There aren't a lot of theater stages that can claim to have hosted presidential speeches—and fewer yet for which that president was William Howard Taft. Opened in 1883, the Grand Opera House has seen performances by the likes of Mark Twain, Harry Houdini, and John Philip Sousa, among other culture-makers of distant generations. Across a century and a quarter, the magnificent auditorium has played the parts of a vaudeville venue and a movie theater, and it wasn't until the mid-'80s that the stage resumed its duties as an opera house. After a sweeping referendum, the city acquired and restored the building, and in 1986 it reopened with a new staging of The Bohemian Girl—the same work that had first lifted its curtains more than a 100 years earlier. Today, 660 can enjoy the opera house's historic magnificence: an enormous, staggered chandelier, cherubic murals across the ceiling and flanking the balcony, and an unmatched ambiance of crimson and gold grandeur.
The cooks at the newly remodeled Molly McGuire’s populate the menu with comforting tavern-style fare, and the bartenders pour cold glasses of refreshing libations. Six Crunch chicken strips ($5.99) write meal prologues with a choice of dipping sauce and a breading recipe that, like most diaries and football players' love of touchdowns, is a secret. Meat seekers sink teeth into layers of cheese, tomato, and onion atop the half-pound Angus burger ($6.49), which is served with a side such as potato salad or hash browns. Herbivores can nosh on the veggie wrap’s cucumbers, red onions, carrots, and cheddar cheese ($5.49). Patrons can rack up for games of pool, dance to a DJ’s handpicked tunes, or bask in exclusivity with the elegant VIP lounge’s bottle service. Glasses glisten with premium spirits including Grey Goose, Patrón, and Crown Royal, the preferred liquor of discriminating queen bees.
The chefs at George's Gaslight Inn fill the kitchen with aromas of sauces and soups made from scratch and hand-cut steaks in the broiler. For nearly four decades, they've built upon steakhouse and seafood traditions, stuffing shrimp, topping lobster with drawn butter, and cooking porterhouse, tenderloin, and t-bone cuts of beef. In addition to dinner services, the restaurant also offers special-event packages and catering.
Philly cheesesteaks, Louisiana shrimp po boys, and other classic American pub dishes zip to tables during breakfast, lunch, and dinner at Sidetracked Bar & Grill, where diners groove to live music and vie for bragging rights at pool tables and dartboards throughout the week. Mugs of domestic beer toast touchdowns during Packers and Badgers games that emanate from multiple big-screen TVs as patrons nosh on white-cheddar cheese curds and 12 flavors of chicken wings. Like hugs from garden gnomes, pizzas come in 12-inch circlets, which diners can top with pepperoni, olives, or red onions. Smooth asiago, spicy pepper jack, and gooey mozzarella blanket Angus beef burgers and melt into texas toast's warm, grilled embrace.
Films still gasping for air from their first runs stop by to grace the screens of Fox Cinema Cafe, a second-run theater with weekend matinees and evening shows. Like a deep-fried VHS of Citizen Kane, the theater combines the best aspects of food and film with servers who deliver handmade pizzas, popcorn, snacks, and sandwiches to patrons’ tables as they watch their movie. Private rooms host birthday parties and corporate gatherings where guests can spread out to play games, unwrap presents, and reenact climactic speed-reading battles from their favorite films.
Stimulating senses by way of meat and 17 television screens, Sliders Bar & Grill boasts a full menu of burgers and brews. Chow down on classic piles of wisconsin cheddar cheese curds ($5.49) or loaded nachos ($7.99) before your stomach dons a cape and tights for Sliders' super wings available regular or boneless and dressed in your choice of 10 different sauces ($3.99–$12.99). Each of Sliders' signature burgers weigh in at a half-pound of premium ground beef ($6.49+), while the cheeseburger sliders prove that not all shrinking-ray experiments are bad ($6.99 for three). Other eats include a loaded beef burrito ($7.99), a three-sausage pizza ($14.49), and, for those training for upcoming crossword puzzle-solving marathons, a low-fat turkey burger ($6.29).