The National - Little Cafe; Big Flavor

If you do not want to sit in a crowded, busy restaurant for brunch, think about heading to The National. This small corner cafe is a great change of pace and has some unique offerings. Whether you are a meat eater, vegetarian and vegan, The National can create for you an entree that will not disappoint.

No matter which direction you are coming to the National, it is easy to spot. The bright blue colors and sign on the corner draw people in with open arms. Once walking in, you will notice the warm interior with Cream City brick, retro print curtains, and a little table in the front corner nook that looks out onto the street. The large windows, warm colors and friendly staff give this neighborhood cafe an inviting atmosphere.

The National boasts of serving brunch every day. I decided to check that out with Andrew one Saturday morning. We walked in to the cafe and approached the counter to order. The long retro deli counter had fresh sandwiches, salads, soups, beer, bottle waters and other items in it. It all looked so good. Looking above the counter, we noticed the brunch/breakfast menu. Andrew and I had both decided on our entrees and walked to the side to order. After placing our food and coffee order, we found a table and waited for our food to come. Within a couple of minutes, the same girl that took our order came out with our lattes ($3.25/each).We sipped on the hot espresso drink and talked about what our plans were for the day.

A little while later, the same girl brought out our food. Andrew ordered the French Toastwich ($5.25) with a side of fruit ($3).  The sandwich is an amazing combination of flavors. The french toast is light and fluffy with enough egg to cover the bread and then some. The inside of the bread is smeared with a delicious honeynut cream cheese spread. Plus, in between the two slices of bread are several thinly sliced pieces of ham that were quickly cooked on the griddle. The warmth of the ham melts the cream cheese spread, so the diner greats the all the flavors combined with every bite. Served with a side of maple syrup, this unique item must be tried by every new visitor. Along with the sandwich, Andrew ordered a side of fruit, and we could tell the attention to detail the restaurant has for each dish. All the fruit was cut right before serving. The apples were not yellowed at all, and each piece had its own distinct, fresh flavor; not like they were sitting in a prep station for hours.

I had ordered the Breakfast Burrito ($6.25). With the first bite, I knew I had ordered the best breakfast burrito ever. The flavor of roasted bell peppers, onions, black beans, salsa and cheddar cheese is enhanced by the two eggs also in the wrap. Taking the burrito and placing it in a sandwich press help combine (and seal) the burrito, the cook knows what goes into making a mouth watering burrito. The plate is also garnished with a side of salsa and freshly peeled avocado to help balance the slight spice and heat of the burrito. Andrew and I had decided on sharing our two meals, and as you can see, I cut the burrito in half.  After my first bite, I decided he was getting the smaller part. I wanted to enjoy this dish as long as possible.

Although dining space is smaller and more intimate at the National, the food is big on flavor and fresh ingredients. For a total of about $10 per person, the cafe does deliver on the promise of brunch every day of the week.  And remember to clean up after yourself! There is no wait staff to clean tables between visitors. Although, it is located at the busy corner of 9th Street and National Avenue, street parking is very easy to find. If you are looking for a quieter space to get away from the normal hustle and bustle of a busy restaurant, think about making plans to get to The National for brunch.

Until next weekend, have a great week and happy brunching!

What have been your experiences at The National? What are some other good entrees? Respond below in the comments!

All the details you want to know: (on a five star rating)

The National (***½)
839 West National Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53204
(414) 431-655
The National - Cafe and Takeaway on Urbanspoon

Brunch hours:
Every day of the week!
Monday - Friday: 7 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday: 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

Atmosphere: *** (pretty good)
Lots of natural light, Cream City brick and warm-colored painted walls with a quiet coffee shop feel.

Food: **** (very good)
Unique items with amazing, fresh flavors

Service: *** (pretty good)
Helped describe the different items on the menu and quickly brought the food to the table.

Drinks: n/a
Mimosa - n/a
Bloody Mary - n/a

Price: **** (very good)
Less than $15 and nicely-sized portions.
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