Milwaukee Food & Drink

Milwaukee’s Must-Taste: 17 Casual Haunts for Foodies!

Milwaukee is a city that offers a diverse selection of dining options, from upscale restaurants to casual eateries. While fine dining experiences can be memorable, sometimes all you want is a comfortable atmosphere with good food.

That's where casual restaurants come in handy. Whether you're in the mood for a burger, pizza, or tacos, Milwaukee has plenty of options to satisfy your cravings.

Casual dining is all about simplicity and comfort. It's the kind of place where you can show up in your jeans and t-shirt, relax, and enjoy a good meal without any fuss.

These restaurants are perfect for a quick lunch break, a casual dinner with friends, or even a solo meal. The best casual restaurants in Milwaukee offer a range of cuisines, from classic American fare to international dishes.

What sets casual restaurants apart is their laid-back atmosphere. While the food is still high-quality, the focus is on creating a comfortable and welcoming environment. You won't find stuffy dress codes or overpriced menus at these restaurants.

Instead, you'll find friendly staff, casual decor, and simple, delicious food. Whether you're looking for a new spot to try or just want to relax and enjoy a good meal, Milwaukee's casual restaurants are sure to deliver.

1. Swingin' Door Exchange

Swingin' Door Exchange
219 E Michigan St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Swingin' Door Exchange is a cozy and intimate saloon-style bar and grill that serves American comfort food and cocktails.

The decor is old-school and saloon-like, which adds to the warm and welcoming atmosphere. The menu features finger-friendly appetizers and classic bar fare like sandwiches, soups, and wraps.

The staff is friendly and attentive, and the service is prompt. The food is excellent, and the cocktails are well-made.

Swingin' Door Exchange is a great spot for locals and visitors alike who are looking for a casual and laid-back dining experience.

2. La Masa Empanada Bar

La Masa Empanada Bar
1300 E Brady St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

La Masa Empanada Bar is a Latin American restaurant that specializes in oven-baked empanadas and cocktails. The knowledgeable and friendly wait staff serve excellent empanadas with quality ingredients.

The dough is soft and delicious, and the fillings are flavorful. The drink menu is great, and there are many options to choose from.

The restaurant also serves Latin American mains and offers brunch. The atmosphere is casual and buzzing, making it a great place to hang out with friends.

If you're looking for a delicious and unique dining experience, La Masa Empanada Bar is definitely worth a visit.

3. La Merenda

La Merenda
125 E National Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Google Maps)

La Merenda is a colorful spot that offers globally inspired small plates. Their menu is a fusion of different cuisines, and they use locally sourced ingredients.

The outdoor bar is a great place to enjoy local beers and wine. The staff is attentive and knowledgeable about the menu.

The atmosphere is casual and lively, perfect for a night out with friends or a date.

The prices are reasonable, and the portions are perfect for sharing. La Merenda is a must-visit for anyone looking for a unique dining experience.

4. Camino

434 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Google Maps)

Camino is a casual restaurant that serves American pub grub, burgers, and craft beers. The food is reasonably priced and the menu offers a solid selection of bar-style food.

The staff is friendly and the service is superb. The atmosphere is relaxed and unpretentious, making it a great spot for a casual meal with friends or family.

The beer selection is large and there are some great craft beers on tap. The fried pickles and cheese curds are excellent, and the burgers are amazing.

If you're in the mood for something different, Camino is definitely worth checking out.

5. Goodkind

2457 S Wentworth Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Google Maps)

Goodkind is a casual restaurant that offers inventive seasonal cuisine and house cocktails. The menu changes frequently, and there are excellent options for brunch and dinner.

The atmosphere is warm and inviting, with a cozy feel that's unique and intriguing. The staff is friendly, knowledgeable, and attentive.

The restaurant has outdoor seating that's spectacular for dining. The cocktail menu is well-crafted, and the beer and wine lists are well-curated.

The food is consistently delicious, with plates that are beautifully presented. Goodkind is a great place for a date night or a gathering with friends and family. It's a hidden gem in the area that's worth checking out.

6. Morel

430 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Google Maps)

Morel is a rustic-chic casual restaurant that offers a daily changing menu of New American plates.

The warm ambiance and friendly staff create a cozy dining experience.

Morel sources 90% of their products locally, resulting in a unique and delicious menu. The cocktail and beer selection is also impressive.

It's no wonder that Morel is a favorite among locals as it consistently delivers exciting and delicious food.

7. Triciclo Peru

Triciclo Peru
3801 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI 53208 (Google Maps)

Triciclo Peru is a cozy and trendy restaurant that offers authentic Peruvian street food.

The empanadas are a must-try, especially with the flavorful dipping sauces. The staff is attentive and friendly, making the dining experience enjoyable.

The restaurant also offers vegetarian and vegan options, which is a plus.

The cocktails are tasty and the atmosphere is welcoming. This is a great spot for casual dining and happy hour.

8. Buckley's Restaurant & Bar

Buckley's Restaurant & Bar
801 N Cass St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Buckley's Restaurant & Bar is a casual eatery that serves up elevated American comfort food. With a small menu that focuses on doing things really well, Buckley's offers inventive dishes that taste amazing.

The atmosphere is quaint and welcoming, with beautiful decor and a solid wine and spirits list.

The service is top-notch, with attentive staff that make sure every guest feels welcome.

While the menu may not be vegetarian or vegan-friendly, Buckley's is a great choice for those looking for a delicious meal in a cozy setting.

9. The Original

The Original
2498 N Bartlett Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53211 (Google Maps)

The Original is a casual restaurant with a refined yet relaxed atmosphere.

The menu features creative and well-prepared New American cuisine, with a focus on seafood and steak dishes. The cocktail menu is extensive and pairs well with the food.

The staff is attentive, friendly, and knowledgeable. The restaurant is a great spot for a date night or a group dinner.

The Original is highly recommended for those looking for high-quality food and drinks in a cozy and welcoming environment.

10. Alem Ethiopian Village

Alem Ethiopian Village
307 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Alem Ethiopian Village is a must-try for anyone who loves Ethiopian cuisine. The restaurant offers a lunch buffet with an array of vegetarian options that are both delicious and affordable.

The decor is ethnically themed and sets the mood for a cozy lunch or dinner.

The service is excellent, and the staff is friendly and welcoming. The food is fresh, flavorful, and well presented, with dishes like lamb and lentil sides that are highly recommended.

Alem Ethiopian Village is a great spot for anyone looking to experience traditional Ethiopian fare.

11. Sweet Diner

Sweet Diner
239 E Chicago St #103, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Sweet Diner is a stylish and chic casual restaurant that serves delicious diner-style food.

The atmosphere is inviting and warm, with blush pinks and warm tones that make it a cozy spot for breakfast, brunch, or lunch. The menu offers a wide variety of interesting options, and the portions are generous.

The food is beautifully presented, with flower details that make it look like art. The service is excellent, and the staff is friendly and welcoming.

Prices are reasonable, and the wait time can be long, but it's worth it. Sweet Diner is a must-visit spot for anyone looking for a great dining experience.

12. Three Brothers

Three Brothers
2414 S St Clair St, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Google Maps)

Looking for an authentic Serbian dining experience in a cozy setting with friendly staff and delicious food made in-house, then look no further than Three Brothers.

With a menu that boasts old-world European style dishes, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

Be sure to make a reservation as this small restaurant fills up quickly.

13. Calderone Club

Calderone Club
842 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203 (Google Maps)

Calderone Club is a casual Italian restaurant that offers Neapolitan pies and Italian classics.

The restaurant has an old-world setting and an extensive wine list to complement its made-from-scratch pasta and panini. The thin-crust pies are a must-try, with a cracker-like crust and incredible flavors.

The service is professional and courteous, making for a pleasant dining experience. Even though the prices are on the higher side, the food and atmosphere are worth it.

Calderone Club is a great place to go for phenomenal Italian food without being bombarded by club music.

14. Birch

459 E Pleasant St, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Birch is a trendy and modern bistro that serves Midwestern cuisine cooked on an open-fire hearth.

The restaurant also features a chef's bar where diners can watch the kitchen magic happen. Birch has a small, seasonal menu that caters to both vegetarians and meat-eaters.

The dishes are excellently prepared, with well-paired flavors and locally sourced ingredients.

The service is friendly and attentive, and the ambiance is lovely. Birch is a great place to enjoy a casual dinner with friends.

15. Tua Pasta Milwaukee

Tua Pasta Milwaukee
100 E Wisconsin Ave LL101, Milwaukee, WI 53202 (Google Maps)

Tua Pasta Milwaukee is a counter-serve eatery that offers custom pasta dishes.

Their menu is simple, but the dishes are made with fresh ingredients and cooked to order. The restaurant is located near a river, providing a scenic view.

Customers can choose their own pasta, toppings, and sauces, and watch as their dish is prepared in front of them.

The gelato is also a must-try. It's a great option for those who want a quick but satisfying meal.

16. LuLu Cafe and Bar

Lulu Cafe And Bar
2265 S Howell Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207 (Google Maps)

Looking for a casual spot with great food and drinks, plus live music at night, LuLu Cafe and Bar is the perfect place.

The menu is full of tasty entrees and appetizers, with plenty of vegetarian options. The portions are generous and the prices are reasonable.

The atmosphere is cozy and welcoming, with a mix of high top and standard tables.

The staff is friendly and attentive, making for a great dining experience. Don't forget to try their homemade pie with ice cream for dessert!

17. The Noble

The Noble
704 S 2nd St, Milwaukee, WI 53204 (Google Maps)

The Noble is a small and intimate restaurant that offers a unique and ever-changing menu.

The food is always delicious and the portions are generous.

The ambiance is casual and cozy, making it a great spot for a date or small group gathering.

The staff is friendly and attentive, and the cocktails are tasty. If you're looking for a great dining experience, The Noble is definitely worth trying.