50 Ways to Celebrate Milwaukee’s Reopening

Today we say goodbye to most of Milwaukee’s COVID-19 restrictions and start exploring life in the new normal. Here’s how our editors recommend celebrating!

Eat

1. Plant Yourself at a Table Inside Stone Creek Coffee’s Downer Avenue Cafe and Kitchen

2650 N. DOWNER AVE.

Other locations are open for inside seating as well, but here you can snag a liege-style waffle or egg sandwich along with your latte or cold brew. The summer seasonal drink menu launches on June 3, which means you’ll be able to wet your whistle with a chile mango lemonade or Nitro Coconut bev (made with nitro cold brew and coconut cream syrup).

Photo by Adam Ryan Morris

2. Get Your Small Plates on at Odd Duck

2352 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE. 

Seeing the Duck back to offering its creative, thoughtful menu is a cause for celebration – small-plate celebration. Indian-style beef shortrib stew and spring duck cassoulet are a few examples of what you can order. There is some walk-in seating available on the outdoor patio and inside at the bar. But you need to make a reservation for inside table seating. Tues-Sat 5 p.m.-10 p.m.

3. Take an In-person Class at Village Cheese Shop in Tosa

1430 UNDERWOOD AVE., WAUWATOSA

This dynamite cheese shop in the Tosa village had switched to virtual classes focused on wine, cheese and artisan chocolate. Now that she’s back to welcoming people into the shop for classes, owner Sabina Magyar is doing a class on roses in late June (details to come). Expect more to come.

Photo courtesy of the Wauwatosa Village

4. Get a Two-fer – Beer and Grub – at Company Brewing

735 E. CENTER ST.

This magazine’s beer guy/executive editor Chris Drosner would be down with most any of the beers made here, I dare say. You should pair your foamy drink with a burger or fried chicken sandwich and a bacon-fat chocolate chip cookie for dessert. And wear your stretchy pants. Open for indoor dining Tues-Fri, Sun 4-10 p.m.; Sat 3-10 p.m. Patio seating, too.

 

 

5. Start Getting Psyched for the Reopening of Sanford Restaurant’s Dining Room

1547 N. JACKSON ST.

Sanford made a big switch to curbside carryout when the pandemic hit. Now the restaurant is phasing back into dine-in service. Keep your eyes on the website for details. The plan is to reopen in three phases. We can’t say when you’ll be able to dine in that intimate, polished dining room, except to say it will be as soon as they are 100 percent ready.  

6. Eat Pie and Friday Fish Fry on the Patio at Honeypie’s New Location

2569 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE.

Indeed, dessert is obligatory. But before that, get yourself some of this joint’s Friday breaded haddock with hand-cut fries, slaw, cornbread and tartar. Seating is outside only but since Honeypie has a sweet new patio – lots of umbrella-topped tables – to go with its new location, you’re winning. Open Wed-Sat 8 a.m.-9 p.m.

7. Have Broast-ish Chicken at the Reimagined Aria in the Saint Kate Hotel

139 E. KILBOURN AVE.

Yes, it’s open for in-house dining. And yes, they are calling their chicken dish “broast-ish.” For the record, broasted chicken, that Wisco creation, is fried inside a pressure cooker so it’s not only crispy, but super succulent. Aria’s rendition is one example from a menu of homey Midwestern-inspired dishes, including grilled Heritage Reserve flat-iron steak, seared Maple Leaf duck breast and others. Open Tues-Sat 5-9 p.m. 

Photo by Jenny Bohr

8. Savor the Tasting Menu at Ardent

1751 N. FARWELL AVE.

The wonderful little East Side venue is currently offering limited, private, socially distanced dining by reservation only (dinner Wed-Sat, 6 p.m. seating). The tasting menu can accommodate all dietary requests and could include Ardent Reserve Caviar, Carlisle beef NY strip steak and little bite-size desserts. Sound good? Check out the sample menu on the website. 

9. Throw Down Pasta on the Patio at Ca’Lucchenzo

6030 W. NORTH AVE., WAUWATOSA

Zak Baker’s handmade pastas on the patio sound so good right now. Baker and his spouse/business partner Sarah are reopening their charming, landscaped outdoor space for the season on Friday, June 4. They plan to offer patio-only seating for a few weeks, then open up some tables inside for seating toward the middle-to-end of summer. OK, it’s time for some tagliatelle! Tues-Sat 5-9 p.m.

