Riverwest Filling Station, a Neighborhood Corner Tap Offering Beer, Burgers and Israeli Bar Food
In a town known for its corner bars, Riverwest Filling Station is reimagining the model. While it’s still a place for the residents of the Riverwest and Harambee neighborhoods (and interlopers, of course) to hang out and have a pint and some grub, it also offers up the ability to take away growlers of your favorite draft beer—perfect for when you want to have some suds at home but beer sales have concluded for the evening.
Filling Station offers up 30 taps that run the gamut across styles and breweries. On my last visit, I had a super malty quad from Belgium, a fresh and hoppy IPA from Madison, and a tart gose from somewhere in the U.S. (it was my third beer, so my note taking skills were a bit substandard). It’s easily the largest offering of draft beer in the Riverwest neighborhood.
Riverwest Filling Station
701 E. Keefe Ave.
Handicap access: Yes
CC, FB, OD, SB, FF, GF
Hours: Tu-Th 4 p.m.-2a.m., F-Sa 11 a.m.-2:30 a.m., Su 11 a.m.-2 a.m.
They also feature a couple of excellent house-infused vodkas finely utilized in their house-made Bloody Mary mix, though spicy spirit aficionados will approve of the ghost pepper-infused vodka as a shot and appreciate the combination of heat and alcohol burn that goes all the way down to your stomach—excellent for a winter afternoon. Their Hangover Bloody ($11) uses garlic-infused vodka alongside horseradish for a nice kick, in addition to some fantastic pickled veggie accouterments. Visit during brunch (Friday-Sunday, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.) to take advantage of an $8 deal on all bloodies.
Along with that wide variety of beer options and spirits, Filling Station has some really fantastic food. Owner Bryan Atinsky spent over a decade in Israel, and the influence of their cuisine is all over the menu. For an appetizer, the trio of hummus, babaganouj and tahina ($13) served with plenty of pita is a fine example of fresh Middle Eastern cuisine: the babaganouj, especially, is a roasty delight.
The Israeli influence is obvious with the Jerusalem Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich ($11), which features a wonderfully tenderized and spiced schnitzel topped with hummus, tahina, pickles, fresh red onion, and S’khoug, a spicy Yemenite sauce. The sandwich has a lovely crunch, and the spiciness of its seasoning and the S’khoug is moderated by the hummus and tahina’s creaminess.
Of course, any good corner bar that serves food should have a dope hamburger, and Filling Station meets that requirement with ease. Their hamburger ($10, $1/topping) is one of my go-to Riverwest comfort foods. I like to stack it with ghost peppers grown in the garden right behind the restaurant, and add some mushrooms cooked in a rotating stout beer for a little extra umami. For a side, while their French Fries are fine, the Sweet Potato Fries have much more character.
Riverwest Filling Station is more than just a place to drop into for a quick growler; it’s a laid-back restaurant with solid food and a comfortable ambiance.