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Milwaukee Food Tour 2018

Café Corazon is a local favorite and Milwaukee treasure. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

By Galen Patterson

On a recent trip to “America’s Dairyland,” my sister Hanni expressed an extreme and undying interest in visiting her post-high-school home: Milwaukee.

Having not spent much time in Milwaukee I agreed to go, as did her husband, twin sister and her spouse. To maximize nostalgic value and seize the absolute most out of the day trip, Hanni organized a plan complete with a timed schedule consisting of one restaurant after another. The day was dubbed “Food Tour 2018: Greatest Hits.”

We ate breakfasted at Apollo Café in Milwaukee’s Lower East Side. Apollo specializes in incredible gyros, sliced in front of you and piled high. They are complimented perfectly by Apollo’s Greek fries: French fries doused in lemon juice and Greek oregano, and covered in feta cheese. I have tried to recreate these fries in my home in California and have tasted only failure.

After breakfast, we cruised over to Colectivo, Bayview, where we drank high-quality, locally roasted coffee. Bayview is the baking headquarters of the Colectivo brand, and the giant glass windows show patrons the extent Colectivo is willing to go to bring them fresh baked goods.

After coffee, we drove straight into an early lunch at a personal favorite of ours: Honeypie cafe.

Honeypie Café takes food to a whole new level. – Photo by Galen Patterson / Beacon Media News

Honeypie handles all tasks with culinary gusto. We ordered a legendary house special called “pork fries.” Pork fries are a pile of mixed ingredients, including shredded pork, bacon, house-cheese sauce, and jalapenos over French fries.

I first tried pork fries more than a decade ago, and the flavor has haunted me ever since.

Recovering from the over-indulgence of pork, we walked around Milwaukee’s Public Market. The building resembles Los Angeles’ Grand Central Market, with food vendors, full-on restaurants, alcoholic beverages, and souvenirs covering a majority of the building’s space. The walls here are glass, rather than open-air, to protect against the cold and snowy Milwaukee winters. Here, I bought a sugar cookie shaped as a sailboat and stared longingly at summer sausages shaped like bottles of Leinenkugel’s beer and footballs. The cookie nearly sent me over the edge, and in need of a break, we visited artist Todd Mrozinski at his Milwaukee home.

Mrozinski works with shadows and silhouettes to produce art with vibrant contrasts and superior blending techniques. Hanni had commissioned Mrozinski to paint a gift for family friend, Erin Stoffel, whose husband and child were killed by an active shooter when their family was ambushed on a bridge in a Wisconsin park in 2015. Stoffel also received a gunshot wound in the incident.

Determined to finish the food tour, we found ourselves at Café Corazon. Café Corazon is a peculiar location, with curious portraits of Jesus covering walls, a hollowed out (and presumably fake) skull filled with candy and delicious Mexican-inspired cuisine.

By this point in the food tour, we had had enough, seeing as how it was only 2 p.m. I hesitantly and painfully shoveled house salsa into my mouth with fantastic tortilla chips, and drank horchata while trying to decipher the theme of the restaurant’s back patio. Shortly after, we were back in the vehicle staving off the gluttonous regret of food touring. Then we arrived at Colectivo, Humboldt, the roasting headquarters of the Colectivo brand.

Barley conscious from a food coma, I stared at the massive machines stirring huge bowls of coffee beans as they roasted over heat. The smell of coffee has never been stronger, and the room on the other side of the counter was filled with sacks of beans and roasting equipment. Here we made our final transactions of the food tour, climbed into the van, and waited for the tour to end in the driveway of our lodgings.

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