The Milwaukee Bucks are back in action, equipped with a brand new superstar and ready to earn another set of NBA championship rings and hang another banner from the rafters. Over the next several months, there will be dunks, there will be drama ... and there will be drinks.
No matter if you're celebrating the latest jaw-dropping Giannis highlight or clutch Dame Lillard three, or preparing to sing along with some of the biggest concerts of the year, Deer District and the surrounding streets have plenty of slam-dunk spots to snag a swig. Here's our guide to the area and beyond – ranging from the Brewery District to the former Old World Third Street drag to some of the newest (and biggest) names in the local dining scene.
3rd Street Market Hall
275 W Wisconsin Ave Suite 100, (414) 249-5062
3rd Street Market Hall is a first-rate place to grab a bite and brew just a short walk away from Deer District. No matter what you're craving, the new food hall almost certainly has it on the menu thanks to its hefty lineup of vendors – which runs the gamut from memorable burgers and frozen custard to wings, Venezuelan arepas, ramen and tacos. Plus, as implied by showing up on this guide, there's a bar complete with tasty brews and TVs to watch the big game in one of the biggest developments to come this side of Downtown in a while.
910 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 939-8592
Why leave the performing and singing to the acts hitting the Fiserv Forum stage? Amped lets you show off your pipes (when you're not gulping tasty cocktails, beer and beverages down them) with their private suite karaoke suites, letting you croon in the comfort of your own crowd. Plus, it's just a three-minute drive to Fiserv Forum and back – so you can sing along to your favorite band's songs before their concert down the street or you can blast "We Are The Champions" after another big Bucks win a few blocks away.
The Beer Garden
1111 Vel R. Phillips Ave.
As part of Fiserv Forum's entertainment block, The Beer Garden faces both Old World Third Street and the arena, equipped with a large screen, a weather-proof roof and other amenities perfect for game day. Seamlessly connecting the entertainment block to the former Old World Third drag, the beer garden is a great way to celebrate new buzz in the city while connecting to some of Milwaukee's old favorites. The only problem? It's not called The Deer Garden.
917 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 630-1609
If you're going to have the word "Best" in your bar's name, it better be pretty fantastic – and luckily, that's the case at Best Place. Housed at the Historic Pabst Brewery, Best Place lets you guzzle down delicious beer in basically a living museum, with gorgeous historic art and architecture from Pabst's glory days in Milwaukee providing the perfect warm backdrop for delicious conversation and even more delectable brews.
Central Waters Brewing
1037 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 271-3174
Moving into the Brewery District in 2021, Central Waters Brewing brought a taproom near the center of the growing Milwaukee excitement. Found at the former Captain Pabst Pilot House, the cozy but bright space features two dozen taps, tasty food from Trouble Makers Cocina and a historic hideout perfect for grabbing some tasty brews before or after heading down the hill to Fiserv Forum.
Deer Camp MKE
1023 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr., (414) 316-9900
This relatively new Camp Bar offshoot brings the up-north spirit to the entertainment district along with spirits, with tasty brews (on tap and in cans, imported and domestic, macros and micros) and specialty cocktails. You're sure to find a friendly vibe and a bit of hunting lodge zen at this cabin-like addition to the bustling neighborhood.
Drink Wisconsinbly Pub
320 W. Highland Ave., (414) 409-1740
The iconic Midwestern brand and meme-makers come to life in perfect Wisconsin fashion: a bar. A giant bar, moving from its original Walker's Point location to a jumbo-sized Deer District spot capable of holding everything you love about this state in a single Sconnie-rific space. And, of course, that means we're referring to tasty brews as well as snacks like cheese curds, jerky and beef sticks to soak it all up (plus bigger eats from the pub's neighbors in case you punched in quite the shift at the barstool).
333 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 249-5405
It's always a party at Fat Tuesday, the little boozy frozen cocktail nook freshly opened just outside Fiserv Forum right in between The MECCA and Good City Brewing. With a mixable variety of flavors and an avalanche of frosty drink types to choose from – including hurricanes, margaritas, pina coladas and its famed 190 Octane beverages – there are few better ways to chill out around Fiserv Forum than Fat Tuesday.
Good City Brewing
333 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 539-4343
It only seems right that the newest part of Old World Third Street, the Bucks entertainment block, would bring in the new big trend in Brew City: craft brewing and tap rooms. Good City's second locale features an awesome taproom, multiple tasty beers on tap and an open kitchen with snacks to help soak up your brews.
