In Dining

Whether it's a cheese plate and a glass of wine or a full meal, we've got your eats and drinks covered for the MKE Film Festival. (PHOTO: Lori Fredrich)

Beyond popcorn: Where to eat and drink during the MKE Film Festival

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Oct. 25, 2019 at 4:01 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

It's time for Dining Month, presented by Deer District and its spooky Halloween-themed alter ego, Fear District. Throughout the month of October, we'll be serving up fun and fascinating content about all things food. The signature dish, however, is our 2019 Best of Dining poll, who's winners we will dish out all month long. Get hungry, Milwaukee!

The Milwaukee Film Festival kicks off on Thursday, Oct. 17; and unless you want to subsist for days on theater popcorn, Whoppers and bad nachos (all of which can be delicious, in moderation), it's probably worth your time to think about where to grab a bite before (or after) your trips to the movies.

While there's an entire city filled with options at your disposal, decisions can be daunting. So we thought we'd narrow the field to the most convenient (and delicious) spots to get your food and drink on, including a few unexpected places you may not have considered.

Click on the theater for film listings and nearby eats:
Avalon Theater
Broadway Theatre Center
Jann Serr Studio Cinema
Oriental Theatre
Rivoli Theatre
Times Cinema

Avalon Theater

2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., Bay View
[Click to search the Milwaukee Film line-up at this theater]

Cafe Corazon, 2394 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 544-2774
If it's Mexican fare you're craving, you're just blocks away from one of the best Bay View spots to get your fix. Choose from tacos, tostadas or enchiladas (vegan and vegetarian options, too). If you're hungry for something substantial, you can't go wrong with the wet burrito; wash it down with a margarita or a Mexican beer. Cafe Corazon is open for brunch (Sundays), lunch and dinner.

Lazy Susan, 2378 S. Howell Ave., (414) 988-7086
If Lazy Susan is still on your "to try" list, now is as good a time as any to give it a go (because you should go). Choose from a wide variety of shareables like a Wisconsin cheese board or flatbread. There are also inventive main dishes like heirloom tomato pomodoro and jerk scallops. If you're looking for a deal, you can enjoy a four-course dinner for two at a special price of $50 (per couple) on Wednesdays. And the Thursday night Korean fried chicken is a must-try featuring crisp, juicy chicken served up with delicious sides like spam mac and cheese (call ahead to reserve your whole or half chicken). Lazy Susan also offers brunch on Sundays until 2 p.m., so make it a Sunday Funday and grab brunch before your afternoon flick.

Mistral, 2473 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 539-6469
(Reservations are recommended)
You can't get closer to the Avalon than Mistral, the restaurant just inside the theater. And if you've not had the opportunity to try out the Mediterranean-inspired eats at this cozy little destination, there couldn't be a better time. Stop by for wine and snacks or take the time to explore the menu of entrees, which includes accessible bites like steak and frites to more adventurous (but equally delicious) finds like Tunisian brik with Ahi tuna. The restaurant also recently launched brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., so you can pair your weekend flick with biscuits and gravy, spanikopita or a variety of other brunch dishes. Reservations are recommended as the restaurant is cozy!

Odd Duck, 2352 S Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 763-5881
(Reservations are recommended)
It's tough to beat this Bay View staple, which offers an ever-changing menu of inventive globally-inspired dishes that are as satisfying as entrees as they are for sharing. On any given day you might find a Brazilian dish like aji amarillo sausage with black bean feijoada, bread cheese and curtido; or a a vegetarian plate featuring ras al hanout cauliflower with mint labneh, date chutney and pistachio dukkah. It's a virtual feast for anyone who'd like to venture outside of their usual comfort zone and try something new (and always delicious). Do take the time to make reservations; this is a popular spot just about every night of the week.