Photo by Lacy Landre

10. Sup on Sushi at Kin by Rice N Roll

7484 W. STATE ST., WAUWATOSA

The dining room has reopened and, if I were you, I’d go crazy with sashimi and maki rolls. Spicy tuna rarely disappoints, or something more elaborate like the shrimp tempura with avocado, spicy crab stick and spicy mayo. That roll is called Clumsy Bueno. The truth is the Asian menu has so many good things – take your time perusing it. Lunch: Tues-Sat 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; Sun 12:30-3 p.m. Dinner: Tues-Thurs, Sun 4-9 p.m.; Fri-Sat 4-9:30 p.m.

Drink

11. Have a Couple at Burnhearts

2599 S. LOGAN AVE.

This essential Milwaukee bar – it’s everything you want a bar to be – played it very safe during the pandemic, going dark just before Christmas, including calling off its Mittenfest midwinter block party. It reopened in early May, and we can’t wait to make up for a winter without Burnhearts with a summer with frequent visits. 

Outdoor beer patio
The beer patio at Burnhearts (photo courtesy of BJ Seidel)

12. Visit Some New-ish Breweries

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

We’ll forgive you if you haven’t made it out to the newest members of the city’s brewing scene during the past year-plus. Wizard Works Brewing opened last May in the former Broken Bat Brewing space at 231 E. Buffalo St. in the Third Ward. (Broken Bat opened their big new brewery in Walker’s Point, 135 E. Pittsburgh Ave., around the same time. And the new Third Ward location of The Explorium Brewpub, in the Pritzlaff Building at 143 E. St. Paul Ave., debuted in September. And, hey, if you want to head just over the city limits, Layman Brewing opened last fall at 6001 W. Madison St., West Allis, and Faklandia Brewing opened last May at 3807 S. Packard Ave., St. Francis.

13. Have a Cocktail at Bryant’s

1579 S. NINTH ST.

You know how you’re day drinking in a place that’s pretty dark and you come outside into that brilliant, amber light an hour or two before sundown? Well, this time of year you have a couple hours after Bryant’s 5 p.m. opening to get a couple exquisite cocktails behind Bryant’s drawn curtains before emerging into the golden hour. 

Photo courtesy of Bryant’s

14. Bask in the Glow of Jamo’s

1800 N. ARLINGTON PL.

We think a lot about how much fun we had putting together our last guide to the city’s best bars. And since we stopped going to bars, we’ve been thinking a lot about Jamo’s – intimate, comfortable and unpretentious. Its throwback cool is kind of exactly what we want a bar to be, and exactly what we missed while cooped up at home these many months. 

15. Grab a Beer on the New Patio at Third Space

1505 W. ST. PAUL AVE.

This standout brewery in the Menomonee Valley is upgrading its outdoor … (OK, fine we’re doing it) spaces this summer. Expanded and upgraded seating in the beer garden area is already complete, and a new outdoor bar and outdoor event space are imminent. Sounds like a great spot to enjoy a Things We Don’t Say IPA and talk about mental health. 

16. Take a Spin on the Pedal Tavern

820 S. WATER ST. 

Nature is healing. The Pedal Tavern, with all its WOOOOOs and honk-soliciting, is back. 

Photo courtesy of Jenna Kashou

17. Burn some quarters (well, tokens) at Up-Down 

615 E. BRADY ST. 

We haven’t been to this awesome arcade bar since the before times, but we’re itching to get our game back on. It has tons of classic and contemporary video games, a dozen pinball machines and even console games like N64 Mario Kart. And while you won’t miss a Brewers game or Bucks playoff tilt, Up-Down uses some of its screens to show classic ’80s and ’90s movies, too. Add in great beer selection and director Kevin Smith’s traveling restaurant popup Moobys coming June 7-14 and what’s not to like? We like going on Thursdays, when all games are just one thin dime to play. Now that’s #value!

18. Sit Lakeside at South Shore Terrace

2900 S. SHORE DR. 

Just because it’s normal(-er) inside doesn’t mean we HAVE to be inside. I mean, it’s June out here. And there’s no time quite like that for a beer at the lakefront – and that means the beer garden at South Shore Terrace, just steps from the beach and with a dynamite view of Downtown. And $2.50 cups of Hamm’s? Yes. 

South Shore Terrace. Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County Parks.

19. Get Your Vaccine at Black Husky

909 E. LOCUST ST.

If all this reopening stuff seems a bit premature because you haven’t been vaccinated yet, you can vax up this weekend at a pop-up clinic at Black Husky Brewing in Riverwest – and get a free beer for your (not very much) trouble. If you can’t decide what free beer to fill your glass with, we recommend the Sproose double IPA – as long as you’re down with hops (and pine!).

20. Check Out the New Draft & Vessel

7479 HARWOOD AVE., WAUWATOSA

Listen, we know this is outside the city limits, but this opening is a big deal for city beer geeks. This part of Tosa has been itching for a great beer bar for a while, and Draft & Vessel delivered with gorgeous spaces inside and out. If you’re lucky, you may find recently retired Journal Sentinel beer writer and newly minted D&V beertender Kathy Flanigan pouring your draft. 

