Like me, I can assume the summer months have taken you out of the inner confines of bars, lounges and music venues to the streets, beaches and outdoor auditoriums. In the few Milwaukee months of warm weather and shining rays, Milwaukeeans appreciate a patio as much as anyone who braves eight months of cold, snow and grey.
So, this summer, where are the places to sit outside and grab a bite to eat or a cold drink? Have the classic standards maintained their charming allure or suddenly are there a few new spots threatening to reign as crowd pleasers?
625 S. 5th St., (414)271-8595
The neighborhood surrounding 5th and National Avenue holds more Mexican restaurants in a square mile than anywhere else in the city. Botanas is my go to for Mexican dinner but for an outdoor patio, consensus names La Fuente the place to be. An enormous patio located just north of the restaurant seats more margarita drinkers than any other establishment on the block. Packed from open to close on a hot summer day, it has the air of a place to see and be seen you seldom find in Milwaukee.
Jazz in the Park
Cathedral Square Park
There was some confusion and uproar over liquor laws and permits earlier in the season but with all issues resolved, Jazz in the Park is just as hot as ever. Every week, you've got a new band, plenty of space to spread a blanket and more Milwaukeeans downtown than any other night of the week. Crowds not your thing? Jump to Jazz's biggest competition at Alterra on the Lake where Musica del Lago and the Florentine Opera alternate an onsite performance every other Thursday.
Rock Bottom Brewery
740 N. Plankinton Ave., (414) 276-3030
Personally, I don't often go to Rock Bottom but anytime you catch a glance of the national chain's 50 yard patio along the Milwaukee River, it's packed. With the addition of Molly Cool's and Rustico, there are a few more options along the river but still Rock Bottom offers a hot sunny space all summer long.
2017 E. North Ave., (414) 273-5230
Maybe it's the five corner location, pages and pages of food choices or ample sunny seating, but Hooligan's patio packs a crowd from lunch straight through bar time in hot temperatures.
Iron Horse Hotel's The Yard
500 W. Florida St., (888) 543-IRON
New just this summer, plenty of people are all about the Iron Horse's new grassy knoll, The Yard. Opened in sync with their new full service restaurant, Smyth, The Yard is a balance between city dweller trend and working man quality. Lounge like couches are laid out in an intricate maze and covered with a flowing draping canopy.
Northpoint Snack Bar
A Bartolotta's undertaking, Northpoint Snack Bar brings old school classic burger and fries to the beach. Bringing Bartolotta's typical fine dining menu down a notch, Northpoint Snack Bar opened at the start of summer to offer burgers, chicken sandwiches and custard right along the lakefront. Adding a touch of individuality to tradition, they also offer a portabella sandwich, sweet potato fries and fresh handmade custard.
1955 S. Hilbert St.
A hidden gem, Barnacle Bud's certainly isn't a new place to soak up sun but this summer, it boasts a new addition. The expanded patio adds space and seating to their already decent sized river side oasis. Perfect for large groups, pull up your boat, bike or car and sit back for great drink specials.
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.