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In the past, Tosa might have played second fiddle to other area bar districts, but not anymore, as the city boasts great selections of nightlife options not only in the Village, but also in the East Tosa corridor on North Avenue and scattered throughout the area.
And you'll find everything from quaint neighborhood taps to modern sports bars to chains and more. There are beer bars, martini bars, activity bars, restaurant bars and wine bars, too.
Here are some of Tosa's top watering holes...
If you're headed out, please double check to see how places have adapted to the pandemic and follow their COVID protocols accordingly. Be safe, be considerate – and cheers!
1st and Bowl
2969 N. 114th St., (262) 649-5588
The area's first football bowling venue and bar opened in mid-2019 in a little off-the-beaten-path section of Tosa, alongside I-41. There's also a full-service bar and a kitchen behind a service window.
You can read more about 1st and Bowl and the sport of football bowling here.
6817 W. North Ave., (414) 988-8533
BelAir Cantina is a hoppin' place to get a hearty Mexican meal – and cheap tacos on Tuesdays and Thursdays – but it's also got a good range of tequilas that can be sampled alone or in flights, margaritas and beers, both domestic and imported.
Big Head Brewing Co.
6204 W. State St., (414) 257-9782
This Tosa brewpub offers a rotating array of craft tappers. There's a happy hour every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 4 to 6 p.m. and the fun is never-ending with free pinball machines, indoor shuffleboard and more.
Buffalo Wild Wings
2635 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 302-1900
Another chain restaurant but one with a good-sized bar, big beers and plenty of televisions to watch the game. Plus, the always addictive bar trivia network games can keep you occupied if your team is getting throttled.
7700 Harwood Ave., (414) 271-7700
This Northwoods themed place replaced Cafe Bavaria right along the river in the Village and it shares outdoor seating with its sister restaurant Cafe Hollander. There's a great little beer garden out there in season.
7677 W. State St., (414) 475-6771
This Western outpost – which got a refresh to kick off 2017 – opens early seven days a week for breakfast and Sunday brunch and is open late as a bar, too. Lunch and dinner are also served in the dining room and tables line the bridge and sidewalk outside, offering al fresco dining, in season. As with all Lowlands Group places, you can expect an extremely wide and interesting selection of beer from Europe and a menu very similar to the one offered at the original location on Downer and Belleview.
6600 W. North Ave., (414) 763-3793
One of the newest additions to the East Tosa bar scene is the western outpost of Shorewood-based Camp Bar. Like its elder sibling the North Avenue location is outfitted in Northwoods log cabin chic and is a haven for cocktail lovers, drawing impressive crowds every night of the week. When the weather cooperates, there's a patio out back.
Club Tap Cocktail Lounge
8816 W. North Ave., (414) 257-4142
Open 365 days a year, Club Tap is Tosa's old reliable. It's been there nearly as long as anyone can remember. It opened in 1939 and many believe it to be the oldest bar in Wauwatosa. Club Tap is a neighborhood place of city-wide renown. Fourteen beers on tap, nightly specials and free WiFi make for a affordable – and productive – evening. And Lalli's next door has some of the best carry-out pizza in town.
Read my look at Club Tap here.
7342 W. State St., (414) 476-3070
A great neighborhood tap with delicious food draws everything from softball players from Hart Park across the street to students from the Medical College down the road. There is also a bit of outdoor seating.
Read my story about Colonel Hart's here.
Dave & Buster's
2201 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 454-0830
Dave & Buster's sis a dining, drinking and entertainment complex. The game room and dining areas are separated by a large bar room, allowing patrons to enjoy a drink, watch the game or take their chance in the arcade.
Draft & Vessel
7479 Harwood Ave., (414) 533-5599
This Tosa outpost of the popular Shorewood beer bar offers a tavern with great beer on tap, as well as an attached bottle shop for packaged beer. There's also the Beer School and an outdoor Beer Grotto for events and private rentals. All in one of the more striking modern buildings in the village.
6818 W. North Ave., (414) 837-4997
A family friendly bar and restaurant (next door to Rocket Baby Bakery) has taken over the space that briefly housed Fish Cheeks. Owner Anthony Lampasona calls it, "a modern interpretation of the neighborhood tavern. It’s that true third space ... an extension of your living room." A range of beers and spirits is augmented with bar fare like poutine, burgers, wings, salads, panini and more.
2300 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 867-9200
The stylish Nordic-influenced restaurant in the new Renaissance Hotel at Mayfair has a full-service bar and one of the nicest patios around, too. Perfect for a cocktail or two, augmented by some appetizers, don't you think? The hotel also has another stand-alone bar in the lobby.
The Fermentorium Barrel House
6933 W. North Ave., (262) 421-8593
One of the area's best brewers – Cedarburg's The Fermentorium – runs a taproom in East Tosa, with a bit of barrel-aging taking place on-site, too. Delicious craft beer, friendly staff, a spacious seating area and outdoor tables, too, when the weather's decent.
