A Milwaukee native who spent years in Texas has combined the flavors of both to create a new downtown eatery. And her menu’s offerings are named after landmarks from both spots.
“MilTex Kitchen is where Milwaukee meets big Texas flavor,” Chef Raven Gee said.
Gee — who’s been in the food business since she was 14 — initially launched MilTex Kitchen as a food truck in Houston. After moving back to her hometown in 2021 to be closer to family, she decided to transform her business into what it is today.
“This is one of my lifelong dreams — to have my restaurant, to have my name out there for people to try my food,” Gee said.
The business is inside Paper Table Food Co., 733 N. Milwaukee St. While the ghost kitchen’s tenants are mainly focused on deliveries and carry-outs, according to a previous Journal Sentinel story, limited dine-in space is also available.
MilTex menu has mix of Wisconsin and Texas flare
MilTex features appetizers, burgers and sandwiches, Jacked Up Fries and eggrolls — all made from scratch.
“Everything that I do, every meal that I prepare, every sauce that I make is made with love from my heart and soul,” Gee said. “I enjoy feeding people. I enjoy catering to the public. I enjoy catering to my community.”
Appetizers include Astroballs — paying homage to the Houston Astros — deep-fried mac-and-cheese balls atop butter lettuce and drizzled with Gee’s H-town sauce. Another app is the Sherman Street Polish — named after Milwaukee’s Sherman Park neighborhood — a deep-fried Wisconsin polish sausage topped with grilled onions, candied jalapeños and mustard on a toasted hot dog bun.
A top-selling burger, Gee said, is the Big Texas Brisket Burger, which features a cream cheese-stuffed burger, bacon jam aioli, braised brisket, red onions, pickles, and candied bacon and jalapeños. It’s served on toasted Texas toast bread.
The restaurant serves up five types of Jacked Up Fries. Hello Wisconsin features melted Wisconsin cheese. The South Milwaukee, which Gee said is a popular pick, is topped with ground beef, pico de gallo, lettuce, sliced avocado, sour cream, cheddar cheese and a blend of Wisconsin cheeses.
There are multiple egg roll options, including Jamaican Beach Egg Rolls filled with jerk chicken and sautéed cabbage.
At MilTex, Reubens are more than just sandwiches. There are also Reuben-inspired fries and egg rolls.
And the Reuben sandwich? It includes a Texas twist. Yes, it consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, baby Swiss cheese and The Wild 100s sauce, Gee’s take on Thousand Island dressing. But instead of rye bread, it’s served on Texas toast.
On Sunday, Gee offers a soul food menu that changes weekly. Dishes that could appear on it include macaroni and cheese, greens, beans and rice, jerk chicken, stuffed catfish, smothered pork shops, barbecue meatloaf and lambchops.
“Food brings everybody together,” Gee said. “That’s what’s important for me is my family, my community. … When you’re eating, everybody’s happy — especially when it’s delicious.”
Raven Gee went from an Arby’s cashier to business owner
Gee, who was born and raised in Milwaukee, got her first taste of the restaurant industry as an Arby’s cashier when she was a teenager. Years later, she became a banquet server at the former Manchester East Hotel & Suites.
“My next job after that was cooking for my family,” said Gee, a mother of four.
In 2008, she continued cooking — at her own soul food restaurant, Sista to Sista, located by North 51st and West Center streets, she said. She also catered Jammin 98.3 events.
Gee spent some time studying culinary and hospitality at Waukesha Area Technical College, she said, before moving to Houston. She became a chef for the H-E-B grocery store chain, she said, where she created more than 100 new recipes.
In 2017, Gee started her own catering business, cooking for events including graduations, anniversaries, showers and funerals.
She was spending most of her time in the kitchen, but wanted to be able to interact with customers more. In 2019, she decided to launch her food truck, MilTex Kitchen, to take to Houston-area festivals.
“I wanted to be able to take my food and my business everywhere around the city,” she said.
But business came to a halt when the COVID-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of festivals.
After moving back to her hometown in 2021, she decided to continue her business — but in a new way.
MilTex made its downtown Milwaukee debut Aug. 8. Its ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 3 p.m. Saturday.
“I can’t say it’s nothing but God — just to come home and to be able to come back into my city where I was born and raised at and be able to open up a restaurant and showcase my food for my community is an amazing feeling,” Gee said. “And I’m happy that I can be a part of that.”
How to order from MilTex Kitchen
MilTex Kitchen is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
Prices range from $8 for Hello Wisconsin Jacked Up Fries to $18 for the Big Texas Brisket Burger.
Orders can be placed in-person, via the Grubhub, Doordash or UberEats delivery apps, or by calling 414-975-5324, according to MilTex Kitchen’s Facebook page.
Other businesses that have also opened inside the Paper Table space include Blac Bistro and Freshwerks. A Wingstop is on the way, a previous Journal Sentinel story said. Occupancy permit applications have been filed for Po’ Manz Food and Taste Of Life Soul Food.
Orders for other food spots there can go through the Paper Table website.