Milwaukee's best African / Jamaican / Caribbean, 2017
Season's eatings! The weather may be getting colder, but Dining Month on OnMilwaukee is just cooking up, dishing out your winning picks in this year's Best of Dining poll. Dining Month is brought to you by Fein Brothers, your premier food service equipment and supply dealer in Wisconsin since 1929. Congratulations to all of the winners, and happy eating for all those who voted!
By a thin margin of votes, Irie Zulu edges Cubanitas to win this category, which aligned readers with OnMilwaukee's editors and its dining expert. Clearly, people really like this casual, relatively new restaurant in Wauwatosa, which serves up a fusion of traditional African and Jamaican cuisines in a culturally authentic environment.
Irie Zulu offers varying menus, including a Weekly Best and brunch, as well as a retail store that sells Afro Fusion Cuisine products and cultural events and cooking classes.
OnMilwaukee editors' pick: Irie Zulu
Lori Fredrich's pick: Irie Zulu
There's a reason I chose Irie Zulu as my "best new restaurant" pick in 2016. And that's because it's a restaurant that offers up an unparalleled gustatory journey into Jamaica and the African diaspora. And that hasn't changed. Dishes are creative, filled with passion and, maybe most significantly, they're served up with a dose of cultural insight. Items like the vegan maffe (peanut butter stew) are rich and savory. Jerk wings are tender and well spiced. And there are few dishes as unctuous and comforting as the oxtail stew (either Jamaican or African), which is perfect as the weather turns cool.
Another element of the restaurant on the whole that's not lost on me is the fact that, as suburban landscapes increasingly fill with predictable American-style cuisine, Irie Zulu has offered a multitude of new diners a menu that takes them on a delectable journey solidly outside of their comfort zones.
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