The top brass twisters at Auntie Anne's, one of the world's largest hand-rolled, soft-pretzel franchises, create enough twirly treats every year to wrap the earth in deliciously salted dough three times over. Pretzel professionals prepare a wide array of sweet and salty snacks, spiraling them into ornate knots with the delicacy of a grandmotherly sailor and baking them to golden brown in full view of customers. A plain pretzel offers a satisfyingly simple snack, while sacchariferous ingredients such as cinnamon sugar and toasted-almond toffee make tongues sweat with anticipation. Mouths will mambo to the Mediterranean flavors of the garlic pretzel, a perfect treat to submerge into a dunk tank of marinara or one of the other available dipping sauces. Or, sample slender tubewiches swathed in the warm embrace of pretzel dough with signature pretzel dogs. Pair braided bites with a chalice of lemonade or a frozen ICEE drink, both of which pack a flavorful punch that’s more refreshing than a brisk morning run that successfully evades a pursuing snow leopard.
Froyo Bella scoops four flavors of frozen yogurt onto their menu monthly, all of which carry the National Yogurt Association's seal denoting live and active probiotic cultures. After garnishing a 5-ounce cup of yogurt with one of more than 40 toppings, spoons can burrow into mounds of classic chocolate, only to be lured from their lairs by mouths promising roomy kitchen drawer-organizers. Clouds of Blueberry Burst flavor-drench granola or cheesecake clusters in a sweet, purple downpour, and nonfat flavors such as Classic Tart bedeck themselves in kiwi cross-sections. In addition to hoarding stores of calcium and riboflavin in their frosty nooks, many of Froyo Bella's flavors contain less than 100 calories per half-cup serving, which guests can shed by performing blinking calisthenics at the shop's flat-screen TV.
Sweet Frog’s frozen-yogurt flavors go beyond the norm. In addition to cookies ‘n’ cream and greek yogurt with honey, the lineup of 75 varieties includes maple-bacon donut, cake batter, and dulce de leche. Patrons can sprinkle on toppings such as fresh fruit and candies, then savor their confetti’d confections in the lime-green-and-pink restaurant. Smiling frogs and funky white hanging lamps give the stores an air of fun, but founder Derek Cha is interested in giving more than that to the community; through Sweet Frog, he sponsors children in need and dispatches frog mascots to those who need encouragement.
At CherryBerry Self Serve Yogurt Bar, customers grab spacious yogurt cups and head to self-serve yogurt dispensers, where they'll be met with a rotating selection from more than 50 flavors. Then they can top their yogurt—which is made from real dairy and contains live and active cultures—with more than 50 toppings, such as cereals, candy, fruits, sprinkles, or nuts.
Goody Gourmet's specializes in adorning popcorn and other treats with a sweet shellacking of inventive flavors and toppings. The pop shop's friendly staff crafts more than 10 creative corn varieties on a daily basis, including medium-size bags of caramel ($8.50) and jalapeño ($7.25), and large bags of lemonade ($4.50) and white chocolate ($10). For customers of a sweeter persuasion, Goody's handmade confections provide chocolaty respite with batches of cacao-covered snackables, such as almond clusters ($4.50+), pecan turtles ($4.50+), double-dipped graham crackers ($3.15+), and pretzel rods ($4.40). Goody also bags up hull-less caramel and cheese puffs for those unable to consume the puff's pop-corned cousin.
Art Bar, called a "Painter's Paradise" by Urban Milwaukee magazine, isn't your typical watering hole. In its enchanting interior, hundreds of soda bottle caps create an argyle pattern on pillars, wine corks stud an oval-shaped bar, and paint-by-number pieces—depicting everything from horses to the Virgin Mary—plaster a wall.
The kitschy aesthetic offers a glimpse into the creative mind of owner Don Krause. Krause left his former career as an interior designer for Ethan Allen to brave the trials of opening a bar in Riverwest. And he did it his way: His joint pours more than 40 microbrews by night and Alterra coffee by day in a space adorned with the rotating creations of local artists. The beer lineup includes seasonal brews from Bell’s, Founders, Lakefront, and New Glarus, as well as “mystery beers” served for three bucks cloaked in a crumpled brown bag—the way Wisconsin dignitaries drink. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel describes the venue as “a feast for all senses” and “one of the hottest spots in Riverwest,” thanks in part to its comedy, musical, or artistic events.