It makes sense that a city known for beer would have some great bakeries. After all, the brewing process and the bread-baking process share a crucial common ingredient: yeast. While the smell of hops and yeast from the Miller beer factory is one of Milwaukee’s stronger odors, the smell of fresh bread and pastries also wafts across town. Milwaukee
has many excellent bakeries, each with its own specialties, and these four are often recognized as the best in the city.
1. Peter Sciortino’s Bakery
1101 E. Brady Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Accessible from MCTS Bus Routes 15, 10, and 14
I once had a late-night job that afforded me the opportunity to walk home along Brady Street at 3:00am. As I approached Humboldt Avenue and saw the mosaic tile of grains and breads, the smell of baking from Peter Sciortino’s Bakery greeted me. Promising myself that I would eventually try their baked goods, I recently sampled both their long-loaf bread and their cannoli. If you think you’ve already experienced Milwaukee’s best Italian pastry somewhere else, stop into Peter Sciortino’s and try a cannoli filled with a light vanilla-ricotta mix for yourself. Also notable are the tiramisu, Italian cookies, and eclairs. And you know the place is totally authentic when the three proprietors’ names are Giuseppe, Maria, and Luigi (no joke)! If you don’t live anywhere near the East Side of Milwaukee, then at least look for the bakery’s booth at Summerfest.
2. Lopez Bakery
1100 West Mitchell Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
Accessible from MCTS Bus Routes 54 and 19
You won’t see flashy ads for Lopez Bakery on billboards, in the yellow pages, or anywhere else. The Lopez Bakery secret is shared by word of mouth by Milwaukee residents who have visited. Though the successful family business has expanded to three locations, all relatively near one another, Lopez Bakery is an especially welcome presence on historic Mitchell Street, somewhat of a cultural strip for the Latino community. You might well guess from the name that Lopez Bakery is indeed a panaderia, specializing in delectable Mexican goodies. In addition to the bakery itself, there is a small restaurant operation serving authentic breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. Virtually everything from Lopez Bakery is excellent, so why not try some conchas (sweet rolls shaped like shells) or an empanada (stuffed pastry)?
3. Wild Flour Bakery
422 E. Lincoln Ave. (Bayview location – the newest)
Milwaukee, WI 53207
The Bayview location is accessible from MCTS Bus Routes 15, 11, and 53
Garnering numerous awards in recent years, including “Best Bread” from Milwaukee Magazine, Wild Flour considers itself to be the area’s European artisan bakery. With a wide range of breads available, from Flax to Deli Rye and Olive Rosemary to Country French, you’ll have a hard time deciding what to tote home. Luckily, Wild Flour also offers most of its breads as rolls, so you can sample them more easily. Now with four locations, including a suburban shop in New Berlin, a stand at Grand Avenue Mall downtown, and two bakery shops on Lincoln Avenue, Wild Flour is really, shall we say, sowing its oats! In addition to its breads, the bakery is known for its three pound fruit pies (try rhubarb) and its muffins. The only drawback is that service, at least in the Bayview location, can be aggressive, making the customer feel rushed.
4. Simma’s Bakery
817 N. 68th Street
Wauwatosa, WI 53213
Accessible from MCTS Routes 10 and 76.
Known for its cheesecakes and wedding cakes, Simma’s will remind you (over and over again) that it is considered one of the top bakeries in the country, at least according to the International Restaurant and Hospitalities Rating Bureau. Simma’s website details the elaborate wedding cake offerings as well as the more traditional cakes, such as Black Forest and Lemon Mousse. If you’re nowhere near Milwaukee but insist on a Simma’s cheesecake, they’ll ship one to you on ice – for almost $60. Beyond cakes, there are also pastries available, and they’re definitely on the foofy side. Think white chocolate petit fours and espresso tarts. The quality is high, but so are the prices and the self-opinions.