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Is Milwaukee Public Market One of Nation’s Best?

Plus: Sinabro opens, big changes at North Avenue Market and goodbye Royal India.

By - Mar 31st, 2024 12:42 pm
Milwaukee Public Market. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Milwaukee Public Market. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

Milwaukee is once again vying for national recognition. This time, for its public market.

The Milwaukee Public Market, a beloved destination for tourists and locals alike, is in the running for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice travel awards, according to a news release.

A panel of experts selected the market — one of several in the city — as a contender in the Best Public Market. It’s one of 20 nominees in the category, which also includes Boston Public Market, Chicago French Market, Eastern Market DC, Eastern Market Detroit, Easton Public Market, Ferry Building Marketplace, Findlay Market, Grand Central Market, Indianapolis City Market, Lancaster Central Market, Lexington Market, Midtown Global Market, North Market Downtown, The Original Farmers Market, Oxbow Public Market, Pike Place Market, Reading Terminal Market,Tin Building by Jean-Georges and West Side Market.

A number of the nominees — including Milwaukee Public Market — are perennial favorites, having made the list in years past.

Milwaukee Public Market, which opened at 400 N. Water St. in 2005, is home to 16 unique vendors including a Middle Eastern restaurant, taqueria, juice bar, coffee shop and candy maker. Like many of its kind across the country, the Milwaukee market bears resemblance to Seattle’s Pike Place Market. Particularly its red signage, which shines over N. Water St. towards Milwaukee Intermodal Station — a gateway to the city.

Fans of the Milwaukee market now have just over three weeks to show their support by voting online. Individuals are allowed to vote once per day for the duration of the contest, which concludes on Monday, April 15.

10Best will announce the winners on Wednesday, April 24.

3rd Street Market Hall Heading to American Family Field

Modern-day ballpark snacks have evolved far beyond the “peanuts and Cracker Jack” of yesteryear, as an increasing number of restaurants seek to offer their menus to masses of hungry fans.

At the Milwaukee Brewers‘ home field, attendees can chow down on bacon mac and cheese, roast beef sandwiches and churro doughnuts, to name just a few.

Come Tuesday, when the Brewers play their home opener against the Minnesota Twins, that list will also include tacos, barbecue, arepas and sushi. Four vendors from 3rd Street Market Hall are slated to open at American Family Field, creating a satellite location for the downtown food hall.

The new 3rd Street Market Hall Annex, located on the right field loge level, will feature food from Kompali, Smokin’ Jack’s BBQ, Kawa and Anytime Arepa. Each concept plans to serve an abbreviated menu, with offerings tailored to the ballpark setting.

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Royal India’s Reign Ends, Another Restaurant Planned

Royal India‘s reign on S. 27th Street has come to an end. But a new restaurant, Honest Pav Bhaji, is already slated to take the throne.

Known for its East Indian cuisine, Royal Indian quietly closed in early 2024, according to a tenant of the building, 3400 S. 27th St.

Throughout its more than 27 years in business, Royal India emerged as a reliable destination for a wide range of authentic dishes, from samosas and pakora to chicken makhani and chana masala. The vegetarian and vegan-friendly restaurant also offered an all-you-can-eat buffet.

Restaurateur Paramjit Kaur took ownership of the business in May 2017. She revamped the restaurant’s look, feel and function, adding delivery services, online ordering and catering, according to a 2018 report from the Journal Sentinel.

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City Could Begin Rejecting Liquor Licenses In Areas With ‘Concentrated Poverty’

When rejecting a request for a new liquor license, the Milwaukee Common Council must be explicit about why. And be prepared to defend its choice in court.

In recent years, the council has relied on various factors, including the applicant’s criminal history, neighbor testimony and the number of nearby liquor licenses.

A proposal would add a new factor: the number of nearby residents living in poverty.

The resolution, if approved by the full council, would direct the License Division to develop legislation and metrics that could be relied upon.

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‘Bitter’ Cocktail Competition Coming to Harbor District

Fighters, grab your muddlers.

A battle is soon to take place at The Ivy House, inviting Wisconsin’s top bartenders to face off in a craft cocktail competition. Skills will be tested, blood (oranges) will be shed, and at the end, only one mixologist will be crowned a winner.

The Botanical Battle Royale, hosted by Two Birds Event Group in partnership with Bittercube and Heirloom Liqueurs, will take place on May 5 from noon until 5 p.m. The Ivy House is located at 906 S. Barclay St., in the Harbor District.

During the competition, participants will be tasked with creating original cocktails that incorporate Bittercube bitters and Heirloom Liqueurs, showcasing their creativity, quick-thinking and masterful understanding of flavors.

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Korean Noodle Shop Opens in Third Ward

Much like the gentle heat of gochugaru, a chili powder that’s ubiquitous in Korean cooking, Sinabro is taking a slow-burning approach to its opening.

The noodle house flipped the lights on its open sign for the first time March 20, welcoming friends, neighbors and a handful of curious passersby for a taste of its Korean dishes, ramen, udon and dumplings.

