Best of 2007

Edited by Mario Quadracci with Dustin Beilke, Lauren Burke, Kurt Chandler, Ann Christenson, Jenn Danko, Katie Ingmire, Kevin Kosterman, Howie Magner, Judith Ann Moriarty, Bruce Murphy, Julie Sensat Waldren and Mary Van de Kamp Nohl Once again, the staff of Milwaukee Magazine stalked the greater metro area for Best Ofs, challenging our five senses, becoming tourists in our own town. We washed down some scorpions with tequila, got geared-up for a punch in the nose, hosted an “American Idol”-style competition with singing telegrams and gorged some hungry lumberjacks with pancakes. It’s just how we roll. In addition to distilling the…

Edited by Mario Quadracci with Dustin Beilke, Lauren Burke, Kurt Chandler, Ann Christenson, Jenn Danko, Katie Ingmire, Kevin Kosterman, Howie Magner, Judith Ann Moriarty, Bruce Murphy, Julie Sensat Waldren and Mary Van de Kamp Nohl

Once again, the staff of Milwaukee Magazine stalked the greater metro area for Best Ofs, challenging our five senses, becoming tourists in our own town. We washed down some scorpions with tequila, got geared-up for a punch in the nose, hosted an “American Idol”-style competition with singing telegrams and gorged some hungry lumberjacks with pancakes. It’s just how we roll. In addition to distilling the spirits of this city and settling on a potent list of best picks for 2007, we’ve also inducted five more Best Of Hall of Fame members and administered a few gentle floggings to the deserving (hey, we couldn’t help ourselves). Cheers!

Mail Experience
It’s swell to know letters can still be mailed in style from the splendiferous lobby of the 1927 Ambassador Hotel (2308 W. Wisconsin Ave.), which sports a swank slot on its original bronze letterbox (patent No. 284,951), emblazoned “Cutler Mail Chute, Rochester, New York.” Who cares if mail is removed by the discreet staff and redeposited in a regular box? With the rising cost of postage, isn’t it the moment that counts?

New Urban Paradise
People don’t often think of descending into heaven, but that’s exactly what you find at the bottom of a flight of stairs off the lobby of the Pfister Hotel. The newly opened WELL Spa at the Pfister (424 E. Wisconsin Ave.) offers a gamut of sensuous spa treatments performed in beautifully appointed “spa suites.” The suites feature full bathrooms, iPod interfaces so you can jam to your own tunes while getting pampered, and Hammam Experience Showers, which blast you into nirvana with powerful water jets and plumes of soothing steam.

Best Curry Chips
Oh, those British blokes. In merry old England, soccer is “football” and French fries are “chips.” And in that very proper country, it’s common to eat chips with curry sauce, a lovely, spicy (though not hot) departure from ketchup. Find these delicious, thick-cut frites and sauce at Carleton Grange Pub (3807 S. Packard Ave.).

Carrot Cake
Is a carrot ever better than when shredded and baked in a cake? Never. The special trick to this dessert is giving it a transporting quality – suddenly, you’re in your mom’s kitchen and there’s the homiest and densest of carrot cakes in front of you, filled with nuts, coconut and dried fruit and spread with a cream cheese frosting that doesn’t really need the cake. Now that’s the carrot cake at Mason Street Grill (425 E. Mason St.),the recipe courtesy of executive chef Mark Weber.

Cocktail Dessert
The Great Maltini atThe Knick (1030 E. Juneau Ave.) is a Willy Wonka-esque concoction of chocolate vodka, Godiva chocolate liqueur,
Baileys Irish Cream and malt. Blended, shaken and poured into a chocolate-covered martini glass. Don’t let an Oompa-Loompa get near it.

Guitar Doctor
Whether your vintage Gibson hollow-body fell victim to an elephant stampede or your brand-new trophy axe is a smidge off perfect, guitar surgeon Denny Rauen is the man to call. Shredders from all over the world send their six-string babies to Riverwest’s Rauen Guitars(2473 N. Weil St.) for everything from tuneups and repairs to modifications and rebuilds. Some of Rauen’s past customers: Buddy Guy, Keith Richards and “finger-style god” Leo Kottke, to name but a few.

