Owners Lori Smurawa and Chris Hock stack Smurava Java Cafe's menu with a heap of breakfast platters, grilled paninis, and homemade soups to complement mugs bearing cargo from a full coffee bar. Guests can compile an original omelet from three eggs and cheese ($3.99), tossing in optional supplements of veggies and meats ($1 extra per ingredient). Gravy and sausage bits cloak a pair of biscuits in a rich blanket ($3.79), and guests hankering for midday fare can browse a savory roster of sandwiches. Sidle half of a turkey panini with cherry chutney up to a cup of homemade soup for a tangy and toasty combo ($5.25), or quash carnivorous cravings with a meatloaf panini loaded with homemade meatloaf, butter, and provolone cheese ($6.25). Sips of the coffee bar's Canyon River espresso can replenish energy stores before conferences or powerwalking races to the water cooler.
The Evergreen Bar & Grill festoons tables in its expansive dining room with specialty pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, and traditional crispy bar eats. Patrons can plunge fingers into bottomless shrimp baskets ($10.95) for inexhaustible wells of deep-fried shrimp primed for dipping in pools of house-made cocktail sauce. Diners can bedeck personalized pies with two toppings ($5 for a 9"; $8 for a 12"; $12 for a 16") or more (+$1–$1.50/topping), or sift through the classic pizza's morsels of sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and extra cheese ($10 for a 12"). Bacon and fried onions don tangy barbecue coats atop a third-pound patty and layer of american cheese on the Roadhouse burger ($5.95). The philly wrap ($5.95) mingles philly steak or chicken with mozzarella cheese and sautéed onions and peppers, swaddling its contents in an edible embrace to shield them from cutlery.
Sometimes, the seats seem to vibrate at Pearly Gates Bar and Grill. Maybe it’s because of the bikes revving outside, or perhaps stomachs are the culprit, rattling chairs as they clamor for grilled-to-order steaks, beer-battered fish, and build-your-own pizzas. Either way, this neighborhood bar buzzes with activity seven days a week, hosting bands, Packer parties, and another Wisconsin tradition: the meat raffle. The taps funnel more than a century of history into each mug, recalling times when breweries dotted Lake Michigan’s shores and the scent of hops powered Model Ts. In addition to flaunting community pride, the bar salutes the nation’s troops with a collection of American flags and yearly fundraisers for Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 224 and Desert Veterans of Wisconsin.
On the front of Luigi’s menu, patrons read an Italian adage: a day without pasta is like a day without sunshine. It’s fitting then, that they serve more than 20 different pasta dishes. Diners can select noodles entangled with hickory smoked bacon or baby clams, or entreat the kitchen to put together a favorite that’s not on the menu—if they have the ingredients, they’ll gladly make it. Elsewhere in the kitchen, a stone oven bakes pizzas built from fresh dough and tomatoes packaged within six hours of being plucked from the vine. Like the best-smelling apartments, creations can be decorated with custom toppings or signature blends such as mushrooms and thinly sliced steak.
In 1892, a grand Victorian hotel hosted traveling gentlemen in luxurious $1-a-night rooms supplied with fine liquor and cigars. The proprietor’s sons, prominent Milwaukee businessmen, brought 20th-century celebrities such as Liberace to the hotel for evening performances; today, the piano he played is still displayed in the building’s grand lower level.
The carefully restored building now also houses Koehring's Grand Central House, which is both a restaurant and a bed and breakfast. Bartenders pour signature ice-cream drinks from behind a replica of the original front desk as diners eat butter-grilled steaks and seafood beneath elegant chandeliers. Despite the changes, antique dishes and photographs hang throughout the entire restaurant, and ghost hunters claim that the eatery is still overbooked with the spirits of the unquiet dead.
Pizza Ranch's pie spinners toss dough and lavishly scatter toppings to concoct a host of pizzas with western-style pizzazz. The Ranch’s Mile-Long Buffet stands ready 11 a.m.–8:30 p.m. Monday–Saturday as pairs pile plates high with crispy fried chicken and multisauced pizzas decked out in toppings such as pepperoni, cheddar, veggies, and fedoras. Loosen waist lassos and amble back to sample a host of salads flanked with dueling mashed and wedged potatoes, or cap off repasts with a nosedive into dessert pizzas buried under a snowy avalanche of soft-serve ice cream.
Eschewing the cramped quarters that pubs so often try to pass off as coziness, The Ravine Pub & Grill pairs a low-key, neighborly vibe with a dining room that can accommodate banquets or wedding receptions of up to 500 people. The restaurant’s servers put that space to good use as they ferry large plates of American comfort fare back and forth from an expansive island bar, where hanging overhead lights cast their glow on homemade soups, 6-ounce burgers, and fisherman dangling baited forks over plates of steamed haddock. Draft brews and stacked sandwiches teeter as Packers fans slam tables after touchdowns, and hot slices of homemade pizza make for satisfying late-night snacks on Fridays, when the restaurant stays open until 11 p.m.