Find the Fair beyond the fairgrounds.
Find the Fair beyond the fairgrounds.

11 ways to celebrate the Wisconsin State Fair without actually attending

The pandemic-driven cancellation of the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair left many of us disappointed, even though it was a decision made with fairgoers' health and safety in mind. 

At first, it seems no Fair means no giant slide, no food on sticks, no live music, no quirky gadgets and no farm animals. And yet, optimists agree that these things are available, just not necessarily on the beloved Fair grounds this year.

In short, the loss of the Fair sucks, but we can still find the spirit of the Fair in many different places. It's like the old "Muhammad and the Mountain" phrase: if the Fair won't come to us, we have to scope out the Fair. 

Here are 11 ways to do just that:

  1. For actual Wisconsin State Fair food, the Fair's drive-thru takes place this weekend thru Sunday. From cream puffs to cream-cheese-and-bacon-on-a-stick to cheese curds, many favorites are available at this ingenious event that provides literally and figuratively a taste of the Fair.
  2. For cream puffs, the State Fair has a "Curbside Cream Puff" option this year. Find out how to fill your car (and your belly) with cream puffs here. Also, many local grocery stores have cream puffs in their bakeries right now. They aren't, of course, the real deal, but they still might cure any creamy pastry cravings.
  3. For corn on the cob, go to Marta's Tamales, a food truck parked across the street from El Rey, 916 S. Cesar E. Chavez Dr. Marta makes some of the best Mexican corn (elote) in town, and if you've never tried corn on the cob doctored up this way (it's slathered in creamy, spicy goodness) – well, it's time.
  4. For a corn dog, check out Martino's, a family-run hot dog stand in West Allis. You'll definitely dig the price
  5. For a Wisconsin Fair Burger, Georgie Porgies has you covered. The fair-themed burger features a jerk-seasoned Angus beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, deep fried cheese curds, bacon and a spicy cool ranch served on locally baked buns. Georgie Porgies also has a loaded cream puff sund…
Take a virtual tour of the city!
Take a virtual tour of the city!

VISIT Milwaukee launches virtual tour for DNC

Earlier today, VISIT Milwaukee presented an immersive virtual tour of Brew City featuring  30 videos that cover local traditions from Old Fashioneds to local art loved by locals and visitors alike.

Videos feature the voices of 30 Milwaukeeans who provide an inside look at what makes the city such a dynamic place. Narrators include County Executive David Crowley, Lakefront Brewery’s Russ Klisch, Alice’s Garden’s Venice Williams, 88Nine Radio Milwaukee’s Justin Barney, Bronzeville Collective’s Lilo Allen, WISN-TV's Mark Baden and more.

"There’s nothing like being in Milwaukee in person, of course, but we also know this year is unlike any other," says Peggy Williams-Smith, president and CEO of VISIT Milwaukee. "These 30 videos provide a look at our city through the eyes of the people who know it best from across the community, and we couldn’t be prouder to provide this experience to the visitors who couldn't visit in person this summer, including DNC delegates, donors, and members of the press."

The videos were created by local videographer Samer Ghani. Much of the music was provided by local band Paper Holland. 

Check out the videos here.

Jona's Pit Stop is now open on Brady Street.
Jona's Pit Stop is now open on Brady Street.

Jona's Pit Stop brings ice cream, paletas and Mexican treats to Brady Street

Jona's Pit Spot, 1023 E. Brady St., opened at the end of January, right before the pandemic hit.

Owner Julisa Marin  – who operates the business with her husband, Jose Murillo – says they made the best of the situation by offering delivery service during the spring and later opened the grab-and-go shop to the public, but without a set schedule. 

"We are usually open from late afternoon until 9 or 10 p.m. and you can see our hours every day on our Facebook page," says Marin.

Jona's is a small, cheerful space adorned with Mexican party flags, pinatas and Day of the Dead skulls.

The menu items are both sweet and savory, with sweet options including ice cream, paletas (popsicles), milkshakes, smoothies, mangonadas (mango ice cream with chili powder), fruit cups, fresas con crema (sweetened, condensed milk mixed with evaporated milk and sour cream over fresh strawberries), banana splits, banana pops (bananas in chocolate) and more.

Savory menu options include nachos, hot Cheetos, hot Takis, Tostielote (prepared corn over chips), chicharron preparado (pork skins topped with lettuce, tomato, sour cream and hot sauce) and more.

Jona's Pit Stop also serves Starbuck's coffee.

Prices are very reasonable, with a single scoop of ice cream costing $2 and nothing priced over $6.

Marin says she named her shop after her sons, Jonathan and Jonael. Marin was born in New Jersey, grew up in Mexico and moved to Milwaukee in 2009.

"This is my first business and I'm really happy to be here on Brady Street," she says.

For more information, go here.

What's not to like about Paloma Taco & Tequila?
What's not to like about Paloma Taco & Tequila? (Photo: Royal Brevvaxling)

Paloma Taco & Tequila offers tasty, friendly scene in Uptown Crossing

At the end of 2019, OnMilwaukee's Lori Fredrich shared plans for Paloma Taco & Tequila5419 W. North Ave. The cute and casual Mexican joint opened in July and has so far been well received in the neighborhood as well as social media. 

On a recent Tuesday night, the place was hopping around dinner time with every socially-distanced table taken on the patio. The masked-up staff was friendly and super accommodating, checking in regularly with those somewhat awkwardly waiting for a table on the sidewalk.

There is also a walk-up window for to-go orders and socially-distanced tables and bar seating inside the cute and cheerful cantina.

The two-sided menu has one page dedicated solely to drinks and the flip side lists all of the food options.

Tacos make up at least half of the food menu and are ordered a la carte on corn or flour tortillas or a bed of lettuce. Most stand-out for us was the flavorful and tender spicy chicken. Although it could have been warmer, the chicken was slow cooked to perfection and topped with a generous amount of Chihuahua cheese, lettuce, tomato, onion and crema. The vegetarian crispy sprout was also well done, with flash fried Brussel sprouts (they reminded us of the equally-as-yummy sprouts at Camino) mixed with elotes corn salad and Cotija cheese.

Tortas, burritos, tuna tostados and vegan (tofu) offerings are also available. Prices range from $3.50-$4 per taco to $12 for a burrito or torta.

A couple of my dinner mates started with the house-made taquitos which they reported as crispy and satisfying with tender chicken and crema sauce. Chips and salsa are not automatically served, but available for $3.

Paloma is also dog-friendly and features the Fat Puppy on the menu which is a flour tortilla slathered in peanut butter and banana. 

Cocktails include five or six different margaritas, numerous Old Fashioneds including a spicy Mexican version, homemade hard lemonade, a Mango Mamba and more. They also have a dozen different t…