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.
Glass cases and racks of fresh bread dominate National Bakery & Deli’s three locations, which bake all of their goods fresh daily. Founded in 1925, the bakery continually recreates classic recipes for a menu that includes glazed doughnuts, frosted cookies, and cherry-filled coffee cake, as well as hard rolls and french bread. Deli fare includes baked ham, seasonal polish sausage, and several varieties of potato salad. In addition to their staples and custom cake orders, the bakery creates seasonal specialties that range from spring’s grasshopper pie and irish soda bread to winter’s gingerbread men and icy snowman souls. Every Mardi Gras, the bakery churns out piles of prune- and raspberry-filled paczki in a celebrated rush that has drawn great press—though patrons can make every Tuesday fat by perusing their year-round paczki selection.
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.
In 1994, Jill Seebantz began her career as a massage therapist and, for years, she would alleviate chronic-and-acute pain with everything from deep-tissue massage to craniosacral therapy. She began her sessions by analyzing the client's posture and then would work to remove any distortions that had developed in the body. Eventually she would customize a maintenance program for the client.
In time, Jill discovered that she wanted to help clients find total-body wellness, so she returned to her studies and is now a holistic health coach and colon hydrotherapist. She also turned her one-woman massage studio into Body Awareness Center, a place that—like Jill—focuses on overall wellness. The holistic health center improves wellness with custom therapeutic bodywork and acupuncture, detoxification treatments, and body-movement services.
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.