Power Lunch
Need a little lead in your pencil? Belly up to the stainless steel lunch counter at St. Paul Fish Company (Milwaukee Public Market, 400 N. Water St.) and knock back a few of the freshest oysters on the half shell in town. St. Paul brings in the choicest seasonal selections of oyster varieties from all over North America (usually featuring around four kinds at a time). Dab some fresh horseradish on the little shucked-to-order beauties, add a splash of Tabasco and down the hatch. Your yang and yin will be ready for whatever the afternoon has in store.

Place to Meditate
Seeking serenity? Look into the heart of a Monet painting, or better still, plumb the depths of the Mystery Pond at Schlitz Audubon Nature Center (1111 E. Brown Deer Rd.), where multihued leaves from nearby trees float, free to define their particular moment in time. Sit at water’s edge, pitch a pebble into its glassy face and listen to the fall warblers. Exquisite.

Punch-You-in-the-Face Gear
Mixed martial arts is one of America’s fastest growing sports, but before you enter the cage with some brute bent on punishing you for being born, you’ll need some training and, more importantly, a fierce-looking get-up from Combat Corner (1121 S. 108th St.). The only such store in town, Combat Corner will make sure that whether you clean your opponent’s clock or block his foot with your face, you’ll look darn good doing it.

Behind-the-Bar Charm
A bartender should be your best friend, says Chad Polczynski, the 29-year-old tender at Centanni (218 N. Water St.). He keeps his guests feeling friendly six nights a week, whether he’s lighting their smokes or showcasing his sweet cocktail craft. Ask for Chad’s blue martini, a mix of Malibu rums, blue Curacao, sweet and sour and a dash of OJ. Can we say, “ladies’ man?” By the taste – and looks – of it, that’s a big yes.

Best Leafy Lunch
Get your daily dose of vitamin A at Fields Best,an organic produce vendor at Milwaukee Public Market (400 N. Water St.). Build your own organic salad from a list of locally grown ingredients – from field greens and cherry tomatoes to bell peppers and asparagus – and watch the colorful toss take shape. Add chicken, sesame salmon or black beans for protein. It’s like detox in a bowl.

You could put your GPS system to the test. Or dive into Okauchee Lake and ask a bikini-clad beauty for help finding Aliota’s Hideaway (N55 W34657 Road E, Oconomowoc). This friendly little bar really lives up to its name. It’s on a winding, narrow, dead-end back road. But it’s worth the search for its great homemade sandwiches and Friday fish fry. The chicken ranch with bacon and cheese is big enough for two and the onion rings are the large old-fashioned crunchy kind. Best known for its annual bikini contest – recommended enthusiastically even by women.

Crafty Revolution
It’s not your grandmother’s craft fair. Trading in the crocheted pot-holders and knit socks of old for pillowcase skirts and handcrafted driftwood pens, the semiannual Art vs. Craftfairhas helped Milwaukee join the hip world of “indie craft.” In an attempt to create a counter economy of goods direct from the creative source, 100 vendors from across the country come to sell their recycled household items, contemporary jewelry, inimitable clothing and affordable fine art. Co-creator Faythe Levine says these fairs, held at such venues as Turner Hall and Milwaukee School of Engineering, represent “the new wave of craft.”

Fried Green Tomatoes
There are uses for everything, including unripe tomatoes. Dip them in buttermilk, then dredge in cornmeal or flour and hand them over to a skillet filled with oil. Fried until
the batter is a golden, crisp shell, this pale fruit should yield to the fork, but not spill out pulp and seeds. It does all those things at Maxie’s Southern Comfort(6732 W. Fairview Ave.). Served with a tangy rémoulade that smacks of the Big Easy.

Writer Mill
Judy Bridges founded Redbird Studio(3195 S. Superior St.)in 1993 with a handful of writers who wanted the benefit of her honest critiques. In the ensuing 14 years, more than 6,000 authors of all ages and experience levels have developed their skills through Redbird programs, such as “Shut up and Write!,” a workshop for beginners that meets eight times for three hours ($345). Novelist Shauna Singh Baldwin is perhaps Redbird’s most famous alumna. She, novelist Elaine Bergstrom and poet Marilyn Taylor sometimes serve as instructors.

