Café Hollander


22 Reviews
Café HollanderCafé Hollander

Type: Bar, Eatery

2608 N Downer Ave
Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 53211-4244
United States

(414) 963-6366 | map

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Added by DaPeculierDane on 01-15-2007

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Reviews: 22 | Ratings: 36
Photo of Rilesmiles
4.15/5  rDev +3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.25

Perhaps the best aspect of this place is the location. It occupies an acute corner on a lively intersection in the east side neighborhood. Its got a patio on said corner that is packed with people from april-october. The ambiance inside is great, eclectic and interesting but clean.

Prices are a bit high, and the belgian-centric selection left me wanting something a little more. Maybe a few more well-known belgians, although finding a surprising gem is always fun. I also was hoping they'd have more local stuff on tap, and more tap lines in general. Seemed like the overwhelming majority of their supply is bottled.

Definitely worth checking out.

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Photo of Mugenlude
4.34/5  rDev +7.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.25

Nice place with a good atmosphere. Decor is awesome, wood floors, beer glasses that match your beer, beer menus with descriptions (and staff picks) at all of the tables and bar.

Bartenders know their beers for the most part, can talk about the beers and make suggestions to you based on your tastes (or beers you like). They have a large beer selection specializing in the Belgium styles, but they have lots of other as well.

The food menu is better than average, they have several unique dishes/plates. Anything from salads to steak, to oysters, and different burgers. I haven't been disappointed by any of the food.

The only downside of this place is the prices, they are pretty high. However, you get what you pay for, and it always seems to be busy.

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Photo of Driver8rws
3.84/5  rDev -4.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 3.75 | service: 2.75 | selection: 5 | food: 3.25

WAY Expensive.
They have tons of great Belgian beers, but they are all served at the wrong temperatures, and in the wrong glasses... Some of the beers I tried had definitely gone bad (yes, I know what Belgian beers are supposed to taste like).
Waitress didn't even know what they really had and what they didn't.
Food was "OK", but not great.

Probably would NOT go there again.

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Photo of kaydee
3.98/5  rDev -1.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

Cafe Hollander is my go-to for Belgian beer. If you want some good beer, come here. I have never been disappointed by a beer here!

As for the food, I would say it's average. It isn't bad, and it's a nice place to go to for lunch, but I wasn't that impressed with the food, and I've been there a bunch of times for lunch and dinner.

I've never had a problem with the service here. As for the decor, it's a nice enough place. I wouldn't say the atmosphere stands out to me.

It's worth trying, especially to try some interesting beers you can't find other places.

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Photo of beerwolf77
4/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

It had been years since I stopped in here. The wife and I happened to be passing by so we stopped in for a few.

Like all Lowlands joints the place is loaded with wood from floor to ceiling. Plenty of Belgian inspired art and decor. Easily the smallest of all the LG spots. Tables up front bar in the center and more tables in the back.

Tap list and bottles are usually heavy on the Belgian ales. A few others sprinkled in from time to time. Almost always some sort of sour which makes me very happy. Proper glassware for all beers.

The food at all the LG establishments is fairly similar yet always fantastic. We didn't eat this time but I have eaten here in the past and the food never let me down.

We are lucky to have the Lowlands Group in town. They sure know how to do Belgian beer cafe right.

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Photo of htomsirveaux
3.88/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Stopped in here early evening on 19 Aug 2011 with ratatat and S before we picked up A at MKE.

Nicely renovated building across the street from what used to be Sentry. We wanted to eat outside on a beautiful summer evening but it was a half hour wait so we ended up inside. About two dozen Belgians or Belgian styles on tap with maybe three or four dozen bottles as well.

We ended up ordering the bruschetta, soft pretzel, benelux omlette and the four beer sampler. Bruschetta was pretty good, pretzel and omlette were decent. In the sampler we had the Monks Cafe, Tripel Karmeliet, Matilda and Piraat.

The part of the evening that stays the most in my mind was the waitress spending about 10 minutes giving us the rundown on the various dinner and drink specials of the night, I don't think I've ever had a waitress go into that much detail about that many items before.

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Photo of DabblinWiscCraft
4.38/5  rDev +8.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

I lived within walking distance of Cafe Hollander for about two years, but somehow I didn't set foot there until over a year had passed. It's a great spot for a pub of this kind, located on Downer where everything has a nice kind of retro feel to it. The building itself is beautiful, with lots of windows, brick, wood floors, and a cool Dutch cycling theme. The wait staff and bartenders have been good every time we're there: Sometimes the place gets so busy that we don't hear from a server for a while, but they have all been friendly and helpful. The beer menu is a treat unto itself--I think I spent about a half hour trying to read through it the first time I was there. Mostly Belgian brews on tap, and there is a nice selection. I've recently been trying some Unibroue offerings, as well. They are definitely a beer-centric establishment, and it shines through in everything. All the food I've tried there is great: Really tasty burgers, frites, and I thought their Friday fish fry was very good, as well. The taps and other rare bottles can be a bit spendy, but I thought many of the taps and the food were pretty reasonable for Milwaukee pub dining--especially considering the quality you're getting.

