11 Best Milwaukee James Beard Award Winning Restaurants


Milwaukee's food scene is fantastic - we are lucky to live here!

Milwaukee, Wisconsin, is a city with a lot of culture and history. It is also home to some of the best restaurants in the country. Recently, several Milwaukee-area restaurants were awarded James Beard Awards, considered the most prestigious awards in the culinary world.

I had no idea Milwaukee had so many James Beard Award-Winning Restaurants! Milwaukee’s food scene is fantastic – we are lucky to live here!

This blog post will look at 11 award-winning restaurants and see what makes them unique.

1) Ardent

Fine dining at Ardent will not disappoint. The atmosphere is that of intimacy and comfort. The menu is lush with vegetarian dishes, meat, poultry, and seafood options. Choose from their extensive wine list to complement your meal perfectly. Round out your evening with specialty desserts, probably some you have never heard of!

Ardent is a beautiful, elegant dining experience. Ardent is the right choice if you want intimacy, simple ingredients, and bold flavors!

2) Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro

Many times, diners want dinner with a view. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro is the leading restaurant for dining, great views, and special events. Looking out over Lake Michigan and providing an all French wine list, Bartolotta’s is a savory choice in Milwaukee.

The menu at Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro is French inspired, with pork pate options, French cheeses, sauteed salmon, and more. Some menu options are traditional while others are modern- you will never be bored with the array of menu choices.

3) Bavette La Boucherie

Bavette La Boucherie started as a butcher shop that turned into a full-service restaurant and cafe. The start of Bavette gives it a traditional, casual feel that brings everyone in to join their community.

Traditions remain strong with Bavette, and all meat comes from Wisconsin farms. If you are looking for a casual cafe with delicious farm-to-table food, Bavette should be on your list!

The menu at Bavette changes daily, keeping ingredients fresh and new for its diners. Cheese and charcuterie boards are abundant on their menu. Fresh-made sandwiches are their specialty, along with salads, soups, and desserts.

hanging wine glasses

4) Braise

Farm-to-table is the name of the game at Braise. Braise prides itself on fresh foods and quality menu items using ingredients from Wisconsin’s farmers and artisan products. Braise not only provides tasty food, but they also want their diners to have the best experience.

Diners can sit at the chef’s bar to see the preparation of their meals, or they can try a hands-on class.

The menu is always inspired by the season- giving the freshest ingredients. The menu boasts vegetarian, gluten, and dairy-free options and meat options. Soups, salads, and fun dessert choices always appear on their menu.

5) Bryant’s Cocktail Lounge

Known for its unique cocktails and being one of the oldest lounges in Milwaukee, Bryant’s is not to be missed.

Having the classic lounge vibe, Bryant’s is covered in velvet walls, mood lighting, and great music. Their cocktails have fun names- Rat Pack, Kismet, and Navy Grog- and bring you into the relaxing effects of the lounge.

6) Crazy Water

An intimate bistro, Crazy Water provides a fun new experience. Located in a classic, delightful tavern, Crazy Water gives off the same feelings with its cuisine and character. Their extensive bar and outdoor patio are a fun way to enjoy great food.

The menu is that of American fusion. Special starters and salads can start your meal off right. Duck breast, halibut, burgers, and more grace the rest of their menu.

wine glasses clinking

7) DanDan

American-Chinese cuisine never tasted better than at DanDan. This fun, playful restaurant adds a special touch to American-Chinese cuisine. They respect the Chinese proverb “Preserve the old, but know the new.” Dan and Dan, the owners and chefs enjoy bringing a Midwestern feel to the Chinese food they make.

Diners can enjoy some of the traditional Chinese dishes like dim sum, dumplings, rice, and noodles. Some of their specials include Sea Scallops, Happy Chicken, and so much more.

windows at a restaurant

8) The Diplomat

The fun, intimate feel of The Diplomat brings many guests in. The excitement of new dishes, surprise flavors, and delicious meals cannot be beaten. The Diplomat brings friends together with dishes to share.

The American regional dishes are creative and have new flavors mixed together. Grits, biscuits, and deviled eggs all have their own flare. The Diplomat Fries are not your typical fries- can you say garlic mayonnaise? Yum!

9) EsterEv

This restaurant is special on so many levels. EsterEv is a restaurant within a restaurant.

They provide a 10-course family-style meal ONLY on Friday and Saturday nights.

To add even more to this extraordinary restaurant, it is named after their great-grandmothers Evelyn and Ester. They are bringing the joy and passion back to cooking that their great-grandmothers started.

The menu is also special. The ten courses include starters, soups, and main dishes like NY Strip and Sturgeon.

The atmosphere and amazing food at EsterEv is so unique that it should be enjoyed by all!

a very fancy restaurant

10) Sanford

Fine dining at Sanford is fresh and unique all in one. Fresh flowers, fresh ingredients, and intimate atmosphere add to the experience you will have at Sanford. Providing the best service and food is of the utmost importance.

The menu is ever-changing to keep up with the seasons and fresh ingredients needed to provide the best foods. They have a four-course menu that experiments with cuisine from all around the world. Diners can also choose from a seven-course tasting menu that provides guests with a taste of many options at Sanford.

fancy dinner plated

11) Three Brother’s Restaurant

Three Brother’s Restaurant is the place to go if you are looking for a casual dining experience with authentic Siberian dishes. Three Brother’s Restaurant provides a fun atmosphere with charm and style.

I love their goulash and the Serbian Tea (which isn’t tea at all. It is a combination of several bourbons and spices.)

Pssst. Remember to bring cash – they do not accept credit cards.

The menu at Three Brother’s Restaurant is full of classic Siberian dishes. Stuffed grape leaves, Siberian salad, and Musaka grace the menu. End your meal with tasty Baklava or strudel.

What is the James Beard Award?

The James Beard Foundation Awards are annual awards presented by the James Beard Foundation to recognize culinary professionals in the United States. The James Beard Foundation recognizes exceptional talent and achievement in the culinary arts, hospitality, media, and broader food system, as well as a demonstrated commitment to racial and gender equity, community, sustainability, and a culture where all can thrive. For more than 30 years, the James Beard Foundation has highlighted the centrality of food culture in our daily lives. They award scholarships to aspiring culinary professionals, support innovative leaders in the food industry, and celebrate America’s diverse culinary heritage through events and educational programs.

milwaukee city sculpture


This concludes our list of the best James Beard award-winning restaurants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. We hope you enjoyed reading, and please let us know if we missed any of your favorites! Happy dining!

These are just a few of the great James Beard award-winning restaurants in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Each one offers something unique and delicious to please any palate. So, next time you’re in town, be sure to check out one (or all!) of these amazing eateries! You won’t be disappointed!

What’s your favorite James Beard award-winning restaurant in Milwaukee? Let us know in the comments below! Happy dining!


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