Test of Wits
Leave your Styrofoam model of the solar system at home. To win the custom-built first-place trophy at the Cedar Blockproduction company’s Weird Science program – a science fair with a sense of whimsy – participants have to tackle questions that have perplexed scientists for centuries. Like, “Do vegans have a sense of humor?” or “Does the Nintendo Power Pad make you smarter?” Started in 2005 by WMSE-FM promotions director Brent Gohde, Cedar Block organizes events at various locations to showcase the ingenuity and artistry of, shucks, ordinary Milwaukeeans.

Local Dog Site offers the latest social events for dog enthusiasts and their four-legged friends, as well as product reviews, local classes, pet services, coupons and entertaining dog-related articles like “What your dog’s breed says about you.” There’s a regular feature on celebrities and their dogs – recent installments feature WKLH-FM radio DJ Marilyn Mee and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. But be warned, if you love a specific breed, you could lose a day looking at the photos of rescued pups looking for a home.

Bacon Blowout
Comet Cafe (1947 N. Farwell Ave.) chef/owner Adam Lucks has redefined the notion of bringing home the bacon. Since July 2005, Lucks has been simmering a city secret – customers who order a beer after 5 p.m. on Sunday nights are privy to free pork.

“We serve baskets of bacon starting at 5 p.m. until we run out,” says Lucks, who estimates that Comet serves about 60 pounds of free bacon on an average Sunday.

In July 2007, Comet hit a memorable milestone, serving 2,000 pounds of the stuff. Adds Lucks: “We’ll keep bringing it to you until you say, ‘no more.’ ”

Cocktail Garnish
Not enough sting in your shot? Consider a corn-fed, edible scorpion. Yes, you can actually get them at Bad Genie Rock Lounge(789 N. Jefferson St.). Owner Joe Zanotti says these inch-long scorpions are packed in vodka and shipped directly to him from California. While patrons can order one of these stinger-free beauties ($4 a pop) in any shot du jour, Zanotti says Patrón tequila is the most popular pairing.

Free Air Show
Tailgating isn’t the only way to have fun in a parking lot. Check out the patch of asphalt just north of General Mitchell International Airport. Here you’ll find the Observation Area (south of Layton Avenue between Brust and Logan avenues; open 7 a.m. to 10 p.m.), which is just yards away from the end of runway 19R. When planes use it, you can practically touch their wingtips and smell the smoke puffs kicked up on touchdown. You can even tune your radio to hear the fast-paced chatter between pilots and air traffic controllers.

Banana Seat Bijou
For the past two summers, Milwaukeeans have snapped on their helmets, rolled up their pants and pedaled to the Marsupial Bridge Media Garden for bike-in movies. Presented under the bridge at dusk every second Friday of the month by the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin,the bicycle-themed big-screen action is boffo. Particularly popular is the annual Bicycle Short Film Fest, which features more than 30 local and national films. BYO bike and some spirits to the third season, which runs May through August 2008.

Best New View
Circling the deck of Discovery World’s Pilot Housegives you a 360-degree panorama of Milwaukee’s very best features: the Summerfest grounds, the Downtown skyline, the Gold Coast high-rises, McKinley Marina, the winged Calatrava, the landscaped terrain of Veteran’s Park, the silver-blue waters of Lake Michigan. It’s an unmatched sightline from the city’s newest man-made wonder.

Multitasking Girls’ Night Out
With demanding schedules and filled-to-the-brim date books, today’s ladies need to pack the most they can into a night on the town. At Fred Boutique’s Wine Night(524 N. Water St.), you can get tipsy, find a cute top, get a mini-massage, pamper your hands with a paraffin hot wax treatment and get your eyebrows plucked, all in one stop. The amenities are free, the clothes affordable. Last Thursday of every month, 6-10 p.m.

