Milwaukee’s dining scene is ever-improving and constantly evolving. Bay View is currently among the city’s most active enclaves of culinary change. In recent weeks, the south shore neighborhood saw the opening of a longstanding donut proprietor’s new location on bustling Kinnickinnic Ave. Meanwhile, a new Asian fusion venture just celebrated its soft opening in a brand new building that’s located in what used to be the eponymous backyard of The Backyard Bar.
Instead of doing full-fledged reviews of these neighborhood newcomers (one of them already being established elsewhere before relocating to the area and the other only serving limited menu items in a carryout capacity at this time), we thought we’d weigh in on Happy Dough Lucky and Todd I Believe I Can Fry with two bite-sized early assessments. Here you go!
Happy Dough Lucky
Since first coming onto the scene back in 2015, Happy Dough Lucky has slowly-but-surely become a fixture in the metro Milwaukee donut market. At its outset, the venture was a vendor at local farmers markets, block parties, and a wide range of other functions calling for a dash of sweetness. Along the way, the business opened a location in the Meqon Public Market, which thrived in the north shore suburb for four years until owner Andrew Swofford made the decision to relocate to Bay View.
Following months of preparation, Happy Dough Lucky has finally opened its long-awaited Bay View shop. The mini donut purveyor’s new brick and mortar location at 2691 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. officially opened to the public on December 21. Beyond the wide selection of donuts on hand, the space—which most recently served as Hue’s original Bay View location before they built their current site on the same block—serves up fun for folks of all ages in the form of pinball machines and arcade cabinets galore, as well as vibrant and nostalgic decor that emphatically nods to video games and toys of yesteryear.
Onto the donuts: Beyond classics like cinnamon, powdered sugar, and plain cake donut flavors, Happy Dough Lucky offers more than 50 specialty donut varieties, including unique “Loaded” creations like Nutella Banana, Puppy Chow, S’mores, and Bart’s Birthday Cake. We stopped by this past Sunday morning to start our day with a couple “Loaded” specialty options. The Yaba Daba was a sugar-bomb, topped with raspberry syrup reminiscent of Toaster Strudel filling and a crunch-conveying scattering of Fruity Pebbles. Taking advantage of a ValPack coupon, we paired that six-pack of mini donuts with a BOGO sixer of “Honey Bear” minis (we had half of them there and had half packaged to-go, hence the arrangement you see above), that found plain cake donuts being elevated by a generous drizzle of caramel, dollops of whipped cream, and Teddy Grahams.
Though undeniably sweet, the decadent donuts accomplished what they set out to be: fun and flavorful indulgences. Between the borderline excessive toppings and the $10 post-tax price tag for six specialty of mini donuts, we’ll likely stick to more tame and affordable classics like cinnamon or plain cake donuts in future visits. While we’re not ready to proclaim a new donut king of Milwaukee, Happy Dough Lucky adds even more flare and personality to one of the city’s, no…one of the state’s, best streets. This place should be a hit with readers who have kids, pinball lovers, folks looking for a social spot away from the bar scene, and anyone wanting a tasty treat to wash down with coffee or lemonade in a colorful spot in the heart of the neighborhood.
Todd I Believe I Can Fry
As noted in the intro, a new establishment with Asian street food concept and an intriguing name recently opened shop in a brand new building on the neighborhood’s north end. Todd I Believe I Can Fry (2159 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. Unit A1) announced its soft opening on January 22 and has seemed to be busy ever since.
We gave them a full week before finally partaking in some of their poultry preparations this past Monday. We selected two items from the restaurant’s modest menu that’s mostly composed of chicken specialties and an array of interesting appetizers. We arrived early and our carryout order was ready and waiting to be devoured. We started with an order of six wings.
We bypassed the selection of eight sauces in favor of a tasty Tom Yum dry rub that was strikingly similar to the flavor of the soup bearing the same name. Almost aggressively seasoned (this is meant as a compliment in this case), the $10 order of wings—featuring five drummies and one flat, for those keeping score at home…though your experience might differ—was big, tasty, and altogether satisfying. Between places like Club Garibaldi, Crafty Cow, and Vanguard’s Monday special, Bay View already has a lot of quality wing options. Well, you can add another place to the list.
We left items like gyoza, fried fish, cheese curds, and ika gezo (fried squid leg) for future visits and, instead, indulged in another chicken option. Our order of five tenders ($10) was large and in charge. The juicy, sizable, and perfectly-fried tenders were coated in a thick, crunchy layer of batter and were liberally covered with a slightly spicy Thai Larb rub (which we selected from a list of 14 sauces/powders).
We haven’t the time nor the words to properly say it any other way…the chicken tenders ruled and that Thai Larb powder is going to be our go-to varietal in subsequent trips to Todd I Believe I Can Fry. Oh, and there will be more trips! Don’t let the (admittedly, pretty bad) name fool you. Todd I Believe I Can Fry is a solid new street food option and we’re glad it’s in the neighborhood.