In the coming weeks, the restaurant, 316 N. Milwaukee St., will continue to ramp up productions ahead of its eventual grand opening. The move is a testament to Sinabro’s title, a Korean word (시나브로) meaning “slowly but surely” or “little by little.”

The restaurant is a project of Haneul (Han) Kim, who partnered with his father, Jongsoo Kimto open the business. It’s a first for Han, who grew up working in his parents’ restaurants but hadn’t — until now — opened his own.

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Buffalo Boss Exits Sherman Phoenix

Another Sherman Phoenix Marketplace business has left the nest.

Buffalo Boss announced the closure of its location at the business hub on Tuesday. The transition will allow owner Taj Pearsall to prioritize his brick-and-mortar location, which opened in September at 540 N. 27th St.

“We are thrilled to announce that we are fully focusing on our standalone location,” Pearsall said in a statement. “We are grateful for the incredible support we have received from Sherman Phoenix since opening in 2018.”

Sherman Phoenix helped launch Buffalo Boss to Milwaukee diners nearly six years ago, but the chain restaurant actually got its start much earlier in New York — bringing a nugget of truth to its tagline, “Brooklyn’s Finest Wings.”

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Freese’s Opens at Public Market

Shoppers at Milwaukee Public Market were treated to a new vendor on Tuesday, as Freese’s Candy Shoppe held its grand opening at the food hall at 400 N. Water St.

The sweets purveyor replaced Kehr’s Candies in a central stall at the market, offering a similar lineup of chocolate, candies, ice cream and other desserts.

Led by spouses Wendy and Mike Matel, the West Allis-based business will carry on a nearly 100-year legacy at the newest location, which joins the company’s flagship store at 7312 W. Greenfield Ave.

Freese’s originated in 1928 under Otto Freese, who remained the operator when Wendy began working as an employee at the age of 16. After years under Freese’s tutelage, she and Mike took over in 1995. The couple, along with their children, have carried on the legacy of the nearly century-old business ever since. Today, the Matels — with help from their children Sam, Kailey and Madisyn — continue to use many of Freese’s original recipes from the 1920s.

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Third Ward’s Saffron Debuts New Menu

Holi, a Hindu festival celebrating colors, love and the arrival of spring, took place on Monday, March 25 — a fitting date for Saffron to debut its updated menu.

The slate of more than 40 new offerings not only includes plenty of rich colors — saffron, beets, curry — but also a feast of textures, with eye-catching presentations ranging from billows of dry ice to gravity-defying kulfi pops.

Fatima Kumar, who co-owns the modern Indian restaurant with her husband, Hanish, said it’s been difficult to stick with the same menu when inspiration is flowing in earnest. In the year since their previous menu refresh, the couple have traveled to Singapore, Dubai and numerous other destinations, returning each time with new ideas for the restaurant at 223 N. Water St.

Throughout the past months, the couple, together with Saffron’s head chef, Abhishek Patilchanneled that cache of inspiration into a lineup of innovative dishes.

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North Avenue Market Plans Major Changes

North Avenue Market is beginning its transition from food hall to restaurant, effective this spring. Amid the changes, however, the business will preserve its function as a neighborhood hub, said founder Chris Harris Morse.

“We will still be here to serve and bring the community together — not just through food and entertainment, but also through connecting with people and trying to be able to support those around us,” he said.

In the coming months, the market will bid farewell to its remaining food vendor, 4 Corners Cafe, with plans to introduce a new, Southern kitchen and bar on the building’s main level. The restaurant, Christopher’s, will offer an array of down-home dishes, including plenty of vegan options.

The concept is a natural fit for Harris Morse, who is originally from North Carolina. He’ll collaborate with General Manager Michael Pyle-Harris, a Virginia native and former owner of a barbecue restaurant, to launch the restaurant.

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The New Fashioned Hosting April Grand Opening

Out with the old, in with The New Fashioned.

The Bars & Recreation spot is settling into its soft opening phase, with plans for a jam-packed grand opening in April.

The bar, restaurant and entertainment venue is the latest addition to Deer District, operating within a large, two-story building at 1122 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave. that previously housed Punch Bowl Social.

Like its predecessor, The New Fashioned offers a host of activities including curling, dart ball, pull tabs and HyperBowling — a souped-up version of the ten-pin game.

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Victor’s Is For Sale

After nearly six decades of service, Victor’s is seeking a new owner to operate the longtime tavern, or redevelop the property.

Located along a bustling downtown stretch of N. Van Buren Street — across the street from the brand-new Nova apartment building and kitty-corner to Metro Market — the property is a desirable one, and hopeful buyers will have to produce a hefty sum to emerge, well, victorious.

The business, furniture and fixtures are all included in the sale, along with the sprawling, one-story building that has housed Victor’s since the 1960s. The asking price is $1.9 million.

The business and the building were developed by Victor Jones and his son Vic Jones, 68, who has been the registered agent and lead operator for several years.

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