Broadway Theatre Center

158 N. Broadway (Third Ward)
[Click to search the Milwaukee Film line-up at this theater]

Bavette La Boucherie, 330 E Menomonee St., (414) 273-3375
Whether you're looking for a casual spot to a sandwich for lunch, a glass of wine and some cheese or snacks before a film or a fantastic dinner, you'll find something to love at Bavette, which is conveniently located just around the block from the theater. Whether you choose the hearty roasted cauliflower and grape salad, expertly prepared octopus or house-made pate or sausages, you'll enjoy well-executed fare that rivals most finer dining establishments.

Char'd, 222 E. Erie St., (414) 885-2611
Take a brief walk down Erie Street and you'll find surprisingly delicious eats at Char'd, a modern restaurant with a traditional Korean soul. For dinner, try bulgogi, bibimbop or a bowl of warm, soul-satisfying yukgae jangon. If you happen to visit on a Sunday, don't miss the opportunity to enjoy their traditional Korean dinner, complete with rice and banchan (tasty little accompaniments). Visiting after a show? Head over for a nightcap and any one of the fantastic desserts prepared by a classically French trained pastry chef!

Dandan, 360 E. Erie St., (414) 488-8036
If the weather is pleasant, the 4-minute walk to Dandan is a no-brainer. Stop by for a drink and a few dim sum style plates (be sure to try the delicious chicken wings and salt and pepper squid) or stick around to feast on Asian-inspired pancakes, dumplings, rice and noodle dishes. You won't find dishes like these anywhere else.

Tre Rivali, 200 N. Broadway, (414) 291-3971
Hike down Broadway for 2 minutes (or less) and you'll find Tre Rivali, the well-appointed Mediterranean restaurant attached to the Kimpton Journeyman. It's a great place for pre-film tapas like hummus, crudo and cheese and charcuterie. But its delectable menu – which features dishes like wood-roasted mussels, carrot gnocchi and wood-fired pizza – is also a fine choice for lunch or dinner. You can also stop over for brunch on Saturday or Sunday between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m.

Oriental Theatre & Jan Serr Studio Cinema

Oriental Theatre, 2230 N. Farwell Ave.
[Click to search the Milwaukee film line-up at this theater]
Jann Serr Studio Cinema, 1915 E. Kenilworth Pl.
[Click to search the Milwaukee film line-up at this theater]

Good City Brewing Co., 2108 N. Farwell Ave.
If you haven't been to Good City, one of the city's newest breweries, the Film Festival is a good time to check it out. Not only can you imbibe some of the Good City's brews, but Chef Guy Davies is pushing out some great snacks along with sandwiches and entrees like steak and frites and a flavorful Malaysian curry. There's even a kids' menu for the little ones and brunch on Sundays from 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Hacienda Beer Co., 2018 E. North Ave., (414) 296-7200
If you're looking for a great spot for snacks, sandwiches and great craft beer you'll find it at Hacienda Beer Co. located just steps away from Oriental Theatre. The digs are spacious and bright, and between Oct. 18-31 Hacienda is featuring live music beginning at 9:30 p.m. (featured artists include Lex Allen, Klassik and No No Yeah Ok; get the full schedule on Facebook). Pro tip: Monday through Thursday from 4 to 6 p.m., you can also score $2 tacos and $1-off draft beer during the brewpub's North Ave Golden Hour.

Kawa Ramen & Sushi, 2321 N. Murray Ave., (414) 800-7979
Whether you're hungry for consistent, well-executed ramen or a plate of ultra-fresh sushi, you'll find it at Kawa, located within easy walking distance of Oriental Theatre. Choose from four types of ramen (tonkotsu, garlic miso, seafood or hellfire), a selection of Japanese dishes, or the extensive menu of sushi, sashimi and signature rolls.

Strange Town 2102 N. Prospect Ave.
Enjoy delicious plant-based eats at this cozy gem located just blocks from the Oriental. Grab a glass of wine or one of their stellar low-proof cocktails and nibble on their ultra-silky hummus. Or make the full commitment and indulge in a few globally-inspired plates off of their ever-changing menu. Either way, you'll be satiated and ready to tackle a great film or two.