Singing Telegram
There’s a lot of speculation and a fair amount of smack-talking around town about who does Milwaukee’s ultimate singing telegram. Talk is cheap. We decided to settle it once and for all. We brought in the top contenders to victimize our interns so we could sit back and compare. We witnessed acts that ran the gamut from entertaining to embarrassing to downright awkward – sometimes in the same performance. When the balloons finally cleared, we were unanimous. The guitar-playing Pink Gorilla from Sing A Song Telegram(414-447-7767) is the undisputed chimp, er, champ.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Combo
The perfect companion to the dark-chocolate mint meltaways at Northern Chocolate(2036 N. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.) are the milk chocolate-peanut butter meltaways: creamy, slightly crunchy and utterly delicious.

Cheese Flight
Say hello to the world of exotic cheeses at Winestein’s Cafe & Wine Market(W359 N5002 Brown St., Oconomowoc), where every Tuesday is Cheese Flight Night. For a mere $9, you can sample three of the world’s top cheeses. Choose a blue, creamy or textured cheese flight or mix and match. You’ll find Wisconsin’s own Carr Valley Menage and exotics like Spanish petite basque (normally $16/lb.) and Germany’s Cambozola triple-cream blue ($15.50/lb.) alongside old standards like Italy’s Parmigiano Reggiano.

Art Farmer
Some grow corn, some alfalfa. Artist Paul Bobrowitz Jr., located in farm country near Hwy. Q in Waukesha County, grows art, with hundreds of metal sculptures, whimsical and refined, miniature and humongous. They spring from his backyard and sprout from the side of his house: a banjo-strumming pig of rusted iron, a peacock fashioned out of a French horn, a weather vane made of stainless steel and balanced by a huge rock. It’s a dreamland you have to see to believe.

Foam Rubber
Venerable Foam Rubber Products(1423 S. Second St.) opened in 1926. It’s the only place in town that can cut a custom-made piece of foam rubber of any width, length and thickness you want. Great for campers, anyone with a lumpy bed and fetishists.

Substitute for a Midday Beer
Your eyes say it’s a pint of Hefeweizen, right down to the amber color, foamy head and that fresh lemon slice. But truth is in the taste buds, and they tell a different story. Brew City Gold isn’t beer, but the signature drink at Brew City Tea in the Third Ward (140 N. Jefferson St.). Poured over ice, it’s a little tart, a little sweet and completely refreshing – the afternoon answer to those pesky workplace rules precluding beer on the job. And at just $3, you’ll have cash left over for happy hour.

Musical Mash-up
Local band Beatallica’s hilarious blend of Beatles tunes played in the style of Metallica is done so well that Sony/ATV Music Publishing, which owns a large amount of the Beatles catalog, sent the local quartet a cease-and-desist order. But Metallica’s drummer, Lars Ulrich, a fan, stood up for the little guys and helped defuse the situation with the record giant. Beatallica released its side-splitting, head-banging mop-topped debut LP, Sgt. Hetfield’s Motorbreath Pub Band, in July without the threat of being crushed by lawsuits.

Pizza by the Slice
Beauty comes in all sizes. But in slice-’o-pizza land, bigger is better. Consider all 12-by-6 inches of Classic Slice pizza (2797 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.). Not a whole pie, mind you. One slice.A slice so big, it could shield a small child. A pie for serious by-the-slice eaters, Classic Slice’s pizza tops a bewitching medium-thick crust with tomato sauce, cheese and anything else (even tofu) that strikes your fancy.

Antiques Auctioneer
When Al Schrager started selling antiques, Milwaukee’s hoity-toity shopped on lower Broadway. Now, they shop the Internet, and Schrager, who owns Schrager Auction Galleries (2195 N. Sherman Blvd.) sells there ( With a career that has spanned nearly 75 years, more of the area’s fine antiques have passed through Schrager’s hands than anyone’s. Now in his 90s and as sharp as ever, the bow-tied auctioneer is still the go-to guy for the big banks’ trust departments when there’s an estate to liquidate.

Touring Show
The Milwaukee Art Museum’sstunning exhibition of the furniture, decorative objects and fine art from the Biedermeier period (1815-1830) toured to Berlin and Vienna and wowed the critics, earning splashy features and high praise from publications in Germany and Austria.

YouTube Video
It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s … beer cans?! Proving the infinite power of the brew in our town, Miller Brewing’s Milwaukee’s Best Light brand has put its can-hurling device to work in aBeer Cannon Montagevideo. Watch in slow motion as everything from a television set to a cantaloupe gets smashed to the booming music of Tchaikovsky’s “1812 Overture.” Heady stuff.”lmBRZ7UR3Rw

Carefree Commute
Cutting through the Menomonee Valley, Canal Street is a meditative remove from the commuter grind. Beginning at its western edge, Miller Park, it takes 10 minutes to get to the Milwaukee River. Truants from the rat race follow the curve of the Menomonee River, gliding at 30 mph past open fields, manufacturing plants, a pizza factory, a casino and the future Harley museum – a tour of the past, present and coming attractions. Best of all, it’s minimally traveled. And that’s the Zen-like contradiction: The quickest way seems the slowest. Out of the

Blue Music Bookings
Scanning the event calendar for Stonefly Brewery (735 E. Center St.) has been known to cause sudden shock. More often than not, tucked between a thick padding of decent-but-missable acts, is a band that you’d be lucky to see anywhere. Battles, Annuals, Akron/Family, The Walkmen and Deerhoof have all torn it up in this little gem of a brewhouse for carefully reading audiences of discerning musical taste.

Finger-licking Food
Forget what Mom told you, eating with your fingers is not only polite at Ethiopian Cottage(1824 N. Farwell Ave.); it’s part of the experience. The restaurant serves delicious spicy stews made from meats and exotic vegetables on top of stretchy, crepe-like, flat bread. The bread, known as injera, is used in combination with the fingers to mop up the stews. It’s a lot of fun, but messy
as anything.

Tiki Drinks
Hawaii may be more than 4,000 miles away, but at The Foundation (2718 N. Bremen St.), the tropical concoctions will make you think you’re lounging on Waikiki Beach. Whichever of the 20 Tiki drinks you choose, from the signature mai tai ($6) to the flaming Volcano Bowl ($14), expect fruit, a decorative umbrella and a newfound Aloha attitude.

Funky Gift Aisle
From a Dale Evans lunchbox to a fly-swatter clock, the gift aisle at Beans & Barley(1901 E. North Ave.) has you covered with anything-but-bland gifts. Choose from a Grow Your Own Personal Trainer doll that expands in water, mooing cow key chains, Sherlock Holmes finger puppets or a birthday cake wind-up toy that skates across the surface in celebration. Forget gift cards; this is much more fun.

Boutique Wine Dealer
Looking for a nice bottle of Ripple or a prechilled box of blush? Try Smiles Liquor on Wells Street. But if you’re looking for something exotic, like a fabulous Argentinian Malbec or a vintage from a small Champagne house, Waterford Wine Co.(1327 E. Brady St.) is your stop. Many of the store’s diverse and outstanding labels are priced for everyday consumption (from $5), but you’ll also find wines to tuck away in the cellar for your deathbed (topping out at $525).

Green Milwaukee Magazine
Breakaway Bicycle Courier (224 W. Wells St., Suite A) For nearly a decade, these intrepid traffic dodgers have been keeping Downtown businesses connected via the power of the pedal. The only CO2 emissions here come from the lungs of the winded riders.

Greening Milwaukee (1313 W. Mount Vernon Ave.) This nonprofit group seeks to turn Milwaukee into an “urbanforest” by donating trees to homeowners, community groups and schools that agree to learn about tree planting, care and maintenance techniques. You can almost hear the city breathe a little easier.

Milwaukee Biodiesel Co-op (2352 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) As the search continues for the solution to America’s energy worries, this Bay View-based group offers a tasty alternative. Simply fill up your retrofitted diesel car with recycled vegetable oil – from a solar-powered pump, of course – and lower your car’s emissions by up to 60 percent. We always knew fried food would someday save the world.

