Back to School
A new school year always brings excitement. Along with the opportunity to learn and grow in an academic setting, university students have a chance to explore the city. This year's Shepherd Express "Back to School" guide provides an overview of six of Milwaukee's unique neighborhoods—the areas in and around Brady Street, Marquette University, Riverwest, East North Avenue, Water Street and Old World Third Street—and highlights hot spots along popular bus routes in the Milwaukee County Transit System.
By Selena Milewski
Brady Street, which runs for nine blocks between the Milwaukee River and Lake Michigan, is one of Milwaukee's most dynamic hot spots. The street began as a Polish quarter in the 1860s, and Italian immigrants later settled here as well. Vestiges of Brady Street's early years remain in the architecture of beautiful St. Hedwig's Church and long-standing businesses such as Sciortino's Bakery and Glorioso's Italian Market. During the 1960s, the area became a hub for the counterculture, and these roots are still very much intact. Hippie hangout that it is, Brady was also touched by gentrification and economic development in the 1980s-'90s. Today, the slightly upscale vibe makes it friendly to students, artists and professionals.
If you're looking for a place to go drinking, the neighborhood is host to more bars than you can shake a stick at. Try Libby's (1682 N. Van Buren St.) if you want a fun environment and an unbeatable $4 pitcher special. Regano's Roman Coin (1004 E. Brady St.) is the place to be for pool and large board games. Looking for music? Up and Under Pub (1216 E. Brady St.) hosts a huge selection of local groups. On a shoestring budget? You can't top Club Brady (1339 E. Brady St.), featuring a $10-all-you-can-drink special on Thursday nights. Nomad World Pub (1401 E. Brady St.) has $1 happy-hour specials and a strategically positioned patio.
If you're hungry for the club scene, try Crisp Pizza Bar and Lounge (1323 E. Brady St.), where you can enjoy fresh-baked pizza and dance to local DJs. Hi Hat (1701 N. Arlington Place) offers an upscale atmosphere with an impeccable cocktail selection and wine list, as well as a full-scale restaurant at the adjoining Garage.
If you're on Brady to eat, your options are staggering. Try Emperor of China (1010 E. Brady St.) for relaxed family dining and reasonable prices. For something offbeat, Mai Thai (1230 E. Brady St.) offers authentic (this means spicy!) Thai food and delicious tropical drinks. Thai-Namite (932 E. Brady St.) is a mecca for sushi lovers, and the deep-fried squid with plum sauce is a must-try appetizer. Wondering what that intoxicating cinnamon smell is when you're out walking at 2 a.m.? Sciortino's (1101 E. Brady St.) is the source, so make it your mission to come back in the morning for an Italian pastry.
For a healthy lunch, specialty groceries or a dish of gelato, look no further than the street's other Italian mainstay: Glorioso's (1011 E. Brady St.). Still have a sweet tooth? Try Berry Me (1320 E. Brady St.) for yummy frozen yogurt. If your parents are buying, visit Cempazuchi (1205 E. Brady St.) for authentic Mexican food or Mimma's Café (1307 E. Brady St.) for the classiest Italian cuisine in town. Also delicious and friendlier to a student's budget is Apollo Café (1310 E. Brady St.), where you'll find a gyro sandwich to rival the famed O.G.'s. Craving pizza? Zayna's (714 E. Brady St.) will happily meet your carb needs after bar close.
For a day of studying, head to one or both of the street's famous coffee/tea houses. Brewed Café (1208 E. Brady St.) offers ample seating, wi-fi, delicious wraps and breakfast items and an atmosphere conducive to learning. Rochambo (1317 E. Brady St.) features its famous Irish coffee, pastries and teas galore, and it is a great place to meet other students for work or play.
Brady also hosts many retail establishments, including Halo Hair Spa (1221 E. Brady St.) and Fabrizio Cappeli Salon (1419 E. Brady St.) for beauty services; Core Essence Yoga (1437 E. Brady St.) and Futen Dojo (1338 E. Brady St.) for health; and Angelina's Shoe Boutique (1690 N. Franklin Place), Annie's 2nd Hand Chic (1668 N. Warren Ave.), Dragonfly (1117 E. Brady St.) and Uncommon Items (1316 E. Brady St.) for resale clothing. Try Green Fields Trading Co. (1800 N. Farwell Ave.) if you're looking for beautiful fair-trade gifts and clothing, or Art Smart's Dart Mart and Juggling Emporium (1695 N. Humboldt Ave.) for joke gifts of all kinds. Canine enthusiasts should check out Zoom Room (1701 N. Humboldt Ave.), with its array of doggie supplies as well as fitness and training classes.
