At Brickhouse BBQ, ranked among Madison Magazine's Best New Restaurants of 2010, executive chef Tim Heinze smokes free-range meats and slathers homemade sauces on their fire-licked exteriors. His menu lists southern-style staples and appetizers such as crispy golden hush puppies, pan-fried catfish, and smoked St. Louis–style ribs, and sides such as cheddar grits, collard greens, and mac 'n' cheese partner up with entrees to do-si-do across palates. Bites are punctuated with 1 of 40 tap beers—which highlight microbreweries of the Midwest—or cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, an in-house infusion of Kentucky bourbon with muddled orange. Inside the restaurant’s two-level dining room, low-lit brick walls, exposed ceiling beams, and a mirage of silk tumbleweeds lend the eatery a chic, rustic vibe that's also showcased through its rooftop patio.
The distance from Oconomowoc, Wisconsin, to anywhere in Germany is vast, to say the least, and includes a trip over the Atlantic Ocean. But Schwefel's Restaurant—plopped right in between Madison and Milwaukee—cuts out lengthy travels and potential run-ins with hang-gliding sea monsters. Inside Schwefel's, the scents of sauerbraten and wiener schnitzel float amid cherry-red tablecloths in the understated dining area. Familiar American dishes, such as lobster and prime rib, share table space with German house specialties, such as the beef rouladen, a fusion of rolled beef, pickle, bacon, and onion. Regardless of the food's origin, Schwefel's makes each dish from scratch—right down to the soups and dressings. Though Schwefel's Restaurant is no stranger to formal dinners, a more casual bar area entertains patrons with arcade games and sports broadcasts.
The story of Dickey’s Barbecue Pit stretches back to 1941, when the Dallas restaurant served only brisket, ham, beans, chips, and drinks. Now, though the menu might have changed—it now boasts sausages infused with spicy cheddar, pulled pork, and pork ribs—the underlying mission of authentic, pit-smoked meats remains the same. Additionally, the restaurant sweetens meals with complimentary ice cream.
My Buddies Bar is more than a place to grab a drink and some grub; it's also a gathering space. Here, gaggles of friends come together to click glasses of domestic brews, share pizzas or baskets of cheese curds, and dig into hearty barbecue and steaks. In addition to wraps and sandwiches, the cooks sizzle burgers, such as the Buddie burger—slathered in barbecue sauce and piled high with shredded beef and onion straws—and sear sesame tuna. Inside the split-level dining room, a higher counter perches above rows of booths and tables, where revelers can catch multiple games on five large-screen projectors. Pool tables host bouts of friendly competition, and live bands serenade audiences with covers of the Golden Girls theme song.
Daring and conservatively-palated patrons alike will find enticing eats on a menu that is both eclectic and classically minded. Discover the joy of deep fried pickles ($3.99) before setting your teeth upon a BLT on marble rye ($8.99) or a Southwestern three bean burger ($8.50), served with pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle sour cream on a ciabatta bun. Dinnertime diners will delight with the Pasta Talula ($14.99), which combines linguine, asiago cheese and herbs relying on select mushroom buoys to stay afloat in a bath of white wine cream sauce. Blackened grill lines create gullet-ready graphs for pre-meal tic-tac-toe on an 8oz honey glazed bone-in pork chop ($15.99), grilled to your preference and served with honey balsamic glaze and mildly spicy mango salsa over a bed of dirty rice. Chicken fingers ($5.95) and mac and cheese ($4.95) are available for generous children treating their parents to a night out. Late-morning Sunday visitors can feast upon classics such steak and eggs ($13.99) with a 6oz grilled steak, two eggs and homefries; or three fluffy buttermilk flapjacks ($6.99) served with bacon or sausage. Recommended wine pairings are provided for pasta and entrée dishes and the bar provides a bountiful selection of mixed drinks, local beers and seasonal microbrews for stimulating thirst satiation.
Riverside dishes up a delectable menu of American favorites and handcrafted beverages against the backdrop of the Milwaukee River's placid flow. Feast on a fleet of specialty sandwiches, including a quartet of grilled paninis teeming with tasty portobello, prime rib, or tuscan chicken ($8.95–$10.95) and a saucy slew of barbecue baby back ribs lounging with fresh veggies on a grilled kaiser roll ($8.95). Carnivorous patrons can sink mouth swords into a lean petite sirloin filet ($15.95) or savor a cluster of skewered tequila-lime shrimp grilled in butter ($18.95). A crab and lobster ravioli bursting with crab mousse, drawn butter, and a charming bouquet of fresh herbs courts a shy blush alfredo bedecked in a ravishing parmesan crumble ($24.95).
Jolly Bob’s serves an array of tongue-tickling and flavor-packed Jamaican and Caribbean dishes. BBQ jerk pork, known for its sweet, slow-roasted personality and rudely inaccurate name, supplements its sweet demeanor with banana-guava ketchup ($14.50). Diners with a flair for romance can play matchmaker by picking a pairing for the fresh-fried tortillas—either the guacamole ($6), salsa cruda ($4), or grilled-pineapple salsa ($5). Savory conch fritters arrive unshelled and flanked by a bodyguard duo of key-lime mustard and Bob’s own scotch-bonnet remoulade ($8.50). For those who prefer to dine on greener pastures, the veggie curry provides a bedding of jasmine rice to display the coordinated sheet set of rich and spicy stew ($14.50).