10 reasons to get out of bed tomorrow morning
Story by Rebecca Ratterman
Photography by Jen Ede
A wise man (Ron Swanson, to be precise) once said, “There has never been a sadness that can’t be cured by breakfast food.” Here in Milwaukee, we try not to play favorites—however, when it comes to meals, breakfast is certainly close to our hearts. Whether you’re flipping pancakes at your house on a Sunday morning with your family, or meeting a friend for coffee and pastries before work, breakfast is a meal of unity. You don’t take just anyone to breakfast, you take those who are special to you. You don’t go just anywhere, because it takes something amazing to feel excited about getting out of bed. We’ve done the preliminary work—check out some amazing hidden, and some not-so hidden, gems around Milwaukee featuring some locally-sourced ingredients. They’re definitely worth the early wake-up.
• BED – Breakfast Every Day • WO – Weekend Only • VF – Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly
Most of Milwaukee’s conscientious eaters know Beans and Barley; some of them have even been going since it opened in 1979! Beans was an original trailblazer of the local and sustainable food scene here in town, a fact that cements it a spot on our list. Offerings vary from smoothies and scones, vegetarian and vegan-friendly dishes, to some white-meat lovers fare. The Super Green smoothie is a health lifeline in and of itself—pair it with the classic cream scone and you’ll be in minimalistic breakfast heaven. As for meals, you can’t beat the Tofu Scrambler (even if you’re a bacon addict) or the delicious Pesto Scrambled Eggs. Did we mention they deliver? After breakfast, get your fill of organic and Fair Trade goods in the co-op that shares the building.
1901 E. North Ave., Milwaukee, WI • beansandbarley.com • 414-278-7878 • BED, VF
Milwaukee’s west side breakfast sweetheart, Blue’s Egg, knows exactly how to ease you into your day. Usually, that involves monkey bread—you can even stir the sugary sauce that comes with it into your Valentine coffee. Peruse all of the very stuffed browns and the section dedicated solely to Benedicts, or, if you’re watching your figure, there are the lower-calorie options. Don’t wait until you’re too hungry, though! Blue’s has been packed every day we’ve set foot into it, so be prepared to hang out and sip coffee for a bit before you’re seated—it’s worth the wait. For a different vibe and equally intriguing menu, visit their sister place, Story Hill BKC, a short drive east on Bluemound.
317 N. 76th St., Milwaukee, WI • bluesegg.com • 414-299-3180 • BED
Café at the Plaza
Let’s just start with the actual building here—this place is steeped in history and poise, not only in its bones, but in its long-standing patrons as well. As you sit down at the 1950s-era horseshoe bar, you can’t help but glance at the other guests—regulars reading their newspaper sections. The waitress has already brought one man black coffee with cream and asks if he wants the Plaza Scrambler with egg whites, as usual. The Breakfast Club is delicious (we particularly liked it with a croissant as the bun), as is the classic brioche french toast, which comes with a vanilla crème Anglaise and whiskey-soaked berries. Have everything with café potatoes and consider also trying the pork and spaetzle dish—we’re told it’s a house favorite.
1007 N. Cass St., Milwaukee, WI • plazahotelmilwaukee.com • 414-272-0515 • BED
Featuring unique breakfasts to bring out your adventurous side, vegan/vegetarian- friendly, and an awesome drink menu, Comet Cafe is another east side favorite. Try the Bloody Marys (they put bacon in ‘em!). Speaking of which—bacon cakes, anyone? The Rocket Platter is perfect for the all-American breakfast lover, and the monstrous breakfast burrito is perfect to keep you full through dinner. Plus, ask your tatted up waitress or waiter about their favorite dish and you might just learn something new.
1947 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee, WI • thecometcafe.com • 414-273-7677 • VF, WO
Engine Company No. 3
Chef Peter Sandroni of La Merenda recently opened the hotly-anticipated Engine Company No. 3 (in an old firehouse) and guests have been on fire for his take on ethnic favorites ever since. Hispanic flavor-inspired dishes, like the Horchata French Toast and the Patacon Con Huevo, provide an interesting contrast to more American classics. Do yourself a favor and order the cinnamon buns if you visit during the weekend, but we suggest you go early in the week. For global flavors made with seasonal ingredients grown or raised close to home, Engine Company No. 3 is a strong contender for best new breakfast in Walker’s Point.