7754 Harwood Ave., (414) 431-1444
Just across the tracks from Cafe Hollander is Firefly, formerly Bjonda and, before that, Jolly's on Harwood. The front has two dining rooms serving full menus, but continue toward the back of the space to find a spacious bar that maintains an intimate vibe and offers a stylish, dimly lit atmosphere for a Wauwatosa cocktail. There's also a patio that's open in the warmer months.
7118 W. State St., (414) 258-5600
This long-lived State Street bar is also the best Mexican restaurant in Tosa, serving enchiladas, fajitas, quesadillas and more, with a good variety of vegetarian options. Hector's margaritas are also among the city's most beloved.
Jimmy's Island Grill & Iguana Bar
2303 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 257-3400
Jimmy's is a bar and restaurant located in the Radisson Hotel, across the street from Mayfair Mall. The warmth of Key West and the Caribbean comes alive in this parrothead-themed bar, which also serves full breakfast, lunch and dinner menus.
JoJo's Martini Lounge
418 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 475-5656
Don't be fooled by JoJo's location in a strip mall on Mayfair and Bluemound Roads, across from Mo's. The lounge is a favorite for girls' night out (Thursday offers a range of ladies' night specials) and for couples seeking a frou-frou cocktail.
Jose's Blue Sombrero
7615 W. State St., (414) 453-2300
If you like a little Mexican fare with you night out, Jose's Blue Sombrero, in the former Chancery space, has a large bar, outdoor seating – including a balcony with a view over the Village – and a full menu.
7610 Harwood Ave., (414) 778-3333
Le Reve Patisserie and Cafe is more restaurant than bar, it's true, but like it's Italian neighbor across the street – Ristorante Bartolotta – it's still a lovely place to share an intimate drink.
Leff's Lucky Town
7208 W. State St., (414) 258-9886
The food is good. The beer is cold. And the outdoor area is one of the best in town. Leff's Lucky Town isn't flashy or fancy; it's just a solid sports-ish bar and grill. Located in a historic building that once housed a silent movie theater and a shoe store that fronted a Prohibition speakeasy, Leff's is a regular winner in the OnMilwaukee.com Best of Bars survey and has become a landmark Tosa watering hole, especially popular before and after Brewers games.
Lucky Joe's Alchemy & Eatery
427 Underwood Ave., (414) 399-7999
Lucky Joe's Alchemy & Eatery is the brainchild of Lee Guk, who ran Lucky Joe's Tiki Lounge in Walker's Point, and business partners Chad Polczynski and Frank Harroun. It is a speakeasy-style bar and eatery which specializes in craft cocktails and small plates.
Mo's Irish Pub
10842 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 774-9782
Like its sister location Downtown, the Wauwatosa Mo's Irish Pub, located in the former Ground Round space at Highway 100 and Bluemound Road, offers a variety of Irish and American staples in food and drink. You can get a Shepherd's pie and wash it down with a pint of Guinness or have a cheeseburger and a Miller Lite, all while watching live music and enjoying a fun and upscale casual vibe.
Ray's Growler Gallery
8930 W. North Ave., (414) 258-9521
Nestled atop one of the area's best independent liquor store (and along the sidewalk in front when it's nice out), Ray's Growler Gallery is a Mecca for craft beer lovers, thanks to regular brewery tap takeovers and a great selection at all times. But you don't have to love beer to enjoy the Growler Gallery, which also serves wine, whiskey and adult slushies.
The Ruby Tap
1341 Wauwatosa Ave., (414) 456-1300
A wide range of wine is available at this Tosa Village hotspot that allows patrons to pour their own tipples from automatic wine dispensers. But don't pass up the tasting menu, which offers delicious cheeses, meats and small plates to enhance your wine-tasting experience.
Stock House Brewing Co.
7208 W. North Ave., (414) 739-9876
East Tosa's first brewery and taproom is a small place but one whose small system concocts beer with big flavor. And those flavors change all the time, as the brewery's web site boasts, "we will never make the same beer twice." The web site is updated regularly to show what's on tap in the welcoming storefront taproom.
Walters' on North
6930 W. North Ave., (414) 774-0440
Walters' barely looks like a tavern on the outside. But inside, there's a long snaking bar, with a perennially-sizzling grill, a range of video games and friendly patrons. There are five TVs usually showing sports, the standard Milwaukee-area beer offerings with a healthy dose of specialty brews mixed in and delicious tacos and fish fry on Thursdays and Fridays, respectively.
6502 W. North Ave., (414) 323-7555
After a bit of a hiccup – a fire forced the place to close for three months during its first year – this Polynesian-themed cocktail lounge and restaurant is back up and running, serving a variety of tiki bowls and other eye-catching cocktails as well as a fell menu, including a Friday fish fry that comes with sweet potato pancakes.
World Of Beer
418 N. Mayfair Rd., (262) 770-3902
The 3,200-square foot tavern – one of 58 WOB locations in 18 states – boasts more than 500 bottles and 42 rotating drafts that change daily.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.
He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.
With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.
He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for OnMilwaukee.com and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.
In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.
He can be heard weekly on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories.