In Bars & Clubs

Latin cuisine meets Soul Food at Snifters. (PHOTO: Royal Brevvšxling)

First look: Snifters Tapas & Spirits

After months of anticipation, Snifters joined the burgeoning South 5th Street scene tonight with a soft opening in the remodeled space that was formerly home to Cafe La Paloma.

Snifters, 606 S. 5th St., is a cocktail lounge, tapas restaurant and cigar bar owned by Julio Maldonado, Gabriel Lemus and Terrell Morgan. Chef Luis Garcia runs the kitchen.

Snifters opens to the public at 6 p.m. on Saturday, July 29.

The food menu features Latin/soul food fusion tapas, rice bowls and a few "staple" entrees. During tonight's soft opening, we sampled The Manchester ($5), an empanada made with house-made macaroni and cheese and topped with a spicy ahi cheese sauce; Lucy's classic cornbread (named after Morgan's grandmother); Los camerones, lemon-peppered fried jumbo shrimp ($13); and the Spanish shrimp and grits ($14).

The grits, cheesy and rich, were some of the best we've had in the city.

Southern-fried chicken and waffles ($12), three fusion rice bowls ($10-$13) and seasonal desserts are also on the menu. Snifters is a member of Braise RSA and offers locally-sourced meat, produce and dairy.

"This is the only Latin/soul food restaurant in Wisconsin," says Garcia.

The drink menu features a variety of high-end cocktails, including the stand-out "These Boots Were Made For Walking" ($16) made from Johnny Walker Black, Disaronno amaretto, maple syrup and Trinity Bitters. The bar menu also includes a large wine and beer selection.

The space was slightly reconfigured since the last inception. The decor is warm and ambient, with a dozen "swag" lights, exposed brick, repurposed wood palettes and rich paint tones. Mirrors and cigar boxes artistically adorn the walls.

The outdoor patio includes a bar and plenty of attractive, cushioned seats.

A variety of cigars will soon be available along with a private bottle club and organized tastings of food, spirits and cigars.

"This is the perfect place for a date night, a destination after a long day or to chill with friends at any time," says Maldonado.

Snifters is open Wednesday from 4 p.m. to midnight, Thursday and Friday from 4 p.m. to bar time, and Saturdays from 1 p.m. to bar time. The kitchen is open every night until 11 p.m.


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