"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Bay View has certainly come a long ways since its days as "the other East Side." The Milwaukee neighborhood has grown and evolved into one of the city's hottest spots – especially for a night out on the town. And with bars sprawled all the way down the main Kinnickinnic Avenue drag – as well as spread out along side routes as well – there's plenty of room for adventuring and finding your new favorite watering holes in hiding.
No wonder it's been named by OnMilwaukee readers as the best bar district in the city for four straight years.
To help you on your next drinking expedition, here's a guide to the Bay View bars – from newcomers to neighborhood classics, hipster hideaways and beloved local landmarks.
2501 S. Delaware Ave., (414) 481-8030
At Random is a quiet and dimly-lit bar with decor stuck in the '60s, prodigious ice cream-based drinks and plenty of attitude. Of course, you can also have more typical cocktails, wine and beer, but who can pass up a cozy booth, an astonishing Tiki Love Bowl and two straws?
182 E. Lincoln Ave., (414) 483-2752
Don't be scared off by the bizarre sign out front, featuring a diapered infant in a military helmet and chomping a cigar: Baby Boomers is a classic un-frills Milwaukee dive, featuring cheap food and drinks accompanied by rich conversation with the locals wanting a drink off the bustling main drag. A perfect stop for any one, from millennials to ... well, you know.
2155 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 751-4087
The Backyard is as cozy and comfortable as hanging out in, well, your own backyard. The inside is a homey place to grab a drink and watch the games, but the obvious draw is the backyard itself, a wide open-air porch area that's both dog-friendly and grill-friendly – with three sizzling grills awaiting whatever tasty sausages and cuts of meats you may conveniently have on you.
Bay Street Pub
338 E. Bay St., (414) 744-4141
If you're crawling your way down KK, well, good luck to you. But make sure to stop at arguably the first stop along the way: Bay Street Pub, a classic neighborhood tap tucked away just off the main drag. Chat with the regulars inside – and maybe you'll become a regular, too.
Bay View Bowl
2416 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 483-0950
Yes, it's a bowling alley, but BVB also holds its own as a bar. With super-cheap taps of ice-cold beer, as well as famous Bloody Mary's, owners Mike and Andrea will treat you right. Just don't ask them to turn down the Cheap Trick.
3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 486-1344
Blackbird opened in the former Groove space in late 2008 and, in just over a decade, has quickly become a Bay View mainstay on the far south end of Kinnickinnic. The bar takes it old school with old time video game cabinets, board games and a pinball league. Come on Thursdays for Team Trivia, join the Wisconsin Beer Club and drink your way through the state, or just merely enjoy a brew and some convo in a cozy environment.
3158 S. Howell Ave., (414) 482-4941
Just don’t call it a water fountain. Good beer, good service and good prices – plus, Vinchi’s Pizza is served in-house, so there are plenty of goodies to nosh on while you drink and watch the games on one of the bar's HDTVs.
2599 S. Logan Ave., (414) 294-0490
Loyal customers of this neighborhood icon will tell you anytime what they love about their local bar. Pool and shuffleboard in the back, Burnhearts regularly has DJs, great drink specials, an extensive beer list and a hometown vibe. Happy hour is 3 to 7 p.m. every weekday, with $1 off all taps and $2 PBRs.
2496 S. Wentworth Ave., (414) 482-0160
The Cactus Club is a homey corner bar that welcomes a diverse crowd of alternative music fans. The expanded back room is the scene of regular gigs featuring a wide variety of live music by bands from Milwaukee and beyond.
Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 755-0377
Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery more than filled the old open corner on Kinnickinnic and Lincoln Avenues, now a certified Bay View staple. Serving both lunch and dinner, the newly renovated and refreshed Centraal has a binder full of Belgian beers and taps and a long bar with plenty of room to sit down, relax and swig away the night.
2265 S. Howell Ave., (414) 294-5858
Cafe Lulu is known throughout Milwaukee for its scrumptious sandwiches, awesome Asian slaw and delicious homemade potato chips, but if you're looking for a liquid meal instead, the Bay View mainstay's bar can certainly provide as well, boasting an impressive beer and wine list – and making one heck of a Mojito.
2501 S. Superior St., (414) 483-6335
A remnant of Bay View's northern Italian community, the first such enclave in the city, Club Garibaldi – named for the great Italian patriot – is also a reminder of the many mutual aid societies that Italian-American communities founded throughout America. A friendly place with regular local gigs in the spacious back room, Club Garibaldi sits just across the Hoan Bridge making it a mere five-minute ride from Downtown.
