It’s been about six months since Drunken Cobra opened its doors at 6818 W. North Ave., offering East Tosa a brand new spot to gather, enjoy a beer or cocktail and... well, maybe think a little differently about cobras. Maybe. [You’ll find the story behind the name here]
More recently, it’s also become a place where you can enjoy a bite to eat with your beverage of choice. In fact, you can choose from a fairly comprehensive menu of starters, salads, and sandwiches, plus meals for the kids, a Friday night fish fry and breakfast and brunch-worthy items on the weekend.
Behind the food program are industry chefs Mike Jones and Antoine Davis, who’ve used their experience to bring a tasty spin and an efficient rhythm in the Drunken Cobra kitchen.
From Knipps Chips to Shmoos
Anthony Lampasona, who owns the bar with his wife Kristin, says the menu was built to accommodate both meat eaters and those with plant-based diets, so they’ve gone the extra mile to ensure that plant-based versions of chicken, sausage patties, bratwurst and burgers are available as substitutions for most dishes.
Guests will find accessible snacks like breaded cheese curds ($9), nachos ($10), breaded chicken tenders ($8) and boneless wings ($10), along with favorites like Knipp’s Chips (pesto French fries with parmesan and garlic aioli, $7) and Red Dot Poutine, an homage to the original featuring crisp fries or tater ttots doused in brown gravy and fresh cheese curds ($9). You wouldn’t know it, but the tasty gravy is also plant-based.
There’s also a story behind every imaginatively named menu item, most of which are an homage to friends and family.
For instance, you’ll find the Ryan Tamer, a breaded chicken cutlet (or plant-based chik’n patty) topped with coleslaw, pickles and spicy mayo on a fresh roll ($9/$12).
It’s named for Lampasona’s brother, Ryan, with whom he once worked on a landscape crew on Long Island. They’d often take breaks for lunch at the local deli where Ryan insisted upon calling the “Lion Tamer” sandwich the “Ryan Tamer.”
“The guys at the deli hated it,” he says, “And they always tried to get him to say it correctly. But he wouldn’t. Decades later, it’s the real name of a sandwich at my bar.”
If Ryan taming isn’t your style, you can always go for The Fulton, a panino featuring thinly sliced chicken, pesto, fresh mozzarella and tomato ($10).
It’s named for Lampasona’s friend James Fulton, who was “one of the wildest people I grew up with.”
There are also sandwiches like the Heff-Ner (Drunken Cobra’s signature burger, $10); the Bratkowski (bratwurst with fried onions on a hoagie with a side of kraut, $8) and the Dodge Fromage, a souped up grilled cheese with melted cheddar, provolone and mozzarella ($9, plus add-ons like jalapenos, tomatoes, avocado or bacon for +$1-2)
Drunken Cobra also offers a Friday fish fry featuring a choice of panko-crusted cod or battered perch with fries or tots, coleslaw, tartar sauce and marble rye ($10/$13).
Breakfast and brunch
On Saturday and Sunday, bar-goers can also find breakfast and brunch items including The Chuck Chillout (BLT on toast with fried egg, guacamole, jack cheese, chipotle, $10); and Hac B-Fast Poutine featuring fries or tots topped with cheese curds, hollandaise and gravy and topped with a scrambled or fried egg and bacon ($12).
There are also New York deli style egg sandwiches ($3), served up your way on a Sciortino’s Kaiser roll or bagel (+$2) with fried or scrambled eggs and a choice of cheese (+$2) and protein (+$2)
And you might just impress Lampasona, a native New Yorker, if you rattle off your sandwich order for “fried with ham, cheddar, salt, pepper, and ketchup” without hesitation.
On Sundays you can pair it up with a $5 bloody mary made with house-made mix and topped with a skewer stocked with pickle, olive, lemon, celery beef sticks and cheese from Kewaskum Foods, a business owned by Tosa resident Brian Schumacher.
Incidentally, Drunken Cobra may be the only bar in the city where you can brunch in the company of a very large reptile. You'll find him (or maybe it's a her) waiting on the table adjacent to a set of paintings created by Ty Willman, the Seattle-based guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter probably best known for his work with Green Apple Quick Step.
The Drunken Cobra Experience
Lampasona, says he’s been impressed by all the support the bar has garnered over the past six months.
“The way I see it, we’re riding on the tails of all the great businesses that have already established the customer base on North Avenue,” he says. “We’re so grateful to all of our friends, family and neighbors who’ve really gone all out to help us get things off the ground.
The community has really supported us, and that’s given us the opportunity to work hard to really give people the experience we envisioned.”
That experience also includes daily activities and specials including Monday bingo, Tuesday trivia, Wednesday Wii games and $5 old fashioneds and Thursday ladies night featuring drink specials and monthly Shop Privy with Amy pop-up events (traveling pop-up clothing boutique).
Purchase a Drunken Cobra mug made by Sunset Hill Stoneware (Neenah, Wisconsin) for $18 and you'll not only get a free pint that night; you’re also eligible for buy-one-get one craft taps every Wednesday from 5 to 8 p.m. (as long as you bring your mug).
The kitchen at Drunken Cobra is open Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m.; Friday from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. (closed on Wednesdays). Carry-out is available; call (414) 837-4997 to place your order for pick-up.
Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club.
When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.