Shop

21. Pick Up a Plant

MARANTA PLANT SHOP, 1739 N. DOCTOR M.L.K. JR. DR.

Nothing says summer like a brightly colored, tropical plant. Pick one up from the newish Maranta, which stocks houseplants in a variety of shapes and sizes. The knowledgeable sales staff can help you find one you won’t immediately kill.

22. Play Dress Up

ALIVE AND FINE, 2652 S. KINNICKINNIC AVE.

Have you been wearing the same three pairs of sweatpants for the last 14 months? Maybe it’s time to start introducing a little variety into your wardrobe again. You can find a great variety of vintage dresses and concert tees at this Bay View boutique. 

23. Catch Some Waves 

LAKE EFFECT SURF SHOP, 1926 E. CAPITOL DR.

Believe it or not, you can surf in Lake Michigan. And if you’ve never given it a go, why not try this summer? The fine folks over at Lake Effect can provide you with both board rentals and lessons. 

Photo by Andy Stenz

24. Restock Your Home Bar

THIEF WINE BAR, 400 N. WATER ST.

Ready to start inviting people over to your place again? Great! Impress them by picking up a few bottles of perfectly balanced summer wines. You don’t have to tell anyone that you just asked a Thief employee to point you toward their best $10 rosé. 

25. Win the “Best Wedding Gift” Award

FINE ARTS BY NICOLE

Are you planning to attend a friend’s postponed wedding? Really wow the happy couple by surprising them with a custom portrait, courtesy of a local painter who accepts commissions, like Nicole Bobholz. 

26. Gear Up for a Dinner Party

MODGEN, 211 N. BROADWAY ST. 

Prove that you’re really the host with the most. By inviting a few of your friends over for a long overdue dinner party. And really set the mood for the event by stocking up on new placemats or serving dishes from a local shop like ModGEN. 

Photo by Daniel Granberg

27. Get Some “Going Out” Shoes 

SHOO, 241 N. BROADWAY

Goodbye slippers. Hello impractical but beautiful going-out shoes! The Third Ward stalwart Shoo carries fun and funky heels by designers like John Fluevog and United Nude, plus slightly more staid but no less stylish oxfords by Naot. 

28. Play Tourist

THE SAINT KATE, 139, E. KILBOURN AVE.

You deserve a staycation. And the lushly appointed Saint Kate Arts Hotel is just as hip and happening as it was when it first opened in 2019. If you really want to go all out, book a reservation in its speakeasy-like restaurant, The Dark Room, too. 

Photo courtesy of Historic Milwaukee

29. Style Your Outdoor Space

PATIO PLACE, 501 MAIN STREET, THIENSVILLE

Backyard barbecues are back, baby! And a comfortable dining set can help set the mood for your next event as much as great food or music. Patio Place, in Thiensville, stocks lots of weatherproof outdoor furnishings at a variety of price points. 

30. Battle the Bugs

NOURISH NATURAL PRODUCTS 

Gear up for lots of long, leisurely nights spent hanging out on rooftop bars and local parks, by stocking up on bug spray. Local cosmetic company Nourish makes an organic bug spray that’s chemical-free and smells great.

Get Outside

31. Take A Seven Seat Bike Tour

318 S. WATER ST

Hop on this strange contraption for a group tour through downtown Milwaukee. The two-hour ride starts at 10:00 a.m. on Water Street. You’ll bike up and down the Third Ward and Downtown and then over to Walker’s Point, all while learning about the city’s history. 

32. Kayak The Milwaukee River

318 S. WATER ST.

Milwaukee Kayak Company provides daily rentals and weekly guided tours for anyone who wants to paddle along the river. Enjoy gliding along the water with Milwaukee’s downtown rising up around you. If you want to bring the family, note that anyone under the age of 12 needs to share a kayak with an adult (and know how to swim).

Photo by Visit Milwaukee

33. Volleyball at Bradford Beach

2400 N. LINCOLN MEMORIAL DR.

Milwaukee’s largest public beach comes equipped with volleyball nets that are ready to go with a “share the net” policy if you want to tap into a game. Bring a crew and enjoy some back and forth. 

34. Cuirse on a Bublr Bike

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

Ditch the car for the day and traverse Downtown Milwaukee on one of the rentable Bublr bikes available all around the city. Check out the food and drink recommendations on this list and consider taking the bike to a spot that piques your interest. 

35. Visit the Boerner Botanical Gardens

9400 BOERNER DR., HALES CORNERS

For a relaxing day outdoors, head over to the Boerner Gardens. With spring passing to summer, it’s the perfect season to see the flowers.