Y-Tech (161 W. Wisconsin Ave., Suite 4000) E-waste, including junked computers, has become the fastest-growing segment of our nation’s waste stream. Y-Tech, part of the YMCA Community Development Center, takes used computers from area businesses and puts them in the hands of schools and underserved residents. l

Media Winners & Losers
Most Improved Critic: Always a witty stylist, Milwaukee Journal SentinelTV critic Joanne Weintraub once seemed tentative while analyzing a show’s strengths and weaknesses. Over the years, she has gotten stronger at pure criticism, and now deftly combines smart reviews with strong social commentary on entertainment trends.

Funniest Columnist:The Journal Sentinel’s Jim Stingl is OK at human interest columns, but frankly Jim, the funny ones keep us coming back. Lots of good puns (adding chorizo to Miller Park’s sausage race is “an inside-the-pork home run”), droll local humor (on a badly leaking sewage drain: “Where are the sewer Socialists when we need them?”) and fun wordplay (the public museum’s show of plastic-covered dead bodies “puts the ewww in education”). Gets us right in the funny bone.

Dullest Columnist: Great columnists offer memorable turns of phrase or an original point of view. The Journal Sentinel’s Mike Nichols rarely does either.

Dullest Anonymous Columnist: The journalistic equivalent of wallpaper, the weekly Shepherd Expresscolumn “Expresso” is beyond boring. Does anyone actually read this? Small wonder no writer takes credit for it.

Conservative Blog (Amateur): Other right-wing blogs may be wittier or intellectually deeper, but Boots & Sabers combines an informed, newsy style with lots of posts and links to news with an engaged readership. Reader comments (which B&Slabels “spurs” in the military fetishism that characterizes the Web site of old college roomies Owen Robinson of West Bend and Jed Dorman of College Station, Tex.) further enriches the experience.

Liberal Blog (Amateur): Jay Bullock’s folkbum’s rambles and rants has some of the same characteristics as B&S(“my sworn nemesis” Bullock writes, tongue in cheek): frequent, usually pithy posts, lots of links and a knack for stimulating reader comments. Bullock’s interests, from music to education, help engage us, and he gets the “regular guy” tone just right. l

Blueberry Flapjacks
Sometimes, we at Milwaukee Magazinehave to be realistic and admit that others are far more qualified to judge something than we are. This year, when we decided to find the best blueberry pancakes in town, it was a no-brainer. We called in members of a small-yet-hardy sect that know the fruit of the griddle the way fish know water: lumberjacks. Our log-rolling, tree-felling, ax-swinging panel sawed through stacks of the area’s best flapjacks with iron-jawed determination.

The Panel:
Shana Martin, 27, Madison – Log rolling and boom running
Tom McMenamin, 43, Milwaukee – Double buck (team sawing)
Jeff Schaut, 51, Milwaukee – Double buck team sawing)
Nancy Zalewski, 38, Manitowoc – 2007
Lumberjack World Championships Women’s Overall Champion.

The Rankings:
1. Heinemann’s(multiple locations)
2. Beans & Barley(1901 E. North Ave.)
3. George Webb Restaurant(multiple locations)
4. Hotch-A-Do(1813 E. Kenilworth Pl.)
5. The Original Pancake House(2621 N. Downer Ave.; 16460 W. Bluemound Rd., Brookfield) l

Hall of Fame
Peter Sciortino’s Bakery: Have you ever gazed into the glass case at this icon on Brady Street? Heaven goes by names like amaretti, biscotti and tutu. Sciortino’s Italian cookies are legendary, but they’re not all this bakery does well. There are wonderful cannolis – fried pastry shells with a sweetened ricotta cheese filling – and crusty loaves of Italian bread studded with sesame seeds. Sciortino’s is a timeless and delicious reminder of our city’s immigrant past.

Bob Uecker
Sure, he had more hits as an actor than a catcher (career batting average: .200). But the beloved Voice of the Milwaukee Brewers certainly earned his spot in the National Baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster’s wing. We just hope Mr. Baseball’s induction speech for our Best Of Hall is half as funny as the 2003 stand-up act he delivered in Cooperstown. “I’ve set records that will never be equaled,” Uecker said. “Ninety percent I hope are never printed.”

