Five years ago, Wauwatosa neighbors Sandy Murphy and Brett Swider opened Highlands Café in a tiny space on North 60th Street. A few weeks ago, they expanded that space from eight to 49 seats in a space that now reaches to the corner of 60th and Vliet.
Despite the expansion, Swider tends to be rather humble when describing his restaurant.
"It's a neighborhood place," he said.
Indeed, the Highlands Café IS a neighborhood place. Originally started as more of a coffee shop that happened to serve breakfast and lunch items, it has now grown up into a full-fledged restaurant with, you guessed it, an executive chef - Steven Holz - who also happens to be a Tosa native.
And although the management and the food are decidedly local, the menu is one varied and sophisticated enough to attract diners from all over the city.
Some of their signature or most popular dishes include: the fried chicken - boneless and served with polenta ($10.99), baked french toast ($6.99) and chorizo, veggie or ribeye and pancetta hash ($3 for a half-order/$7.99-8.99 for a full order.)
"Everything is moderately priced with a great plate presentation," Swider said. "We do a lot of local food here and we simply serve really good American food."
Since the expansion is a recent change, there is still no sign designating the restaurant. But the large windows clearly expose the new dining area and it's fairly easy to spot Highlands Café on the northwest corner of 60th and Vliet.
"Highlands Café is a gathering place for people from the neighborhood," Swider said. "We have a lot of walk-in traffic. And we're just a bunch of Tosa natives having fun."
NAME: Highlands Café
ADDRESS:1413 N. 60th St., Wauwatosa
HOURS:6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday, 6:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday, 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday
PRICE RANGE: $1.99 to $14.99
HANDICAPPED ACCESSIBLE: yes
GLUTEN-FREE OPTIONS: yes
LOOKING TO 'GRAB A BITE'?
"Grab a Bite" is an informal look at the food scene in the Wauwatosa, Brookfield and Elm Grove area by freelance writer Karen Waldkirch. Whether you're looking for a place for a date night or a casual spot for lunch, Waldkirch will be out and about scouting eateries for you. If you have a suggestion for a column, email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Your link to the biggest stories in the suburbs delivered Thursday mornings.
Enter your e-mail address above and click "Sign Up Now!" to begin receiving your e-mail newsletter Get the Newsletter!
- Colonel Hart's: A true neighborhood hangout
- Ted's: It's Cheers without the beers
- Penelope's: A labor of love in heart of Elm Grove
- Drink in a bit of island life at Jimmy's Island Grill
- North Avenue Grill Same name, new owner
- Café Hollander: Upscale and Belgian-themed
- Jose's Blue Sombrero: Tableside fun with a Mexican flair
- Balistreri's secret is in the staff and the recipes
- Slim McGinn's West a touch of Irish hospitality in Brookfield
- The Open Hearth a cozy 'easy chair' for generations of diners
- Saloon on Calhoun with Bacon: The name says it all
- John's Sandwich Shop a neighborhood favorite for nearly 50 years
- Murf's: A tucked-away jewel offering great value in Brookfield
- Hui's: Classic Cantonese and an extended family
- 8-Twelve offers big league menu and MVP service
- Rocket Baby: Delighting with artisan bakery
- Tusa Restaurant & Tavern: Old-fashioned Italian value
- Cosmos Cafe a family labor of love in Tosa
- Mozzaluna: Authentic Italian in a casual setting
- Maxfield's Pancake House: Breakfast and lunch every day of the year