It was a conversation sparked by McBob's Bar and Grill. If you've never been, McBob's is part Irish tavern, part sports bar but mainly a local joint drawing a hefty portion of the surrounding Washington Heights neighborhood. They serve heaping mounds of corned beef, Irish beers on tap plus great deals on giant tacos.
I hadn't been there in months when we stopped for a drink last Friday night. I was unexpectedly surprised by what I found inside. Unlike any bar visit in recent memory, the crowd at McBob's was diverse. Not solely racially or generationally but visibly a mixture of race, age, income and gender. The crowd certainly didn't fit one single style and there wasn't any specific level of trend ushering some inside and barring others out.
It wasn't a specific portion of Milwaukee or a racial or generational segment but an honest mix of the true diverse local population. I consciously realized that I was significantly surprised.
How often do you find that?
Located on 48th Street and North Avenue, the McBob's neighborhood might be Milwaukee's best attempt at a cross section of racial and economic integration. As for the bar itself, I can't come up with a significant distinction drawing such a vibrant mixture of people. More so, it might just be the right location with the right ownership.
Generally, when it comes to nightlife, we remain a segregated city. We don't really talk about it, much less acknowledge the division, but for the most part, we've silently become accustomed to it. There are minor exceptions; places like Hi-Hat, Eastsider, Good Life, Zen Den and Decibel serve a diverse crowd. But I can think of very few other neighborhood taps attracting not only diversity but amiability like McBob's.
Are there bars or restaurants in Milwaukee that show a "true" cultural and racial mix? Or, as historically deemed, are we still a strictly segregated city?
Thinking about other bars in the area, O'Brien's on Vliet Street or the Wonder Bar on Hawley Road, the clientele is similar but not quite the same. Located just four or five blocks south and 10 blocks west, the neighborhood changes considerably as does the racial makeup of the bar crowd. As in most other Milwaukee neighborhoods, everything becomes a bit more homogenous.
Riverwest is another Milwaukee neighborhood boasting a diversity of homeowners and renters. However, aside from the Eastsider, nightlife remains relatively separated. Bars like Nessun Dorma, Stone Fly, the Foundation and all cater to a younger, late-night scene whereas Club Timbuktu and The Gig draw more variety with nights dedicated to various genres of music.
Maybe I'm completely missing the mark on this one. McBob's regulars out there, what's your opinion? Perhaps it was just a one night occurrence or maybe there is a long list of establishments worthy of the same praise.
Use the Talkback feature below to let us in on your "true" Milwaukee night spots.
OnMilwaukee.com staff writer Maureen Post grew up in Wauwatosa. A lover of international and urban culture, Maureen received a bachelor’s degree in sociology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
After living on the east side of Madison for several years, Maureen returned to Milwaukee in 2006.
After a brief stint of travel, Maureen joined OnMilwaukee.com as the city’s oldest intern and has been hooked ever since. Combining her three key infatuations, Milwaukee’s great music, incredible food and inspiring art (and yes, in that order), Maureen’s job just about fits her perfectly.
Residing in Bay View, Maureen vehemently believes the city can become fresh and new with a simple move across town.