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In Bars & Clubs

In Bars & Clubs

In Bars & Clubs

Riverwest bar guide

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Dec. 8, 2005 at 5:32 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

The Riverwest neighborhood has always had an eclectic slew of watering holes, but in the past few years, newer places like Onopa Brewing Co. and Nessun Dorma have helped to up the ante of Riverwest bars from artsy alternatives to Water Street clubs to major Milwaukee nightlife staples. If you've not spent a night bar-hopping through Riverwest, now's your chance. Just use this handy guide.

701 E. Keefe Ave.
(414) 964-7270

Sure, it's mostly a restaurant, but many a Riverwesterner has walked into this corner mom-and-pop eatery just to belly up to the big ol' bar for a glass of homemade wine. But don't be fooled by the seemingly laid-back atmosphere -- there are a whole laundry list of rules here so be sure to ask before you act.

The Art Bar
722 E. Burleigh St.
(414) 372-7880

One of the "newer" establishments in the neighborhood, the Art Bar lives up to its name by hosting new art installations every couple of months and live painting on Sunday nights. It also features live bands on the weekend.

Bremen Café
901 E. Clarke St.
(414) 431-1932
Tucked away in an old storefront is this cute and casual bar and café. Aside from serving up some seriously delicious sandwiches and pizzas, the café also hosts live music -- from indie, to acoustic, bluegrass, blues and folk -- most nights after 8:30 p.m. Also, check out the new game lounge.

Circle A
932 E. Chambers St.
(414) 562-4101

Also known as the "The Anarchy Bar," this place is home to great music thanks to owner Warwick Seay's good taste in tunes. He books DJs or bands most weeknights, and Fridays are usually "Rockin-A Friday." Saturdays are "PsychePhonic" and Sundays are "RootSundays."

Club Timbuktu
520 E. Center St.
(414) 265-7000

Timbuktu is the first African club and restaurant in Milwaukee -- opened in December 2004. The cuisine is a healthy mix of African, American and European foods and the club hosts bands and DJs spinning tunes from a wide array of African genres, including bembeya jazz, soukous, rai, soca, rumba, n'dombolo, mapuka, calypso, merengue and South African sounds.

Dino's Lounge & Restaurant
808 E. Chambers St.
(414) 263-6033

Dino's is a Riverwest classic,with a full bar, juke box and famous Friday night fish fry.

Falcon Bowl
801 E. Clarke St.
(414) 264-0680

The basement of this bar is home to Wisconsin's oldest bowling alley, although, unfortunately, it's only open to the public on Wednesday nights. But upstairs in the bar -- which is open daily -- young hipsters and aging regulars alike come together for cheap beer in a cozy, and truly old-school Milwaukee, setting.

2718 N. Bremen St.
(414) 374-2587

Once the site of the infamous Tiki Tuesday, "Foundy's" has now been revamped into a full-on tiki bar. But besides a brand new booth replacing the old couch corner and all the old skateboard decks disappearing, it's still got that gritty, punk rock essence about it. It's small, dark and smoky and the jukebox still rocks.

Gee Willicker's
2578 N. Dousman St.
(414) 372-4559

If Randy the barkeep decides that you're "Gee Will's" worthy and buzzes you into his always-locked bar, get ready for a night of cheap, stiff cocktails. Although prices seem to vary, it's not unheard of to get a $1 Jack-and-Coke or 75-cent taps of Point. Pool, bar dice and football are big at this corner bar, and the super-diverse jukebox is a sweet surprise.

The Gig
1132 E. Wright St.
(414) 562-0219

Formerly Barrel Riders Pub, this is a quaint place to have a few drinks with friends and listen to live music while playing a few retro video games or shooting pool. And like a proud Milwaukee bar, they serve up an ample supply of local and micro-brewed beers.

The Hop Back Inn
718 E. Burleigh St.
A Riverwest favorite, the Hop Inn is friendly and down-to-earth with good deals on drinks and a competitive-but-lighthearted pool and dart scene. Best of all, if you start to desire to sip something fancier, Art Bar is right next door.

Klinger's East
920 E. Locust St.
(414) 263-9844

Klinger's East is a smoky pool hall with a family-friendly vibe. A strange combination for some, but their infamous fish fry is well worth the second-hand smoke. Aside from the usual cod-or-perch option, Klinger's fry-day offers deep-fried smelt and potato pancakes on the side. This is Milwaukee, people.

Linneman's Riverwest Inn
1001 E. Locust St.
(414) 263-4555

A fine local tavern, Linneman's represents the spirit of vibrant Riverwest. Located on Locust, the bar has a dark feel that is complemented nicely by Christmas lights all year 'round. Great live music can be heard several nights a week at this great old pub, including up and coming talent on the open mic nights. Wanna drink cheap? Tuesday's are $1 Blatz and rail drinks.

The Mad Planet
533 E. Center St.
(414) 263-4555

It doesn't look like much on the outside. In fact, it doesn't look like much on the inside, either. But somehow this club really heats up when the crowd starts pouring in. Mad Planet is known for its extra strong drinks, alternative crowd and great retro music. With theme nights like Swing Night, '70s Night and '80s Night, you can surely find a venue to fit your needs. For lovers of kitsch, pay special attention to the corner of the bar that features numerous, rare portraits of the King, Elvis Presley.

Nessun Dorma
2778 N. Weil St.
(414) 264-8466

Nessun Dorma might still be considered a Riverwest newcomer, but it's quickly become a favorite. The atmosphere is casual and cozy, the staff is friendly, and every day you can order a Capitol Amber or Bitberger beer for $2, leaving you plenty of spending money should you get hungry. (The panini sandwiches, served until 11 p.m., are not to be missed!)

Stonefly Brewing Co.
735 E. Center St.
(414) 264-3630

One of the best things about this brew pub and music venue is that the only beer they serve on tap is their own mighty tasty micro-brews, including nutty browns, pale ales and ambers. Equally as tasty are they shows they book, which comprise a lot of local love as well as national indie talent.

900 E. Center St.
(414) 263-4140

Quarter's has been one of the ignition points for local bands for well over a decade. Small, loud and no-frills, this is the place to see Milwaukee talent in its incubating best.

Ret Lounge
3400 N. Holton St.

"Lounge" is a bit of an overstatement for this watering hole, where beer and shots are the drink of choice. A little rough at times, Ret's is not for the fruify. (Same goes for Lil' Will's on Booth Street.)

River Horse
701 E. Center St.
(414) 264-4788

If you go on a weekend, this funky little hipster joint tends to get crowed, but you can usually find a couch to sit on (or a Ms. Pac Man table to belly up to) in the back room. During the week, grab a chrome cocktail table near the bar, select your favorite micro-brew and enjoy the (subtle, not intrusive) indie tunes.

Riverwest Commons
815 E. Locust St.
(414) 372-9656

Known to be a big supporter of small, local bands looking for a gig, the Commons is almost never without live music.

Riverwest Tavern
900 E. Auer St.
(414) 265-8389

From the outside, it looks like a neighborhood gem: warm, cozy and friendly, but really, it has a bit of an exclusive feel to it, and hipsters are, seemingly, frowned upon. So leave your fashion at home and head out in your hunting hat for cheap beers and shots and whatever happens to be on television that night.

The Tracks
1020 E. Locust St.
(414) 562-2020

It's snubbed by Riverwest hipsters, but embraced by the meat-and-potatoes of the neighborhood: poor college students, sports nuts and working class folks who inherited their parents' crackerbox a few blocks away. Summer at The Tracks means pitchers of Miller Lite and Volleyball; the rest of the year it's all about the Friday fish fry, pool sharking and whatever sport du jour is on the telly.

Treats Tavern
2221 N. Humboldt Blvd.
(414) 263-9990

Treats has always been a good place to get a reasonably priced drink, especially during their daily happy hour, which starts at 3 p.m. and goes until 7 p.m. In the past couple of years Treats has added live music to its repertoire, as well.

The Uptowner
1032 E. Center St.
(414) 372-3882

The beer is cold and rather inexpensive, especially if you order a good ol' PBR ASAP. Interesting artwork lines the walls, and the crowd ranges from young punk rockers to older regulars.


OMCreader | April 13, 2006 at 3:44 p.m. (report)

George said: I miss the Squirrel Cage days. Do they still buzz you in at the door (that's if they want for you to enter) Also, is any of the bars listed the former Harry's Chapel (at least that's what we called it in the 70's. It was great...a shot and a beer for 35 cents.

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OMCreader | Jan. 4, 2006 at 8:47 p.m. (report)

Jose said: Riverwest Bars are all nice places to go. The good thing about these joints is that is much cheaper than going bar hopping on Waters st. A Riverwester for the past twenty five years, Jose A

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OMCreader | Dec. 16, 2005 at 12:38 p.m. (report)

Rob said: If Dino's isn't on here than this list is garbage. It's been in the neighborhood for over 40 years and is a great bar/restaurant.

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OMCreader | Dec. 12, 2005 at 2:25 p.m. (report)

Cozen Beguile said: My old school favorites are Boscos and Dinos! Rest in PEACE, to my old friends, LEO and Augee!

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OMCreader | Dec. 9, 2005 at 12:59 p.m. (report)

andrew apricot said: The Pub - on Fratney and Wright - was not included on the list. Its amazing how many bars are in that neighborhood.

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