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.
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.
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.
The affable staff at GameMaster leads customers through a neon-lit showroom populated by billiards, foosball, and air-hockey tables for infinite in-home revelry. Pool balls fly across blue felt on the multipurpose Phoenix billiard table, which transforms into table tennis or a slide-hockey platform with a simple kiss from a frog. The sleek, modern Tucson billiard table reunites players with precious orbs through a league-style ball return, and pucks glide across the sleek, white, 7-foot Detroit air-hockey table, adding numbers to an inlaid LED scoring screen. Alternatively, the Calgary air-hockey table boasts an air-flow of 80 cubic feet per minute and an LCD electronic scorer. Inside the Maverick foosball table’s sturdy mahogany cabinet, counterbalanced wooden figures make daring saves as human players twist quick-grip handles. Customers can also learn to hit small targets or fasten pins to distant lapels by perusing the shops' selection of dart cabinets ($79.95+) and dart cases ($16.50+).
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.
Behind the headlining comic, dots of light slowly change color, a hypnotic alternative to the brick wall of many other comedy clubs. Long tables stripe the dim room, giving guests plenty of space to savor a menu of burgers, salads, steaks, and other pub grub. But what makes the cabaret of Jokerz Comedy Club really stand out is its gallery of larger-than-life caricatures. Lushly rendered and outlined by shimmering gold frames, the portraits of some of the biz's most legendary names serve as muses for the up-and-comers taking the stage: Sam Kinison, Jerry Seinfeld, the Blues Brothers, and even Cheech and Chong's iconically smoky joyride are immortalized in the baroquely rubber-faced paintings.