Saz's sample platter, with cheese curds, sour cream and chive fries, and mozzarella marinara. (Photo courtesy of Summerfest)
Saz's sample platter, with cheese curds, sour cream and chive fries, and mozzarella marinara. (Photo courtesy of Summerfest)

All your favorites, from pasta-stuffed pizza to Reuben rolls, are returning for this year’s Summerfest.

After a sad year in which the World’s Biggest Music Festival was canceled due to COVID-19, Summerfest makes a triumphant return to Milwaukee’s lakefront over three weekends Sept. 2-18. 

It will be a little weird to be partying at the end of summer, instead of June and early July when Summerfest usually takes place.  But don’t worry, whether you’re there to hear Diplo or Wilco, Megan Thee Stallion or the Dropkick Murphys, many of your favorite Milwaukee restaurants will be there to greet you. 

You can even download the Summerfest app to help you find your way among the 45 vendors who will be selling food at Summerfest. 

Sausages

Klement’s sausage will, of course, be served at this year’s Summerfest. (Photo courtesy of Summerfest)

This is the town that races sausages at Milwaukee Brewers games, so you can’t get more Milwaukee than a meal from the Klement’s Sausage and Beer Garden. Mader’s also serves up bratwurst in Summerfest’s “Ethnic Village” section.

Barbecue

There are lots of choices at Summerfest for ‘cue lovers. 

Famous Dave’s, which originated in Hayward, will be grilling up St. Louis style ribs, and sandwiches filled with burnt ends, rib tips, pulled pork, and pulled chicken. 

Charcoal Grill offers grilled rotisserie chicken and “fall-off-the-bone” ribs loaded with Sweet Baby Ray’s barbecue sauce. 

Meanwhile, Pitch’s BBQ and Miss Katie’s Diner—both owned by the same long-time Milwaukee restaurant family—will be bringing barbecued baby back ribs, rib sandwiches, and special barbecue nachos. At Saz’s two locations, you can get barbecue pulled pork and pulled chicken sandwiches.

Chicken

Besides the barbecued chicken, Bottlehouse 42 is bringing its “Funky Chicken” sandwich, which pairs a deep-fried, brined chicken breast topped with a huge scoop of pimento cheese spread, slaw and bacon. The restaurant is named for its location on the old Pabst Brewing campus. 

Fuel Cafe will have its picnic fried chicken. And Major Goolsby’s has a Cajun chicken sandwich.

International

A pretzel from Mader’s. (Photo courtesy of Summerfest)

Look for the two Belair Cantina taco trucks on the grounds and you’ll find the Milwaukee original serving their awesome fresh guacamole and house made salsa on top of a variety of street tacos. 

The Ethnic Village is your place for food from all over. Millie’s Italian sausages (also serving Italian beef) is here. So is Greek Village, which will have gyros, spanakopita, and other Greek treats. Botana’s will be dishing up Mexican fare, ranging from carne asada tacos to chimichangas. 

This is also where you’ll find Mader’s and its “Schnitzwich” Sandwich: Wiener schnitzel with tomato jam and Boursin cheese topped with fried pickles on a pretzel bun.

Pizza

Pasta-stuffed pizza from Angelo’s will be available again at this year’s Summerfest. (Photo courtesy of Summerfest)

Your choices are the Pizza Man, located inside the Ethnic Village, and Angelo’s Pizza, a Milwaukee institution since 1954. Beyond traditional pizza, Angelo’s is known for its pasta-stuffed pizza and famous lasagna stick.

Sides

It just isn’t a Milwaukee summer party without an order of Saz’s sour cream and chive fries to soak up the beer. The venerable Saz’s has been a Summerfest fixture since the 1980s, and has all your favorite sides, including deep-fried pickle chips and mozzarella marinara. 

Robby’s Roasted Corn and Catalano’s will satisfy your sweet corn carvings. And you have to love the Reuben Rolls from Mader’s: Corned beef, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese inside a wonton wrap. Don’t forget the peppered and sugared “Bacon Crack,” from Fuel Cafe.

Vegetarian

A lot more choices than you’d expect, from Buffalo Cauliflower at Fuel Cafe to the Falafel platter and Greek salads at Greek Village. Ward’s House of Prime and Ward’s Burger Express will both have the Impossible Burger and you can get a bean and corn taco at Belaire Cantina. 

Healthy Food

If you want to eat at the festival without blowing your diet, the Advocate Aurora health system has your back (and your belly). It has healthy choice suggestions for nearly all the dining venues.

Did you know you can get a shaved brussel sprout salad at Pizza Man or a vegan sloppy Joe at Fuel Cafe? And if you get Miss Katie’s barbecued chicken without the fries, you’re actually eating healthy at Summerfest.

Sweets

Sil’s Mini Donuts will be serving the sugary delights hot out of the fryer. Chocolate lovers should seek out Ultimate Confections for chocolates ranging from turtles to truffles as well as cheesecake, sundaes, and other desserts. And you can get a scoop of locally made Cedar Crest ice cream to enjoy before the show.

To quote the lederhosen-clad lads at Mader’s: Guten Appetit Milwaukee!