Award-Winning Steak House | Classic Surf 'n' Turf | Live Entertainment | Californian Wines | Supper-Club Decor
When to Go: Try to plan your dinner for a Friday night around 8 p.m. That’s when musicians hit the adjoining Alley Cat Lounge stage, playing everything from oldies and jazz to modern rock and R&B.
Inside Tip: Show up hungry. All meals come with a salad, relish tray, and sourdough bread with butter and honey. A side of butter-sauteéd mushrooms also accompanies every steak.
Media Mentions: Over the years, 5 O’Clock has drawn national attention. The Travel Channel featured it on the program Steak Paradise, Saveur magazine named it one of the best steak houses in the country, and Travel + Leisure said it has a "Mad Men vibe."
Behind the Name: According to the restaurant's lore, the steak house got its name from an alarm clock that would ring every day at 5 p.m., alerting customers that it was time for a free drink.
While You’re in the Neighborhood
Before: Tour the Tripoli Shrine Center (3000 W. Wisconsin Avenue), a replica of the Taj Mahal and a member of the National Register of Historic Places.
After: If the entertainment at the Alley Cat Lounge isn't to your taste, head over to The Coffee House (631 N. 19th Street), which offers acoustic music and poetry performances.
In an interview with Andrew Zimmern of the Travel Channel, the owner of Solly's Grille divulged the secret of making his famous butter burger. That secret is simple: all you need are "two products that come from that fabulous cow." The first is sirloin, delivered daily to the restaurant by a local butcher. The second is a generous dollop of butter from a Wisconsin creamery. The butter is slathered onto the top bun, where it melts with house-made stewed onions and seared beef to create a decadent sandwich beloved by the state and America at-large. As evidence of the burger's popularity, Solly's Grille has been featured multiple times by the national media, including USA Today, the film and book Hamburger America by George Motz, Food Network Magazine, and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain's hit series No Reservations.
All that fame is even more impressive considering that the recipe for Solly's butter burger is more than 78 years old. Kenneth "Solly" Salmon founded the restaurant in 1936, and its menu still reflects these classic roots. The cherry pie is homemade with Door County cherries, complementing the roster of time-honored breakfasts and other great sandwiches. That's not to say that Solly's has resisted progress, however. Its fries, onion rings, and hand-breaded Alaskan Cod get their crispiness from cholesterol-free oil, and veggie burgers and gluten-free buns are available for those with dietary restrictions.
Refuge Smoothie Cafe started as a way to indulge without completely undoing healthy eating habits. The menu boasts colorful, tasty smoothies made with fruit and vegetables to satisfy sweet cravings while filling the body with healthy vitamins. House blends include smoothies packed with berries, vegetables such as kale and spinach, and herbs such as mint and basil. Guests can customize their own smoothie or slurp on coffee, tea, and fresh-squeezed juice.
For more than two decades, laughs have permeated the space within Comedy Cafe. On its stage, a rolling list of local and nationally acclaimed comedians—such as Tommy Chong and Bobcat Goldthwait—launch into schticks or go about repairing minor damage to brickwork. Audiences can work on their spit takes thanks to a menu of margaritas, martinis, and snacks such as popcorn.
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.
When Sababa's founder and head chef, Ed Wahhab, isn’t whipping up a homestyle menu of Middle Eastern dishes, he can be found in the dining room reading diners' fortunes in the bottoms of their cups of Arabic coffee. Ed’s banter and his love of card tricks create a sense of camaraderie that fills Sababa—Hebrew and Arabic slang for "awesome"—as patrons settle in at the bar, puff strawberry-daiquiri-flavored hookah on the patio, or sample housemade hummus and falafel.
Putting a modern American slant on traditional Mediterranean cuisine, the kitchen flavors beef sliders with kifta spices and creates nachos with pita chips, feta and cheddar cheese, lemon tahini sauce, and a medley of garbanzo beans and vegetables. Bartenders pour wine, crack open bottled beers, and mix up specialty cocktails, such as a manhattan with cardamom and a French martini, whose blend of Chambord, pineapple juice, and vanilla vodka is served in the traditional French way, by a weeping clown.