"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
It may be Old World Third Street, but the Downtown nightlife and drinking destination is more of a hybrid of Milwaukee's past and the present, old and young happily intertwined.
At one time, this section of North Third Street was considered the "Downtown" of Milwaukee's large German population. It's been said that shopkeepers used to hang signs in the window saying "English spoken here" in order to not discourage non-Germans from bringing business. Legendary and iconic Milwaukee businesses like Usinger's, Schlitz and Schuster's Dept. Store were staples on the street.
Many of the original buildings still stand today – some among the oldest in Milwaukee – housing tributes to the city's German heritage alongside some of its newest, most popular nightspots. Everything, from sports bars to music venues to hotel bars to restaurant bars to places to dance and more, can be found on Old World Third – some classic throwback venues, some transplants from elsewhere in the city, some brand new locales hoping to key into Milwaukee's legendarily unquenchable thirst for a good brew.
Here's a quick rundown of all things new and old Old World Third Street has to offer.
1983 Arcade Bar
1110 N. Old World Third St., (262) 949-6903
Old World Third Street offers you the chance to go back in time – in the case of 1983 Arcade Bar, not that far back, though. Striking first as the city's first arcade bar, 1983 is a blast back to the past with classic arcade cabinets like Donkey Kong, Dig Dug, Double Dragon, Pac-Man, NBA Jam and plenty of pinball machines all awaiting your high scores – plus drink specials that you can legally imbibe now, as opposed to probably back when you were a teen.
Ale Asylum Riverhouse
1110 N. Old World Third St., (414) 269-8700
Ale Asylum may be proudly brewed and bottled in Madison, but that didn't stop the brewery from claiming a spot in Milwaukee – and on one of the city's hottest streets no less. The Riverhouse serves some tasty ales that are Madison-made in addition to being world class, alongside an equally tasty menu of upscale pub food – including wings, poutine, cheese plates, nachos and, of course, cheese curds. It's a swig of the state capital right here in Milwaukee.
The Brass Alley
1023 N. Old World Third St., (414) 800-6240
A flight from Milwaukee to New Orleans is about four hours long. The drive? You don't want to know (about 15 and a half hours). Luckily, you don't have to stray from Milwaukee to get a taste of the Big Easy with The Brass Alley. Bringing Bourbon Street to Old World Third Street, the restaurant serves all sorts of Big Easy grub, from jambalaya to crawfish touffee and more, alongside a satisfying collection of hand-crafted cocktails. And, of course, it wouldn't be a New Orleans-themed restaurant without some live jazz, played during Sunday brunch.
1019 N. Old World Third St., (414) 224-8500
When you play host to the largest bar in the state of Wisconsin, the odds are good you'll do well for yourself. That's been the case for Buck Bradley's, one of the major mainstays on Old World Third Street. Classy without being pompous and full of itself, Buck's has friendly and quick bartenders to go with its decent prices. Add in some really good burgers, pub grub and a tasty Friday fish fry, and Buck Bradley's makes for a solid choice for some no-hassle Downtown dining before making the switch to a liquid diet.
842 N. Old World Third St., (414) 273-3236
If you're looking for some scrumptious Italian food on Old World Third Street – or in the city of Milwaukee, period – there's no going wrong with Calderone Club. OnMilwaukee's own pizza expert named the restaurant's Neapolitan pizzas some of his favorite in the city, while the rest of the Italian favorites – ravioli, rigatoni bolognese, spaghetti, lasagna, gnocchi and more – more than hold their own. If you're planning a path down Old World Third Street, a meal and vino at Calderone Club is a fine place to start.
1110 N. Old World Third St., (414) 897-8137
Taking the place of Matador, Cantina – just opened in the late fall of 2017 – offers a fresh bite of Mexican food hundreds of miles away from the border, featuring more than 100 types of tequila, tacos and burritos of all sorts, and multiple hot sauces to give you just the right amount of kick. And if you want a taste of Milwaukee and Mexico in the same cup, try Cantina's tequila old fashioned.
301 W. Juneau Ave., (414) 223-3311
If we're going to have to cope with some of Chicago's less desirable imports – namely Cubs and Bears fans – it's only fair the city sends us some of its finest as well, such as Carson's. The Windy City icon – mostly due to its steaks and, most importantly, their barbecue ribs – opened a location here in Milwaukee in 2013, and it's been helping sate the city's Downtown carnivores ever since. Hard to imagine a better base for a trip down Old World Third than a heap of tasty meats.
1023 N. Old World Third St., (414) 831-7746
Bouncing over from the Third Ward to Old World Third Street, right above The Brass Alley, Evolution adds a competitive spin to the typical night out on the town. Indeed, whether you're Forrest Gump or a complete novice, you can have fun washing down some tasty brews and pub-friendly eats with some testy ping pong battles. Even better yet, we're pretty sure the venue has mostly eliminated the baffling "gastro pong" from its name!