Whether you're shopping, socializing or sightseeing, Brady Street is the place to be year-round. With neighborhood events including the Brady Street Festival, Spring on Brady (featuring live visual artists), Pet Parade and Festivus, there's always something for everyone.
East North Avenue
By Danielle Stevens
The East Side is a magnet to those with a taste for the city life, and East North Avenue is at the heart of it. This short strip, running from Oakland Avenue to the North Point Water Tower, holds plenty to like. With a series of interconnecting one-way streets, it's home to a variety of bars, shops, restaurants and other entertainment.
No matter what time of day, North Avenue is always full of life. During the summer there is a weekly Sunday Green Market, held in the Beans & Barley parking lot. The street is also home to a few festivals and events, such as the Summer Soulstice Music Festival and Tomato Romp.
With their wide variety of cute non-food items, one can spend hours browsing at Beans & Barley or Whole Foods. On Kenilworth are the hipster-friendly American Apparel and Urban Outfitters, and smaller boutiques and shops are dotted throughout.
The main strip holds a variety of nightspots. The newly added Hotel Foster is an elegantly furbished place to get cocktails or beer. The Library Club is an adorable lower-level book-themed dance club. Von Trier, a German-themed bar, has a popular patio. The centrally located Hooligan's Super Bar is great for bar food, trivia and happy-hour specials. G-Daddy's BBC Bar & Grill entertains with air hockey, shuffleboard, pool and other games. The Eastsider is a small college bar. Replay is a sports bar with food and flat-screens aplenty. Vitucci's is a family-owned place with two bar areas. Make sure to attend the very popular Wednesday Ladies Night.
Right off North on Farwell is the stunning, opulent Oriental Theatre, built in 1927. It is a true Milwaukee gem. Next door is Landmark Lanes, a lower-level bowling alley with three bars. Also right there is Ma Fischer's, open 24 hours.
Down Kenilworth is Cans, a roomy bar with plenty of space for dancing and mingling. The Y-Not II is a fun little tavern with an upstairs. It often features live music. Yield is more of a hipster-friendly place, with great specials and posters on the walls. Vintage is a great new bar known for its excellent specials.
Murray holds Paddy's, an ornately decorated Irish bar with a gorgeous back patio, Two Bucks, a restaurant and bar with affordable meals, Rascals, with its infamous daily $1 rail and beer happy hour, and The Jazz Estate, a dark and intimate jazz club.
With its vast options for shopping and entertainment, this area continues to be an awesome place to hang out.
By Willy Thorn
Rich Germans built Riverwest, lining Humboldt Avenue with stately homes overlooking the Milwaukee River. Beginning in the 1880s, they gave way to Polish immigrants who left an indelible mark on the neighborhood with a pair of stately Catholic churches, a landmark community center and the basement garden suites that line block after block after block.
Counterculture claimed the neighborhood in the 1960s, and it has been a bastion of community-mindedness since. Today, Riverwest is home to hippies, hipsters, hip-hoppers and artists; the headquarters of Milwaukee's Occupy Movement; and the spiritual heart of the city's café racer motorcycle culture. It has holistic health venues (Riverwest Yogashala, 731 E. Locust St.), community gardens, a flourishing number of working artists and musicians, art galleries (Dominion, 804 E. Wright St.) and collectives galore—including the Riverwest Co-op (733 E. Clarke St.), Eight Limbs Housing Co-op (601 E. Wright St.) and the city's only collective bar (Riverwest Public House, 815 E. Locust St.). The neighborhood has its own annual art walk, newspaper (Riverwest Currents), bicycle race (the Riverwest 24) and legendary bookstore (Woodland Pattern, 720 E. Locust St.).
The area boasts a trio of beautiful parks—Kern Park, Gordon Park and Kilbourn Park—and the scents of Alterra Coffee Roasters (2999 N. Humboldt Blvd.). It brackets summer with a pair of street festivals that clog its main arteries: Locust Street Festival (June) and Center Street Daze (September).
Riverwest may be the only Milwaukee neighborhood that could feasibly claim the best café, brew-pub, dance hall, bar and all-purpose venue. [Respectively: Fuel Café (818 E. Center St.), Stonefly Brewery (735 E. Center St.), Mad Planet (533 E. Center St.), Foundation Tiki Bar (2718 N. Bremen St.) and the Falcon Bowl (801 E. Clarke St.).]