Oriental Theatre
It’s 80 years old now, one of few remaining movie palaces of its kind. The minaret towers outside define it as a landmark, the gilded Buddhas, lions and elephants inside give you something to gawk at before the previews. Even divided into three auditoriums, it spurns the herd mentality of multiplex theaters, emphasizing provocative independent and foreign films. Coolest idiosyncrasies: The glowing green eyes and red jewel in the forehead of a Buddha. And the pipe organ performances on Fridays and Saturdays before the 7 p.m. shows.

Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops
First opened in 1927, the family-owned store was a fixture at Fifth and Wisconsin, and now operates at several locations. In a world of chain bookstores, Schwartz’s is a rarity, an independent bookseller with a smart selection of books, great service provided by people who love books, and a strong connection to the community – cemented by its book readings, author appearances and a “Gives Back” charity program.

There’s not a family-owned company this side of the big pond that keeps sausage feinschmeckers (gourmets) as satisfied as Usinger’s. Just walking into its cute retail shop on Old World Third Street brings you a blast from the past. Crafting 70 varieties of old-world style sausage,
Usinger’s keeps Milwaukee anchored to its German
heritage by offering the best
of the wurst.l

Sports Bars
Green Bay Packers

Best bar to watch the Pack? OK, maybe there’s more than one, but consider Rookies Sports Club (3915 S. Howell Ave.), where the only flashy thing is a string of light-up football helmets. But was Lombardi flashy? Is Lambeau Field fancy? No, and no. Rookies is a workaday joint in a workaday neighborhood, which is exactly what you want for a workaday team. Oh, and they give out free shots when the Pack scores a TD.

Milwaukee Bucks/Milwaukee Admirals
When the Admirals made their recent Calder Cup runs, Major Goolsby’s (340 W. Kilbourn Ave.) ranneth over with hockey hopes. And maybe if Yi Jianlian had stopped at Goolsby’s, he’d have lowered his Great Wall of Resentment against Milwaukee much sooner. After all, the good folks at Sports Illustratednamed it America’s fourth-best sports bar in 2005. Goolsby’s has more televisions than Rent-A-Center, so catching a game is never a problem. But don’t be afraid to spend time staring at the walls, too, where there’s a veritable almanac of the area’s sports history.

Milwaukee Brewers
Friday’s Front Row Sports Grill, Miller Park. You’ll find Brewers bars galore nearMiller Park, but it’s hard to beat a place that’s actually inMiller Park. So yes, Friday’s has the ultimate unfair advantage – namely, a view of left field. And while that view costs a few fastball’s worth of Jeff Suppan’s salary on game days (bring some C-notes), there’s no premium charge when the Brew Crew’s on the road. So go on – order an extra rack of ribs.

Named for the fabled stadium that housed Arsenal, one of the most storied British soccer clubs, The Highbury Pub(2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.) is Milwaukee’s home for the Beautiful Game. Doors open early (as in rooster early) so patrons can watch live matches in Europe. Clubs from around the world are celebrated on the walls. And customers aren’t shy about screaming their support. But don’t worry – soccer riots are discouraged.

UWM Panthers
Harry’s Bar & Grill (3549 N. Oakland Ave.) doesn’t scream sports bar when you walk in – more like martini bar, with fancy art on the walls and $10 appetizers on the menu. But folks at UWM say if a road game’s on TV, this is the gathering place. And if the Panthers are at home, teams gather here, too.

Wisconsin Badgers
Badger games aren’t the only big things at Leff’s Lucky Town(7208 W. State St.). Wait ’til you stand before the Shrek-sized urinal. Leff’s (and its urinal) is packed on game days, yet there are always good views of the well-positioned plasmas.

Marquette University
McGuire. Majerus. Wade. Crean. See their pictures on the wall; feel their spirit in the air. On game days, Marquette students turn the Union Sports Annex (804 N. 16th St.) into another Bradley Center, right down to the big-screen TV on the basketball court that’s in spitting distance of the bar. Feel like bowling? That’s here, too. But don’t leave before finding the pic of a young Rick Majerus in his plaid pants. That alone is worth the trip.