Knight's Bar at Mader's
1041 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr., (414) 271-3377
Mader's is an obvious Milwaukee staple, a thoroughly committed showcase of the food, decor and culture from the city's German heritage. Knight's Bar, an outgrowth of the beloved institution, is no less a tribute to the Cream City's Bavarian roots – and, therefore, beer and other tasty alcoholic beverages.
1048 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr., (414) 316-9986
Feeling lucky? Head over to this new hotspot in the district, moving into the former Brudd space and bringing a bit of Irish pub comfort and a lot of lucky charms – from pennies in the bartop with two heads up ones to find to wooden statues emanating good vibes. With 24 tap lines pouring out Irish and craft brews, Lucky Clover's a charming spot to grab some drinks, a casual Irish-inspired bite and some good luck to bring into the Bucks game just a block away.
340 W. Kilbourn Ave., (414) 271-3414
You can't make a list of Milwaukee sports bar institutions without Major Goolsby's near the top. Featuring memorabilia all over the walls – including a large painting of the late MU coaching great Rick Majerus – and a menu of tasty burgers and other pub grub, the longtime Downtown icon is the perfect place to take in a game and a beer – or a beer, then head over to the games a quick jaunt away at Fiserv Forum or the UWM Panther Arena.
The MECCA Sports Bar & Grill
1134 Vel R. Phillips Ave., (414) 908-0401
Named after the Bucks' old stomping grounds and sitting in the shadow of the team's new home, The MECCA is perfectly positioned to be your new favorite sports bar – and certainly the biggest, featuring two levels of sports-watching glory, tasty bar eats and dozens of televisions (including a mammoth 38-foot screen as the centerpiece) featuring all the day's most important games.
Milwaukee Brat House
1013 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr., (414) 273-8709
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a venue called Milwaukee Brat House would become a hit. As you'd expect from the name, Milwaukee Brat House serves a scrumptious traditional Milwaukee-style brat, alongside plenty of other Milwaukee favorites, while also serving a great, comfortable place to watch a game – or, in the case of the Brewers, shuttle over to one.
Oak Barrel Public House
1033 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 897-8320
Taking the place of the former Comedy Cafe and Giovanni's, you'll now find – fittingly – a whole lot of oak barrels, emphasizing the bar and restaurant's focus on craft beers and whiskey as well as harkening back to the building's history as a hardware store. It's an Oak Barrel of fun! (I'm sorry, I'm sorry, I'm trying to remove it.)
Old German Beer Hall
1009 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 226-2728
Considering the neighborhood's history as the one-time center of German Milwaukee, the Old German Beer Hall is a quintessential Milwaukee bar. In addition to the big, big tap beers from world-renowned Hofbrau Brewery in Bavaria, you can also get the usual bottled favorites – though why pass up the chance to drink a liter of beer?
The kitchen is open late, and in addition to the standard menu of brats and giant Bavarian-style pretzels, there is usually a couple of delicious German specialties on the menu too. The Beer Hall draws a number of different demographics, from families and "older folks" looking for a good meal, to theater and sports fans catching a drink before or after and event or show as well as the usual college crowds.
1203 N. 10th St., (414) 810-3351
If you're looking for a tasty pint, there are few better options than the bar found in a former Pabst Brewing Company building, covered with Pabst beer ephemera, attached to a brewery-themed hotel, in a part of town called the Brewery District. Indeed, for beer lovers, On Tap – found in the former Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub location – should be on tap for your Fiserv Forum-adjacent plans with a hefty tap list, scrumptious pub food and an atmosphere that's both modern and steeped with history. Plus, there's even a shuttle for many big Fiserv Forum events to make coming and going from the big show or game a Brew City breeze.
Pilot Project Brewing
1128 N. 9th St., (414) 395-1070
Housed in the former Milwaukee Brewing Company complex in the Brewery District, Pilot Project Brewing pours some of the most unique pints in the city – because cultivating creativity is its whole thing. The tasting room and brewhouse serves as a incubator for up-and-coming brewers, offering a place to show off their tasty concoctions and grow their brew-tiful business plans – all while offering you a tasty beverage and some tasty Italian inspired fare to soak it all up.
1044 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 226-6044
RWB is the self-proclaimed "Milwaukee party bar" and lives up to their title. What was formerly a live country music entertainment space known as Red, White & Blue has shifted into a more diverse theme with all different kinds of music – and the return of Buckhead Back Bar Saloon. A new bar atmosphere comes with new features, such as the prize wheel, shots bars and dance platform. RWB has transformed into one of Old World Third Street's most popular destinations, while still maintaining their patriotic roots.
State Street Pizza Pub
322 W. State St., (414) 249-5386
What could be better than a pizza pub? It's literally two of our favorite things – quick service pizza and pubs – combined into a single concept. And indeed, State Street does not disappoint, dishing out tasty slices and satisfying drinks while surrounded by tons of TV screens to help you keep up with the sports action of the moment.
Third Street Tavern
1110 N. Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr., (414) 897-8137
Third Street Tavern combines a cozy traditional tavern vibe – classic bar games, a relaxed atmosphere and a menu of pub grub – with some nifty new tweaks, like several retro arcade cabinets (NBA Jam, Galaga and more) just waiting for you to post the latest high score. It's a corner bar – just done up for the Downtown atmosphere.
The Trade Hotel
420 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 644-0080
The biggest new arrival to Deer District (not named Dame Lillard) is the gorgeous new Trade Hotel – and, along with it, the three dining and drinking options found within. For fancy Italian concoctions and cuisine in a upper-tier dining experience, check out Il Cirvo. For more casual but still heightened modern gastropub fare, brews and cocktails, creep into Craft. And for a relaxed lounge for elevated pregame or postgame beverages – plus perhaps some small bites to help soak up a nightcap – take a sip of Solomon's. That's three unique options you may want to train your three-goggles on for a sophisticated drink around the big game or concert.
1111 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 581-5540
It's no lie: Truth Lounge, taking the place of the former Valhalla on Old World Third Street, houses a comfortable, club-like vibe. The hangout features a menu of tasty cocktails, brews and food items – and when it comes to atmosphere, the spot hosts regular DJ sets to keep the energy high and the mood chill.
1034 Vel R. Phillips Ave., (414) 210-3451
Want to grab a drink (and some dinner) with a difference? Then grab a seat at Turning Tables, located just inside the Historic Turner Hall. Opened just last year, the bar and restaurant was created by Diverse Dining founder Emerald Mills to function both as a teaching kitchen for aspiring food entrepreneurs and an awesome spot for dining near Fiserv Forum. Head there for tacos, barbeque or a Friday night fish fry along with a full assortment of beverage options.
1125 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 988-0355
There's nothing ugly about the former Ugly's space, now taken by the cozy tavern vibes of Uncle Buck's, offering a delicious menu of high-end bar eats as well as tasty cocktails and brews to wash them down – all with a great view of the neighboring Beer Garden's big-screen TV. And speaking of great views, you'll definitely want to check out Uncle Buck's upstairs concept, Red Star, a upscale lounge atmosphere featuring a rooftop patio complete with fireside bar seating outside and a overlook of the entire drag. No matter which floor you're on, it's a top-shelf hotspot.
1110 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 810-0390
Found in the former 1983 Arcade Bar space, this colorful yet warm lounge-like hangout offers a cornucopia of cocktails along with a menu of wines and beers of all kinds. Plus, to set the right mood, WhiteTail often hosts DJ nights to combine club-like fun and low-key comfort.
Who's On Third
1007 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 897-8373
Who's On Third: That's who's on the former Old World Third. The pub, which took over the former One Sports Lounge space in March 2014, isn't just for fans of wordplay, however. Who's On Third aims to be a classic American neighborhood pub in the heart of Downtown, with plenty of TVs to watch the games – not to mention proximity to Fiserv Forum for the ones taking place just down the block – local art of vintage Milwaukee sites decorating the walls and tasty pub grub.
1230 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, (414) 226-0122
It only seems right to end this bar guide at the end of the alphabet with W XYZ, the Aloft Hotel's swanky bar. The hotel bar offers a collection of beers and wines, as well as a menu of tasty light pub eats. And while it may be last on this list (alphabetically reasons only), with Fiserv Forum and Deer District pretty much next door in the Park East area, it's unlikely W XYZ will be at the bottom of people's lists heading down to the city's shiniest new hotspot.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.