Cafe Hollander has quickly become my go-to pub. It has one of the best patios in town, nice hard-to-find beer offerings, and the whole dining experience has never disappointed. If you get to Milwaukee and want a great brunch/lunch spot, you really should check it out. (Incidentally, they also have some of the best Bloody Marys in town.)

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Photo of beerquestman
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

The best Belgian beer selection in Wisconsin, and maybe in the Midwest. They have great food (their frites and burgers are awesome). I've been here a bunch of times. They have a few good deals on some exceptional beers, but expensive is the norm.

Some people critique them for being Belgian focused, but they are a Belgian themed bar/restaurant. Thats what you should have. Do they have the best deals int he world... no. Do they have the world's best beer Do they have a great atmosphere, some great food and high quality Belgian beers? Yes, they do. So I like to visit once in a while, btu could not afford to be a regular there.

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Photo of crossovert
4/5  rDev -0.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Nestled on the corner of Downer and Bellevue, blocks from the college campus Cafe Hollander is a nice dutch/cyclist themed resturant/bar. They have 20 taps, mostly belgian or belgian styled (besides Kronenbourg 1664... WHY?) and a large list of bottles including some rarer selections. The taps were the proper temp and clean.

The wait staff is prompt and friendly. The beer and food came fast though the place was filled to capacity, we got the last table for 4.

The food was right now, great burger, slightly euro themed with good fries.

Overall a great place to eat and drink.

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Photo of zeff80
4.59/5  rDev +13.9%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 5 | service: 4 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

While in Milwaukee with my wife's family, my father-in-law asked a local for a good lunch place. The woman recommended Cafe Hollander. After my father-in-law punched the address into his Garmin, he said to me, "The specialize in Belgian beer." My first thought was, okay they got 5-10 bottles of Belgian beer. Man, was I wrong! They have 20 to 25 tap handles that are all Belgian (a couple were Belgian-style beers from the U.S.)!!! Anyplace that has a beer menu that reads like a small book earns high marks from me. It's a cool Euro-cafe in a triangular shaped building. The beer quality was outstanding. Every beer that I sampled tasted great. The tap beers were served in the correct glass. By correct glass I mean that my Corsendonk Christmas Ale was served in a painted "Corsendonk Christmas Ale" goblet. So cool! The service was slow but I still gave it a 4 because they knew how to treat us (a large group with a toddler and an infant) right. Kids menu was great - instead of a huge entree that my daughter couldn't finish, they had several small items pieced together. As for the food frites were amazing with great sauces. The soft pretzels were delicious, too. I ordered sliders for lunch (it's actually an appetizer). They had smoked gouda, caramelized onions and a pretzel bun. It went great with beer #2, Witkap-Pater Singel. None of us ordered a bottled beer, so I can't speak about the freshness of bottles. My father-in-law (a wine guy) thought the beer was expensive, but I disagree. $7.50 for a tap pull of a Belgian that most likely runs $5+ for a 12oz bottle in a liquor store seems like a deal to me. If you like Belgian beers, do NOT miss this place.

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Photo of bonk0076
2.13/5  rDev -47.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 1.5 | service: 1 | selection: 3.5 | food: 2

I've gone to this place on several occasions and the last time was the last straw. Service is HORRIBLE. They are usually slow to wait on you, but the last three times it took 15 minutes before we were even acknowledged by the staff. I've sat in there and watched 7 different people working there completely ignore my girlfriend and myself. Food is okay. Selection of beers has potential, but they leave some obvious ones off their menu. Its a shame, because they do focus on Belgian beers, which is nice to have in Milwaukee. Never going back.

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Photo of dirtylou
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

stopped in this place for dinner when an attempt at eating at sister-restaurant Trocadero was trumped by a corporate event

as i walked in, somewhat dejected from the Trocadero-incident, i am greeted by a warm wooden interior and a line of taps that showed great promise. flipping through the duvel-lined beer menu, there are close to 20 taps and many bottles. The menu is organized by style, and the front few pages are taps.

i browsed the bottle selection but stuck to strictly taps on this visit. all of the taps were belgian, with the rare exception of an american-belgian. there were 5 winter-season belgian offerings, which i thought was a nice touch. i went with corsendonk christmas ale and gouden carolus noel.

food was just ok i thought - a lot of sandwiches but kind of strange entrees (pot pies, meat loaf, etc) that didnt really match the belgian beer focus in my eyes. they had a few varietals of mussels but i didnt see anyone eating them, so i stayed away.

prices were fair - 7ish for high-end belgian taps.

cool place, nice vibe

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Photo of BeerFMAndy
3.93/5  rDev -2.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

Specializing in Belgian style beers, it's no surprise to come back to see Ommegang and Hoegaarden umbrellas adorning all the tables outside on the corner. The beer menus were also contained in Duvel folders complete with pictures of the beer as well as a description.

