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The other day, as I was fumbling through the latest Facebook redesign feeling how my dad must feel every time he logs on (just kidding, dad, love you!), a status update from my friend Milan (you probably know him as Dwellephant; if you don’t, he’s amazing) caught my eye. “Milwaukee people: Ever been to that […]

The other day, as I was fumbling through the latest Facebook redesign feeling how my dad must feel every time he logs on (just kidding, dad, love you!), a status update from my friend Milan (you probably know him as Dwellephant; if you don’t, he’s amazing) caught my eye.

“Milwaukee people: Ever been to that bar called “My Office” downtown on Milwaukee Street? Dori Zori and I went there FOR LUNCH today. I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to go there. I’ll now be conducting as many downtown meetings there as humanly possible.”

Seven “likes” and 22 supportive comments later, I was convinced.

The next day as I wandered throughout the office to round people up – as I do when it’s Cheap Eats time – everyone I approached responded with some variation of “Whaaaa? They serve food?”  Yeah, they do. Really cheap food, too. Let’s go!

The six of us arrived and sat down in the dimly lit bar not knowing what to expect. The walls were wood paneled and covered with the most random assortment of stuff this side of Cracker Barrel. We’re talking a small, dusty globe; a corner filled with old trophies and Brewers pennants; a stuffed, life-sized Dracula hanging from the ceiling; and a framed certificate of membership from the Wisconsin Society of Certified Public Accountants. Suffice it to say, we didn’t have high hopes. “Hey, if it sucks, blame Milan,” I thought.

Then we met Bob. Bob wears many hats at My Office. He’s the bartender, the waiter and the husband of the chef, Debbie. Friendly in that loveable curmudgeon sort of way (“I don’t have my looks, so all I have left is my personality.”), he seemed to be on a first-name basis with everyone in the bar who wasn’t sitting at our table. He ran through the specials (pork tenderloin, meatloaf, meatloaf sandwich hot, meatloaf sandwich cold, turkey quiche, etc.), and then asked what we wanted. Confused, as we had not been given menus, Kathryn asked for one. Bob winked at her. Um, OK. Bob later explained that the menus, both online and in print, are so wildly out of date that he has instead moved to a completely verbal menu. Tell him what you want, and they’ll do the best they can. 

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And their best is pretty damn good. All made from scratch by Debbie, the food trends toward classic pub comforts (as much as the food can trend in a particular direction without a standard menu). We went around the table and ordered (using the menu we had previously seen online as a cheat sheet). Cheeseburger? Sure. With, uh, fries? Yep. Umm, grilled cheese? Ok. Club sandwich? Got it. Bob repeated the orders as to commit them to memory (no pen and paper for this pro), and off he went. (Please note, these photos really don’t do the food justice. As I said, it was dim, and I’m no professional photographer.)

Erin ordered the turkey quiche special ($8) and – shocker – it was the highlight of the meal. The egg custard was light and silky and perfectly balanced by the buttery crust. Quiche at a dive bar, who knew? The dish comes with hash browns and a toasted English muffin as they also serve breakfast daily. Bob said that people come in specifically for Debbie’s homemade biscuits and gravy – you can be sure to look for that in an upcoming column.

The cheeseburger ($6) Anne ordered came in close second. Thick and juicy with a thick, bready bun (that Bob says they get fresh every morning from Piggly Wiggly), this burger easily cracks my Top 10 in the city. The fries were thick and sturdy with a creamy center (almost as if they had been battered, but I’m pretty sure they weren’t), and they also offer tater tots. Why more places don’t offer tots, I’ll never understand. Tater tots are almost impossible to screw up. Fries, not so much. 

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I went with the meatloaf hot (also $8; all specials are $8), which came with corn on the cob, rice pilaf and a big, buttery hunk of cornbread (sorry, Mr. Perkins, but this is what cornbread should be like). The meatloaf was bacon-wrapped and juicy (the thick, brown gravy was maybe a tad salty) while the tender rice was studded with big chunks of mushrooms. The club sandwich ($7.50) was nice, with thick-cut pieces of turkey (you can get ham, if you prefer) while the grilled cheese ($5.50) was, well, a grilled cheese. Good, but nothing special. They do offer all their sandwiches on whole grain bread, though, which is a nice touch. 

