Beneath the glow of warm lights, Casa Tequila delights taste buds with the vivacious flavors of authentic Mexican dishes. Chefs draw on fresh ingredients and produce exclusively, ensuring that every dish is free of packaged sauces and Lincoln Logs. Sauciers prepare guacamole before tables, and the restaurant's many flat screen TVs fill the space between bites with Badgers and Green Bay Packers games. A full bar, replete with imported beer, margaritas, and daily specials, keeps spirits merry and coasters employed.
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.
Riverside dishes up a delectable menu of American favorites and handcrafted beverages against the backdrop of the Milwaukee River's placid flow. Feast on a fleet of specialty sandwiches, including a quartet of grilled paninis teeming with tasty portobello, prime rib, or tuscan chicken ($8.95–$10.95) and a saucy slew of barbecue baby back ribs lounging with fresh veggies on a grilled kaiser roll ($8.95). Carnivorous patrons can sink mouth swords into a lean petite sirloin filet ($15.95) or savor a cluster of skewered tequila-lime shrimp grilled in butter ($18.95). A crab and lobster ravioli bursting with crab mousse, drawn butter, and a charming bouquet of fresh herbs courts a shy blush alfredo bedecked in a ravishing parmesan crumble ($24.95).
More than 50 wines at Wine Maniacs on the River stand at attention to be served by the glass or bottle. The bistro updates its food menu quarterly with dishes that celebrate the seasons and complement its complex varietals, using gourmet ingredients such as Wisconsin artisan cheeses. Small plates make creative use of such ingredients, with options that may include calamari spaghetti or duck-confit tacos ornamented, like a scarecrow's frankfurter, with corn relish.
Nice weather draws diners outdoors onto the patio overlooking the Milwaukee River, where they can sip while admiring the Water Street Bridge and views of the city from the 5th Ward. Guests can also stock up on their favorite elixirs at the establishment's retail shop, which sells wines by the case.
Spitfire Pub & Grill hums with the sounds of trivia questions and live music from local bands and artists on open-mic nights. Amid the lively atmosphere, guests swig local beers and wine while devouring hot-dog sliders, fish 'n' chips, and shredded-beef flatbread with a smoky barbecue glaze. They relax at hardwood tables inside or beneath the blue umbrellas dotting the expansive outdoor patio, which plays host to numerous flat-screen TVs broadcasting the Brewers game or an intense staring competition.