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Patios, food trucks and drinks to try this summer in Milwaukee

Two people standing by a food truck.
Jarvis Lawson
Milwaukee Magazine
Taste Amir's Roti is operated by Amir Ahmad Mohamed Ali and his wife Majedah Yusuf, Rohingya refugees who settled in Milwaukee. You'll find the truck right outside of Wilson Park on Milwaukee's south side.

It’s summertime in Milwaukee, which means there’s lots to do outdoors like concerts, festivals, and dining. Ann Christenson covers dining for Milwaukee Magazine, and for this month’s issue she wrote about some of the best restaurant patios, food trucks, and summer drinks. She shares some of her favorites:

Summer Patios

Christenson says you want efficient food service, a comfortable chair and a good view in order to have a great outdoor dining experience.

Photo courtesy of Harbor House
Ann Christenson of Milwaukee Magazine says that Harbor House has one of the very best patios with the best view she can possibly think of.

For fine dining: Harbor House

"One of the very best [patios] with the best view that I can possibly think of," says Christenson. "Literally you see the lake, you see the Calatrava, you see sailboats out there. It's a gorgeous view... and you also have this sort of high-end menu of seafood."

For a casual meal outside: Sorella

"Yes, it's one of those [patios] you can drop in on spontaneously, but it has such a vibe in that it's raised but it's near the street. So you've got that activity of being in the Bay View neighborhood, that vibe," Christenson explains. "So I think it's a great place to go and have a casual meal, a pizza or a really good piece of pork because they do a really good pork dish there."

Food Trucks

Heirloom MKE

Operated by Pete and Jess Ignatiev, the couple originally planned to open a restaurant, but when the coronavirus pandemic interfered they changed their plan to have a restaurant on wheels instead.

Chris Kessler
Milwaukee Magazine
The burrata cheese heirloom tomato salad is a classic menu item for Heirloom MKE according to Ann Christenson of Milwaukee Magazine.

"Yes, you can get things like fried cheese curds and a burger and fish fry, but you can get steamed mussels. They have this wonderful burrata cheese heirloom tomato salad, which is a classic for them. That's when you really see the seasonal ingredients being utilized in their food," says Christenson. "It is not what you’d expect to get in a styrofoam container. It is very, very different and I love that about Heirloom MKE."

Taste Amir's Roti
The bright green truck is operated by Amir Ahmad Mohamed Ali and his wife Majedah Yusuf, Rohingya refugees who settled in Milwaukee.

Jarvis Lawson
Milwaukee Magazine
The murtabek from Taste Amir's Roti food truck is a type of large pancake filled with chicken or beef, cut into squares and served with a curry-based sauce.

Taste Amir's Roti specializes in halal Malaysian cuisine, which means the food is prepared according to Islamic law. "It's absolutely wonderful," says Christenson. From stir fried rice dishes, noodle dishes, samosas and more. Christenson recommends trying the murtabak.

"It's like a crepe with a savory filling inside like chicken or beef, but with sort of a very unique sauce that's served with it as well, and it's huge. You get it and it's absolutely enormous," she explains. "[The food] is something that you're not going to find at any other food truck in town. It's just completely unique, and I love it."

Summer Coolers

"To me a good summer cocktail is something that you can sip outside and just really take your time because it's summer, and you really want to relish that moment," says Christenson.

Chris Kessler
Milwaukee Magazine
An Aperol Spritz from Buckley's Restaurant and Bar in downtown Milwaukee, Wis.

She notes that classic cocktails are trending this season, particularly the daiquiri. "There are now daiquiri bars ... but the thing about that is that those are frozen drinks. A lot of people kind of think of slushies, but that isn't how the daiquiri was created," says Christenson.

The original classic drink isn't blended at all and is made with rum, simple syrup and lime juice. "It's not a slushie drink at all, it's a slow-sipper," she notes. Christenson recommends going to Cubanitas to try different flavors of daiquiris, the Daq Shaq, or even try making a classic one at home.

Another classic cocktail making a comeback this summer is the spritzer.

"To me classic summer spritzer is the Aperol Spritz, which is essentially just aperol, which is an Italian liquor, and then like Cava—some kind of sparkling wine or Prosecco mixed together on ice," Christenson explains. "It's just super refreshing, it's a little bit bitter, it's not too sweet."

She notes that there's also a trend of Italian aperitifs that mixologists are using in spritzers, so if you're out at a cocktail bar be sure to give some new spritzers a try.

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