East End Cafe – Milwaukee Art Museum – 700 N. Art Museum Dr., Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Open 11am on days the museum is open, until a half hour before closing.

The Milwaukee Art Museum has three cafes, with various combinations of coffee and food. This one is kind of the “hidden” cafe, at the museum's lakeside entrance. You can visit any of the cafes without museum admission, but you can't reach this one without passing through the museum, unless you use the lakefront entrance. There is a parking lot, though I don't know what it costs to park, but you can get here by walking or biking along the lake, which is the best way. All year around, but especially in warmer weather you will encounter geese, rollerbladers, smokers, and other wildlife. If you visit the museum more than three times a year, it's cheaper to get a membership. (The first Thursday of each month is the free day.) The museum is open until 8pm on Thursdays—only day they're open late. What I like to do is walk here, have a cup of coffee, write in my notebook, use my membership to enter the museum and look at one painting for an extended period, use the bathroom. Pretty much in that exact order.

The East End Cafe doesn't really have a name, but that's what they call it on their website. If you come here at the right time (not free day or during some kind of “event”) it can seem like Milwaukee's best kept coffee shop secret. As you may know, even though Milwaukee has hundreds of coffee shops, the hippest ones are often bursting to capacity. For a population that drinks so much beer, how they have the capacity for so much coffee, as well, is a mystery, but there you go. If you come here at the right time, you can get a table along the long length of this cafe, next to huge windows facing the lake. It has maybe the best view of any coffee shop in Milwaukee. It's great for people-watching and spying as well; this is a secret spot for affairs, trysts, and other undercover matters of the heart—I suppose because of its romantic, out of the way setting. It's also a great place to photograph the geese, which is what I do.

Richard Skiller 3.22.18