By Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor Published Sep 09, 2019 at 2:01 PM

In July, we brought you the news of Walker's Lounge, a new project from owner Felipe Martinez, owner of Flip N' Styles barber shop and salon.

After months of rehab, the new bar and restaurant at 626 S. 5th St., opened quietly this weekend, hosting a crowd of eager family and friends to experience the venue for the first time.

Most recently home to Kana Mojito Club, the historic Walker’s Point building has formerly housed numerous bars and restaurants over the years. Among them was Hemingway’s Habana Vieja, an opulent Cuban-themed bar and restaurant which was operated by Jose Zarate in the mid-2000s.

In fact, guests who remember Hemingway’s will see shades of the former venue in the decor at Walker’s Lounge, which still sports the Cuban chandeliers, ornate woodwork, hardwood flooring and impressive wooden bar.

But Martinez hopes to bring new energy to the space, which will offer live music two nights a week and a low-key bar atmosphere on weekends. Meanwhile, the kitchen will offer brunch on Saturday, Sunday and Monday and a dinner menu shareable bites, wings, and specialty dishes.

The full bar features standards, plus a menu of specialty cocktails for $9 each, including the New York Sour, a jalapeno and smoky watermelon margarita, the Last Word and the Walker’s Mule with tequila, fresh lime and ginger beer. The Jack’s Pine (pictured) features Jack Daniels Tennessee Honey infused with fresh lemon and pineapple. Guests can also reserve a hookah for $22, with premium selections for $26. At brunch, bottomless mimosas are available for $20.

On the menu

The kitchen is headed up by Chef Jose Rodriguez, a veteran of a variety of area restaurants including Blue’s Egg and Story Hill BKC.

Brunch dishes include sweet options like maduro citrus French toast featuring three slices of citrus-infused French toast topped with fried sweet plantains and served with butter and maple syrup ($10).

Carnitas benedict features handmade sopas topped with queso fresco; a choice of pork, brisket or chicken; poached eggs, hollandaise and salsa verde ($12).

There’s also a breakfast sandwich with avocado, chipotle mayonnaise, fried egg, pepper jack cheese and chicken sausage or bacon piled on a toasted English muffin ($9); a breakfast burger featuring a patty made with chorizo and ground chuck topped with pepper jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, onion, a fried egg and chipotle mayonnaise ($13); a breakfast burrito with choice of meat ($10) and a frittata ($11).

A twist on chicken and waffles features mini maple waffles presented as sliders filled with fried chicken tenders, honey butter and maple syrup ($12).

Meanwhile, the dinner menu features shareable bites like carnitas fries featuring sweet potato fries loaded with cheese, seasonings, avocado crema and jalapenos ($10) and house wings (deep fried and grilled) with a choice of dry rub or sauces including Thai chili, Buffalo, garlic parmesan, spicy garlic or mango habanero (eight wings for $10).

There are also pulled pork sliders ($11); two slider sized Cubanitos with braised pork, smoked ham, mustard, garlic butter pickles and Swiss ($10); an Impossible burger with housemade vegan roasted jalapeno aioli, lettuce, tomato, onions and pickles ($13); and canoa featuring a sweet plantain boat filled with Caribbean flavored ground beef, cheese and avocado creme ($8).

Desserts include Babe’s mango ice cream topped with tajin and served alongside a special shot ($7); banana bread pudding with maple rum sauce ($9) and freshly made beignets with berry rum sauce ($7).

Martinez says the restaurant and lounge will continue its soft opening phase for the next couple of weeks, offering the staff and kitchen to refine their operations. A grand opening, complete with the roll-out of a full menu, is planned for early October.

Follow Walker's Lounge on Facebook and Instagram for updates.

Walker’s Lounge is open for brunch on Monday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., Thursday from 5 p.m. to midnight (kitchen until 10 p.m.), Friday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen until 11 p.m.), Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. (kitchen until 11 p.m.) and Sunday from 10 a.m. to midnight (kitchen until 10 p.m.). The Lounge will feature live music on Fridays and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to midnight.

Lori Fredrich Senior Writer & Dining Editor

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.