Living near Milwaukee is fantastic. The city is big enough to enjoy an entire day, but small enough to easily walk from one end to another. Year-round entertainment includes several museums, Bucks games, and of course the amazing restaurants and bars the city is well-known and loved for.
Summers in Milwaukee are when the city and its surrounding neighborhoods really come alive. Milwaukee is known as a city of festivals and during the summer months it’s hard to find any day where there isn’t some kind of festival going on, and of course, one with great food! Here are just a few of the best Milwaukee summer festivals for foodies.
Strawberry Fest – Cedarburg
About 20 minutes north of downtown Milwaukee lies the charming little town of Cedarburg. Four times a year Cedarburg has a seasonal festival, but my personal favorite is Strawberry Fest. As a huge strawberry fan, I love trying all the themed foods: strawberry wine, strawberry shortcake, strawberry lemonade, strawberry cheesecake… you get the picture. I always make sure to come on an empty stomach and full wallet because besides the great food, Cedarburg has fantastic little shops such as Penzey’s Spices to several antique stores up and down its main Washington Avenue.
Only three years old, Mexican cuisine fans will love Milwaukee’s newTaco Fest and the chance to get their fill of delicious and authentic food and drinks. Attendees vote for their favorite taco to determine the best in the city, so make sure to come with a hearty appetite! Last year alone around 6,000 tacos were eaten by guests and the winners were Tres Locos, Gypsy Taco, and Big Papi’s. Normally held in June, make sure to get your tickets early as the event completely sells out!
Get your fill of carbs galore at Milwaukee’s Festa Italiana, located on the Summerfest grounds normally in July. From pastas and calzones to vinegars and olive oils, guests will have over thirty vendors to choose from this year. Make sure to stop by the wine tasting stations as well to pick your new favorites from all over Italy. After the cannoli-eating contest, enjoy the live Italian music and the festival’s other activities such as Italian Idol, taking a gondola ride, and the replicas of the Trevi Fountain, Coliseum, St. Marco Venetian Tower, and the David.
One of my personal favorites close to my heart, IndiaFest is also pretty new and getting its feet on the ground. Milwaukee’s Indian community isn’t as big as Chicago’s, but there are still plenty of participating vendors to make it great. Get your eyebrows threaded from one of several salons (they’ll never have looked so perfect), choose from the beautiful henna designs (make sure you don’t move too much until it’s fully dry), and taste both north and south Indian dishes. There’s probably nothing here that you won’t like, so be extra hungry to fill up on kebabs, butter chicken, biryani, chaat, gulab jamuns, and so much more! Also stay for the fashion show displaying colorful sarees and salwars and the Bollywood dance show.
Milwaukee’s Big Taste
If you don’t mind splurging a bit on your ticket, this is probably one of Milwaukee’s most gourmet-centered food festival. The same night as Festa Italiana (if you can squeeze anything else into your stomach), Milwaukee’s Big Taste offers foods from the city’s best chefs. Restaurants such as the Cultured Vegan, Antigua Latin Restaurant, Bartolotta, the Melting Pot and way more will make you want to go for a full meal as soon as possible. Stay for a great view of Festa Italiana’s fireworks, too!
Out in the Kitchen
Hosted by the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Out in the Kitchen brings out LGBT-friendly food industry vendors from around the city. Get ready to sample all kinds of delicious foods from the best and support this great cause!