In Dining

The Chancery on Downer. It felt like it would be there forever.

The old Milwaukee restaurants I miss most

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!

Though some restaurants have long lives – in Milwaukee one thinks of Mader's or Jack Pandl's, for example, many more seem to come and go, victims of poor economies or bad management or changing culinary tastes, or a host of other reasons.

Here are a few from the past that I miss ...

Joe Wong was well-known in Milwaukee's Chinese community, but thanks to his popular restaurants, he was a familiar face to non-Chinese here, too. Wong immigrated to the U.S. in 1916, landing in Madison and studying engineering at Wisconsin. Fortunately for Milwaukee, Wong came here, where his dad had opened a restaurant Downtown. Later, the Wongs added a place on Third and North.

In 1945, Joe Wong opened La Joy at 4720 W. Lisbon Ave. and for decades it was perhaps the best Chinese restaurant in town. Each time I visited it felt like a great treat and a splurge. I remember the food being delicious and the atmosphere being mysteriously dark.

Though La Joy (and its building) are gone, its owner's name lives on, immortalized in the name of Wong's Wok, founded by his grandsons Paul Wong and Edward Chin.

For about five years, I worked second shift Downtown at Milwaukee's daily morning newspaper, the defunct Milwaukee Sentinel. Thankfully, for some of those years there was a pizza by the slice restaurant at 228 W. Wisconsin Ave., just across the alley from the old Grand Theater, called New York Pizza Express (where it replaced the Milwaukee Dog hot doggery).

I ate a lot of pizza in the place, which had a long counter along the right side and a seating area a few steps up in back, just like a real NYC pizzeria. It opened in 1986 but only lasted a few years.

Soon after, I lived just off Downer Avenue and I spent a lot of time at The Chancery, especially on all you can eat shrimp night and all you can eat fried chicken night, which were a boon to a young 20-something on a tight budding journalist's salary. Now, even The Chancerys on 27th Street and in Tosa Village are closed.

A few doors south was Brewster's and later Webster's on Downer, where there is now a Starbucks. I passed countless hours – and gained countless pounds – noshing on cinnamon rolls, drinking coffee and doing The New York Times crossword puzzle there over the years. It's probably a good thing it (first moved then) closed, or I'd be morbidly obese.

Which dearly departed Milwaukee restaurants do you miss most?

Talkbacks

jhmmke | Oct. 17, 2019 at 3:16 a.m. (report)

Back in the 1970s, The Blue Canary down on College Av. had a huge all you can eat buffet ;-) On W. Vliet and N.41st there was a very nice bar "The Interlude" who had a very pretty red headed bartender that kept me going back ;-) The Avalanche Bar near Marquette at ~1500 W. Wells had some very colorful bartenders (Archie, Rodger & Mike) and a $0.15 schooner of Schlitz while being right next to Real Chili (at that time). The National Liquor Bar was also quite colorful in those years. Also, down around W. National and S. 6th, I can't remember the bars name but there was a huge pipe organ that a lady would play.

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jhmmke | Oct. 16, 2019 at 10:19 p.m. (report)

Back in the 1970s, The Blue Canary down on College Av. had a huge all you can eat buffet ;-) On W. Vliet and N.41st there was a very nice bar "The Interlude" who had a very pretty red headed bartender that kept me going back ;-) The Avalanche Bar near Marquette at ~1500 W. Wells had some very colorful bartenders (Archie, Rodger & Mike) and a $0.15 schooner of Schlitz while being right next to Real Chili (at that time). The National Liquor Bar was also quite colorful in those years. Also, down around W. National and S. 6th, I can't remember the bars name but there was a huge pipe organ that a lady would play.

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Nezrite | Oct. 16, 2019 at 1:54 a.m. (report)

The Interlude on Vliet - excellent fish fry and you could always catch a good blues band on the weekend. I particularly remember Small Blind Johnny playing there.

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milwmike | Oct. 12, 2019 at 3:59 p.m. (report)

Jean Paul, Ray Jackson's, Moser's Cafe, The Blue Tower Korean Restaurant, Selen's, Gay Gardens, Ye Olde Dinner Bell, Moser's, Big Al's, Bratkovitch's, George Diamond's Steak House, Manning's, Lemke's Crest, Alpine Village, The Chicken Shack, Sehmer's, Hoy Pings, Texas (near Boy's Tech), The Nauti-Gal, Ritter's, Ilija's Place, The Leilani, Mimma's, Gordon Coffee Shop, Hartwig's Gobbler, Ray Raddigan's, Stucel's, Jimmy's Rib Crib, Cracovia, Toy's Chinatown on Wisconsin, Mr. D's and also Dominic's Pizza, Nicolo, Boder's, Marangelli's, Acalpulco, The Clock Steak House, Lloyd's Lunch, Antonino's, Kalt's, The Casino, Ray Bussler's, Boulevard Inn, Eugene's, Southwoods (I know about the K Ranch), Eggs .N Stuff, Red's, (maybe W. 29th and either Lisbon or Vliet, Blue River Cafe, Mike & Anna's, Proud Popover, The Golden Zither, Hoffman House, La Boheme, The Fountain Blue, Public Natatorium, The White Tower, El Tondero, Jaffar's Bistro, Fertile Dirt, a few whose names escape me such as the Hungarian restaurant in Cudahy on Layton, our first Vienna hot dog place on Appleton, Milwaukee's first Thai place in Sydney Hi, an Italian rib place on Farwell (Later Trovato's) , a Czech place on Hwy 100 & Blue Mound, the Italian place on Lincoln where Tres Hermanos is now to name but a few. lol

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robschroeder1952 | Jan. 27, 2017 at 10:38 a.m. (report)

Boulevard Inn and Fajitas Grill

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