Michelle and I have a love affair for cheese. Brie, Gouda, Swiss, Goat, Blue, Cheddar, yes please. We were very excited to make our way into Wisconsin and sample some of it’s finest. We wasted no time at all, 15 minutes over the border, we stopped at this cheese institution to sample some (ok, fine, many) different types of cheese.
We are on our way to Milwaukee by way of Green Bay and several other smaller towns along Highway 43.
Our good friend Jacob (hi, Jakey!) and his amazing girlfriend Mary Kate sent us a list of places not to miss – Kopp’s being first on the list. More on that later.
Mary Kate’s family was kind enough to take us in for the evening and show us a bit of what Milwaukee was all about. We cannot tell you how grateful we are to have had your beautiful house to call home when we were in town. Especially as it was all so last minute. Your home is so cozy and gorgeous and, just that, a home.
Corinne welcomed us with open arms and huge hugs and was so excited to be taking us to dinner at one of the Steinmiller’s favorite local spots – Pizza Man. This is not your average pizza joint by any means. You walk in through enormous old wood doors that are operated through a pulley system (think rope and pulley, google it) and in you walk to a dimly lit restaurant buzzing with locals enjoying every kind of pizza imaginable, fried eggplant (to die for, you must order them!) and a glass of wine. This restaurant has one of the most extensive wine lists we have seen in a while. Making the list was several of our favorites including the A to Z Pinot Noir.
Joining us were Mary Kate’s dad, brother, Johnny and his best friend Zack. We had the most delightful dinner with stories of our trip, Johnny and Mary Kate’s adventures in Wisconsin, NYC and everything else under the sun you can imagine. John and Corinne, thank you thank you, thank you!
Johnny, MK’s brother and Zack decided we couldn’t go home until we had a little sample of downtown Milwaukee’s night life. On a side note, Johnny is Mr. Milwaukee. He knows everything and anything about the city, where to go, what to do, little local spots – and he knows EVERYONE. At each place we went, there were at least 4 or 5 different people coming up to say hi and to talk to him. What stood out to us though, was his passion and fire about Milwaukee. As he was showing us around and telling us about the different places, you could see the love for this city in his eyes. This is his home and he is so proud to call Milwaukee home. We just love that!
Zack had moved to Milwaukee several years ago and met Johnny at work (more on that momentarily…). Zack was telling us how Johnny played tour guide to him when he first moved to town as well, taking him under his wing and showing him all the places to go and introducing him to everyone.
Our first stop on the “nightlife” tour was Wolski’s Tavern. If you didn’t know this was a bar, you could easily walk by and just think it was someone’s house – someone that loved to put neon beer signs in their windows. The tavern, located in an old white house, immediately feels like home when you walk in. Apparently this bar has been around for over 100 years and it was easy to see why. Beyond games (pool and darts), great music, the nicest bartender in town, everyone is sitting around laughing and talking. For sure a neighborhood bar.
Johnny was explaining that back in the day, people would come in and stay all day and night. They felt they needed some “reward” for this and so the bar decided to give them a sticker that said “I closed Wolski’s.” To this day they are still giving out stickers. The walls are covered with photos of people who have taken their “I closed Wolski’s” sticker all over the world with them – from Antarctica, to Africa – even to the place where Saddam Hussein was assassinated. Pretty cool. Our hope is to have our photo up there some day with our new stickers, but we have some tough competition after looking through all the photos.
Our second stop was to Jo Cats pub. This place was rocking with an amazing DJ and great beers. Our friend Don from Chicago told us not to leave Milwaukee without trying a Spotted Cow. So, we did. That beer was for you Don!
Our third and final stop of the night was further downtown at a place called Art Bar. This bar has something really different and cool going for it, something we had never seen before (even in NYC, which claims to have it all!). On Monday nights, in the back of the bar, they have a local artist painting. Each week is a different artist, different genre of work. At the end of the night, they sell the painting to a lucky patron. We had such a blast hanging in the back watching this artist do his thing.
The boys had to work in the morning and we had a busy day ahead – seeing downtown and eating our way through the city – thanks to Jacob’s recommendations. And, well, threats. If we didn’t got to Kopp’s he claimed he would no longer be our friend. Oh Jacob!
After an amazing night sleep listening to Lake Michigan waves crash in the background, we were up and ready for a jam packed fun filled day.
We spent the morning with Corinne talking and talking over coffee and sharing several laughs. We were immediately drawn to Corinne as she reminded us of our own moms in so many ways. We felt at home and as if we were sitting our with our moms having our morning coffee. It is not everywhere that you get that feeling.
Upon Jacob’s recommendation we went Comet for lunch. Jacob, spot on again. The meal was so so so tasty. Michelle and I had salads, but it was Corinne who won the best order. She got the tomato soup and grilled cheese. Hands down the best grilled cheese we had ever tasted. Obviously, being in Wisconsin!
We spent some time driving around, checking out the stunning and unique art museum, Lake Michigan views along the road, a once in a lifetime tour of Brewers Park (hint: read the next blog!), and ending our whirlwind Milwaukee experience with Kopp’s.
Kopp’s is a Milwaukee landmark (and as Jacob said, if we didn’t go, he would no longer be our friend!). We headed over late afternoon with Corinne and were blown out of the water. Kopp’s is a frozen custard and burger joint that when you walk in takes you back in time. After sampling the flavors of the day and settling on three different orders, we headed out back to enjoy our tasty treats. Note to self: next time you head to Kopp’s be prepared for the enormously gigantic portions they give you. We will never forget sitting out back amongst the cows eating our cones as they ever so quickly melted into our hands, shirts – and even into our hair. We couldn’t eat it fast enough! The three of us laughing like little school girls seeing who could eat theirs the fasts before it all melted away.
Steinmillers, we cannot thank you enough for your hospitality, welcomeness and laughter the two days we were there. We found ourselves once again feeling like we had known you our whole lives and we were just swinging by for another visit. You made us feel so at home and there is nothing like hitting the road again with such a full heart (and belly!). We look forward to more fun times together!