Cari Taylor-Carlson

Highlands Café Is Easy to Love

Neighborhood cafe in Tosa serves lovely lunches and breakfasts made with local ingredients.

By - Mar 15th, 2024 04:04 pm
Highlands Café. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Highlands Café. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Once in a while, if you are lucky, you discover a neighborhood café where the food is delicious and the vibe is cheerful, friendly, and welcoming. This happened when friends and I made a serendipitous discovery after we took a walk in Wauwatosa and came upon Highlands Café. One visit led to two and here is what we found.

In this café at the corner of 60th and Vliet, they serve unfussy meals (breakfast and lunch) made with local ingredients and if you like classic dishes in a café setting, you will be delighted with this place. It has more than a dozen tables and a bar where customers both eat and drink. We were told a group of regulars sits at the bar every Friday and as were there on a Friday, we noted they were enjoying a rollicking good time.

Along with the usual list of coffee selections, there are a couple of unusual concoctions: a Grasshopper, a Turtle Mocha, and a Mexican Mocha. There is also a short list of adult beverages such as a Bloody Mary, An Apple Whiskey Old Fashioned, a Vliet Street Margarita, and a Blue Daly, a combination of Vodka, Blueberry Iced Tea and Lemonade. Or, you can have a basic Mimosa, a Beermosa, or a Peach Mango Mimosa.

You might have a hard time deciding on what to order for lunch when you see the tempting choices on the menu. My Short Rib and Grilled Cheese, filled with plenty of beefy meat, melted pepperjack, and smoky onion marmalade, was rich, spicy, and juicy. The onion marmalade pulled all the flavors together into one big messy sandwich. If you appreciate a very cheesy grilled cheese, this is the one you will dream about.

My companion’s Black and Blue Burger topped with fried onions, thick-cut bacon, and melted blue cheese, hit all the right notes: funky, fatty, salty, and a little sweet from the fried onions. The chef turned this one-half-pound of ground steak into something far superior to an ordinary burger.

You can also have a Veggie Burger, a barley, lentil, and portobello mushroom patty on a brioche bun with roasted red pepper aioli. There is also a list of sandwiches and wraps including a Chicken Salad Sandwich, a Tuna Melt, and a Reuben. All the burgers, wraps, and sandwiches are served with house made chips. You will not want to leave a single chip behind; I promise.

If you prefer a salad, you can order Chicken Caesar Salad, Avocado and Blueberry topped with a grilled chicken breast, or Walnut Chicken Salad with green apple, blue cheese, and walnuts, and dressed with an apple vinaigrette.

We found the restaurant crowded on a Sunday morning. This was when we knew Highlands Café is truly a neighborhood place where locals gather on weekends. We saw babies, toddlers, grandparents, young couples, and everywhere, smiles and laughter.

We bypassed the House Specialties, Avocado Toast, Crepes, and Chilaquiles, but after studying the menu, we want to return for the West Coast Breakfast Sammie, a combination of eggs, bacon, spinach, tomato, and melted cheese, and served with Harissa Potatoes. We also noted the Highland’s Ham and Eggs, two soft boiled eggs, beer-battered and deep fried and served with Veggie Hash and Tasso Ham. You might think, as we did, that that dish belongs in the “I have to see it to believe it” category.

My companion said her three egg Veggie Omelet filled with spinach, broccoli, onions, green beans, cauliflower, and carrots, was her best ever omelet. It was a feast of veggies. The eggs were almost superfluous.

The Corned Beef Hash was generous, with more meat than potatoes and enough for another meal at home. For the Biscuits and Gravy, the chef drowned two flaky biscuits with sausage gravy. Because I could, I added chorizo gravy to one of the biscuits. It was mild with a slight hint of spice and, like the corned beef in the hash, there was a generous serving of meat in the gravy.

Highlands Café is a gem. My east side companions and I had never heard of it until our serendipitous discovery on a sunny Sunday. It may be our new favorite weekend brunch restaurant.

On The Menu

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The Rundown

  • Location: 1413 N. 60th St.
  • Phone: 414-727-1799
  • Hours: 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wed-Sun
  • Website:
  • UM Rating: stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)

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Categories: Dining, Food & Drink, Review

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