Dine-and-Date: Milwaukee's Best Restaurants for Beer Lovers

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Dine-and-Date: Milwaukee's Best Restaurants for Beer Lovers

Up here in Milwaukee, we’re not called the Brew City just for fun. We have a monopoly on great beers, both mass-market and craft. Historically, we’ve brought you Miller, Pabst, Blatz, and Schlitz, and now you can have Horny Goat, Lakefront, Like Minds, and Urban Harvest—plus more than a dozen others. And we bring the best food to go with our craft brews, too: cheese, sausage, and meals with a strong German influence. For beer lovers looking for a casual night out with that special someone, hit up these five spots for both traditional Milwaukee food and a good local beer.

1. Lakefront Brewery Beer Hall

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Start your date with Lakefront's brewery tour; it's often voted the best in the city and trust me—it really is. The $10 fee includes the hilarious profanity-laced tour, four six-ounce pours from the tap room, and a chance to be crowned the Bung Queen. (It's a tour tailored to adults, can you tell?) Afterwards, grab a bite in the new Beer Hall overlooking the river walk. We recommend the Delux Pretzel, the Wurst Board with three sausages and a pretzel bun, and the German chocolate cake. Your four samples from the tour will be enough to see you through dinner, but you can also buy full-size brews from the beer hall bar.

2. Old German Beer Hall

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We'll admit, the featured beer here isn't exactly from Milwaukee—it's actually imported in from Munich—but the Old German Beer Hall is a can't-miss for anyone looking to embrace Milwaukee's heritage (and try sausage made in Milwaukee that you can only get in this restaurant). There is one amber beer brewed in Wisconsin, though. The menu is deep into German tradition, with Bavarian festival foods and giant pretzels to boot. But bring your date on a Friday for the best deal. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., you get a free local sausage lunch with sauerkraut and a side when you buy a beer, root beer, or cocktail. When you're finished, take turns playing hammerschlagen, a game where you hammer nails into a big stump. The last person to have theirs hammered in all the way (or the first person to bend their nail) buys the other a shot. Stick around until 6 p.m. when you'll likely be sufficiently hammered from the nail game for a Milwaukee tradition: Free Beer Friday.

3. Milwaukee Beer and Brat Cruise

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OK, so this isn't exactly a restaurant, but Milwaukee is on the shore of one of the greatest lakes in the world, and you'd be remiss not to take advantage. Edelweiss Boat Tours offers this very MKE river and lake cruise called the Beer and Brat Cruise; for only $26, you get a 1.5-hour cruise with unlimited Usinger brats and unlimited cups of a selected Milwaukee microbrew. It's an afternoon cruise once a week and they tend to sell out fast, so book early—and then cheers your date over a freshly cooked brat and a fabulous downtown skyline view.

4. Uber Tap Room and Cheese Bar

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Like cheese? Good, then you're in the right place. The Uber Tap Room and Cheese Bar has 36 local brews on tap, and a selective menu of beer cocktails. The food menu lists grilled cheese sandwiches, sausages, and mac and cheese, but skip that and instead opt for the cheese pairing. You and your date will get a sampler with slices of four or five cheeses specifically chosen to go well with your selected beer. Ask the bartenders which sampler they suggest based on what you're drinking—sometimes they'll build you one special. And if you get a cheese you particularly love, head next door to the attached Wisconsin Cheese Mart and buy some to take home.

5. Rumpus Room

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Ask around Milwaukee what everyone’s favorite bar is and you’ll likely get at least a handful touting the greatness of the Rumpus Room. It’s a laid-back gastropub with more than 20 craft beers that change daily on tap, plus more than 100 types in bottles and a seasonal craft cocktail menu. For dinner, try the typically Milwaukee menu choices: fried cheese curds, beer cheese soup, a big warm pretzel, schnitzel, or a Friday fish fry. Oh, and there’s an entire area just for charcuterie. For dessert, double-straw it in a traditional root beer float made with Wisconsin’s Sprecher root beer—it was originally brewed in Milwaukee and now calls Glendale home, just north of the city.

Main/lead photo by Nitram242, CC BY 2.0

Jennifer Billock is an award-winning writer, bestselling author, and editor, focusing on culinary travel. She has written for The New York Times, Yahoo Travel, National Geographic Traveler, Porthole Cruiser, Midwest Living, and Taste of Home Magazine. She is currently dreaming of an around-the-world trip with her Boston terrier. Check out her website at www.jenniferbillock.com and follow her on Twitter @jenniferbillock.

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