By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Mar 06, 2024 at 6:01 PM

Cheers! It's Bar Month at OnMilwaukee – so get ready to drink up more bar articles, imbibable stories and cocktailing content, brought to you by Potawatomi Casino Hotel and Miller Lite. Thirsty for more? To find even more bar content, click here

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 ... 

1st and Bowl
2969 N. 114th St., (262) 649-5588

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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.

BelAir Cantina
6817 W. North Ave., (414) 988-8533
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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
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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.

7700 Harwood Ave., (414) 271-7700
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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.

Buffalo Wild Wings
2635 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 302-1900
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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.

Cafe Hollander
7677 W. State St., (414) 475-6771
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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.

Camp Bar
6600 W. North Ave., (414) 763-3793
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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
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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.

Colonel Hart's
7342 W. State St., (414) 476-3070
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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.

Crafty Cow
6519 W. North Ave., (414)  897-7453

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This is the third location for Crafty Cow, which also has locations in Oconomowoc and Bay View, too. A great place for a burger or a chicken sandwich – or chicken and waffles! – and one of the best selections of craft beer in town.

Dave & Buster's
2201 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 454-0830
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Dave & Buster's is 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

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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.

Drunken Cobra
6818 W. North Ave., (414) 837-4997

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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

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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.

Ferch's Crafthouse Grille
418 N. Mayfair Rd., (262) 770-3902
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Formerly World of Beer, Ferch's moved its popular Greendale concept into Tosa a few years ago, filling the 3,200-square foot tavern space with tasty brews, classic eats and good company.

Gathering Place Brewing
7208 W. North Ave., (414) 455-8730

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The Riverwest brewery's western outpost replaced the old Stock House Brewing in autumn 2022. There is a small brewhouse on site but it is not yet active. In the meantime, however, the taproom has been refreshed, there's great beer on offer, a nice patio out back is perfect in warm weather and even in cooler temps, Gathering Place has been working to activate it with things like keg curling.

Good City Brewing
11200 W. Burleigh St., (414) 539-4343

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The East Side brewery's third location is in the former ABV Social in the Mayfair Collection. No brewery here, but a large, airy taproom, along with a spacious patio and copious parking. There's merch for sale and canned beer to go, plus a full menu of pub favorites from wings and chili to burgers, wraps, salads and mac 'n' cheese.

7118 W. State St., (414) 258-5600
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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.

Jackson's Blue Ribbon Pub
11302 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 988-4485

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Owned by Zierath Hospitality, which also operates Thirsty Duck and Zisters, as well as a second Blue Ribbon Pub in West Milwaukee, is hard to miss with its boisterous PBR exterior decor. Inside, you'll find a lively sports bar with an extensive food menu, too.

Jimmy's Island Grill & Iguana Bar
2303 N. Mayfair Rd., (414) 257-3400
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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
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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

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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.

Le Reve
7610 Harwood Ave., (414) 778-3333
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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
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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 Best of Bars survey and has become a landmark Tosa watering hole, especially popular before and after Brewers games.

Lion's Tail Brewing
8520 W. North Ave., (414) 309-9360
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Neenah's Lion's Tail Brewing completely transformed the old Wisconsin Garden & Pet Supply buildings and opened a taproom in autumn 2022, with the promise of an on-site brewhouse to follow. A wide variety of Lion's Tail brews are augmented with a few favorites from other local brewers, plus there are cans to-go and food trucks outside. Two indoor seating areas are augmented with a great covered patio with heaters.

Lucky Joe's Alchemy & Eatery
427 Underwood Ave., (414) 399-7999
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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
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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
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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
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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.

Walter's on North
6930 W. North Ave., (414) 774-0440
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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
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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.

Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

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 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 has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.