The rose garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens
The rose garden at Boerner Botanical Gardens. Photo by Eddee Daniel

36. Join the UPAF Ride for the Arts

1010 N. LINCOLN MEMORIAL DR. 

This Sunday, June 6th, the United Performing Arts Fund is hosting a fundraiser bike ride at Veterans Park from 10 a.m. – 1 p.m. Register ahead of time while you still can. Then hop on your bike and enjoy the ride, while also supporting a worthy cause. 

37. Hit the Tees at Lake Park Golf Course

3233 E. KENWOOD BLVD.

This course doesn’t require tee times – it’s first come, first-served, and the 18 holes aren’t exceptionally challenging. For a casual weekend round right by the lake, it can’t be beat. 

Photo courtesy of Milwaukee County.

38. Rent a Duffy Boat

818 S. WATER ST.

These easy-to-drive boats are available to anyone older than 25 with a valid drivers license. They launch from the Milwaukee River, and your rental gets you 90 minutes to sail around downtown and enjoy the weather. 

39. Hike the Oak Leaf Trail

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

This trail is one of our city’s pride and joys, stretching over 135 miles around the city. Pick any part of the trail you wish – lakeside, wooded, urban – and cycle, hike, run or roller blade your way along.

40. Visit the Milwaukee County Zoo

10001 W. BLUEMOUND RD. 

The County Zoo is a tried-and-true source of enjoyment. Recently, they welcomed three new gorillas, and starting just last week, they opened a new exhibit of life-size Lego sculpture animals with interactive components that the kids can enjoy.

Photo by Joel Miller

Events & Promotions

41. Brewers Vs. Detroit Tigers

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

American Family Field is back to full capacity, and there’s a home game Tuesday against the Detroit Tigers. Get tickets to watch the game live or pick your favorite local bar to patronize and watch the game. Either way, Go Brew Crew!

Photo by Rich Rovito

42. Lakefront Brewery Tour

1872 NORTH COMMERCE STREET

Starting June 1, Lakefront Brewery Tours are back! Perhaps one of the most fun brewing tours in town, this return is well welcomed. Tours are running every day of the week except Fridays, so sign up now for some education, shenanigans and, of course, beer tokens. 

Photo courtesy of Lakefront Brewery

43. Historic Milwaukee, Inc.

325 E. MICHIGAN ST. 

The first 10 people to email info@historicmilwaukee.org using the subject line “Milwaukee Mag” will get 2 vouchers to a walking tour of their choice. The company will send a confirmation email if you win. The Historic Milwaukee Store is also changing its hours to Tuesday-Sunday from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. with expanded hours from 10 a.m.-7 p.m. on Wednesdays. 

44. Enlightened Brewing Company

2020 S. ALLIS ST. 

Enlightened Brewing Company is re-opening at full capacity on June 1. The brewery team will bring back their church pews and all of their tables and chairs. You will also find pool, board games vending machines and outdoor seating. 

45. Grow Plants and Home

1025 N. ASTOR ST. 

Save 15% off your purchase with the code MKEOPEN when you checkout at Grow Plants and Home. The offer is good for in-store and online orders. It is valid through June 15th. 

46. Farmers’ Markets

MULTIPLE LOCATIONS

It is officially farmers’ market season here in Milwaukee, and there are a lot of local markets to choose from. Peruse our local guide and find one to stop at this summer. 

Plants and flowers are early spring draws at the West Allis Farmers Market; Photo courtesy of West Allis Farmers Market

47. MilMag Live City Guide Issue Launch

ONLINE

Milwaukee Magazine’s Editor and Publisher Carole Nicksin is hosting a live conversation Tuesday, June 1 at noon to launch our June City Guide issue. She’ll be joined by Adam Carr, who is the subject of a feature-length profile in this month’s magazine.

48. The Laughing Tap

706 B. S. 5TH ST.

The Laughing Tap is expanding their capacity (as well as their beer selection, yum) as the city re-opens. The next show will be Paul Farahvar on June 4-5. 

Jackie Kashian performing at The Laughing Tap. Photo by David Symanski

49. Shred415 East Side Promotion

2165 N. PROSPECT AVE. 

Right now, Shred415 is offering a promotion to celebrate the re-opening. The deal is that new shredders get their first class free when the use the Shred415 app and select the East Side location. You can also email the team at eastside@shred415.com

50. Museum of Wisconsin Art

205 VETERAN’S AVE

Right now MOWA is offering an exclusive MOWA Journal as a gift when you join or renew a $100+ membership. The latest exhibit is Artists Without Borders, which features nine artists with deep roots abroad.

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