Knight's Bar at Mader's
1041 N. Old World Third St., (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, branched off of the beloved institution, is no less a tribute to the Cream City's Bavarian roots – and, therefore, beer and other tasty alcoholic beverages. The Bavaria-drenched bar was even a featured stop on Esquire Network's "Best Bars in America." If that's not an achievement more than worthy of a beer in a boot ...
The Loaded Slate
1137 N. Old World Third St., (414) 273-5700
Old World Third Street offers a truly loaded slate of restaurants and bars for you to enjoy – The Loaded Slate fittingly being one of them. The eatery makes for a perfect place to catch a game, whether it be Bucks, Badgers, Golden Eagles, Brewers and Packers (it is the self-proclaimed "home of Little Lambeau" after all). Even if it's a off-day for our hometown squads, however, it's more than worth still loading into The Loaded Slate for its lineup of taps, domestics and imports – not to mention sandwiches and burgers.
340 W. Kilbourn Ave., (414) 271-3414
When it comes to Milwaukee sports bar institutions, Major Goolsby's certainly cracks the list. 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 the BMO Harris Bradley Center or UWM Panther Arena.
Milwaukee Brat House
1013 N. Old World Third St., (414) 273-8709
It shouldn't really come as a surprise that a venue called Milwaukee Brat House would become a hit – both among locals as well as among out-of-towners, like the USA Today, Food Network and Lonely Planet. 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. Old World Third St., (414) 897-8320
Oak Barrel is the newest resident on Old World Third Street, taking the place of the former Comedy Cafe and Giovanni's. Inside, you'll now find – fittingly – a whole lot of oak barrels, putting the focus bar and restaurant's focus on craft beers and whiskey as well as harkening back to the building's history as a hardware store.
Old German Beer Hall
1009 N. Old World Third St., (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.
Point Burger Bar Express
322 W. State St., (414) 488-8315
Point Burger Bar has already solidified its reputation as one of the area's most popular burgers – but this brand new State Street location brings something new to the formula: an express system, featuring a walk-up window that allows you to grab yourself a tasty one-of-a-kind burger creation and nosh on the go. Or you can hang out inside the Old World Third Street newcomer with its hefty collection of TVs, comfortable seating and thirst-quenching brews to wash your tasty burger down.
The Pub Club
1103 N. Old World Third St., (414) 988-5000
It's the weekend: Do you want to go out to a pub, or do you want to go out to a club? The Pub Club, formerly Suite, asks, "Why do you have to choose?" The Pub Club offers a bit of both: a locale where you can grab a crave-worthy bite and a tasty drink – either a brew or a specialty cocktail – in a comfortable atmosphere, along with a locale where you can dance the evening away.
Red, White & Blue
1044 N. Old World Third St., (414) 226-6044
U.S.A.! U.S.A.! Red, White & Blue is one of the street's relatively newest residents, taking over the former Buckhead Saloon spot just over two years ago, and, as we're sure you could tell by the name alone, certainly one of the most overtly patriotic. The bar is firmly dedicated to country music, hosting live country shows straight from Nashville as well as a live studio for 94.5 KTI Country and decorating itself with painted American flags across the stage as well as across various steer skulls. If you're a fan of both kinds of music – country AND western – Red, White & Blue is the watering hole for you.
Turner Hall Restaurant
1038 N. 4th St., (414) 763-1490
Grab a bite to eat at an iconic Milwaukee venue thanks to the Turner Hall Restaurant. Major Goolsby's took over the restaurant part of the space in late 2014, but the decor is still the same, with the kind of satisfying bar food familiar to Goolsby's patrons. The restaurant is open before all BMO Harris Bradley Center events, so Turner Hall makes for a fine stop for a brew or two before the game, concert or event just a hop, skip and jump across the street.
Uber Tap Room
1048 N. Old World Third St., (414) 272-3544
Want a taste of all things Wisconsin? Sample the Uber Tap Room, offering some of the state's finest cheeses along with some of the state's – not to mention the world's – finest brews and wines to wash them down. Go a more laid-back route and enjoy some of the brews – 36 local ones on tap – and curds along with a dish off the Tap Room's traditional Wisconsin menu, featuring sausages, grilled cheese, specially paired cheese plates and not just mac 'n' cheese but five different types of mac 'n' cheese. On the other hand, you could give your palate a very special treat with one of Uber Tap Room's special tasting events, featuring a local brewery and specially paired cheeses for their beers. Either way, as we Wisconsinites know, there's no going wrong with beer and cheese.
1125 N. Old World Third St., (414) 763-3852
It may be called Ugly's, but there's nothing ugly about this self-proclaimed Old World Third Street "place of casual sophistication." Ugly's delivers a bit of everything: a restaurant offering delectable refined American fusion cuisine, bar eats and brunch; a sports bar with multiple TVs to watch the big games; and a bit of nightlife activity.
Who's On Third
1007 N. Old World Third St., (414) 897-8373
Who's On Third: That's who's on 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 the BMO Harris Bradley Center for the ones taking place across the street – local art of vintage Milwaukee sites decorating the walls and tasty pub grub.
1230 N. Old World Third St., (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 the new Bucks arena popping in 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 new venue.