Crabby's Bar & Grill
2113 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 769-9999
No reason to be crabby entering this Bay View mainstay. Originally named Francisco's, the bar and grill switched over to Crabby's two decades later due to its seafood-centric menu. But whether you're headed in for a dish or a drink – or why not both? – this neighborhood gem tucked away on the far end of Kinnickinnic is sure to put you in a good mood.
Enlightened Brewing Company
2018 S. 1st St., (414) 364-6225
It may just look like a big, cold warehouse space from the outside, but inside Enlightened Brewing Company is a warm, inviting tap room full of beer-minded friends and fans wanting to chat about their latest hoppy finds – and to try the latest concoctions from Enlightened's in-house brewery.
Frank's Power Plant
2800 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 763-1177
After a brief closure, a sale to a new owner and a bit of a refresh, Frank's Power Plant is back and plans to continue live music and add a bit of food to the mix, too. Read our story here.
The Highbury Pub
2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 294-4400
There still might not be a ton of soccer bars in Milwaukee (we're famously more of a football state than a futbol state) and until The Highbury, you certainly wouldn't find many in Bay View. But Joe Katz changed that when he opened the pub on KK. They focus on good beer and live music, and it's not hard to see the influence of Brady Street's popular Nomad World Pub at this uber-cool bar, just south of Lincoln. The premier place to watch the Premiership!
2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 446-3640
As you'd expect from the name, Kindred – housed in the former Down and Over Pub – is all about community and homey comfort (after all, it doesn't get much homey-er than a place with a micro-hotel upstairs). That extends to the restaurant, featuring sharable meals and a long communal table in the middle of the space, as well as the cozy bar serving modern twists on beloved classics.
Lee's Luxury Lounge Lost Whale Louie’s Coop The Newport Palomino Puddler’s Hall Revel Bar Rocco’s Bar and Hall Romans' Pub Sam's Tap The Stone Sugar Maple Straight Shots Swigs Pub & Grill Toni's Moody Blues Tonic Tavern Twisted Path Distillery The Vanguard Victoria's on Potter Voyager
2988 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 481-2080
Lee's still looks a lot like Evan's (which some say was the peak for this bar). But with good beer, loud music and ample room for comfortable seating and big groups, Lee's remains a Bay View chillin' hot spot. And any Skee-Ball lovers should roll their way over here for sure.
2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 249-3188
It's tough taking over for a legend – but that's exactly what Lost Whale's done, more than filling the former Boone & Crockett space on Kinnickinnic with a warm mid-century modern feel, creative takes on cocktails and an eco-friendly focus. Plus, it's named after a Milwaukee legend itself: a supposed Lake Michigan whale. You may never see that mythical beast, but you should definitely see what they're serving up in this Bay View spot.
1441 E. Russell Ave., (414) 747-9012
Have you ever been grocery shopping and thought to yourself, "I could really use a beer"? That desire will never go unfulfilled if you shop at G. Groppi Food Market in Bay View, which boasts Louie’s Coop, a full bar in the back. There’s also a food menu and Thursday wine tastings. Louie’s is open every day of the week, but closes a little earlier than most watering holes.
939 E. Conway St., (414) 486-1768
Nothing pretentious here, just locals enjoying a cold drink. Drink a couple more, then try to figure out the deal with the giant wall-sized mural of famous (and not famous) people adorning it. Be sure to say hi to Patch, too!
2491 S. Superior St., (414) 747-1007
Palomino is the restaurant and bar that introduced Bay View to the masses. Just south of the Hoan Bridge, its Southern-fried menu and ice-cold Pabsts have become the stuff of legends. With great patio seating and an awesome jukebox, the joint gets pretty crowded on the weekends – but it's always worth it. Happy hour is weekdays from 4 to 7 p.m. featuring $2 PBR cans and $1 off all taps.
2461 S. St. Clair St., (414) 747-1352
Puddler’s Hall was built in the 1870s by the National Amalgamated Association of Iron and Steel Workers – steel workers were called "puddlers" at the time. It’s been a community meeting place for over a century and now is a beloved corner bar with a solid beer offering, live music, darts and table tennis.
2246 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 885-1516
Classy without being pretentious, the homeyness of a dive bar without any of the dinge, Revel Bar has quickly become a Bay View favorite since opening just a few years ago in 2015, offering a hefty menu of beer, cocktails, hookah, a generous happy hour ($3 draft beers, $3 rail mixers, $3 house shots) and Bar Bingo Wednesdays.
