chive chimichurri, and homemade sauce. When he piled this combination on griddled ciabatta and the flavors mixed, magic happened. He did not hesitate to accommodate. That’s what a good chef does.

With the exception of the sides at Hot Wax, there are no vegetarian options, but Crevensten suggested this will change. From a list of sides, a Pimento Cheese Plate, Fries, and Garlic Roasted Cauliflower, I ordered Smoky Potato. It had a unique flavor from smoked paprika, and lots of bacon.

Also on the menu, you will find Nashville Hot Chicken and the Hot Wax Burger, two smashed patties topped with cheese, caramelized onion, sauce, and underneath the burger, pickles. Somehow Crevensten manages to stuff all that goodness inside a potato bun. I ordered the more conservative Skinny Burger with one patty instead of two. It included all of the above and in my opinion, it is one of Milwaukee’s finest burgers. Like the Meat & Company Lunch Box Sandwich, this burger was so carefully constructed it was exceptionally delicious.

Crossroads Collective is a fine addition to the East Side, a mini mall of food delights where diversity reigns, If you are a carnivore and like your meat in a sandwich or in a bun, look for Hot Wax just beyond the water station. You might just find me there because I’m on a quest to eat my way through the entire menu.

On The Menu

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  • Location: 2238 N. Farwell Ave.
  • Phone: 262-357-1308
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Mon-Sat, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sun
  • UM Rating: stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)

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