I grew up there and return frequently. Cheap and amazing- Kopp’s. Biggest burger you’ll ever eat, buuuuut, when you’re done, they have the greatest, made right there, frozen custard. Look online for their flavor of the day. Different lines for burgers/fries and frozen custard. So, you order and eat one, then move to the custard line. They move you along. WARNING: there is like NO place to sit. So, you stand there, parking lot, or inside and mow this mother burger, then take the custard for the drive.
BBQ- Speed Queen (order outside shoulder dinner with mixed sauce). You’ll want to be quick. Tuff neighborhood. Go when the sun shines and you’ll be good. Fancy: Ardent. Cutting edge it is. Traditional: Mader’s German is such a cool place, or, go south to Old Town Serbian Restaurant. Burek and cevapcici sausage. OMG. Triciclo Peru on Vliet if you want the best empanadas. The south side has so many Mexican places, take your pick. BUT, want some personality in a very diverse neighborhood. Oakland Ave. Gyros, Don’t let the name fool you, they can cook legit Greek. Not just Gyros (Chicago Greek). Fun place to eat. Old school, beat up, but great vibe in there. Want a beautiful plate of food? Amilinda. Just lovely dishes. Can’t find a place everyone can agree on? Zocolo food park on the near south side. Beautiful neighborhood now. When I was a kid it’s where you’d go to dump a body. Things have changed. Three Brothers is another Serbian place, but, even though it’s on the south side, it’s right at the south end of the Hoan Bridge, nice neighborhood and cool atmosphere. polonez for Polish. Don’t fear the czarnina (duck blood soup), not how you think it is, if you’ve never had it. Best czarnina anywhere, IMO.
If you like to drink, you’re coming to an alcoholic Disneyland. The land of 10,000 bars awaits.
You might need some Mwaukee lessons. MWAH-kee is the correct pronunciation. Youse-y’all. Youse guyz-ally’all. Jeetyet?- Did you eat yet? “Eh, wanna head out fer a few?”- “Would you like to sit at a bar until neither of us can operate a jukebox, let alone a car.”
Hope this helps. Have a great time. Fun city and relatively safe. Like anywhere, ya take the good with the bad.
Safe travels. Hope you enjoy.