Schlemiel! Schlimazel! (A Weekend in Milwaukee)

Another weekend getaway adventure from last fall was a quick trip to Milwaukee, which was actually Mandy’s first time visiting Wisconsin. It was a 36 hours of bacon, beer, and ‘us’ time spent with a slightly slower paced backdrop than we are used to.

Where we ate:

  • Comet Cafe: This brunch spot was recommended by a local friend, and it did not disappoint. Morgan ordered bacon pancakes (which is his current favorite bacon dish to date!), while Mandy tried out the “Benedictator” — eggs benny amplified with bacon and jalapeño hollandaise. Throw in a few brunch cocktails (which we did) and game over.
  • Harbor House: One thing we knew we wanted to do when we planned this weekend away was a nice dinner, and after scouring the internet, it was an easy decision that Harbor House was the place. Sitting right on the lake, this restaurant offers delicious steak, seafood, and not to mention stunning views. It was the perfect setting for the romantic dinner we had in mind.
  • Cafe Benelux: While it ended up being a last-minute decision to dine here, this is one of the most highly rated brunch spots in the city. While our food was very good (hers: a BLT with egg and avo & his: a skillet with eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes and gravy), the bloody marys were the standout here.

Where we drank:

  • Lakefront Brewery: Don’t let the name fool you, this brewery is really on the river, not the lake. But this place gave an awesome, hilarious tour (apparently the 4th best in America according to Trip Advisor), was generous with the samples (we left with two tokens unused), and ended with some bottling line fun and a nod to Milwaukee natives Laverne & Shirley.
  • Beer History Tour at Best Place at the Historic Pabst Brewery: Take a trip down beer memory lane at the former Best/Pabst/Schlitz brewery. Although it hasn’t been a functional brewery since 1996, this historical tour of the campus was probably our favorite stop during our trip. We also left with a souvenir: a 32oz PBR “fat boy” a.k.a. the stuff dreams are made of.

What else:

  • We strolled along the RiverWalk. While Milwaukee’s riverfront doesn’t have as much to do as Chicago’s, it is just as beautiful and you could run/walk/bike it without getting run over, which seems like a nice perk. It was perfect weather when we visited, and we loved spending some quiet time by the water.
  • We shopped around the Milwaukee Public Market. We spent some time here while we were waiting on our brunch table. It started out as just a place to pass some time, but we ended up enjoying window shopping and even picked up an engagement gift for our friends who “said yes” that same weekend.

Intro to Indy (Pools, Tacos, and Confederate Flag Tattoos, Oh My!)

Indianapolis, a short trip we took last summer, was technically our first getaway together (if you don’t count a Cleveland wedding, which happened before we were “official”). Mandy had never been, Morgan had lived there for a summer a while back, and since it’s only a short drive from Chicago, we decided a weekend trip was in order. What ensued….was a pretty good story.

We stayed with the nicest, most hospitable couple (Morgan’s friends), and spent most of the day Saturday hanging out by the pool that was a part of their apartment community. Many young couples live at the complex, so throughout the day, the couple we were staying with would greet and talk to many of the other local couples. One gentleman in particular stood out to us, due to a Confederate flag tattoo occupying one of his arms. We didn’t want to be too quick to judge, and after speaking to him and his girlfriend for a bit, they kind of invited themselves into our evening plans. Specifically, he offered to drive. We had all been drinking by the pool for a while and the drive to downtown Indy was a decent drive from the apartment, but all parties involved had decided to go home and get ready for the evening and then to meet up and reassess.

A few hours later, we gathered at the apartment and had enough people to warrant taking two vehicles downtown. The first group called an Uber and were out the door in a hurry, leaving us to ride with the Confederate, who had just guzzled down a Monster energy drink. He insisted he was fine to drive, so we took him up on his offer and hopped into his seemingly brand-new Lincoln SUV. The ride was enjoyable enough and as we pulled into the parking lot, we offered to pay. He instantly pulled out a wad of hundred-dollar bills (yes, HUNDOS), to which his girlfriend remarked, “too many nights at the casino!” He wouldn’t hear of us paying for parking.

We all headed to the next stop and met up with the Uber group. Bakersfield, a restaurant/bar known for their tacos and tequila, served up strong margaritas by the pitcher while we waited for our table. We talked to the Confederate at length, learning bits and pieces of his army brat past and southern roots, and although it was likely the alcohol taking hold, we became even more apt to giving him a chance. Eventually we were seated, a multitude of tacos were ordered, and the Confederate picked up the bill–not just for the half of the table our party occupied, but for everyone seated. The bill(s) of half of a long picnic table of strangers were taken care of solely thanks to this guy’s kindness (and apparent cash on hand).

Our party moved to a few other bars throughout the rest of the evening: Brothers, Tin Roof, Punch Bowl Social…admittedly, it was more of a bar crawl than an evening of immersing ourselves in the Indy culture (unless that is the Indy culture?!), but it was a fun night nonetheless. We tried many times to buy the Confederate a drink, but it only worked once. He was more than happy doling out his cash on people who were essentially strangers to him, which we were incredibly appreciative of throughout the night.

The next morning, feeling amazing after that long night of drinking, we grabbed brunch at Cafe Patachou in Broad Ripple (which was honestly phenomenal), and hit the road back to Chicago, thinking out loud that our next trip to Indy would have to be longer.

A few weekends after our trip, we happened to be in the car together when we received a call from Morgan’s friend that we stayed with. He had a quick update to share and was excited we were together to hear it. Their Confederate friend? A multiple offense bank robber. The car we drove downtown in? Stolen off a dealership lot.

Choose your own moral of the story! Trust your instincts about a person? Anyone with a Confederate flag tattoo is probably questionable? Anyone with a fresh stack of hundos is probably questionable? Enjoy what you’re given and don’t ask too many questions?

Regardless, Indy: we’ll be back.