No doubt, I was a bit of a junkie for Bay View last weekend.
Thursday, we had a drink at Burnhearts before riding Downtown to take some photos for Friday's Milwaukee Bike Polo article. Friday night, dinner at the Palomino, a drink at the Cactus Club before stopping at Club Garibaldi for De la Buena. Saturday, back to the Cactus Club to see Call Me Lightning and The Chain.
Like I said, I saw my fair share of Bay View "nightlife" last weekend.
But, in the midst of playing musical chairs in Bay View taverns we got to talking and vouching for one bar over another.
For the most part, the bars in Bay View all fall within the same scope. You won't find Milwaukee Street-style clubs, sports bars with 32-inch flat screens or high-end luxury lounges (although Lee's might claim otherwise). The ideal Bay View bar is low key; heavily stocked with good beer, even better music and plenty of locals around the bar.
This being the case, it's more difficult to say one is better than the next or to hate one place and love another. The good thing is that realistically, you don't have to. You can love or hate them all.
But for the sake of conversation or perhaps to provoke a friendly territorial fight, we flushed out opinions on all of them.
There is plenty of neighborhood pride on the East Side, in Riverwest and in Bay View. Not to mention outlying suburbs dedicating weekly events to honor their community establishments. Neighborhood affiliations run long and deep no matter where you're living.
But it leads to the question, do you live where you like to hang out or do you like to hang out where you live?
By no means, Bay View is unique in this way. Any neighborhood in town has local hangouts with residents who love and hate them. So, what about your part of city?
Here are a few thoughts on some great Bay View spots:
This is the new kid on the block. Having just opened less than a month ago, Blackbird reclaims the space of the Groove with new vintage leather booths, a fresh coat of paint and room for smokers and non-smokers alike.
You can pretty much find a seat any night of the week; and that's a good thing. Its low key enough that you won't fight a crowd but popular enough that you'll probably see someone you know or at least a friendly face. It epitomizes a friendly, neighborhood feel with weekly DJs and both pool and shuffle puck in the back.
Recently remodeled and freshly painted, Cactus Club's transition drew some people in and pushed others out. Despite the slight interior upgrade, the bar still serves plenty of local, low level beers and raw, fresh live music.
A haven for soccer fans and BBQ wing connoisseurs, Club Garibaldi specializes in a few randomly welcomed Bay View staples. The bar's connected to a large back room venue; and although it doesn't get nearly the draw of neighboring Cactus Club, Club Garibaldi takes care of loyal customers every night of the week.
Something about Palm Tavern strikingly sets it aside from any other bar mentioned here. An insane number of Belgian and American beers, requiring a hefty binder style menu, put Palm Tavern in a league of its own. It's cozy and non-smoking.
Tasty, tasty food but literally deadly if eaten too often. Something about the 1960s curved wooden chairs and chrome swivel bar stools paired with slick leather booths authentically throwback to the bar's vintage Western theme.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.