Every night the notes of renowned jazz, blues, and R&B performers echo through the glimmering walls of 88 Keys Piano Martini Lounge, where martinis and small plates meet beneath mood-setting blue lights in West Allis’s downtown stretch. The relaxed spot was conceived by co-owners Greg Barczak and Suzy Ball who, as West Allis Now reporter Mark Schaaf notes, “hope the city is turning a corner and want to make something more of the downtown” by attracting a younger crowd and lending the area an intimate, upscale nightlife option.
Inside the low-lit lounge, glass windows open and close to bathe guests and performers in a cooling breeze. Artwork and Wisconsin gangster memorabilia, including John Dillinger photographs and high-school report cards, beam down upon pots of fondue and gourmet pizzas. Behind the glowing bar, master mixologists blend a lengthy list of 28 specialty martinis and fill glasses with wine and beer.
Crisp Pizza Bar & Lounge’s super-heated Neapolitan-style oven bakes crunchy cracker-like crusts topped with chef-curated ingredient bouquets or build-your-own-pizza creations. The restaurant also transforms into a morning-meal factory for Friday–Sunday brunches, flipping expectations on the heads with funky adaptations of morning classics, such as the breakfast pizza topped with scrambled eggs and a pepperoni-wrapped alarm clock. By night, the eatery doubles as a music venue, with a rotating schedule of DJs setting hips asway with high-octane playlists.
Drinks flow to the beat of the night's soundtrack, an eclectic selection of dance music ranging from salsa to bass-heavy club hits. Salsa Saturdays are perfect for a tall margarita thirst quencher ($6), or refresh your panting palate with a minty mojito ($8). Any night of the week is suitable for fermented ales from the tap ($4) or by the bottle ($3.50 domestic, $4 imported). For a late night or if you’re performing a grueling dance scene from an episode of Veronica's Closet, a Red Bull ($4) or any bomb upgrade ($6) will provide anybody with a surge of body fuel.
Local and Sustainable Ingredients | James Beard Award-Nominated Chef | In-House Brewery | Uncommon Food Pairings
What to Drink: Sip the beers that get churned out at Hinterland’s Green Bay–based brewery, including seasonal specialties and limited releases. Or, energize with a cup of Luna coffee or Rishi tea.
Who’s Cooking: Executive Chef Dan Van Rite, a three-time James Beard Award finalist, prides himself on bold flavors and off-the-wall pairings—many of which are made possible by his utilization of local and seasonal ingredients.
Keeping it Fresh
If You Can’t Make It, Try This: For those a bit north, there’s always the Green Bay location (313 Dousman Street). Stop in and take a Saturday-afternoon tour of the brewery, which makes its home inside a turn-of-the-century meat-packing warehouse.
Inspired by the art-deco elegance of the 1940s, Olive Black Martini Lounge entertains guests with a refined roster of classic cocktails, specialty martinis, and soft lighting. Located less than two miles from the Wisconsin border, mixologists wield jiggers and shakers to conjure potions such as the Dark Secret and Pineapple Upside Cake. Selections of authentic tapas dishes settle stomachs after a few drinks, with bite-sized eats such as cajun bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin or seared shrimp served with fresh mango salsa. Meals end sweetly with such succulent desserts, including chocolate fondue.
In the heart of Wauconda on the shoreline of Bangs Lake, Docks Bar & Grill offers up sweeping water views along with traditional American grill fare. The menu features Docks’ classic homemade crab cakes garnished with mango-chili sauce, the 10-ounce smoked-bacon-brie burger, and Docks Famous barbecue baby back ribs. To keep up a convivial atmosphere, Docks hosts crowd-drawing events nearly every night, including Monday night football and live music on the weekends. While taking in the laid-back but chic decor, which features black leather booths, dark wood furnishings, and intimate lighting, guests can also enjoy drink specials that change daily. For gatherings or private parties, Docks' has a banquet room that overlooks Bangs lake.