In 1999, Dave Sobelman was serving burgers and pitchers of beer to blue collar workers in the rough and rugged Menomonee Valley. With the checks he cashed on weekends from the humble factory workers he began ordering some of the finest ingredients for this burgers - locally baked country-butter rolls and the best beef available.
Then one day, Dave walked out of his burger bar and saw a newspaper stand for the Shepherd Express. The cover story highlighted the Top 5 "Pub Grub" locations in Milwaukee and Dave's did not make the list. This omission was a turning point in Sobelman's history.
After seeing the article, Dave called the author of the story and invited him over for a burger. The local writer came into Sobelman's the next day and sat at the bar, ordered a PLAIN burger, and a beer. That very next week, Dave Sobelman had his own feature article on the front page of the Shepherd Express praising the burgers at Sobelman's Pub and Grill as the absolute best in Milwaukee.
Dave became wild with the possibility of fame after seeing his name and acclaimed burger in print. So with the help of this wife - Melanie - Dave began placing his energies into continuously providing the most quality ingredients and best tasting menu he could create for the public - and of course this menu included drinks. Dave's location is after all, a storied Schlitz tavern.
It's really not what's inside the glass that makes Sobelman's Pub and Grill's signature bloody mary stand out. The drink, or "Bloody Masterpiece" as it's affectionally called (not to be confused with the "Baconado" or "Crown Mary"), arrives with 13 garnishes. Brussels sprouts, celery, sausage, cheese, and even a cheeseburger slider stick out of the drink like an edible bouquet. The creative drink has garnered many fans, not to mention a feature on Good Morning America.
That slider garnish serves as an introduction to Sobelman's menu. The husband-and-wife team will proudly tell you that they have always had the best burgers in Milwaukee, and they back up the claim with a 2013 Readers’ Choice Award from Milwaukee Magazine and three other local Best Burger Awards in the last 3 plus years. Each Certified Prime Black Angus patty is sandwiched between a fresh baked country-butter roll and rests beneath toppings such as homemade chili, diced jalapeño, or The Piggyback's pork belly, which comes drizzled in bourbon sauce. These burgers have often been imitated around the city, but never duplicated. Aside from burgers, the cooks craft chicken cordon bleu sandwiches and host a Friday fish fry with beer-battered cod.
Despite the creativity shown on the menu, Sobelman's Pub and Grill's original location on St. Paul Avenue has a timeless element. The Sobelmans make great use of their building and they've kept original Schlitz tavern elements such as beer-barrel tables and strict adherence to the law of gravity in the revived Menomonee Valley neighborhood. Simply put, Sobelman's Pub and Grill is Classic Milwaukee.
You can write on nearly every surface at The Loaded Slate. A slate strip runs down the bar for tabulating tips, wooden tables have hunks of slate where you can copy the chalk drawings by local student artists decorating the walls, and even the glasses have surfaces you can chalk your name onto in case you forget every word except "slate." The bar delivers on the promise of its name in other respects, too, with a menu loaded with filling pub sandwiches and nights packed with games, sporting events, and DJ sets. According to OnMilwaukee.com's 2011 profile, co-owner Joe Kuntz built drop-leaf tables that can be folded flat against the wall after the kitchen closes to flood the space with revelers. "We're family friendly till 10," explains co-owner Shawn Mellon. "Then we become strictly a bar."
During dinnertime, half-pound Angus burgers and the chef's panini of the month arrive with a pile of pub fries, waffle fries, homemade chips, rosemary red potatoes, or coleslaw. Poultry sandwiches also abound, with baked chicken piled with pineapple and pepper jack or assembled day-after-Thanksgiving style with provolone, spinach, and cranberry mustard. Throughout the night, five taps may pump out Strongbow cider, frothy Guinness, and New Glarus Spotted Cow Ale, which refreshes between bites of nachos made on a base of seasoned waffle fries, or reuben sticks, a fried wonton containing the sandwich's famous fillings and last words. Visitors spill out onto the patio on balmy nights, or pile into the back room—dubbed The Tailgate Zone because of the Ford and Chevy pickup beds jutting from the wall—to watch sports on a laptop-compatible projection TV, a 46-inch TV, and two 26-inch TVs.
