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.
INdustri Cafe evokes local industry in more than its name—its New American menu prizes local ingredients , and it’s served in a rustic warehouse-style space hung with the work of local arts. The bistro brings fine dining out of the realm of diamond-encrusted waiters in order to bring the delicate flavors of lobster, pulled-duck, and truffle oil to a wider audience. The menu shifts with the seasons, but diners can expect to find American favorites graced with a gourmet touch—burgers topped with sautéed apple and poblano barbecue sauce, for instance. Serious Eats found that burger " juicy and rich and well seasoned" with toppings that "all worked together in total harmony."
Weathered wood and exposed brick surround the dining room at INdustri, which is illuminated by rows of bright globe lights. Another level of seating sits atop the bar’s canopy, while beneath it patrons sip from a beer list that only includes Wisconsin brews.
Jennifer Nowicki really loves produce; she's named her third restaurant Verduras, the Spanish word for vegetables. The completely vegetarian menu employs ingredients such as grapefruit, beets, and teriyaki-infused carrots to insulate sandwiches, salads, and soups, many of which are also vegan or gluten free. However, the ever-shifting curls of steam that tickle the hardwood floors, exposed rafters, and large windows hint at Verduras' primary focus: teas from all across the globe. Beneath the ivory-hued exposed bricks, white, green, rooibos, and local Rishi teas steep in hot water, filling mugs with the flavors of wild rose, hibiscus, or chai. The floral aromas of darjeeling fill the air as patrons gaze at the art on the walls, rendered in crisp black and white like a zebra’s yearbook page.
Due to their curious nature, dogs often come home dirty, whether from chasing squirrels through muddy fields or disassembling your car's transmission. Community Bark Dog Wash & Coffee Bar's dual locations provide specially designed stations for washing dogs of all sizes, whether for self-service sudsing or full-service washing by friendly groomers. The cleaners furnish all the tools needed to groom pups to perfection, including shampoos, conditioners, brushes, combs, and high-velocity hair dryers.
Whether returning from a walk or waiting for their pooch to dry, pet lovers can hang out in the dog-friendly Barker Lounge, where they can sip Alterra coffee and munch on pastries. The café also supplies treats for canine customers and free WiFi service for laptops and bark-activated phones.
The owners of Sven's Café pride themselves on being ahead of their time—when Steve Goretzko and his business partner George Voglis began roasting in 1989, they were among the first in Wisconsin to specialize in fair-trade and organic coffee. After Sven’s Organic Coffee Company began to take off, Goretzko decided to open Sven’s Café in Bay View; eventually, he added another location in downtown Milwaukee.
Goretzko hails from Berlin, and Sven’s Café has a decidedly European feel; baristas use Probot and Gothot German roasters to brew fresh java, for example. Sven’s coffee beans hail from the world over, harvested in far-flung locales including Africa, Indonesia, South America, Hawaii, and the moon. The café also serves breakfast sandwiches, paninis, salads, and soups.
Let tea become a new safe place to let your humanity glow like a burning pile of old National Geographic magazines. The East Brady Street coffee and tea house offers more than 70 teas by the cup, pot, or ounce, with green, black, scented black, white, periwinkle, herbal, jasmine, and oolong teas priced by their degrees of rarity. House teas, such as the mountain huckleberry or Japanese sencha, go for $1.75 a cup, while $2.75 will put a steaming cup of one of the rare selections, like the organic white plum berry, into your tired hands. Extra-rare offerings, such as the white silver needles tea, go for $3.75 a cup, and all teas are available by the ounce for home-brewed delight. If coffee is what you crave, Rochambo's selection of more than a dozen syrupy sweeteners are on hand to flavor any coffee (starting at $1.40 for a small mug) or espresso ($2.40 and up) concoction, while its specialty coffee creations—including a Summer Sun Latte with honey, butterscotch, and caramel ($3.95), or the Almond Joy mocha, infused with almond and coconut ($3.95)—tempt palates in need of a buzz. Booze-infused specialty coffee drinks, such as the Mood Ring, with Crater Lake hazelnut espresso vodka, Vermeer Dutch Chocolate Cream Liqueur, and a dollop of whipped cream ($6), make for a soothing treat any time before the clock strikes midnight, when Rochambo closes its night-owl-friendly shop every night.