For the 10th straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee, presented by the restaurants of Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, dining guides, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as voting for your "Best of Dining 2016."
It’s been five years since Oscar Castaneda opened Oscar’s Pub & Grill in the Clarke Square neighborhood, and to many diners' delight, neither the service, quality nor the prices have changed much at all.
The menu is small but solid, featuring an array of burgers, sandwiches, wings, deep fried deliciousness and more. The staff is friendly and attentive, and the overall atmosphere is festive and upbeat, but all of that fades into the background once the burgers arrive. It's all foodgasm from there.
Type of food: American pub fare.
Prices: Extremely affordable; burgers range from $5 to $7.25 and come with fries.
Vegetarian friendly: Yes, there is a veggie burger and Caesar salad available.
Hours: Open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Monday-Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday.
Parking: There is a parking lot on the East Side of the building.
Vibe / dress: Oscar’s is a very casual and friendly environment that’s bustling most of the time. There is a variety of seating options, including the bar, a really nice patio, sunroom and two dining areas.
Hits: The Big O (I assume that stands for Oscar although it could be a double entendre) is a rite-of-passage in the burger world. It should be on every burger lover's burger bucket list. The half-pound Black Angus beef patty, which I request medium rare, always comes perfectly grilled and topped with ground chorizo, bacon, fried onions and pickled jalapeño slices, chipotle jack and smoked gouda.
We usually remove a few of the jalapeños so all of the flavors come through. The chorizo is spicy and never too greasy, which chorizo can be at times. The bacon is smoky, and the bun is fluffy and firm, made especially for Oscar’s at Wild Flour Bakery. The sandwich comes with a side of housemade guacamole that freshly complements the rich burger and toppings.
The Big Gringo is another favorite, featuring melted Wisconsin white cheddar and American cheese and two strips of hearty smoked bacon atop an eight-ounce Black Angus burger. The Big Foot (pictured above) comes piled with crumbled blue and Boursin cheese, lettuce, tomato and onion. It's decadent, delicious and almost too tall for a human mouth, but somehow it gets crammed in with little to no struggle.
The onion rings are hot, delicious and huge. Donald Trump huge. The Bloody Marys – yes, Oscar's has a full bar – are handcrafted, well mixed and garnished with crispy bacon.
Misses: Oscar’s burgers come with hand-cut fries that are sprinkled with Parmesan cheese. Although they have great flavor, sometimes they are a tad limp.
Insider tip: Try the sweet potato fries – they are different and terrific. Crisp on the outside and fluffy on the inside, they are peppered with a combination of cinnamon and ground chipotle chiles that create a unique sweet-meets-savory "French fry" experience.
Molly Snyder grew up on Milwaukee's East Side and today, she lives in the Walker's Point neighborhood with her partner and two sons.
As a full time senior writer, editorial manager and self-described experience junkie, Molly has written thousands of articles about Milwaukee (and a few about New Orleans, Detroit, Indianapolis, Boston and various vacation spots in Wisconsin) that range in subject from where to get the best cup of coffee to an in-depth profile on the survivors of the iconic Norman apartment building that burned down in the '90s.
She also once got a colonic just to report on it, but that's enough on that.
Always told she had a "radio voice," Molly found herself as a regular contributor on FM102, 97WMYX and 1130WISN with her childhood radio favorite, Gene Mueller.
Molly's poetry, essays and articles appeared in many publications including USA Today, The Writer, The Sun Magazine and more. She has a collection of poetry, "Topless," and is slowly writing a memoir.
In 2009, Molly won a Milwaukee Press Club Award. She served as the Narrator / writer-in-residence at the Pfister Hotel from 2013-2014. She is also a story slam-winning storyteller who has performed with The Moth, Ex Fabula and Risk!
When she's not writing, interviewing or mom-ing, Molly teaches tarot card classes, gardens, sits in bars drinking Miller products and dreams of being in a punk band again.