Milwaukee Ale House echoes with notes of live music and the laughter of pub goers, but the building is also the site of serious work. Beyond a pair of glass doors, the pub's stainless steel fermentation tanks bubble with Milwaukee Brewing Company's creations. When they're ready, these beers make the short leap from brew room to bar tap, forming a beverage selection that Esquire described as, "plentiful and tasty, complementing the top-notch food."
The menu sports a convenient pairing chart that helps diners match prime rib, pulled-pork sandwiches, and spicy beef-and-chorizo burgers to house brews. Ideal with chicken, Louie's Demise exudes the smooth maltiness of a typical amber ale but with a balanced kick of Perle and Tettnanger hops, A meat-and-potatoes porter, the Admiral Stache ages for one month in bourbon barrels, lending a toasty vanilla flavor to subtle notes of milk chocolate and dried fruit.
Situated in the heart of the Historic Third Ward, Milwaukee Ale House's century-old building provides the main dining room and patio areas with waterside views of the Milwaukee River. The pub's decor exudes its own historic charm with exposed brick, a scattering of empty wooden barrels, and vintage beer signs. When live bands aren't performing, focus turns back to the bar area, where the taps form an ornate centerpiece built to resemble a copper-topped wooden vat. Around the vat hang white mugs belonging to members of the Mug Club and office workers who "got lost" during their coffee break.
Melthouse Bistro elevates a favorite childhood classic with its innovative roster of gourmet grilled-cheese sandwiches. The menu lists handcrafted creations such as the Maliblue whose country fresh bread is stacked high with Wisconsin blue cheese, alongside smoked turkey breast, pecanwood smoked bacon, avocado, tomatoes, lettuce, hard boiled eggs crumbles, and roasted garlic mayo. Each crispy medley of veggies, cheeses, and meats—which range from The Brasserie's braised short ribs to the hand-battered fried chicken of The Buffalo Bill—sidles onto plates tucked between locally baked artisan bread from Breadsmith. The bistro looks to local farms for its produce as well, prizing the down-home vibe of made-from-scratch meals over the artificial hum of fluorescent-light hoagies. Suggested wine and craft beer pairings whisper under each item listed on the menu, fleshing out the gustatory revelry.
The Melthouse's merger between modest and stylish cooking has garnered praise from OnMilawukee.com, the Journal Sentinel and A.V. Club Milwaukee, which praises the "delicious sandwiches, solid sides, and stellar service." Its decor mirrors the edibles, walking the line between rustic and modern: wood reclaimed from a century-old granary decks the walls, while floor-to-ceiling windows and metallic stools flaunt crisp edges.
German expressionism. American decorative arts. Among the nation's best American art post 1960. The Milwaukee Art Museum is a leading American institution for the work of self-taught artists and holds one of the largest collections of works by Georgia O’Keeffe and other artistic luminaries in four floors of the 341,000-square-foot museum. Encompassing more than 25,000 pieces, the museum's collection ranges from 90 works of Haitian art and 450-plus German expressionist prints to an expansive contemporary art selection that includes pieces by Andy Warhol. Among the more singular holdings in the more than 40 galleries are the earliest surviving American-made chair.
Temporary and traveling exhibitions pass through each year, spotlighting everything from Rembrandt to color photography. Upcoming highlights include tattoo art, nineteenth-century portraiture, and, in collaboration with the Centre Pompidou in Paris, the abstract paintings of Wassily Kandinsky. Delve deeper into works on display during lectures and talks, part of a packed events calendar that includes concerts and film screenings. Visitors can also flex their own artistic muscles during programs such as kids' and adult art classes.
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.