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No passport required
Five Cream City destinations with international flair

Photos by  Matt Haas

October 2016

Karl Ratzsch

Got the itch to travel abroad, but lack the time and money? During the summer, Milwaukeeans can scratch that itch at Irish Fest or one of many other international festivals, but once festival season subsides, they may yearn for fresh, foreign and festive experiences. Worry not! Cream City has plenty to offer the would-be traveler.

Karl Ratzsch

Start by exploring Milwaukee’s German roots at the newly renovated Karl Ratzsch restaurant on Mason Street. Chef Thomas Hauck bought the restaurant, which opened in 1904 as Hermann’s Café, in 2016, completed renovations of both the menu and the dining room, and reopened the space in April. When asked about the changes, Hauck says, "For the menu, we looked for old traditional recipes like the bee sting (cake) or sauerbraten that we could make in a classic way. With the dining room, it was about removal and improving the lighting — same Karl, just a new suit and a haircut." The restaurant looks like a classic German beer hall, with Old World wood wainscoting, antique German beer steins and contemporary German music. For those seeking an authentic German meal Hauck recommends starting with the beer cheese or liver dumpling soup. "Then a great wiener schnitzel, sauerbraten and a classic Weihenstephaner beer," he adds. "(Weihenstephaner is) the oldest brewery in the world still in operation." 320 E. Mason St., (414) 276-2720,

Kho-Thi Dance Company

You don’t have to travel to the Caribbean to embrace the region’s energetic atmosphere. Take a drumming or dancing class from Ko-Thi Dance Company, and jump into the rhythm and movement of traditional African and Caribbean music. Founded in 1969 by Ferne Yangyeitie Caulker, who still serves as artistic/executive director, the dance company presents two major concerts each year in the spring and fall. Expect to be dazzled by vibrant colors, melodic chanting to the beats of dozens of drums, and dance moves that will leave you breathless. Visit or call (414) 273-0676 for more information.

Hot Water Wherehouse

Grab a partner and kick up your heels for an Argentinian experience at Hot Water Wherehouse, located on the Kinnickinnic River in the Fifth Ward. The dance club offers two venues — Hot Water in the front and Wherehouse in the back. On Thursday nights from 6 to 9 p.m., visit Hot Water and dance the traditional Argentine tango, and on the first and third Sunday nights of the month, also from 6 to 9 p.m.,

the club invites guests to dance the Argentine tango milonga — a looser, less dramatic version of the traditional tango. A $5 cover fee is required for all dance nights. Need a lesson? Hot Water also hosts tango lessons on Tuesday nights from 6 to 9 p.m.; cost is $17 per person. 818 S. Water St., (414) 383-7593,

Jing’s Chinese Restaurant

Located on the first floor of the Marshall Building in the Historic Third Ward, Jing’s offers a wide variety of Shanghai dishes. For an authentic Shanghai dining experience, ask owner Jing Wang or your server to recommend specialty dishes from the secret menu. At an informal Chinese meal — and at Jing’s — dishes are served when ready; consider ordering a variety of dishes to share. In addition to dinner, Jing’s offers a $9 lunch buffet, Tuesday through Friday, from 11:30 a.m. to 1:15 p.m. 207 E. Buffalo St., #101, (414) 271-7788,

Milwaukee Art Museum and Present Music

Travel back in time to 1920s Germany at the Milwaukee Art Museum. On Oct. 21, MAM will collaborate with Present Music and Quasimondo Milwaukee Physical Theatre for "Angst, Horror & Fun." While guests watch "Nosferatu," a German expressionist horror film, Present Music will perform music by Milwaukeeans Eric Segnitz and John Tanner, and Quasimondo, a performance art troupe, will act out pieces inspired by the music and art. Guests hoping for additional chills can wander through "Haunted Screens: German Cinema in the 1920s," an exhibition featuring drawings, manuscripts and set models from German expressionist cinema. Milwaukee Art Museum, 700 N. Art Museum Drive, (414) 224-3200, m



This story ran in the October 2016 issue of: