By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Jul 28, 2017 at 8:22 PM Photography: Royal Brevvaxling

After months of anticipation, Snifters joined the burgeoning South 5th Street scene tonight with a soft opening in the remodeled space that was formerly home to Cafe La Paloma.

Snifters, 606 S. 5th St., is a cocktail lounge, tapas restaurant and cigar bar owned by Julio Maldonado, Gabriel Lemus and Terrell Morgan. Chef Luis Garcia runs the kitchen.

Snifters opens to the public at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29.

The food menu features Latin/soul food fusion tapas, rice bowls and a few "staple" entrees. During tonight’s soft opening, we sampled The Manchester ($5), an empanada made with house-made macaroni and cheese and topped with a spicy ahi cheese sauce; Lucy’s classic cornbread (named after Morgan’s grandmother); Los camerones, lemon-peppered fried jumbo shrimp ($13); and the Spanish shrimp and grits ($14).

The grits, cheesy and rich, were some of the best we've had in the city.

Southern-fried chicken and waffles ($12), three fusion rice bowls ($10-$13) and seasonal desserts are also on the menu. Snifters is a member of Braise RSA and offers locally-sourced meat, produce and dairy.

"This is the only Latin/soul food restaurant in Wisconsin," says Garcia.

The drink menu features a variety of high-end cocktails, including the stand-out "These Boots Were Made For Walking" ($16) made from Johnny Walker Black, Disaronno amaretto, maple syrup and Trinity Bitters. The bar menu also includes a large wine and beer selection. 

The space was slightly reconfigured since the last inception. The decor is warm and ambient, with a dozen "swag" lights, exposed brick, repurposed wood palettes and rich paint tones. Mirrors and cigar boxes artistically adorn the walls. 

The outdoor patio includes a bar and plenty of attractive, cushioned seats.

A variety of cigars will soon be available along with a private bottle club and organized tastings of food, spirits and cigars.

"This is the perfect place for a date night, a destination after a long day or to chill with friends at any time," says Maldonado.

Snifters is open Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to bar time, and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to bar time. The kitchen is open every night until 11 p.m. 

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.