;

Drive south from downtown Milwaukee into the Walker’s Point neighborhood and the dimly lit streets and empty buildings will make you feel like you should keep going.


La Merenda, Walkers Point – Milwaukee, WI

 

Don’t. Park, get out and enjoy some of the best farm-to-table food in a city that prides itself on being the heart of America’s Dairyland.

Your first stop should be La Merenda, a tapas bar where farmers and artisanal food producers vie to get on the menu. With so many restaurants naming their suppliers these days, serving local food seems unremarkable and increasingly faddish. But Peter Sandroni and a growing group of like-minded chefs have demonstrated the power of buying locally in turning around this neighborhood once known for car break-ins and other petty crime. 

When Sandroni opened La Merenda in an old woodworking shop seven years ago, Walker’s Point had only one truly notable restaurant, Peggy Magister’s Crazy Water, a pricey-by-Milwaukee-standards bistro with a quietly loyal clientele.

 

Today, its neighbors include Braise, run by James Beard nominee Dave Swanson; c. 1880, operated by Thomas Hauck, the former executive sous chef at Citronelle in Washington; and Blue Jacket, a Great Lakes-themed restaurant that’s rapidly making a name for itself after opening last summer. Magister has opened a second restaurant in the area, called All Purpose, or AP.

 

The restaurants are within blocks of some of the city’s most acclaimed artisanal producers, including the cheesemaker Clock Shadow Creamery, Purple Door Ice Cream, Atomic Chocolate Co., Anodyne Coffee Roasting Co. and Great Lakes Distillery, which makes small-batch spirits. Sandroni has made a point of buying from these companies and encourages other chefs to do so as well.

CONTINUE READING – The Washington Post 

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