Just five miles south of downtown Milwaukee, General Mitchell International Airport is named after the man often heralded as the founder of the United States Air Force, Billy Mitchell. Consistently ranked highly for its location and ease of access, it is often thought of as Chicago’s third airport. However, there is a little more to Billy’ Mitchell’s namesake than that. Airports, as any traveler knows, are not generally known for the quality of their food. Even leaving aside the inflated prices, Fast-food meets plastic wrapping meets cardboard plate, seems to about sum it all up. Not so for patrons of General Mitchell. Of course, with downtown just five miles away, the eateries of Milwaukee beckon temptingly, but there are fine restaurants much closer than that- ready and able to satisfy the most discerning traveler’s taste.
Here are four of the best that we would heartily recommend.
Engine Company 3
The interestingly named Engine Company 3’ is located in a renovated firehouse and situated in the historic Walkers Point neighborhood. The CP Milwaukee Airport Hotel site agrees with us that is a top restaurant near the airport. The restaurant is totally committed to providing you with an authentic wholesome dining experience. The place, and its menu, is immersed in that Family Farm tradition, featuring signature international dishes, but created with the freshest and finest local ingredients. In fact, the restaurant’s web site proudly displays the details of over 40 local suppliers, which gives the whole place an air of friendly authenticity. Whether you are looking for a traditional mac and cheese or a more adventurous smashed plantain’ with eggs and cilantro rice and beans you can be assured that all ingredients are sourced locally and sustainably. With breakfast and brunch prices mostly coming in at under 10 bucks a time, it won’t break the bank to give it a go. You won’t be disappointed.
Jalapeno Loco Mexican Restaurant
Of course, no restaurant listing would be complete without a Mexican’. The Jalapeno Loco has been going for over 20 years and is located just across the street from George Mitchell airport- so if you just cannot get on a plan with a couple of margaritas inside you, this should be your last stop. Always a favorite with local restaurant critics, its Mexican owner, Hugo, is always on the look-out for new dishes and new takes’ on the more traditional favorites. Every week, the restaurant puts on a specials’ menu, which allows Hugo to experiment a little and his clientele to taste some of his more original creations. A daily Happy Hour’ extends from 3-6pm and there is live music on Wednesday evenings. Depending on the weather, you can enjoy your meal on the outside patio, as you watch the flights take-off prior to your departure. You can get a three course meal for around 20 bucks, so your budget is no excuse not to give this one a go.
The Packing House
The Packing House has been owned and operated by the same family for over 40 years. They bill themselves as Milwaukee’s favorite supper club’ and with good reason, who are we to disagree? Although the menu is quite varied, the Packing House is primarily a steak house. That is certainly their speciality, with their Garlic Stuffed Filet and Steak au Poivre having won awards and their 14 oz Grand Steer Filet meriting special mention, for anyone with a big enough appetite! Most evenings the restaurant will have live music, usually this will err towards the jazz lovers, as befits its more classical ambience and overall décor. The menu is not cheapest around, but with its emphasis on good, high quality steak, it is good value- and they do a mean fish fry on Fridays.
Here is a great YouTube video of a night of live music at The Packing House.
The Final Approach
Well, it comes as no surprise to learn that the Final Approach is an aircraft themed family restaurant. Even the banquette seating makes you feel like you could be in an airport departure lounge- though the Cessna aircraft on the roof might make you feel glad that you’re not! The menu is large and eclectic American, with everything you would expect to find in an American restaurant, plus a bit more- the prime rib looks especially tempting and is clearly the house favorite- and probably mine. Though it is pretty much open-plan in design, it also manages to be cosy and inviting at the same time and the service is particularly friendly. Prices are very reasonable and they have the most amazing selection of beers I have seen in a long while!