Fuel Cafe – Center Street – 818 E. Center Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Open 7am on weekdays, 8am on weekends – until 9pm.

There may be no more crucial coffee shop in Milwaukee, in terms of what it means to the neighborhood, so I'm hoping Fuel on Center Street stays open and outlives me. They proudly claim to be open since 1993 (which happens to be the year I quit drinking, and was before many of you were born, or at least drinking coffee), and keeping a business open is something to be proud of, especially when it's so strongly part of the community. I've had coffee here that frankly tasted like ass, but at least it was strong, and I can live with strong ass coffee, just not weak ass coffee. It's a bit of a no-nonsense place, and I like that. There are always people here—I'm sure to many people it's more familiar than their own kitchen. I seem to find myself here relatively often for not living in the neighborhood. I never eat here, though there is a lot of food, but mostly sandwiches. Their internet menu has tacos—do they actually have tacos, and are there corn tortillas? I will try sometime, but put that in taco reviews. People who eat sandwiches are fond of their sandwiches. There is something about the place that always bums me out a little—I guess I look around at people, and often I get that feeling of “just woke up and feel like I'm going to die.” I really can just viscerally feel other people's hangovers, and I'm guessing if you could collect all the hangovers that flourished here over the years, you could start a world-renowned hangover museum. I guess it's a positive sign, though, when people get out in the world—no matter how much they look like death-warmed-over—and have some strong coffee, and attack the day.

Randy Russell 4.30.19