Dishcrawl returns to Milwaukee

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Tired of the same old restaurants and dining companions? How would you like to visit four different restaurants in one night with as many as 30 new friends?

Dishcrawl is returning to Milwaukee with a Feb. 11 whirlwind tour of four restaurants in the city’s Third Ward. For $45 (excluding beverages), as many as 30 people are expected to sample four different menus from eateries within a 10-minute walk of each other, according local Dishcrawl “ambassador” Justin Lockridge.

“The route is designed to be walkable, but if it’s really cold people can take their cars,” Lockridge says.

Planning for the event is done via social media. Diners don’t know which restaurants are included until 48 hours prior to the event. The spontaneity and camaraderie are as key to the event’s success as the food, Lockridge says.

A former waiter and chef turned restaurant consultant, Lockridge secured his ambassadorship by applying to an ad posted on Craigslist late last year by Dishcrawl’s national office in San Jose, Calif. The organization sponsors Dishcrawls and other similar dining events in 200 cities across North America, including one last year in Madison.

The current Dishcrawl follows on the heels of Neighborfood, an event last May that took participants on a more wide-ranging afternoon “appetizer” tour of eight different restaurants in and around downtown Milwaukee. The city’s first Dishcrawl last March brought 42 people to four restaurants for a tour similar to the one Lockridge has planned for Feb. 11.

Lockridge and deputy ambassador Melanie Stenshaug, pastry chef at the Milwaukee Cupcake Co., have chosen the restaurants based on popularity, quality, variety and, most importantly, the capacity to handle the group. Diners will convene at the first restaurant then travel together to the others throughout the night.

Lockridge revealed to Wisconsin Gazette that the group will begin the evening at Riverfront Pizzeria Pub & Grill, 509 E. Erie St. The popular eatery on the Milwaukee River, which earned four out of five stars from din- ers posting evaluations online, offers a wide array of Italian and American specialties in a convivial atmosphere that’s particularly suitable for getting to know fellow diners, the ambassador says.

“I won’t disclose the next two locations, but I have said at least one is upscale and will satisfy my craving for Berkshire pork,” Lockridge says. “Since all the restaurants are very close, that clue already has a lot of people guessing.”

Thanks to Stenshaug’s participation, it’s a good bet that the evening will end at Milwaukee Cupcake Co., 316 N. Milwaukee St., for a round of sweet treats. There’s undoubtedly a Cream City Vanilla Bean cup- cake or a Dreamsicle cupcake, made with Sprecher’s Orange Dream soda, in some lucky diner’s future. Dishcrawl, which defines itself as an online culinary community, is just one of the events that the national office has sponsored in cities from Memphis to Montreal, from Pittsburgh to Portland, Ore. Based on the success of this month’s event, Milwaukee may be in line to host Battledish, a competition among local chefs, and Cocktail Wars, an event in which bartenders attempt to outdo their competition to the benefit of happy imbibers.

“I think Milwaukee is really ready for Secret Supper, a six-course prix fixe dinner that offers some of the best food city restaurants have to offer,” Lockridge says. The ambassador is attempting to set up a

Secret Supper for sometime in May. As for the location — well, that’s a secret.

ON THE TABLE

To sign up for the Feb. 11 Dishcrawl, contact Justin Lockridge at 414-208- 4663 or email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . For more information about Milwaokee’s upcoming Dishcrawls, visit dishcrawl.com/milwaukee, check out Face- book or follow on Twitter@DishcrawlMKE.