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Great Eats: Wisconsin’s Award-Winning Restaurants

Best Restaurants in Milwaukee and Madison

By Daniel Rose

The prestigious James Beard Award is essentially the Oscars of the culinary world. Awards from the James Beard Foundation range from cookbooks, to restaurant design, to best chef in a given region. Each year, hundreds of restaurants compete to earn a title in one of these categories. Wisconsin has had its share of fame with several chefs awarded the title of Best Chef in the Midwest for their outstanding culinary work in Milwaukee and Madison's best restaurants. Those who appreciate culinary excellence must look no further than this list of Wisconsin’s James Beard Award-winning restaurants.

L’Etoile - Madison

Chef: Tory Miller

Miller won the 2012 James Beard Award for Best Chef Midwest for his phenomenal work at L’Etoile. The restaurant is the embodiment of the farm to table movement; Miller works closely with local farmers to ensure he has the freshest ingredients while also boosting the local economy. Miller has created a multi-course menu at L’Etoile that is sure to please any palate. Choose the seven-course tasting menu and experience some of his favorite ingredients and cuisine styles.

Sanford - Milwaukee

Chef: Justin Aprahamian

From line cook to winner of Best Chef Midwest for 2014, Aprahamian has done it all. The owner and head chef of Sanford has designed the menu with a seasonal style, always taking advantage of the freshest produce and ingredients.

When dining, there are two options, the four-course exploration menu or seven-course surprise tasting menu. The exploration menu has influences from around the globe with an emphasis on Aprahamian’s Armenian roots. The surprise tasting menu allows the chefs to create a unique dining experience for the guest since it is prepared ‘a la minute’ and gives a peek into each chef’s philosophy on food.

Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro - Milwaukee

Chef: Adam Siegel

Adam Siegel’s years in France and culinary collaboration with chefs around the world helped earn his restaurant, Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro, the James Beard Award in 2008. He was also featured on Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. Bartolotta’s Lake Park Bistro is a fine dining experience featuring French cuisine. Siegel prepares three types of French cooking styles: Les Plats Classique, Les Plats Traditionnel and La Cuisine Modern du Chef. These three styles encompass signature dishes, traditional French bistro cuisine and French food with a modern twist.

Three Brothers Serbian Restaurant - Milwaukee

America’s Classics Winner - 2002

This Eastern European style food is not to be missed. The family-owned Three Brothers restaurant has been serving traditional Serbian cuisine for more than 40 years. If you have time, be sure to order the Burek, a meat-filled pastry made with traditional phyllo dough. This dish is made to order but is well worth the thirty to forty-five minute wait.

The Watts Tea Shop - Milwaukee

America’s Classics Winner - 2011

American classic is a great way to describe Watts Tea Shop’s quaint atmosphere and delicious breakfast and lunch entrees. Take a minute to slow down with friends, sip a cup of tea and appreciate the historic beauty. And don’t miss the sunshine cake, which boasts a recipe dating back to 1901. Watts is truly a gem in the heart of a bustling city.


Looking for more delicious options? Check out additional places to eat or tell us about a scrumptious meal you've tasted in a comment below.

This entry was posted in Restaurants