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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 five 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.
If you're headed out, please double check to see how places have particularly adapted to the pandemic and follow their COVID protocols accordingly. Be safe, be considerate – and cheers!
2501 S. Delaware Ave., (414) 481-8030
In the best of times, Random is a quiet and dimly-lit bar with cozy decor straight out of the '60s, prodigious ice cream-based drinks and plenty of attitude. Currently, it's taken the form of a delightful outdoor venue that's serving up similar retro charms in a safer outdoor environs.
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 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.
1955 S. Hilbert St., (414) 481-9974
It's not the great Milwaukee summer without a stop at Barnacle Bud's, one of the true hidden gems of Brew City. Tucked away in a little scenic nook on the far north end of Bay View, it's easy to miss Barnacle Bud's – but even easier to miss its gorgeous dockside patio, relaxing atmosphere, tasty seafood and summery vibes when the seasons shift to fall and winter. But don't worry; when the sun comes back, this little burst of beach energy in frosty Brew City always be there for 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. In regular times, Burnhearts regularly has DJs, great drink specials, an extensive beer list of far more than the usual brews and a cozy hometown vibe. Unfortunately, Burnhearts has remained closed during the pandemic, but check the bar's Facebook page and website for ways you can still support it until it's time to open again.
2612 S. Greeley St., Suite 123
Looking for a sweet new hangout? Check out Cache Cider, the city's first craft cidery, making delicious single-varietal and orchard-to-glass concoctions that'll quench your thirst for something different, letting the apples tell their tasty stories while you tell your own stories around the newly opened taproom. Or you can take their tipples home to enjoy from the comfort of your own cove!
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 usually the scene of regular gigs featuring a wide variety of live music by bands from Milwaukee and beyond – but for the time being, enjoy the cozy bar inside and the fresh air on the benches outside.
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.
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 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.
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
2020 S. Allis St., (414) 239-8950
Bouncing from one part of Bay View to another, Enlightened Brewing Company made its way from its 1st Street taproom to its expansive new home in the Louis Allis Company building. But while the digs may be new, the tasty beer – like its Cream City Brix cream ale – and warm, inviting vibe is all the same, providing brews and company that'll hopefully expand your mind.
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 more]
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. In normal times, it's the premier place to watch the Premiership – but unfortunately, it's closed for the time being. However, you can still support the Highbury by buying shirts and snagging takeout dinner via its weekly Tamale Town dishes.
Lee's Luxury Lounge
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 so book a reservation – or pop onto the Pufferfish patio.
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. This truly hidden gem is open every day of the week, but closes a little earlier than most watering holes.
2301 S. Logan Ave.
Get happily abducted into The Mothership, one of Bay View's newest bars, taking over the former Urban Bay View and bringing an old-school casually cozy tavern vibe as well as out-of-this-world tasty cocktails and other delectable drinks to the neighborhood. It's not just stellar – it's inter-stellar!
2018 S. 1st St. #170, (414) 581-3215
Opening a new place during a pandemic is no easy task – and one without much precident. But New Barons has no need for precident – after all, it's already the first co-op brewery in the entire state so it's got no problems being ground-breakers. Hosting a taproom in the former Enlightened space, New Barons is controlled by you (or at least its public membership), with each tasty glass of suds having its own story courtesy of an owner/member. So grab a drink – and your dog because its Bay View space is pupper-approved!
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 would usually get pretty crowded on the weekends – and still totally be worth it – but right now, its carryout and patio seating only. So while the inside is closed, though, the tasty Southern food and ice cold crispy beer are still open for business!
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.
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.
Swigs Pub & Grill
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.
Trailer Park Tavern
2989 S Kinnickinnic Ave.
Looking for a neighborhood bar where locals gather to drink, socialize, and watch sports? Trailer Park Tavern is for you! Whiskey fans should get in on their bottle club for Basil Hayden's and they have multiple specials each week. Strings of lights zigzag the ceiling, flatscreen TVs now adorn one of the walls and the kitschy decor includes framed photos of Dolly Parton, Kenny Rogers and the cast of "Laverne & Shirley."
Toni's Moody Blues
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.
Twisted Path Distillery
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'd usually 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. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, Vanguard's usual set-up is closed – but you can still support the bar and restaurant by snagging dinner to-go, grill kits so you can cook up the sausages on your own and more!
Victoria's on Potter
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 pivoted during the pandemic into more of a sundries store, offering tasty wines, cravable cocktails, satisfying snacks and more to help savor your vino of choice. It may be different from in usual times, but you still really have no excuse not to take a voyage to Voyager.