211 N. Chicago Ave., South Milwaukee, Wisconsin
I'm writing this today because it's National Vanilla Pudding Day (May 22), and last weekend I visited the South Milwaukee Cafe for the first time, which was at one time a George Webb, later a Griddlers, and if it wasn't for the current owners... closed. But it's now a vibrant, living, breathing diner, open early, open late, your home away from home. Of course, I was hoping to find what's been harder and harder to find lately, the dessert holy grail, rice pudding. No dice. But at least they had what I'm still considering second best, tapioca pudding (if you are someone who prefers tapioca to rice pudding, I can't argue with you—I love tapioca, and it's arguably weirder—it's just that I'm obsessed with rice pudding even more). This was the most vanilla-y flavored pudding I've had in a while—and while vanilla is something that can either repulse me or seduce me (depending on its particular essence) this one was very pleasing. The consistency of the pudding itself (too consistent, not separating at all) was suspiciously like factory-made, but the color was so extremely off-white (as to be considered beige), it struck me more as homemade. I don't know—and I'd rather not know. I just like that it exists. The cafe was warm and comfortable—a woman next to me at the counter even struck up a brief conversation (this never happens, particularly if you sport a semi-creepy countenance, as I do), and the people working there all seemed either like family or extended family—more engaged than you'll ever see at a chain restaurant. This is a place I'll come back to—if not sooner, on National Tapioca Pudding Day, July 15th.