With its half-timber historical façade, Arriba Mexican Restaurant & Lounge wouldn’t be out of place in an Alpine ski village. But step inside and the space practically glows with south-of-the-border charm: walls are swathed in warm magenta and yellow hues, and the original tin ceilings are gilded in gold.
The pleasant incongruity extends to Arriba’s menu, which landed the eatery the No. 10 spot on CityVoter's 2011 list of best Mexican restaurants. Traditional Mexican cuisine, such as shrimp fajitas and deep-fried chimichangas stuffed with housemade chorizo, takes center stage, but the restaurant also hosts Friday fish fries and serves thick burgers piled with southwestern toppings such as chorizo and guacamole.
Arriba's adjacent lounge hosts live music, potlucks, and open mics. Here, guests can sip libations from a vast drink menu that features 18 varieties of tequila, seven flavored martinis, and precisely one flavor of water.
Aside from being a premier venue for watching sports, Saloon on Calhoun is a bacon utopia with a daily all-you-can-eat bacon happy hour, bacon-infused vodka, and a menu of bacon-accented pub classics. Widescreen TVs speckle the wooden walls throughout, allowing patrons to catch game replays and Martha Stewart knitting segments from the bar, pool tables, or Internet jukebox. As darts bust cork, thin-crust pizzas present guests with slatherings of homemade sauces and bacon burgers, wraps, and beer-battered fish emit puffs of steam in solidarity with the ears of infuriated cartoon characters. In addition to weekly trivia, karaoke, and live blues events, a fully stocked bar with 15 craft beers tests the limits of patrons' tolerance for fun.
Giggles' laughter-rich atmosphere recently earned it a pick as Milwaukee's Best Live Comedy Club on CityVoter in 2009. Upcoming headliners include HBO and Comedy Central veteran Tracy Smith, bringing her sassy blend of honest reality March 18–20. On April 8–10 Giggles will feature its debut of Everybody Hates Chris actor and comedian Mike Estime. The pleasingly varied lineup enables audiences to confidently leave tomatoes at home.
Every Friday night at The Hairy Lemon Irish Pub, the menu expands?cooks add six seafood entrees to their usual repertoire. For the Friday Night Fish Fry, cooks bake cod, fry beer-battered perch, and sear fillets of walleye, serving them alongside parsley butter potatoes, coleslaw, potato salad, and rolls. But the menu is just as hearty the rest of the week, as cooks craft pub classics ranging from wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks to reuben sandwiches heaped with sauerkraut. By way of entertainment, the cozy eatery hosts tournaments of the popular Sheepshead card game on the first and third Saturday of the month.
The Klavier Lounge serves up after-work spirits, accompanied by the soothing sounds of 88 expertly orchestrated keys. Patrons can savor sips of the venue’s specialty martini, The Klavier, in the luxurious leather half-moon booths, chat up coworkers with a cocktail beneath the chandeliered ceiling, or stuff dollar bills and napkins scribbled with friends' phone numbers into the pianist’s tip jar. Expertly mixed martinis, such as the pomegranate and lemontini ($7+) please fruit-seekers, while $6 martini specials, $2 off imports, and $1 off mixers on Wednesdays and Thursdays placate wallets. In addition to bottled beer, The Klavier also stocks wine for the liquor leery and brings in occasional visiting bands and musicians to augment the ambience on weekends. Although not included in this Groupon, The Klavier Lounge also offers a savory selection of enticing eats, and is open for business Wednesday–Saturday beginning at 5 p.m.
Surrounded by dark hardwood, hanging beer memorabilia, and dart boards, Chumley's Pub looks like the friendly, welcoming, and low-key public houses of yesteryear. The difference, however, is that they've taken the beer game to the next level, boasting a variety of micro-brews on tap. But their drink game might not even touch their food—a menu of comfort fare ranging from their award-winning chili to Black Angus burgers and a Friday fish fry.