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).
Punctuated by festive colors, a plentiful bar, and ample outdoor seating, La Chimenea's two locations put diners in the mood to celebrate. Owner Hector Jimenez—who also has a website dedicated to healthy Mexican food—offers dishes that run the gamut of Mexican staples. Menu items include homemade guacamole and sirloin-steak fajitas, along with more innovative creations, such as the specialty chilies en Nogada, which fills two poblano peppers with ground beef, peaches, apples, and nuts before slathering it all in a creamy cashew sauce. At the bar, a variety of tequilas anoint lime, strawberry, or raspberry margaritas, and patio seating keeps the seasons at bay with a fire pit during the winter months and a restaurant-sized snow globe over the summer.
The dining room at Endter’s Sports Grill goes completely silent as occupants stare intently at athletic contests playing out on the screen in front of them. As the winning touchdown is scored, the room erupts into a flurry of yelps and victory dances, sending the pennants dappling the exposed-brick walls fluttering in a dance of their own.
Behind the scenes, a crew of chefs rustles up a menu of pub fare built around Black Angus beef, lake perch, and hand-battered cod. Steam trickles from a pizza oven, hinting at toppings such as sausage, fresh tomatoes, and banana peppers. Beneath memorabilia from bygone eras of football and competitive baseball-cap wearing, diners blow on the molten pies, waiting to wash them down with draft and bottled beers. The suds, which hail from Germany as well as local brewers including Sprecher and Central Waters, click together in glasses, summoning forth belly laughs near the eatery’s flickering fireplace.
Though the vibrant crimson walls and the flat screens in the bar area fight for it, it's the rich red and green enchilada sauces at Salsa Cafe and Cantina's that steal diners' attention. The sense parade continues into the more subdued dining room, where freshly made guacamole with a secret blend of seasonings builds excitement for the meal ahead. The menu features traditional favorites, such as the slow-cooked and seasoned Mexican-style carnitas, but it also weaves creative Latin flavors into dishes such as the Venezuelan hot dog with cabbage and crushed potato chips, and embellishes American tastes with a trio of burgers. Meal encores take the form of red velvet cake, cinnamon crispies, and Chocolate Rage cake, the only known cure for Hulk rampages. Such innovative fare has not gone unnoticed in the community—Carol Deptola from the Journal Sentinel raves about the dishes in her three-star review.