In 2012, Man v. Food called in Jeremy Wheeler, one of their most trusted competitors, to take on Red Rock Saloon's Unforgiven challenge. As he sidled up to the table, a gravity-defying meal towered before him: atop a pound of French fries sat a fried chicken breast buried between two half-pound bacon cheeseburgers. Encircling the meaty monolith were six ghost-chili chicken wings—and he only had 23 minutes to eat it all. Though it took him until the very last second, Jeremy defeated the meal, becoming only the second person in Red Rock's history to do so.
It’s fitting that Red Rock would dream up a challenge most patrons can’t win—the restaurant is named after a real-life rodeo bull that famously bucked more than 300 riders. When patrons aren’t lining up to ride the mechanical version of Red Rock or listening to live rock and country music, they’re crowding around tables to order from a menu that boasts 2012 Chili Bowl champion Texas red chili. Like Oprah’s address book, the rest of the menu reads like a scrapbook of American pop culture: seasoned chicken crowns the James Dean salad, molasses barbecue sauce sweetens KC Jones wings, and pineapple and jalapeños pile atop a Will Kane pulled-pork sandwich.
Atlas Improv Company shows, which rely on audience participation and judging, draw everybody in the house into a night of innovative, unpredictable theater. Launched six years ago when the performers at Comedysportz Madison broke off to form a new company, Atlas is dedicated to exploring the boundaries of improv and then colonizing everything beyond those boundaries. The group's approach emphasizes storytelling over traditional improv rules and time limits, resulting in richer narratives, deeper character development, and a unique blend of traditional theater and modern improv, like a pizza topped with iPhones.
Hosted by WBAY's chief meteorologist George Graphos and Frank Hermans of Let Me Be Frank Productions, Starstruck showcases talented local performers in “A Starry, Starry Night." Comprising horns, keyboards, and percussion, Bay City Swing accompanies performers, recalling that golden era of music before the Electric Slide squashed the jitterbug. Audiences can aim ears at St. Norbert College’s Knights on Broadway, an apple-cheeked band of student crooners that don fetching formalwear when oscillating between Broadway showstoppers and holiday ditties. The program features vocals from local talents such as Dino Biloti and Jennifer Stevens, a dulcet remedy for ears still ringing from that morning’s space-shuttle launch, as well as jazz clarinet from Kevin Van Ess of The Talk of the Town.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
Twirling revelers cut through colorful lights and twirling dancers while Lava Lounge's bartenders shake up martinis, pour frosty pints of domestic beer, and forge an array of cocktails. The menu flaunts multicolored concoctions like a chemist's resumé, with drinks including the key-lime-pie martini, a fusion of creamy vanilla and citrus flavors with a honey-and-graham-cracker-crumb rim. The trance-inducing Zombie cocktail swirls dark rum and cherry brandy, and drink specials rotate daily between potent long island teas ($2), piquant glasses of bloody mary ($3), and sloshing pitchers of domestic brews ($4). Occasional live-music events create a sonic backdrop while customers practice coordination every Tuesday with beer-pong tournaments ($5 cups) for cash prizes or hit the dance floor for chances to prance through pulsing laser lights without getting kicked off museum-heist squads.
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.