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The dish/What's new in city dining


August 2009

The writing is quite literally on the wall at Charro.

The name "Charro" comes from a movie of the same name (minus the exclamation point) — a western starring Elvis Presley. And the written words covering the walls are the lyrics from the title song of that movie.

At our servers’ suggestion we toured the rest of Charro; the back room with its velvet walls, high ceiling and romantic red candles, and the downstairs, designed for private groups and weekend overflow. Surprisingly, the restaurant shares a basement kitchen with Kenadee’s next door. We found the design fascinating.

And what comes out of that kitchen, at least at our table, was a carnivore’s delight. We chose the Ropa Vieja, which translates as "old clothes" — but tastes like heaven. The Cuban-style braised beef and pork came with plantains and rice, and a sprinkle of four cheeses melted on top. The sweetness from the plantains, a hint of saltiness in the meat and a lingering spicy aftertaste left us excited over the generous heap of shredded meat.

The recently retooled menu from Umami Moto chef Dominic Zumpano, who cooked at the James Beard House in New York this spring, features Zumpano Mole (guajillo peppers, chicken stock, sesame seeds, chocolate and peanuts, finished with sherry vinegar), Surf and Turf Carpaccio (thin slices of ribeye topped with a shrimp ceviche), Shrimp Fedeo (sautéed with chorizo, shallots, garlic, white wine, chicken stock, small shell pasta, asparagus and finished with heavy cream and manchego cheese) and more.

As we left, our server brought mouth-watering guacamole to an adjacent table. "We’ll have that next time," said my friend.

729 N. Milwaukee St., Milwaukee
(414) 431-5557


This story ran in the August 2009 issue of: