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"Best Bars in America?" Milwaukee might take issue with this.
"Best Bars in America?" Milwaukee might take issue with this.

Milwaukee bars left off new Esquire "Best Bars in America" list

In 2012, Esquire named Milwaukee "Bar City of the Year."  

In 2013, it rated Bryant's the best bar in the entire country.

But in the last few years, Milwaukee hasn’t made the list, and that odd fact won't change in 2016 according to this year's 10th anniversary edition, recently published in print.

The "Best Bars in America" feature has been around since 2006, and, of course, a lot has changed on the drinking scene here and across America. The section is curated by David Wondrich, and this year he compiles a list from his "cross-country investigations, hangovers and aspirin."  

Who knows, maybe Wondrich thinks Milwaukee just got too much love in ‘12 and ‘13. Yet it does seem odd that we haven’t appeared on the list in recent years. Esquire even did a Hall of Fame this year, and there's no Milwaukee representation on that list, either. The Violet Hour in Chicago's Wicker Park neighborhood, though, made it.  

Oh well; Milwaukee bars, we still love you. This year's list, as I mentioned, isn’t online yet, but check out last year’s here

Former NBA ref Joey Crawford loves Milwaukee.
Former NBA ref Joey Crawford loves Milwaukee. (Photo: nba.com )

Newly retired NBA ref legend will miss Milwaukee and Calderone Club the most

This warms my Milwaukee heart. 

Not only am I a Bucks and an NBA fan, one of my favorite restaurants in the area is the Calderone Club in Downtown Milwaukee. So both Milwaukee and Calderone getting some love this week from a national publication makes me smile. 

Family-owned and operated, the Calderone Club – run by chef and owner Gino Fazzari and his crew – make the best pizza around and serve amazing Italian dishes. It’s a great place – and even better during the NBA season as it’s a favorite for fans, players and refs. Apparently for recently retired ref Joey Crawford in particular, who incidentally I went as for Halloween a few years ago. Yep, I’m that goony. 

Anyways, Crawford’s a living legend and a big personality who loved the game and the Association. He also loved Milwaukee and Calderone, as you’ll see in this Bleacher Report story.  

Here's the pull out questions that BR asked Crawford:



Thanks for the love, Joey, and thanks for the memories. We’ll welcome you back to Milwaukee any time. And please know that there’s always a spot at the Calderone bar for you too.

Hat tip to Paul Henning for sharing this story with me.

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What restaurant concept do you want in Downtown Milwaukee?
What restaurant concept do you want in Downtown Milwaukee? (Photo: Visit Milwaukee)

Downtown Milwaukee needs which type of restaurant next?

Last week I finally had lunch at City Winery in Chicago.  It’s a project done by Phillip Katz, a former Milwaukeean who owns Project Development LLC.  It was founded, though, in New York’s Soho neighborhood by Michael Dorf, another Milwaukee native who founded, then sold, NYC’s legendary club The Knitting Factory. 

The location (one of seven in the country; a second Chicago outpost is located on the city's riverwalk) – in the West Loop at 1200 W. Randolph St. – seats 300 and is spacious, beautifully designed and features a fully operational winery, restaurant with outdoor patio, concert venue and event space.  The 30,000-square foot location is super cool with its old brick and timber construction and funky, but not too funky, design. Perfect, I thought, for Milwaukee. 


(PHOTO: Bobby Tanzilo)

As we look at the growth in and around Downtown, I think a place like City Winery could do well. It’s unique, large and creates an experience that’s missing in our market. 

With seemingly new cranes popping up daily and transactions cranking and banking at the speed of sound, Milwaukee’s in a development boon. Yet, have we really asked the questions: What do we need?  What do we want in a restaurant or bar? What’s missing?  What works for the 25-50 demographic these days?

I want to know your thoughts. What’s missing in Downtown Milwaukee? 

Fire away on FB, Twitter or via the talkback feature below. Onward and On Milwaukee!

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Thanks to the kind soul who found and returned a lost debit card.
Thanks to the kind soul who found and returned a lost debit card.

Lost, found and grateful

I knew I had lost it.  Went for a walk last Saturday, took only my phone and debit card. Phone was for some podcast catch up and debit card for a quick stop at the grocery store on the way home.

So, I get to our friendly Metro Market, grab a few things and check out. Oops, no card in my pocket.  There wasn’t a doubt that I had had it with me, so I quickly surmised that I had dropped it somewhere on the East Side or in Shorewood. It didn’t even hesitate to instantly cancel it.  And, that’s what I did. It’s a pain, but a preventive measure that was needed.  I’d have to wait 7-10 days for a new card, change a bunch of auto charges, but oh well. I want to move along with my life.

Happy, encouraging ending, though, and proof that people don’t suck as much as you think they do:  A few days later, I got a call from my bank. Someone had returned my card, and asked that the branch contact me. 

This is good news, of course, for this Monday.  People still care, want to help and are looking out for you.

So, a big thanks to whomever found my card and took the time out to return it. I’ll be sure to pay it forward and ask that we all do so in our own little ways this week and always.