Rivoli Theatre

W62 N567 Washington Ave., Cedarburg
[Click to search the Milwaukee film line-up at this theater]

Anvil Pub & Grill, N70 W6340 Bridge Rd., (262) 376-2163
Enjoy simple but well executed food in a restored 19th century blacksmith's shop overlooking the waterfall at Cedar Creek. For lunch, choose from burgers or Forge sandwiches (stuffed with ingredients like chicken and artichokes, steak and mushrooms or barbecued duck) baked inside the restaurant's Wood Stone oven. For dinner, there's pasta and numerous entrees including steak and shortrib shepherd's pie. On a balmy fall day, take a seat on the Anvil's cozy creekside patio.

Brandywine, W61N480 Washington Ave., (262) 618-4683
(Reservations recommended)
Give yourself a treat and plan at least one of your movie excursions around dinner at Brandywine, a relative newcomer to the Cedarburg scene. This charming restaurant headed up by Bartolotta alum Chef-owner Andrew Wilson, offers a flexible menu of shareable starters, housemade pasta and entrees like pan-seared branzino, roasted chicken and a signature burger. There's also brunch on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Ernie's Wine Bar, N49W5471 Portland Rd., (262) 375-9200
If you're looking for a nightcap after your film, take a word of advice from the locals and head to Ernie's Wine Bar, a charming hidden gem offering up hand-muddled old fashioneds, martinis and a nice selection of wine at reasonable prices. It's cozy and friendly, and you should definitely stop to chat with the owner, Ben, who's usually slinging drinks behind the antique bar.

Stilt House, W62N630 Washington Ave., (262) 618-4889
If casual eats and craft brews sound like a great plan, you'll want to walk over to Stilt House, an amiable spot with casual eats including sandwiches, burgers and entrees like seafood mac and cheese, steak and risotto and poke bowls. It's also a fine place for pre-film drinks and snacks including a cheese board, loaded pretzels and shortrib poutine.

The Times Cinema

5906 W. Vliet St.
[Click to search the Milwaukee film line-up at this theater]

Ca'Lucchenzo, 6030 W. North Ave., (414) 312-8968
If you've come all the way to the West Side for a specific film and you also happen to have an affinity for pasta, you likely won't want to miss out on the chance to check out the newest restaurant in the vicinity. The menu is filled with delights, from snackable appetizers like house focaccia and lardo-wrapped scallops to housemade ravioli, orecchiette and risotto. It also has a great list of wines and cocktails (including low and no-proof options). Ca'Lucchenzo is about a 6-minute drive from the theater, so it's a convenient spot after an afternoon show or before a later film.

Charles E. Fromage, 5811 W. Vliet St., (414) 305-1458
Go ahead, laugh at the name; it's meant to incite a smile. And so is the convivial atmosphere at this quaint little wine (and beer) bar just steps away from the Times. Stop in for pre-movie snacks (cheese spreads, olives, nuts and sweets) and beverages; or linger with friends for a post-film discussion for the ages. You really can't go wrong.

O'Brien's Irish American Pub, 4928 W. Vliet St.,
Get a taste of Irish hospitality before or after the show at O'Brien's, just blocks down from the Times. Enjoy classic bar fare like wings, nachos (which are huge!) or giant pretzels in a relaxed atmosphere. If you're hungrier, grab a bowl of Irish stew or any number of their delicious specials, some of which are made with ingredients from their hydroponic garden. Oh, and don't forget the pint o' Guinness. It's an Irish pub, after all.

Wy'East Pizza, 5601 W. Vliet St., (414) 943-3278
If you're heading to the theater Wednesday through Sunday evening, you might want to make time for a stop at one of my favorite pizza spots, Wy'East Pizza. The pizza, which is made from slow-fermented dough and fresh toppings, features a chewy crust made crisp on the exterior by the extreme heat of the Italian oven. You can't go wrong with the Hot Marmot, featuring pepperoni, fresh garlic and sweet hot pappadew peppers; but don't neglect a look at the specials, which feature fresh seasonal ingredients. Pro tip: Go early, as there is often a wait. But, grab a beer or glass of wine while you're waiting and the time will fly.


Post a comment / write a review.

Facebook Comments

Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of or its staff.