By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published May 17, 2023 at 1:25 PM Photography: Lori Fredrich

In March we announced that a brand new restaurant called Travieso was slated to open at the Clarke Hotel, 314 W. Main St. in Downtown Waukesha. And beginning on Friday, May 19 at 5 p.m., the public will get to experience it for the first time.

Travieso, a Spanish word that means “mischief”, is the name of the new upscale concept which will offer up a menu that seamlessly blends the classic dishes you might find in a Wisconsin supper club with the bright, picante and herbal flavors of Latin cuisine. 

Behind the concept are Chefs Martin Magaña and Arnie Gonzales and Dillon Knight, the folks behind the Trouble Makers Cocina, the pop-up concept turned food truck that expanded last year to include a brick and mortar presence at the Central Waters taproom, 1037 W. Juneau Ave.

In preparation for Travieso’s debut, the team has reimagined the former Five Points Irish Pub, transforming it into a bright, playful space that takes full advantage of the restaurant’s expansive windows and adds a modern look to the otherwise classic space.

Wide view of dining areaX

“We’re super excited to be in the Downtown Waukesha area,”  Magaña says. “And we’re excited to finally have the opportunity to deliver the full amazing experience that we’ve previewed during our pop-up dinners.”

Conversational cocktails

The look and feel of the bar area have been recast with deep blue paint, colorful artwork and bar stools in shades of lime, chartreuse and teal.

Travieso bar seatingX

Guests can take a seat at the bar itself, cozy into banquettes along the walls or order their drinks and settle into the colorful velvet lounge chairs surrounding the fireplace.

Travieso lounge areaX

The beverage program, overseen by Front of House Manager Kirsten Huber, includes a curated wine list focused on selections of red, white and rose from regions in South America and Europe.

Kirsten Huber at Travieso barX

A balanced list of craft beer includes selections from breweries including Raised Grain, Central Waters (including the Cocina Lager collaboration with Trouble Makers), Hinterland, Third Space and 3 Sheeps, among others. A collection of locally made hard seltzers rounds out the list.

On the cocktail side, guests will find options like the Camila Caipirinha (Cachaca, sugar, lime; optionally topped off with Sprite or seltzer); Mama Trouble’s Mojito (mint, simple syrup, silver rum, blackberries, lime, club soda); and the Pamelina (Blanco Tequila, lime, agave, grapefruit juice, club soda served in a rimmed rocks glass).

Travieso cocktailsX

Guests can also choose from Sofia’s G+T (Tanqueray, lime, Fever Tree Mediterranean tonic, clove and star anise) or the Main Street Sour (Woodford Reserve, house sour, Pinot Noir float), along with the Mischief Margarita (not pictured) featuring Blanco Tequila, lime, orange liqueur and agave.

A small selection of zero proof options are also available – including agua fresca, Brazilian lemonade and house hibiscus tea – with a full menu on the way.

Flavors that pop

The Travieso dining area is bright and chic featuring tabletops made by local business owner Joel Ellington of Fisk Avenue and additional furniture chosen by Joe Bachman of Bachman Furniture.

Travieso dining room front cornerX

Like the bar area, the dining room is filled with an eclectic collection of chairs, from plush velveteen to sculpted white, along with colorful art and planters filled with lush greenery.

Dining areaX

In the kitchen, Magaña works alongside Sous Chef Kayla Rodriguez and Pastry Chef Cathi Panfil. Panfil is currently focusing on the restaurant’s desserts, but moving forward, she will also be rolling out a housemade bread program.

The seasonal menu features a cadre of shareable items, priced in the $10-20 range,  including ceviche (guests can choose from traditional shrimp or a plant-based version made with cucumbers and fruit); an empanada platter featuring four distinctive empanadas from different Latin countries; and Brussels Bravas featuring crispy brussels sprouts tossed in chorizo garlic aioli and topped with feta and cotija cheeses.

Brussels sproutsX

Guests can also enjoy braised octopus serve with confited potatoes in chile-chorizo sauce; or a plate of carpaccio featuring thinly sliced rare beef tenderloin flavored with cilantro-infused olive oil and house-pickled vegetables.

Salad options include a Caesar salad flavored with lime and roasted poblano peppers; a house salad with arugula, watermelon, mangos and tajin vinaigrette; or the calza con queso, a take on the classic wedge salad with iceberg lettuce, al pastor lardons, blistered cherry tomatoes and cilantro blue cheese dressing.

Travieso wedgeX

Among Travieso’s entrees, guests will find seafood options like blackened salmon served with black garlic risotto and tomato escabeche; grilled shrimp with tamarind glaze, jalpeno creamed corn and cilantro slaw; and coriander dusted seared scallops served with crispy pork belly, brussels sprout and carrot kimchi salad and a drizzle of chorizo-infused oil.

Scallops and pork bellyX

There’s also espresso-rubbed beef tenderloin with green plantain and corn puree; al pastor marinated pork tenderloin served with lardons, chorizo and cinnamon parsnip puree; and red wine braised short ribs with cauliflower leek puree.

Guests will also find the unexpected Tierra y Mar (surf and turf), a deconstructed version of the classic dish featuring beef tenderloin encrusted with crispy sea scallops served with vanilla beurre blanc, confited fingerling potatoes and chorizo bearnaise.

Travieso surf & turfX

On the sweet side, guests will find a flourless chocolate cake with ganache and citrus-guava drizzle; Chilean sweet rice pancake torte with seasonal fillings; housemade ice cream; and plantain creme brulee featuring sweet plantain creme brulee topped with caramelized sweet plantains.

Plantain creme bruleeX

Magaña says that, in addition to the regular menu, guests can also look forward to weekly specials which showcases the fare from numerous countries in South America.

“We are looking forward to bringing more creativity and mischief to the table here,” he says, “We are so passionate about food and can’t wait to introduce more of the dishes and ideas that we have.”

And, while construction has hindered the addition of a patio (for now), Knight says that they’re looking forward to adding outdoor seating in the next month or so.

Travieso forthcoming patio spaceX

Weddings & events

The crew is also cooking up plans for their lower level “Wine Room,” a private dining space that Knight says is likely to preview next fall. 

The room will seat up to 15 guests for private chef’s dinners, which come complete with a view of the restaurant’s wine cellar. But that cellar will hold more than just Travieso’s wine collection. 

Wine cellarX

“All of the relationships that we have built with local brewers over the years will allow us to bring in some exclusive, rare beers,” notes Magaña, who says those beers will become part of the attraction for private dining experiences that will be planned for The Wine Room in the coming months.

The Wine RoomX

Thanks to two additional event spaces, Travieso will also have the capacity to host a variety of events, from small showers and corporate gatherings to larger scale events including weddings (complete with accommodations at the Clarke Hotel).

The largest space, located on the ground floor, accommodates up to 90 with traditional banquet-style seating, a private bar and optional capacity for AV. Meanwhile, a second event space on the lower level accommodates 25-30 in a flexible space, which can also be equipped with AV for corporate events, showers and birthday parties.

Beginning Friday, May 19, Travieso will be open Monday through Thursday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Friday and Saturday from 5 to 10 p.m. 

The restaurant is ADA-compliant with ramp-enabled access.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.