Falcon Bowl—also known as the Polish Falcon—was built in 1882 in the shadow of St. Casimir's Church and reigns as the neighborhood's cultural and spiritual cornerstone. It has the state's second-oldest bowling lane, its bar brings together old and young alike around classic brews and a great jukebox, and its convention hall hosts an array of community events, including children's gymnastics, cribbage tournaments, a Fred-Flintstone-esque Lodge (Falcons Nest 725) and Zine fests.
Working-class Polish immigrants were definitely not afraid to put four bars on one intersection. Riverwest may have the most bars per capita, per square inch, of any neighborhood. Nightspots of all shapes, sizes and hues dot the streets, including the comforts of Bremen Café (901 E. Clarke St.), the tucked-away Gig (1132 E. Wright St.), Tracks (1020 E. Locust St., home to outdoor volleyball), the uber-romantic Two (718 E. Burleigh St.) and Art Kumbalek's beloved Uptowner (1032 E. Center St.).
Live music venues abound, among them: Art Bar (722 E. Burleigh St.), Club Timbuktu (520 E. Center St.), Linneman's Riverwest Inn (1001 E. Locust St.), the Jazz Gallery (926 E. Center St.), the aforementioned Mad Planet and Quarters (900 E. Center St.).
Dining options nicely represent Riverwest's diversity—ethnically and economically—and include African (Club Timbuktu), classic American (NYPD Pizza, 231 E. North Ave.), café fare (Alterra, Bremen Café, Fuel), Italian (Centro Café, 808 E. Center St., and Nessun Dorma, 2778 N. Weil St.), Latin (Café Corazon, 3129 N. Bremen St.), Milwaukee fish fry (Klinger's East, 920 E. Locust St.), organic (Roots, 1818 N. Hubbard St.) and Vietnamese (West Bank Café, 732 E. Burleigh St.). After dinner, nothing tops the aromatic, smoky café tables of Shi Chai Hookah Lounge (832 E. Center St.).
Old World Third Street
By Willy Thorn
The Third Street corridor is one of Milwaukee's longest drags, stretching from Wisconsin Avenue in Downtown Milwaukee to Bayshore Town Center in Glendale. It changes names twice en route, becoming Dr. Martin Luther King Drive in Brewers Hill and Port Washington Road farther north.
Its most famous stretch is Old World Third Street. As the name implies, brick storefronts line the route, marked by classic Germanic style and topped by not-so-subtle architectural self-glorification (F.H. Hochmuth 1892).
Old World Third Street is home to the Milwaukee County Historical Society and the riverfront Pere Marquette Park (and summertime's "River Rhythms" concert series). It's also the birthplace of baseball's American League. Because of nearby arts and sporting venues, high-end hotels and the convention center, the area prominently features tourist information centers, car rental agencies and roving Downtown ambassadors.
Its southern anchor, the Shops of Grand Avenue, is rife with warm-weather vendors plying wares in the shadow of the shiny-blue Reuss Federal Plaza. One block west is the BMO Harris Bradley Center (home to the Bucks, Golden Eagles, Admirals and Wave), U.S. Cellular Arena and Milwaukee Theatre. Sports-themed venues (Major Goolsby's, Upper 90) accommodate fandom overflow. East of Old World Third is the ever-developing RiverWalk, sprinkled with patio-heavy restaurant pubs (Port of Call, Rusty's Old 50) and Edelweiss boat tours' headquarters. On the north end, development springs from the ashes of a demolished freeway interchange.
The heart of Old World Third Street—State Street to Juneau—splits its interest between Ye Olde Worlde and New, blending traditional German fare with modern venues.
The former includes Milwaukee's most famous German restaurant (Mader's) and sausage-maker (Usinger's). Other Old World standards include the Milwaukee Brat House, the Old German Beer Hall, The Spice House, and the Cheese Bar (you read that right). Around the corner on Fourth Street is Turners, a Cream City brick landmark built by German immigrants as a political gathering spot and athletic center. It now boasts a restaurant and concert halls with live music.
Places to sample the brew that made Milwaukee famous line Old World Third Street. Standbys include Buck Bradley's (which claims the longest bar east of the Mississippi River), the Irish Rec Room (home to an in-bar rock climbing wall), Buckhead Saloon, One, Suite and Lucille's Piano Bar.
