Smoke-free dining guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Dec. 10, 2008 at 11:29 a.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
June Varney suffers so badly from asthma that even passing a person smoking on the street can trigger an attack. It comes as little surprise, then, that most of the city's bars and many restaurants are off limits; she simply cannot breathe in a smoky environment.
This is a pretty big concern for June and her husband, Tom, Third Ward residents who like to enjoy Milwaukee's vibrant nightlife as much as possible.
For the Varneys, dining out revolves around what June calls "the list," a catalog of Milwaukee's smoke-free restaurants she started two years ago when she caught pneumonia -- which led to a five-month bout with pleurisy -- after too many holiday parties in smoky environments.
"After getting so sick and being put on steroids I said, 'That's it. I'm never going to a smoking place again.'"
Though it makes up a mere fraction of the spectrum of eateries offered in the area, the non-smoking section of the city's dining landscape is ever-expanding. Two years ago Varney's lobbying convinced Eagan's owner Jim Pandl to create a non-smoking section at his restaurant's bar.
"We go there every 10 days or so -- before the Symphony, before a play or for something in that section of town," she says. "We know bar manager Bill Castagnozzi, so I asked him, 'Why can't you make the north end of the bar non-smoking since it's so close to the food?"
Pandl was initially hesitant but decided to try it when the Varneys said they couldn't dine there any more any more due to the smoke. Now, Varney says, Pandl is considering making the whole bar area smoke-free.
Eagan's, unsurprisingly, remains a Varney favorite, as did the smoke-free pioneer Ardor Pub & Grill (now closed) -- which she said has "a perfect fish fry" -- Riverfront Pizza Bar and Grill and Café Brucke. As more smoking bans pass in other states, as well as in Milwaukee suburbs, Varney says she's noticing more smoke-free options locally.
"My husband's favorite bar, Palm Tavern, just went smoke-free. I can't believe they had the guts to do it, but they did, so they must know something." Page 1 of 2 (view all on one page)
Christie's Pub & Grill on 13th & Ohio should be on this list!!
Branded at The Iron Horse Hotel, as well as the entire hotel itself, is entirely smoke-free.
Juniper 61. 61st and North Juniper 61 is finally open, brought to you by the fabulous restaurateurs Cam and Sarah of Cafe LuLu. J61 is little less jeans and tshirt than LuLu but completely accessible. The food is excellent and it's gorgeous inside!
I was driving to a smoke-free bar the other day and got stuck behind a city bus spitting noxious fumes at me for several minutes. I nearly had a panic attack realizing that I probably had 1.7 seconds taken off my life. Government - I implore you to save me from these life shortening buses!
Eagan's is NOT smoke-free; in fact the south end of the bar, where people can smoke is endearingly referred to by some of the staff as "The Fog". Our group has started hanging out at Water Buffalo where they have actual air, minus the carcinogens and poisons.
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