By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 21, 2023 at 11:02 AM

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It’s been almost eight months since Revival opened at 814 S. 2nd St., serving up a menu of craft cocktails and small plates that take inspiration from both classic bar fare and Latin cuisine.

The bar and restaurant offers up a relaxed, friendly vibe early on, plus happy hour every day (Thursday through Tuesday; closed Wednesday) from 5 to 10 p.m. with an ever changing offering of food and drink specials. So it’s a perfect spot to gather for a few drinks and some shareable plates. Stick around until after 10 p.m., and the vibe gets livelier thanks to regularly scheduled entertainment, including DJs (check out their Instagram page for more information). 

The historic building, which was purchased by Julio Maldonado in 2021, has undergone a good deal of refurbishment, including improvements to its facade. Additional improvements, including a sidewalk patio and parklet and a mural that pays homage to Maria Felix, a prominent Mexican actress and singer from the 1940s and 50s, scheduled to be completed this summer by local artist Chacho Lopez (@chacholopeztattoos). Lopez is also responsible for the Instagrammable mural inside the restaurant, just across from the bar, which also pays homage to Felix.

A view of the bar back to dining room at RevivalX

At the bar

At the Revival Bar, guests will find a selection of domestic and craft beer along with a craft cocktail menu designed by Latina mixologist Veronica Ordaz, who also manages Glass Note Candle Bar.  

There are refreshing quaffs like the Pisco and passion fruit based Viva Peru; Fresca vibes featuring cucumber vodka and Midori; and Island Boy, which offers up citrus and raspberry notes with its mix of light and dark rum, orgeat, lime and muddled raspberries and mint. 

Island BoyX

There area also selections like the Yonaguni featuring Japanese Whiskey, gingery Domaine De Canton, lemon, pineapple cayenne syrup and ginger beer; the 11th Century Dove with Tequila Blanco, lychee liqueur, grapefruit and sour soda; or the hefty A Pinch of Smoke featuring bourbon, Carpano Antica Vermouth, rosewater and orange bitters served up in a smoked coupe glass.

Smoked cocktailX

The cocktails, priced $13-16, play nicely with the flavors on the menu, which showcase Asian and Latin influence in accessible dishes that can be enjoyed as either singular entrees or shared plates.

On the menu

Behind Revival’s menu is Chef Gameliel Vilchis, a chef with years of experience preparing seafood dishes and a knack for delivering on beautifully presented fare.

Casual offerings include housemade wings, which are deep-fried, grilled, sauced and served with carrots, celery and a choice of lemon or jalapeno ranch (six wings for $15). Wing sauces include standards like BBQ and Buffalo sauce, but also a selection of more inventive offerings including sweet Asian sesame ginger wings (pictured below).

Asian ginger wingsX

Serrano crema wings, sprinkled with pepitas, pack a moderate amount of heat that’s moderated by the crema.

Serrano crema wingsX

Meanwhile, guajillo crema sauced wings showcase the slightly smokey earthy flavor of the complex guajillo chili.

Guajillo crema wingsX

Guests can also order aguachile verdes with shrimp, scallops or – a more unusual rendition with steak that’s been grilled and then quick marinated in lime with fresh cucumbers, jalapenos, cherry tomatoes and red onions ($15). 

Aguachiles steakX

If you order the steak, be sure to eat it with the accompanying sauce, made with a combination of Maggi, soy and Worcestershire; it amps up the umami flavors in the meat.

On the seafood side, there’s also tuna tartare featuring seasoned Ahi tuna layered with fresh  mango, dragon fruit, chopped cilantro, green onions, fresh lime juice and crispy wontons along with dollops of sweet chile and chipotle sauces ($18).

Tuna tartareX

Asian bao buns also get a fun redux at Revival where they’re filled taco-style with a choice of steak, chicken, chorizo or birria along with shredded lettuce, jalapenos,Revival sauce and queso fresco ($15).

Taco bao bunsX

Of course, if you’re in the mood for tacos, there’s a pretty good chance you’ll love Revival’s quesabirria, three grilled birria tacos with plenty of melty queso cheese and a side of consomme ($12).  Birria ramen is also a new offering on the menu, beginning this week.

Additional new items include a selection of burgers like the tasty Jalapeno Burger which features a tender ½ pound beef patty, pickled jalapeño slices, jalapeño pepper jack, cheddar, lettuce, tomato, pickles onion and chipotle mayo on a white cheddar and jalapeno studded bun.

Jalapeno burgerX

In addition to dinner service, Revival also serves brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Along with classic brunch drinks like mimosas and bloody marys, guests can order up dishes like chilaquiles (served with red or green sauce); housemade biscuits with chorizo gravy; pancakes topped with condensed milk, fresh strawberries, whipped cream and maple syrup.

Revival is open Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m.  Carry-out is currently available. Third party delivery is also expected to be up and running by the end of March.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

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.