Restaurant fare, thankfully, is not limited to kraut and schnitzel. In fact, the neighborhood is arguably Milwaukee's most versatile dining district, offering: Armenian (Arin Bert Coffee & Grill), Italian (Calderone Club, Tutto and Brick 3 Pizza), seafood (Molly Cool's), steak (Mo's), sushi (Kiku), Thai (Thai Palace, The King & I), Japanese (Benihana's) and a pair of Milwaukee institutions, Cousins and George Webb. The Shops of Grand Avenue offers another dozen-plus eateries, and the Hyatt Regency Hotel presents Bistro 333.
For a true taste of Milwaukee, old and new, Third Street has it all.
By Danielle Stevens
"Know what I hate in a bar district? Variety," said no one, ever.
Say you're ready to hit the town. You're in the mood to chill, in a quiet corner bar. No, tonight you're feeling like people-watching on a scenic patio. No, wait: Isn't there a game? You want to sip on a brew and cheer on your team in front of a giant flat-screen TV. But you also wouldn't object to watching some hot ladies dance on a bar. Actually, you have an odd hankering to ride a mechanical bull. No, that's silly—you want something far more sophisticated. On top of all this, you're starving, but you have no idea what food you want. Your answer: Water Street.
With Milwaukee's densest confluence of bars, the strip is a veritable playground for any person 21 or over. Water Street holds the unmerited stigma of being an overpopulated college-age meat-market bro-fest. But those who avoid it are missing out on a vast array of fun and food that rivals any place in the city.
Not quite East Side, not quite Downtown, Water Street is just a short walk from the Theater District. The crowd can be a variety of people in the service industry, young professionals and college kids. Although it gets busiest on weekends, make sure to check out the daily happy hours and Sunday brunches, with more chilled-out patios and open seating than you can shake a stick at.
The area has become one of Milwaukee's main restaurant districts. A.J. Bombers has been featured on "Food Wars" and Red Rock Saloon has been highlighted on "Man v. Food." Buffalo Wild Wings is a popular sports bar that serves food until 1 a.m. Water Street Brewery offers a wide selection of entrees and appetizers. On the east side of the street is Bar Louie, which has sophisticated décor, delicious food and a gorgeous patio with a fire pit. They also have plenty of TV screens and competitive bar specials.
The west side of the street holds the most action. Coyote Ugly features the chain's signature bartenders stomping on top of the bar. Brothers is a bigger place with a balcony overlooking the street, and often features live music. Duke's has insane specials. Go to McGillycuddy's for their back patio on Sunday Funday. Rosie's has food, deals and a patio. Scooters Pub is known for its $1 happy hour. Toward the back end of the street are Trinity, which is a huge Irish bar with three separate sides, and The Harp, which has a riverside patio. There are smaller places, too, such as Fitzgibbons and BarNone.
Expect every place to get busy on the weekends. But be sure to try Water, even if only one time, on a Friday or Saturday night. Everyone needs to experience it at least once.
By Selena Milewski
The Marquette University neighborhood runs between Wells and Clybourn from 11th to 19th streets. Over the years, the area has taken on the feel of a miniature city of its own. The landscape is always changing, with the university seemingly in a constant process of demolishing and erecting new academic buildings, but the campus remains lovely year-round, with well-maintained plantings, ample green space for studying and socializing, and a host of student-friendly restaurants, bars and retail options.
If you're looking for a place to drink, try Caffrey's (717 N. 16th St.), featuring daily specials. It promises comfort no matter the season, with an outdoor patio for summer and a fireplace for winter. Equally popular with the Marquette crowd is Murphy's (1613 W. Wells St.), with karaoke, live music and lots of great specials. Looking for a sports bar? Try the Annex (804 N. 16th St.). With an underground bowling alley, bar and restaurant, this establishment caters to the student population on every level (including cost!). If you missed your chance to buy basketball tickets, fear not. The Annex has got you covered with personal TVs in each booth and regular parties to celebrate the games.
If you want a hearty dinner with your beer, try Sobelman's (1601 W. Wells St.), located at the heart of campus. The burgers are delicious and varied, and the cheese curds are to die for. If you want variety and a range of healthy options, visit the cafeteria, Marquette Place, on the second floor of the Alumni Memorial Union (located between Wisconsin and Wells, on 16th Street). While you're enjoying university dining, treat yourself to a strong cup of joe at the Brew Bayou (on the first floor of the Alumni Memorial Union). If you need a study snack, the café also offers a wide array of fresh-baked pastries (the croissants are a light, buttery slice of heaven), as well as parfaits, salads and juices. The Tory Hill Café (1215 W. Michigan St.) is also a must-try university dining option. Located in the new law school, Eckstein Hall, the restaurant features delicious upscale sandwiches and soups (including hard-to-find and uniquely delicious lobster bisque).
