By Julie Lawrence Special to Published Nov 07, 2007 at 7:23 AM

For what might very well be the first time ever, I spent my Saturday night going out in Cudahy last weekend. OK, fine, I've attended the occasional show at Vnuk's Lounge, but other than that, there's just never been any establishment in that city that beckoned me to head that far south when I could easily just go out in my surrounding neighborhoods.

That is, until my friends and I decided to make City Lounge, 3455 E. Layton Ave., our refuge from the cold last Saturday. We'd embarked on a group bike ride in the late afternoon, heading south from Walker's Point along the bike trail. When the sun went down, we found ourselves in South Milwaukee, and cold.

Remembering I'd done an interview with Joe Halser, the owner of City Lounge, earlier this year, I suggested it to my friends as our best bet to find warmth and a few drinks. I was right.

The bar is entirely smoke-free, which is not only refreshing after a hearty bike ride, but was doubly rewarding when we got home and realized our jackets, scarves and gloves don't reek of smoke.

A waitress showed up at our table immediately to explain about the smoking policy and was happy to answer our questions about the seasonal beers, including the owner's own brewery, III Dachshunds, which a few people tried (Ankle Biter Ale was a favorite.)

The eclecticness of the bar's decor kept us interested -- there were antiques that looked as if they came straight out of the "Street of Old Milwaukee" exhibit, as well as an '80s, disco-like dance area and a baby grand piano in the front window.

We were surprised to see a doorman (bouncer just seems like the wrong word for a place like this) at a Cudahy bar so early in the evening, but there he was, enduring the brisk night air. It started to make more sense as the hours passed and the bar really began to fill up.

Admittedly, the majority of the crowd looked slightly older than our group, but then again, we were all under 30. Nevertheless, it was a nice, easy and clean place to grab a beer or some bar food and I can definitely see myself going back if I'm the neighborhood.

Julie Lawrence Special to staff writer Julie Lawrence grew up in Wauwatosa and has lived her whole life in the Milwaukee area.

As any “word nerd” can attest, you never know when inspiration will strike, so from a very early age Julie has rarely been seen sans pen and little notebook. At the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee it seemed only natural that she major in journalism. When offered her an avenue to combine her writing and the city she knows and loves in late 2004, she knew it was meant to be. Around the office, she answers to a plethora of nicknames, including “Lar,” (short for “Larry,” which is short for “Lawrence”) as well as the mysteriously-sourced “Bill Murray.”