We sat outside again, but I can remember the inside being a collaboration of raw, rustic looking wood, and upscale-style decoration. Bikes, and parts of bikes, as well as pictures covered the walls and wicker-backed chairs surrounded the tables.

The building itself is on a weird corner that's similar in shape to the Flatiron building in NYC. Very cool setup and seating.

The quality of the beer was good as it was fresh as well as the food which was tasty as usual. The sweet potato fries, for $5, came in a giant cone that took quite a while to put back. The Margarita flat bread pizza is delicious but a little small for $7. It was in square form (maybe 8" across) and cut into four slices.

The service was average. We went around 3 in the afternoon and almost no one was there. Instead of being attended to regularly we were pretty much left alone (which is good and bad). Really, just average. Not crap but not outstanding.

The shining, yet dull part of Cafe Hollander is their beer selection. 14 tapped beers and a long list of Belgian bottles and cans. That's the shining part. The dull part is your tears hitting the menu as you look at the prices. Regular beers aren't bad for going out: Miller Lite - $4, Bell's Oberon - $6, Unibroue 330ml bottles - $7 (ouch). As the beer got bigger or more rare it got ridiculous. I really want to put the value at $$$$ but I have a hard time because the "cheaper" beers aren't outrageous like the pricer ones. I like it there though, so I'll be back like usual.

Probably, the worst part though is their discarding of the best soup ever: The White Cheddar Ale soup. That was the best thing ever!

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Photo of campbellj21
4.28/5  rDev +6.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Was in Milwaukee this week on business and stopped by this place for an early dinner/drinks. Good selection of Belgian Beers and some selection of other styles. I really enjoyed how they served the beer in the glass it is supposed to be served in. The waiters/waitresses were friendly and knowledgeable, and one even pointed me to a liquor store that I could pick up some of the selections they were offering at the cafe. I had the Hollander Burger and my wife had the Mashed potatoes over Sausage, both were delicious. The atmosphere in the outside seeting was more than pleasant, this place has become a must GO whenever I make my way back to Milwaukee.

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Photo of datamike
3.7/5  rDev -8.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

This is a great, euro-beer cafe. Service is good, selection is very good and food quality seems very good as well.

We had the pot pie and definitely recommend it. Likewise, the bread pudding is awsome.

The interior is a bit dark, run-down and dive-like, but definitely has a "euro-vibe" to it.

I've been back several times, and will continue to stop here when in the area.

My only slight criticism is the lack of rotating taps. The selection is great, but doesn't change that often. I'd like to see more seasonals, etc.

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Photo of Brewsconsin
4.13/5  rDev +2.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I've been here a handful of times. A few times for breakfast, and other times for a few beers.

They have a nice list of beers. I enjoyed reading through their beer menu. Always good to be at a place where they stress serving it in the correct glass!

Prices will add up pretty quick, especially with food.

I've only had breakfast here and they serve you a good meal. Various delicious breakfast meals. They also have pretty good bloody marys. I've certainly had better, but nothing to complain about. However, once with one of their bloodys, the chaser they served (i don't know what that was) seemed very skunky. It caught me off guard and seem to have a pungent taste.

Great place over all though.

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Photo of sabalon
4.2/5  rDev +4.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 5 | food: 4

i went for a beer and a small bite at 2pm on a weekday, so it was a very sparse. i was the only one at the bar and there were 3 couples scattered. again it was raining, so i lost the chance to capture some of the beer bar atmosphere.

that being said, i sat at the bar, and the bartender was very friendly and attentive. as was the waitress towards the table guests. the only reason i took service down a notch rating it was, while i was there, a customer came in to gather a togo order, and the bartender was almost dismissive of him. minimal interaction.

other than that, i tried a cup of the beef-turkey chili, and i must say it was wonderful. very thick and flavorful. just what the doctor ordered on a rainy and chilly february day.

On tap i ordered the Grimbergen Abbey Ale. always a nice touch when a beer is served in its own glassware. the head was thick and held wonderfully. the beer was dark and solid, and went well with my chili.

overall, the place was very clean and tidy. my timing was off, so i couldn't see the place in action, but otherwise a pleasant experience. so many beers, so little time there, i shall be back

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Photo of orbitalr0x
4.08/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Stopped here after Discount Liquor thanks to autmunaldave, as I had never heard of this place before. More of a restaurant than a bar, upon entering you can either head to the bar or be seated at a table. The tables span the floor surrounding the horseshoe shaped back in the middle. Lots of dark wood here with an urban-hip sort of upscale atmosphere, dimly lit.

