Aaron Zacharias began his career in foodservice at the age of 15, working his way up from bus boy to bartender to wine seller, and ultimately, to restaurateur. At Fountainhead, his second venture since opening The Bar on Buena in 2003, Aaron teams up with certified Cicerone beer guide Phil Kuhl to curate a collection of delicious brews, whiskies, and wines. The duo constructs and reconstructs their menu around the beverages on hand, ensuring delicious pairings for small plates such as crab and polenta, which mingle flavors with 21 craft beers on tap and a wine list featuring varietals from all over the world. Scottish whiskies form their own course between appetizers and entrées such as the pork sausage ragout. Inside the dining room, gentle lighting illuminates handcrafted mahogany woodwork and an asymmetrical bar cuts the space into two intimate rooms, one of which features a crackling fireplace. When the weather warms, the restaurant’s rooftop garden opens to reveal a landscaped terrace accompanied by a truncated menu of drinks available on the rooftop taps.
Mindy Segal, a five-time nominee for the James Beard Foundation’s Outstanding Pastry Chef award, crafts contemporary American cuisine at her combination restaurant, dessert bar, and pastry shop. The restaurant’s foodsmiths aggressively pursue the best practices in cooking and plating, organizing ingredients in ways that accentuate texture, temperature, and taste. Fresh groceries sourced from farmers and Peter Rabbit’s knapsack become salads, such as beets with mixed greens, or sandwiches, such as the cheddar melt on pumpernickel. Entrees for breakfast, lunch, and dinner incorporate French ingredients and preparations while maintaining New-World flair. The restaurant’s namesake beverage—hot chocolate—comes in eight different styles, each crowned in housemade marshmallows and christened with steamed milk or coffee.
Jefferson Tap & Grille serves a variety of beers and seasonal cocktails alongside a menu of tasty traditionals. Sample appetizers such as five mini cheeseburgers on butter buns served with pickle chips ($8.99), or the healthy pita pizza on a crispy naan crust, topped with low-fat mozzarella, basil, onion, tomato, and red pepper ($8.99). Wraps, salads, and sandwiches are plentiful. Try the hearty sesame lime steak wrap ($10.99), grilled strips marinated in lime sesame sauce in a honey wheat shell. Or opt for a barbecue beef sandwich ($8.99), thin slices of beef smothered in house barbecue sauce and crowned with provolone, served with a choice of fries, tater tots, or hand-cut sweet potato chips and house-made coleslaw.
Originally built as a Schlitz bar more than a century ago, Upper 90 Sports Pub maintains the links to its storied history by pouring drinks in front of the original stained glass that still adorns the old saloon's back bar. Now showcasing Milwaukee's transformation to a modern city inspired by local teams, Upper 90 Sports Pub takes a twist on the classic German eats with a full menu of gastropub fare artfully presented to its sports-centric clients every day of the week.
Chef Michael Conley incorporates local favorites, such as Usinger’s sausages or Nueske's bacon, into flavorful spins on traditional cuisine, creating dishes such as battered and fried corn dogs served with Guinness mustard and raspberry balsamic ketchup or bacon-stuffed Angus burgers flavored with cheddar cheese and rosemary aioli. The restaurant opens its doors early on select game days or if threatened by early-rising big bad wolves, feeding just-woken bellies with its Saturday breakfast, followed by appetizer fare featuring the unique flavors of fried alligator and Milwaukee's biggest pretzel. While sitting under vintage sports equipment and memorabilia, guests can sip on the pours of a range of craft brews, including drafts from local breweries such as Lakefront, New Glarus, and Sprecher.
Even with the ambitious goal of trying a new variety every night, it would take months to sample every single beer at Stubby’s Gastrogrub & Beer Bar. Not only are there 53 different drafts and an array of cellar reserve bottles, but the selection is constantly updated with new craft brews from Wisconsin and around the world. Beer-savvy bartenders make their own recommendations behind the circular center bar as servers deliver trays of imaginative gastropub dishes—crab-stuffed jalapeños, freshwater bluegill sliders, and the hefty burger lauded by reporters from A.V. Club Milwaukee as “drool-inducing.” When not toppling giant Jenga blocks or throwing darts, guests can gaze up at the flat-screen televisions and cheer when a hardened banker learns to love in a Lifetime movie. The massive wooden deck gives al fresco enthusiasts space to linger over bites of cod tacos and barbecue pork nachos.