Since opening in April, The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill, 1134 N. Vel R. Phillips Ave., has made a name for itself as the city’s prime game-watching sports bar. But -- even if sportsball isn’t your thing -- you might still have good reason to pay this new Deer District venue a visit.
After all, they’ve just launched a brand new brunch menu… making it the perfect time to soak up all the beautiful Milwaukee sunshine on their double decker patio, Bloody Mary in hand.
Served on both Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., the brunch menu combines a combination of The MECCA staples, like wings, nachos and burgers with a brand new assortment of unique breakfast-worthy offerings.
"As much as The MECCA is a sports bar -- and we do offer that experience -- we also want to offer something for folks just looking for a neighborhood restaurant where they can stretch out and enjoy themselves," says says Executive Chef Matt Kerley.
"We’ve orchestrated our options to meet the needs of not only someone who’s coming by to watch a Packer game on a Sunday, but also a crowd who really just wants to gather with friends, enjoy a few brunch cocktails and experience one of the most exciting spots in Downtown."
On the sweeter side of things, brunch-goers will find S’Mores Pancakes, a sweet variation on one of MECCA’s more popular dessert items, S’Mores Cake.
It all begins with pancakes (made ultra tender and fluffy by the addition of Sprite in their batter) drizzled with thick, rich chocolate sauce, bruleed marshmallow fluff and topped with graham cracker crumble ($11).
It’s a dish that’s worthy of sharing, hence its placement on the "Snacks & Apps" portion of the menu; but it’s also an offering that falls squarely into Kerley’s definition of brunch-worthy foods.
"Being from the South," he says, "I think of fried chicken, sweet foods, biscuits and hash… and all of those things appear in some form on the new brunch menu."
And Kerley’s North Carolina roots begin to show in dishes like Chicken & Biscuit, a down-home offering featuring classic Southern style fried chicken tenders served atop housemade buttermilk biscuits with sausage gravy and a sunny side up egg ($10).
The tender chicken maintains its moisture thanks to a 24-hour brine and buttermilk soak, and it gleans flavor from a dredging in a proprietary mixture that contains a custom chicken spice blend made for MECCA by their neighbors at Spice House. And it’s a perfect pairing for the house Bloody Mary ($7.50 with rail vodka, $9.50 with Tito’s) or a mimosa ($6).
You’ll also find MECCA’s version of the classic breakfast sandwich featuring candied bacon and a fried egg pile high on sourdough with whipped avocado, tomato aioli, caramelized onions and lettuce. It’s served up with your choice of French fries, house salad or roasted brussels sprouts for $12.
Among the less expected offerings, there’s Veggie Hash, a blend of roasted peppers and onions, cubed red potatoes and fresh corn mixed with crumbles of Southwestern spiced Beyond Burger and topped with two sunny side up eggs and a smattering of arugula ($16).
It’s hearty, fulfilling and comforting. And -- whether or not you eat meat -- it’s a worthy choice.
"Personally, I love the Beyond product," says Kerley. "And I wanted to showcase that; but we also try to be really cognizant of offering dishes that meet any number of dietary restrictions, including allergies and intolerances. So this dish does triple duty. It’s soy-free, gluten free and vegetarian."
Other brunch options include standards like steak and eggs featuring "Bronx" cut strip steak with caramelized onions, breakfast potatoes, a biscuit and two eggs ($21); breakfast tacos made with scrambled eggs, black beans, pico de gallo, potatoes, cilantro and chili aioli ($13); and another Southern inspired favorite: shrimp and grits with blackened shrimp, roasted cherry tomatoes, garlic-herb butter and green onions served atop cheddar grits ($15).
"Brunch food is something Milwaukee loves and craves," adds Kerley. "And what we’re really trying to do is give people another great option that’s in the heart of The Deer District."
The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill is open Monday through Thursday from 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m., and Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight. Brunch is served on both Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
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.