Tighthead Brewing Company owner and brewmaster Bruce Dir—a tighthead prop back in his rugby days—taps nearly two decades of personal and professional brewing experience and transforms it into beer. His brewery regularly churns out several types of beer seen in local bars and restaurants, including Comfortably Blonde ale, named for its viability as a session beer, and Hat Trick Tripel, named for the Belgians’ proficiency at being magicians.
Attached to the brewery is a tap room, where guests can enjoy pints while watching games or catching up with friends. The watering hole also dispenses take-home growlers of any of the beers on tap, which include several experimental and theoretically impossible beers only available at the brewery. Though not a restaurant, the tap room keeps a stack of menus from local restaurants on hand, and orders delivery from them when asked.
Flatlander's pampers malt-pining palates by balancing a seasonal lineup of more than seven house-made brews with a diverse menu ranging from classic pub fare to gourmet entrees. Beer flights guide diners through five distillations and the on-site brewmaster ensures appetizers highlight each brews best qualities, matching seared asian ahi to the crispness of the Jackson Wit and spicy jumbo wings to the Flatlander IPA's training as a firefighter. Thick cuts of homestyle meatloaf and crispy morsels of fish and chips embody the roles of classic pub fare, subtly supported by gourmet-inspired castmates such as linguine pomodoro and USDA-prime center-cut filet mignon. An arsenal of 13 hearty burgers accessorized with toppings such as pulled pork, guacamole, or fried onions gratify any diet while bookended around a choice of USDA-prime chuck, ground turkey, veggie, or peppermint patties.
Waves creeping onto a sandy shoreline. The sun dipping into the glassy horizon. The sound of laughter and clinking bottles. These are the sort of recollections Big Bay Brewing wants to evoke with each sip of its frosty beers. The master brewers use natural ingredients, such as proprietary yeast and real sugar, while concocting the tasty pours that comprise their menu of small-batch seasonal ales and year-round staples.
Big Bay Brewing's tasting room and retail center also prompts visitors to recall memories of relaxing vacations with its teakwood tables, crackling fireplace, and confused tourists standing around with maps. Those enamored with the tasting room—described by Shepherd Express as decorated with boathouse adornments and daubed in aquatic blues—can rent out part or all of the space for holiday parties, fundraisers, and other gatherings.
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).
Behind a red-brick storefront and striped awning, Viva Le Vine's vintners curate a collection of vintages both affordable and high end, pairing them with cheeses and other finger foods. Wooden racks hoist obsidian bottles of reds and whites, and the wine bar dispenses pours and sampling flights alongside microbrews, seasonal cocktails, and martinis. Cushy, black leather furniture and high-top tables dot the brightly lit interior and an upright piano stands against the wall for impromptu instrumental renditions of Gangsta's Paradise. A painting of colorful donkeys stares down enviously from rich burgundy walls at rich plates of succulent chocolates and naan covered in hearty toppings. The shop hosts live entertainment, numerous tastings, and trivia events throughout the year.
Vast rows of bottles stretch throughout the confines of S & S Wine and Spirit Warehouse, where an international spread of wines, a full roster of spirits, and both domestic and imported beers create happy indecision making among visitors. In addition to what the shop calls day-to-day wines, which often sell for $9.99 or less, special-occasion and collector’s vintages from as far back as 1982 also line the shelves. At the store’s wine station, up to eight wines are available to taste prior to purchase and are also sold by the glass. Lounging guests are encouraged to bring their own lunches to accompany their sips, which can be enjoyed in the seating area. Elsewhere, amid burgundy walls, a long, gleaming table seats more than a dozen people in the handsomely furnished tasting room, where wine gurus lead in-depth classes and free tastings on Fridays and Saturdays that feature a different vineyard each weekend.
Karma's interior flawlessly blends ultra-modern designs with traditional Zen-like fixtures, creating a peaceful atmosphere that compliments its fusion menu of pan-Asian favorites. Begin the gastro journey eastward with shiitake-mushroom potstickers ($9) or black-salt and Szechwan-pepper calamari served with garlic-lime aioli ($8). Other stomach stretchers before the main game include the stir-fried Thai-basil noodles mixed in a spicy lime peanut sauce ($5) and the jumbo Thai vegetarian spring roll ($11), which is rolled up with carrots, napa cabbage, marinated tofu, and sweet chili sauce. Karma's entrees—such as the Asian BBQ salmon ($19), orange-peel tempura chicken ($16), and yellow mango vegetable curry ($15)—gather symphonies of savory spice alongside elegantly simple flavor profiles to accommodate a range of visiting palates.