Photo by Ramsey Renno.
In case you missed the first of the Summer Neighborhood Series about Riverwest, here's the scoop: My brand new handsome She Devil bike and I will be spending the rest of the summer exploring every nook and cranny of Milwaukee’s neighborhoods to share local secrets with you.
This week, I take a detour from the Summerfest crowds and head to East Town, in anticipation of next week's raucous festival, Bastille Days. East Town, bordering downtown and known for its vibrant dining scene, has a very active neighborhood association whose website is a great resource. The farmer's market every Saturday morning from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. has a variety of local produce, crafts and free yoga. You can even get your knives sharpened.
Here are a few other best bets:
Photo by Melissa Miller.
Best Food – Cubanitas is consistently a good choice for a cheap, delicious meal and a strong mojito. But if you want a creative, upscale dining experience, try the trendy, modern Umami Moto, that blends Asian cuisine with classic French techniques. The signature lobster chowder is so rich and delicious you could eat it for dessert. Don't forget about Buckley's Kiskeam Inn, a cozy, delicious bistro with an amazing brunch.
Best Beer Selection – The Rumpus Room has an extensive European and local beer selection along with a visiting brewmaster series, but for the die-hard beer lovers, you'll find craft brews and sample small batches of beer you can't find anywhere else at the Firkin Fest on July 20th from 4-8 p.m. Check out a post I wrote about the Fest last year to get a feel for the event and learn about the regional and national breweries.
Best Shopping – Unfortunately, most of the boutiques have moved to the Third Ward, enjoying the increased foot traffic from the cluster of stores. But you can always find a unique and fancy gift (and a nice cup of tea) at Watts Tea Room. And, every once in a while you can score a great deal on standard apparel and home goods at Boston Store or TJ Maxx in The Shops of Grand Avenue.
Best Date Spot – For an intimate (but pricey) cocktail with the best view in the city, head to the top of the Pfister Hotel to Blu . I am still so surprised how many people don't know about this swanky lounge offering live music Friday and Saturday nights. Indulge Wine Room is also a great bet for a cheese plate or dessert and a great selection of red, white and bubbly for before or after a show.
Best Festival – Bastille Days, the French festival, feels a little like Milwaukee's own version of Carnival in Cathedral Square Park, July 11-14th day and night. The free, four-day bash kicks off with thousands of people running like mad through the streets of Milwaukee at 9 p.m., an homage to the real storming of the Bastille. At the festival, find an international marketplace, plenty of live music, chef and wine demos, French and Cajun cuisine, roaming buskers and of course, a 43-foot Eiffel Tower replica. Hands down, this the best ethnic festival in Milwaukee, and I'm not even French.
Best Park – Cathedral Square Park, surrounded by Jefferson, Wells, Jackson and Kilbourn, is home to the long-running Jazz in the Park, a weekly free music series in the summer, the farmer's market, the Firkin Fest and so much more. It's small, but it's a great place to gather for all kinds of entertainment.
Best Place to Dance – A bar within a bar – what a brilliant concept! A large square bar and a lounge encircle the Whiskey Bar's dance floor. In fact, if the door happens to be closed, you might not ever know about the dance party and club-like atmosphere at the Whiskey Bar. Expect to hear some top 40 and bad '90s hip-hop. For some reason, it always keeps everyone on the dance floor, whether they can dance or not.
Craving great views and fresh air? One more insider tip – Hotel Metro and the Milwaukee Athletic Club both have amazing rooftops. Monday nights head up the 7th floor patio for Zen on Seven, no need to be a hotel guest. Also, Newaukee and Koss host the Lunar Series with live music every Friday through September 6th at the MAC, no membership required, but RSVP on Newaukee's website.
Hey, you! Follow me on Twitter as @jkashou and search #GirlAboutTownNeighborhoods to stay on top of what’s happening around town.