With its half-timber historical façade, Arriba Mexican Restaurant & Lounge wouldn’t be out of place in an Alpine ski village. But step inside and the space practically glows with south-of-the-border charm: walls are swathed in warm magenta and yellow hues, and the original tin ceilings are gilded in gold.
The pleasant incongruity extends to Arriba’s menu, which landed the eatery the No. 10 spot on CityVoter's 2011 list of best Mexican restaurants. Traditional Mexican cuisine, such as shrimp fajitas and deep-fried chimichangas stuffed with housemade chorizo, takes center stage, but the restaurant also hosts Friday fish fries and serves thick burgers piled with southwestern toppings such as chorizo and guacamole.
Arriba's adjacent lounge hosts live music, potlucks, and open mics. Here, guests can sip libations from a vast drink menu that features 18 varieties of tequila, seven flavored martinis, and precisely one flavor of water.
Aside from being a premier venue for watching sports, Saloon on Calhoun is a bacon utopia with a daily all-you-can-eat bacon happy hour, bacon-infused vodka, and a menu of bacon-accented pub classics. Widescreen TVs speckle the wooden walls throughout, allowing patrons to catch game replays and Martha Stewart knitting segments from the bar, pool tables, or Internet jukebox. As darts bust cork, thin-crust pizzas present guests with slatherings of homemade sauces and bacon burgers, wraps, and beer-battered fish emit puffs of steam in solidarity with the ears of infuriated cartoon characters. In addition to weekly trivia, karaoke, and live blues events, a fully stocked bar with 15 craft beers tests the limits of patrons' tolerance for fun.
Giggles' laughter-rich atmosphere recently earned it a pick as Milwaukee's Best Live Comedy Club on CityVoter in 2009. Upcoming headliners include HBO and Comedy Central veteran Tracy Smith, bringing her sassy blend of honest reality March 18–20. On April 8–10 Giggles will feature its debut of Everybody Hates Chris actor and comedian Mike Estime. The pleasingly varied lineup enables audiences to confidently leave tomatoes at home.
Surrounded by dark hardwood, hanging beer memorabilia, and dart boards, Chumley's Pub looks like the friendly, welcoming, and low-key public houses of yesteryear. The difference, however, is that they've taken the beer game to the next level, boasting a variety of micro-brews on tap. But their drink game might not even touch their food—a menu of comfort fare ranging from their award-winning chili to Black Angus burgers and a Friday fish fry.
Amid the cheers of football and baseball games blaring from big-screen TVs, Magoo's Sports Pub's friendly bartenders fill bellies with domestic and imported brews and pub fare. Flocks of a dozen different varieties of chicken wings range from hot or mild spices to piquant flavors such as thai or caribbean jerk. At the grill, chefs flip burgers oozing with mozzarella cheese and pepperoni or blackened Cajun beef patties topped with with blue-cheese crumbles. Seafood lovers dock at the bar every Friday for an all-you-can-eat fish fry, and a selection of imported beer bottles contain lost messages from sea such as, "SOS. Please send ice."
In 1999, Dave Sobelman was serving burgers and pitchers of beer to blue collar workers in the rough and rugged Menomonee Valley. With the checks he cashed on weekends from the humble factory workers he began ordering some of the finest ingredients for this burgers - locally baked country-butter rolls and the best beef available.
Then one day, Dave walked out of his burger bar and saw a newspaper stand for the Shepherd Express. The cover story highlighted the Top 5 "Pub Grub" locations in Milwaukee and Dave's did not make the list. This omission was a turning point in Sobelman's history.
After seeing the article, Dave called the author of the story and invited him over for a burger. The local writer came into Sobelman's the next day and sat at the bar, ordered a PLAIN burger, and a beer. That very next week, Dave Sobelman had his own feature article on the front page of the Shepherd Express praising the burgers at Sobelman's Pub and Grill as the absolute best in Milwaukee.
Dave became wild with the possibility of fame after seeing his name and acclaimed burger in print. So with the help of this wife - Melanie - Dave began placing his energies into continuously providing the most quality ingredients and best tasting menu he could create for the public - and of course this menu included drinks. Dave's location is after all, a storied Schlitz tavern.
It's really not what's inside the glass that makes Sobelman's Pub and Grill's signature bloody mary stand out. The drink, or "Bloody Masterpiece" as it's affectionally called (not to be confused with the "Baconado" or "Crown Mary"), arrives with 13 garnishes. Brussels sprouts, celery, sausage, cheese, and even a cheeseburger slider stick out of the drink like an edible bouquet. The creative drink has garnered many fans, not to mention a feature on Good Morning America.
That slider garnish serves as an introduction to Sobelman's menu. The husband-and-wife team will proudly tell you that they have always had the best burgers in Milwaukee, and they back up the claim with a 2013 Readers’ Choice Award from Milwaukee Magazine and three other local Best Burger Awards in the last 3 plus years. Each Certified Prime Black Angus patty is sandwiched between a fresh baked country-butter roll and rests beneath toppings such as homemade chili, diced jalapeño, or The Piggyback's pork belly, which comes drizzled in bourbon sauce. These burgers have often been imitated around the city, but never duplicated. Aside from burgers, the cooks craft chicken cordon bleu sandwiches and host a Friday fish fry with beer-battered cod.
Despite the creativity shown on the menu, Sobelman's Pub and Grill's original location on St. Paul Avenue has a timeless element. The Sobelmans make great use of their building and they've kept original Schlitz tavern elements such as beer-barrel tables and strict adherence to the law of gravity in the revived Menomonee Valley neighborhood. Simply put, Sobelman's Pub and Grill is Classic Milwaukee.