This is a Belgian centric bar with 12 Belgian brews on tap including Delerium Tremens, Tripel Karmeliet and more. Plenty for everyone to find a favorite. There's also a nice bottle list here as well that was quite impressive, again with Belgians being the focus.

Mussels and frites are on the menu along with plenty of other more American selections. I went with a burger with smoked gouda, ale onions and coarse ground mustard. Ran me about $10 and was tasty, however the overall food didn't blow me away and the prices were a bit on the high side overall.

Our server was attentive and always there to fill up water and ask if we needed anything. Overall, Cafe Hollander was a nice place to go, especially if you enjoy Belgian beers. Just be ready to pay a little more than you might elsewhere.

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Photo of evanackerman
4.64/5  rDev +15.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5

wow, if you're a fan of Belgian beer it can't get much better than this, very extensive list, I went with my dad and the only thing that was a bit of a problem was the lack of selection for someone more accustomed to drinking American macros or Euro light lagers but at least it forced him to try some new things.

I enjoyed the selection of larger bottles available at a reasonable price.
I did not sample the food but would love to on a return trip, very nice place, reasonable pricing, friendly service. overall a great bar.

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Photo of ALESwhatCURESya
4.05/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

This a great little eastside cafe (formerly Gil's Cafe) in a beautiful part of the downer strip. First things first, regardless of what people like or dislike about this place, it is great to see a place like this in the area that I live. Anyways, the atmosphere is nice with a slight euro cafe feel to it. Summertime is great since they have a good number of outdoor tables to eat at. The bar is decent sized and wraps around into a back room. It sort of has a renovated farmhouse feel to it. The beer selection is pretty decent for mainstream Belgians including many of the trappist beers. They are a little light on American craft beers besides Ommegang and Goose Island series. One thing I did enjoy was their tasting sampler which consisted of four 4oz samples of any of their Belgian tap lineup. A bit pricey, but nice to be able to try 4 different Belgians before dinner. All beers are served in their appropriate glasses which always warrants two thumbs up. After the sampler, my friend and I order GI Matilda, Kasteel Bruin and Westmalle Triple. The food was very good as all four of us enjoyed our meals. Yes, like others have mentioned, the frites are pretty fantastic. They even have a very nice kids menu. The staff was very friendly and seemed quite knowledgeable, and garbed in typical east side fashion. Prices were a bit steep on the beer, but I guess I am just happy to see places in Milwaukee offering beer selections like this. And if you are so inclined, they offer DeuS for $50 for all those special occasions.

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Photo of botham
4.7/5  rDev +16.6%
vibe: 5 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

cafe hollander is a wonderful place to grab a brew, but you will pay for it. the beers are served correctly, in the right glassware, and at the right temperature. these guys know how to serve brews! the only downfalls here are that the selection is heavily biased towards the Belgians, with a mediocre selection of others at best. The prices are also pretty substantial, but still good for a once in a while experience.

i got a Westmalle Trappist Ale for $9. served in a chalice at the perfect temperature (for 9 bucks, it better be).

the food is great as well (try the frites, trust me). good quality and service as well. the food is reasonable, not as expensive as the beers.

check Cafe Hollander out if you are on the eastside of Milwaukee, you will not be dissipointed. cheers!

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Photo of BeerBelcher
2.98/5  rDev -26.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 2 | selection: 2.5 | food: 4

I visited Cafe Hollander after a co-worker mentioned it for lunch with a friend of mine. I thought the decor and food were very good, but the beer selection boring and the food very slow.

We arrived and scrutinized the beers on tap. I ordered a Delirium Noell and my friend an Avery Reverend, both of which were sold out. My friend re-ordered, only to discover his third choice was also sold out. We ended up splitting a 750ml of La Chouffe. Beer selection was pretty ordinary, with (obvioulsy) a fair number of stock-outs. I was disappointed in a number of other beer choices; Stella, Amstel Lt, Guinness, Leffe, etc.

Our server was friendly, but did not seem very beer-knowledgeable. We ordered sandwhiches, which probably took 45 minutes to emerge from the kitchen. Service was extremely slow, but friendly and the place seemed to be staffed entirely by young, good-looking women.

Food was quite good. French fries come with a bevy of saucing choices, and my club sandwhich had a spicy mayo and apples on it, which were both unique and delicious.

Given the slow service and fairly pedestrian imported beer menu, I would be reluctant to return here for Beer Advocacy reasons. I might return because the food was good, there a lot of french fry sauces yet to try, and because it was a pleasant environment.

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Café Hollander in Milwaukee, WI
4.03 out of 5 based on 36 ratings.
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