2860 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 483-0677
Located in the basement of a VFW Hall, Rocco’s isn’t anything fancy. But if you want 50-cent wings on Wednesday, $1 tacos on Tuesday, fish fries on Friday and brunch on Sunday, this quiet TV-laden space has plenty of free parking.
3475 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 481-3396
Romans' is a favorite with the Bay View boys who like to fire up a stogie to spice up that after-work beer. Hard-nosed construction workers sit next to neighborhood veterans and recently-arrived yuppies in this slice of life tavern. A nice deck and a patch of grass juts out to the south for those warm summer nights, but atop a stool at the bar is the place where the die-hards come to worship at the foot of the healer (beer, that is).
3118 S. Chase Ave., (414) 763-5817
The no-frills name matches the no-frills atmosphere inside this Bay View hidden gem, delivering neighborhood company and refreshing drinks in a nicely remodeled space on the corner of Chase Avenue. Definitely drop by for open mic/live music on Wednesdays and trivia on Fridays.
2422 S. Howell Ave., (414) 431-9768
The Stone is light on the pretension, heavy on the character. It’s a friendly hidden gem with free peanuts, a great beer selection, a jukebox and specials listed on the chalkboard sign out front. And who knows, maybe your drink will get served by Dashboard Confessional's bass player!
441 E. Lincoln Ave., (414) 481-2393
Named the home of the city's best beer list by OnMilwaukee readers for a staggering nine years in a row, Sugar Maple – located just east of Kinnickinnic Avenue – was one of the first Bay View establishments to open completely smoke-free. This is definitely a beer snob’s bar, with 60 American craft beers and plenty of brew-themed events and tastings on tap throughout the year.
1503 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 747-0644
Just off the far south side of Kinnickinnic is Straight Shots, a classic townie sports bar that declares on its front signage, "We're drinkin' here." And after one visit to this cozy sports cave, you might be drinking there on the regular too.
3143 S. Clement Ave., (414) 431-1229
Not to be confused with the former Third Ward small plate wine bar and restaurant. In fact, Swigs Pub & Grill couldn't be further in the opposite direction: a classic, no-frills, off the main drag neighborhood bar with plenty of history both in the foundation and in the seats. And that's all perfect for what it is: a place to catch up with the locals, grab a drink and nosh a bite.
2813 S. Howell Ave., (414) 747-9077
No need to be moody or to have the blues wandering into this unapologetically old school Bay View neighborhood joint, serving up macros on tap and plenty of conversation with the locals from all across the town.
2335 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 588-7366
This upscale bar prides itself on having a casual atmosphere. The bar often features artwork and hosts musical guests. With a fireplace in winter and the patio in summer, any season is the right time for a visit to the Tonic Tavern.
2018 S. 1st St., (414) 405-8900
Cooking up organic spirits, Twisted Path Distillery also serves up its tasty concoctions Wednesdays through Saturdays at a newly expanded tasting room inside the Lincoln Warehouse. Perfect for those who want to adventure away from the usual taps and brews – as well as off the hustle of the Kinnickinnic main drag.
2659 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 539-3593
What could be more Milwaukee than a bar? How about a bar that serves delicious housemate sausages? That's what you'll find (and then probably eat) inside The Vanguard, a perfect spot for a bite and a brew – or any other drink; they have a delicious list of cocktails and spirits as well – whether you're dropping by to start the night with a good base or end it with a scrumptious soaker pad.
1100 E. Potter Ave., (414) 226-5120
Open Thursdays through Saturdays, Victoria's may be less than a decade old, but it already feels like a classic Milwaukee dive bar, from the comfortable "where everybody knows your name" atmosphere, sassy bartenders, cheap prices, peanuts served in dog bowls, drinks served in mason jars, a giant Jenga set and Hammerschlagen. In fact, it's got enough character packed inside to supply several dive bars.
422 E. Lincoln Ave., (414) 239-8254
Once of the newer names on the Bay View bar list, Voyager offers a casual neighborhood spot uncorking some tasty wines and satisfying snacks to help savor your vino of choice. And for those committed to Milwaukee's Brew City nickname, yes, there are brews on tap as well. So you really have no excuse not to take a voyage to Voyager.
Lee's Luxury Lounge
Rocco’s Bar and Hall
Swigs Pub & Grill
Toni's Moody Blues
Twisted Path Distillery
Victoria's on Potter