The Milwaukee Bucks are in the NBA Finals for the first time since 1974. Bucks fans all over the country are bursting with anticipation for what could be the first Milwaukee NBA championship in four decades. Sure, wearing Bucks gear and watching the game are great ways to support the team. However, if you want to celebrate the NBA final like the locals, you have to eat like them. Having lived in Milwaukee for 20 years of my life, I am giving you the official list of the seven best Milwaukee foods to get you ready to celebrate the 2021 NBA final. 

1. Fried Cheese Curds

It should come as no surprise that the preferred snack of America’s Dairyland is a ball of breaded and fried cheese, and no they are nothing like mozzarella sticks! It is impossible to go to a bar, pub, or restaurant in Milwaukee without cheese curds somewhere on the menu. These are a smash hit among groups of all ages. I mean who doesn’t love fried cheese? Other states have tried to replicate it, but there is no cheese curd like a Wisconsin cheese curd. If you have a hankering for a cheese curd in Milwaukee; Lakefront Brewery, Saz’s State House, or the Culver’s drive through are all great options to satisfy your craving before the big game. Cheese curds are undoubtedly one of the best snacks Wisconsin has to offer. 

2. Artisan Cheese Board

Continuing on with the cheese trend. The next snack we have for game day is an artisan cheese board, and of course no cheese board is complete without Wisconsin cheese! According to Travel Wisconsin, “Wisconsin produces 600 varieties of cheese, which is more than double the amount of cheese the runner-up state, California, produces.” Ha! Take that, California! With so many options to choose from, a cheese board is the perfect starter for your NBA final viewing party. There’s nothing more Wisconsin than crackers, meat, and cheese. For amazing selections of cheese, check out the Wisconsin Cheese Mart (one block from the Buck’s stadium), West Allis Cheese & Sausage Shop, and the abundant amount of cheese booths at your local Milwaukee farmers market! 

3. Bratwurst

Sausage is almost as important to Wisconsinites as cheese. Bratwurst are the star at every cookout, and they make for a quick and easy game six dinner. There is no better place to buy a brat (or any sausage for that matter) than at Usinger’s Sausage. The Milwaukee food scene is heavily influenced by German cuisine, and Usinger’s Sausage is a prime example of this. Fred Usinger, an apprentice sausage maker, came to Milwaukee in the late 1870's with his sausage recipes and only $400. He bought his butcher shop in 1880, and the family has been making sausage since then. The historic store and factory is located in downtown Milwaukee, right next to the Cheese Mart and Milwaukee Brat House. Be sure to swing by before the game to satisfy all your grilling needs. 

4. Giant Pretzel

Giant soft pretzels are another perfect game day snack for you and your three closest friends (or maybe just a large dinner for one) to enjoy while watching the game at your local beer garden. Giant soft pretzels are another food that became  popular because of the large German influence present in Milwaukee. Giant pretzels are now a staple in beer gardens all over the Milwaukee area. Throw out the Auntie Anne’s, and head to your local beer garden or the Milwaukee Pretzel Company for the best giant soft pretzels outside of Germany! Pro tip: don’t forget to pair it with a warm cheese sauce and spicy dijon mustard for the full experience.

5. Fish Fry

My fellow Wisconsinites may be shaking their heads in disapproval while reading this one because fish fry is a Wisconsin tradition typically enjoyed only on Friday. But I say screw tradition! Why not make fish fry for the game this Tuesday? Typical Wisconsin-style fish fry consists of beer-battered cod, a side of fries, coleslaw, tartar sauce, and a lemon wedge. No, none of these are optional! Although you can find amazing fish fry all over the city on a Friday night, you might be stuck making it yourself for the big game. Here is an authentic recipe put together by Lake Geneva Country Meats and Lakefront Brewery’s Executive Chef Kristin Hueneke to make your unique game day dinner: Wisconsin Beer Battered Cod

6. Frozen Custard

Frozen custard is in my opinion the most delicious and iconic Wisconsin food. There are dozens of famous frozen custard shops all over Milwaukee, and each one is a unique slice of heaven. Unlike typical ice cream, which is made of milk and cream; frozen custard includes egg yolks, and this makes all the difference! Many people who are not local to Milwaukee may be familiar with frozen custard from the famous midwest chain Culver’s, but Culver’s does not even begin to compete with the various Milwaukee custard locations. Some of the best Milwaukee area frozen custard shops are as follows: Kopp’s, Leon’s, Kitt’s, Gilles, and Oscar’s. Each of these shops have a rotating custard menu, and trust me when I say you can not go wrong with any of the flavors! If you are craving something sweet after the game, you have an abundant selection to choose from here in Milwaukee!

7. Cream Puffs

You can truly call yourself a Milwaukee resident if you have tried one of these bad boys. The reason cream puffs are such a prestigious snack is because they are only available one week a year in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin State Fair is known for many crazy, delicious, and unique foods, but none are more famous than the Wisconsin cream puff. Visitors wait up to an hour to try the cream puff. According to the Wisconsin State Fair, around 400,000 cream puffs are sold each year at the fair! Cream puffs consist of two light pastries filled with cream, and they have been sold at the fair for decades. Unfortunately, the State Fair is not until August, but the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel posted an official Wisconsin Cream Puff Recipe, if you are up for the challenge! This dessert would be sure to impress any partygoer at your NBA final viewing party. 

With so much pride flowing through the streets of Milwaukee, I wanted to make this list as a homage to my hometown. Of course, these foods can be enjoyed at any time of the year, but there is no better way to celebrate this amazing moment in Milwaukee history than trying a little slice of the city that is being talked about around the world. Whether you are watching the game from your couch, court-side at the Fiserv Forum, or right outside in the Deer District, be sure to try at least one of these foods to get in the Milwaukee spirit! Until then, Go Bucks!