My Office is perhaps the quintessential Cheap Eats restaurant – dingy and dirty with great food. And it’s no accident. “This place looks like a garbage can, but then the food comes out,” Bob says. They pride themselves on that dichotomy, and while I can respect that, it’s hard to ignore the fact that My Office has been serving food since the day they opened in 1975 (“36 years with the same owner … and the same carpet,” Bob joked, only it’s also true), and no one seems to know about it. We all love the allure of having that one special place to call your own, but the food at My Office is just too good to be kept under wraps.  

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By John George Buchel 763 North Milwaukee Street Milwaukee, WI 53202-3715 (414) 276-9646 My Office is serious business. It’s been a bar since 1975, in a two-story building that’s been around since who-knows-when. It’s the best pool hall in town; the best juke box bar; the best sports bar; the best martini bar. But it’s […]

By John George Buchel

763 North Milwaukee Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3715
(414) 276-9646


My Office is serious business. It’s been a bar since 1975, in a two-story building that’s been around since who-knows-when. It’s the best pool hall in town; the best juke box bar; the best sports bar; the best martini bar. But it’s none of those things. It’s a bar.


My Office features an excellent staff anchored by Warren, the consummate bartender’s-bartender. Warren says, “I’ll be right with you,” and there he is, with a bottle in hand poised to refill your glass. When a hipster asks for a 16-ounce can of beer, he responds “I’m the only Tall Boy you’ll find here.”


The selection is far from comprehensive, but with plenty of old standbys, forgotten favorites and interesting exceptions. The prices are quite fair for southeastern Wisconsin, and the outright best buy of downtown Milwaukee.


Bob, a part-time My Office bartender, represents part of the bar’s core demographic: highly skilled service industry workers from some of the finest establishments in the city. Bob describes the businessmen and out-of-towners at his full-time gig, who discreetly ask him, after enjoying their five-star meal, to recommend someplace real where they can loosen their tie.


“That’s why I like it here,” Bob says. “Everybody comes here.”


“We’ve got a couple of ‘woo’ girls in here town,” Bob says, gesturing to the party of women about to hoist a round of pink pomegranate shots. Duran Duran’s “Rio” plays on the juke box. “Wooo!!!”


It’s not the usual mix of classic, folk and pop rock you might hear on a weeknight, but My Office lives and breathes with its eclectic mix of clientele.

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Warren says he designed the “Meet Me at My Office” logo for the bar, which includes a billiard ball and martini glass in its design.


“That’s how we got named ‘Best Martini’ bar, because we had a martini in our logo,” Warren says, describing how he gamed start-up user review Web sites. “At the time we had maybe three martini glasses in house, and none of them matched.”


In recent years, My Office added a pool room by cutting through a wall to an old bank safe in the building next door. Behind the dartboard is a tiny reading room, The Library, where you can peruse the latest periodicals and borrow paperbacks on the honor system.


Another slight of Web 2.0 hand got My Office ranked the second-best sports bar in the city by a major local search site. There are a few televisions, and they do play live sporting events and sports highlight shows, but you’re just as likely to catch regulars enjoying a sitcom with the sound on the house system, or “The Price is Right” during the day.


That’s right, My Office is open during regular business hours, and serves up as fine a greasy spoon breakfast and lunch as you’ll find. My breakfast of eggs, toast, bacon, hash browns, short stack and an entire pot of coffee was served on a matching set of china — plate, platter, cup and saucer — and cost about $10.


“My Office” seems like a pretty obvious name for a bar. “Sorry, honey, I’ll be home late. Long day at My Office.”

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Then you notice the old accounting license up on the wall. Then you start telling your friends “Meet me at My Office.” And when you need a spot to meet prospective employer for an after-hours business discussion, it’s the first place you suggest. And now you’re the one conducting serious business at My Office.


About the Author
John George Buchel grew up in Bay View and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He worked as a reporter for two years, and currently works as a bartender and a waiter. In his free time he is a loafer, a hopeless layabout, a shiftless dreamer.  

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