217 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, WI • enginecompany3.com • 414-226-5695 • BED
Field to Fork Cafe
Field to Fork has the feel of a European Café and the glorious food selection of a dozen different locally-focused, quality grocery stores. Italian truffle oil? Check. Kombucha? Check. Weird, delicious-looking cheese you’ve never heard of before? Check. Their raw juice bar is amazing, the menu options are completely local, and the atmosphere is one of health and contentedness. The host (who was the human equivalent of sunshine) recommended the Eggs Benedict, and our sweet waitress recommended the frittata (which came stuffed with a small garden of delectable vegetables and topped with a savory salad). It was quite possibly the healthiest breakfast any of us have consumed in our lifetimes.
511 S. 8th St., Sheboygan, WI • fieldtoforkcafe.com • 920-694-0322 • BED
The National Café
Walking into The National feels like a breath of fresh air, or a refreshing inhalation of breakfast food-smell, whichever you prefer. As you walk through a small sea of tables (two of which are on small pedestals in the window for those who either love natural light or attention) towards an intimate counter, close in on the giant chalkboard menu and contemplate your order. When asked for guidance, the woman helping you answers, “‘The Ultimate’ has a cult following… you should try it.” So try it we did (but with spinach—because bacon makes everything taste better). After that, we can happily say we joined the cult of the Ultimate Breakfast Sandwich. If you’re feeling extra indulgent, pair breakfast with a Mexican mocha made from Anodyne coffee beans, dashes of chocolate, cinnamon, and ancho.
839 W. National Ave., Milwaukee, WI • nationaleats.com • 414-431-6551 • BED, VF
Another bastion of local and organic, the Riverwest Co-op serves up large portions of healthy breakfast foods from scratch in the early hours, every single day. Items are vegan by default, but can be ordered vegetarian. The most popular breakfast items are the Bi Bim Bop—Milwaukee sure does love its Korean breakfast foods—and the pancakes and vegan pancakes (the size of your face), which you can get with blueberries, bananas, coconut, granola or chocolate chips. For your beverage needs, an amazing organic smoothie menu is also available every day, along with coffee and Rishi Tea.
733 E. Clarke St., Milwaukee, WI • riverwestcoop.org • 414-264-7933 • BED, VF
With a slogan like “Changing the world one bite at a time,” you can bet that Simple Café takes its local sourcing very seriously. Simple receives foodstuffs from farms all over Wisconsin. The Seasonal Harvest Frittata (one of our favorites) contains eggs from Yuppie Hill Poultry, kale from Geneva Lakes Produce, and potatoes from Sweet Corn Lady to name a few. The pancakes are sure to please, especially the pumpkin ones, and the Korean BBQ breakfast bowl is one of the most unique fusion dishes in Milwaukee. There’s usually a wait during weekends, so we’ve found that our favorite times to visit Simple Café are early mornings during the week. The waitstaff is friendly and the ambiance calming, so overall a great find.
2124 N. Farwell Ave., Milwaukee, WI • 414-271-2124 • BED, VF
Ted’s Ice Cream and Restaurant
Home is where the perfect diner is. Ted’s oozes comfort: from those homey diner food smells to your smiling waitress, Leah, who knows the man and his daughter seated at the head of the bar. This place not only makes you crave hash browns and steak n’ eggs (and maybe, if you’re feeling indulgent, a chocolate shake to go with breakfast), but time with family as well. The menu is on the smaller side, but it has the classic necessities and sometimes, that’s all that matters.
6204 W. North Ave., Milwaukee, WI • 414-258-5610 • BED
We asked fans on our Facebook page and you told us!
Paradigm Coffee, Sheboygan
Paradigm Coffee and Music has really started something unique in Sheboygan. It’s grown from just a coffee shop to a real community leader. It is locally owned and sources local foods from Colectivo Coffee, Rishi Tea, Sassy Cow Creamery, Sugar River Dairy, Omanhenee Cocoa Bean Co., City Bakery, The Sheboygan Farmer’s Market, Goodside Grocery, and the Paradigm Garden. Not only that, but Goodside Grocery, a food co-op, is housed inside the same building and Paradigm hosts great local musicians every week. As someone who grew up in Sheboygan, I really appreciate what Kate Krause has created.
Water House Foods, Lake Mills
Water House Foods really highlights their local sources of ingredients, everything down to the flour and grains that they use. They’ve got a big board that they keep current with all of their sources. They also provide resale of a lot of those local products and offer classes to help teach how to use them. Their food is good, and use good quality stuff— but if you stop in on a weekend you’ll really see the community embracing them, which is my favorite part.
Rebecca Ratterman is a writer and recent graduate of Marquette University from Louisville, Kentucky. She is a coffee fiend and loves all of the local food Milwaukee has to offer (caffeinated or not). A travel junkie, she has lived in the beautiful city of Copenhagen, Denmark and still craves the local bread, rugbrød, every day. Rebecca would particularly like to thank Lana Lee, her breakfast partner in crime and weight gain, for helping with this piece.