If you're new to town, check out the family-owned Broken Yolk (2040 W. Wisconsin Ave. and 1617 W. Wells St.), which became so popular with students that it opened a second location mere blocks from the first. After even one meal within these sunny yellow walls, you'll be singing the praises of Texas-Style French Toast, enormous omelets and a greater variety of pancakes than you'll know what to do with. Knowing its crowd well, the Broken Yolk offers plenty of specials (writ large on the wall), any of which lets a student eat his/her way to bliss for around $7.
For drugstore and grocery needs, choose from Walgreens (1600 W. Wisconsin Ave.), Campus Dollar Plus (1616 W. Wisconsin Ave.), Kampus Foods (1414 W. Wells St.) or Open Pantry (1624 W. Wells St.).
Whether you're shopping, studying or just out for a stroll, Marquette's campus is a lovely pocket between the Downtown area and the city's urban center. If you're looking for a pleasant place to sit and chat, have a seat on one of the benches in Central Mall (the grassy quad tucked between academic buildings between Wisconsin and Clybourn) and enjoy the sights and sounds of the university.
By Samantha Stanford
When you're a college student in the city, finding transportation can be a problem. Public transportation is a great solution for getting where you want to go, but the question remains: Which bus is right for you?
Bus Route 10
For Marquette University, Anthem College and Bryant & Stratton students, Route 10 is an excellent route that covers much of the Milwaukee area. It can take you to a well-stocked Pick 'n Save (2220 N. Humboldt Ave.) and the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center (9000 W. Wisconsin Ave.) for your culinary or medical emergencies. The popular Mexican restaurant La Fuente (9155 W. Bluemound Road) and the Milwaukee County Zoo (10001 W. Bluemound Road) make for a fun time for both kids and adults, not to mention the Shops of Grand Avenue (275 W. Wisconsin Ave.), home to T.J. Maxx and Boston Store, among others.
Bus Route 30
Route 30 is also useful for students because it covers a significant portion of Milwaukee's Downtown and directly connects the Marquette and UW-Milwaukee campuses. The Oriental Theatre (2230 N. Farwell Ave.) and the Downer Theatre (2589 N. Downer Ave.) are great historic theaters, and both offer discounts for students. Sobelman's (1952 N. Farwell Ave.), Pizza Shuttle (1827 N. Farwell Ave.), American Euros (1355 W. Wisconsin Ave.) and Maharaja (1550 N. Farwell Ave.) are just a few of the many restaurants with terrific food and atmosphere along the route.
Bus Route 23
Milwaukee Area Technical College's Downtown Campus is surrounded by many appealing places that can be reached with the Route 23 bus. Dots Fashions (6768 W. Greenfield Ave.) has a variety of items for the fashion-forward girl on a budget. The Asian International Food Market (3401 W. National Ave.) is a family-owned Asian grocery store with a fantastic selection of fresh produce and authentic products from Southeast Asia and beyond. The Milwaukee Gay Arts Center (703 S. Second St.) presents intriguing theater productions, bands, solo artists and art showings that support the LGBT community and give students options for entertainment and culture.
The GreenLine connects directly to the airport. You can hop off the plane and take the bus to the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (273 E. Erie St.) or visit the many shops and restaurants along the way. Milwaukee Waterfront Deli (761 N. Water St.) is located in the heart of Downtown Milwaukee. It is mere blocks from some of the best entertainment Milwaukee has to offer, including the Pabst Theater (144 E. Wells St.), Milwaukee Rep (108 E. Wells St.), Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (929 N. Water St.), Milwaukee Art Museum (700 N. Art Museum Drive) and many others. Agami Salon (147 N. Broadway) offers a good haircut for a good price. The Broadway Theatre Center (158 N. Broadway)—home to Milwaukee Chamber Theatre, Skylight Music Theatre and the Renaissance Theaterworks—is busy all through the season. ComedySportz (420 S. First St.) is an improv-based comedy show featuring food and drinks served with a side of laughter. Next Act Theatre (255 S. Water St.) produces dramatic plays that bring to light social, cultural and political issues.