East Wauwatosa, from roughly the Menomonee River east to the border with Milwaukee, has grown into a worthy sibling to the Wauwatosa Village, the quaint, down-in-a-dell heart of the near suburb. Thanks to North Avenue, the pulse of East Tosa beats a little quicker. So let us cruise west down that very thoroughfare.
Map of East Tosa Hotspots
6538 W. North Ave.
Milwaukee’s leading chocolate mini-empire has three locations, including this one in East Tosa with Purple Door ice cream and fancy chocolatier-created toppings. Bar or no bar, Indulgence is hard to beat.
6600 W. North Ave.
Rustic-themed Camp Bar, home to “urban camping,” got some bad new recently. “Due to a recent objection from the health department, we can no longer have dogs inside of the building unless they are trained service animals,” says a sign attached to the Tosa location. Good dogs can still go on the outside patio, but if you’re desperate to mix fur and indoor refreshment, go to the Sip & Purr Cat Cafe on the East Side, where the cats are sequestered in a Cat Lounge.
6428 W. North Ave.
This is a cozy place, albeit with limited AC, with a long menu of breakfast and lunch enticements. The sandwiches are a Wisconsin-y mixture of meat and cheese, and you can get 12 oz of homemade chili for $6, which ain’t bad. Breakfast has pastries, a standard array of omelets, french toast, a croque madame-like sandwich and other rib-sticking food. If you go, check out the squid diorama.
6933 W. North Ave.
This Cedarburg brewery has 20 of its beers on tap in a simple, no frills bar attached to a small barrel-aging facility. Many of the beers are seasonal and organized into traditional, hoppy, adventurous (Divine Sanctuary is a Belgian style ale), barrel-aged and local series. Covered Bridge, available year-round, is brewed from all barley and hops grown in Wisconsin.
6901 W. North Ave.
Cranky Al’s pretends to be all about doughnuts, coffee and pizza, but it has a full breakfast menu: gobs of breakfast tacos, bagel sandwiches, quiche and breakfast pizza on the weekend. The long hours must be what makes Al Brkich cranky. If Seinfeld had taken place in Tosa, Jerry, Elaine, George, and Kramer would have eaten here on the regular.
6822 W. North Ave.
For about ten days after it opened in 2012, Rocket Baby was the best-kept secret in town. It specializes in a mixture of French pastry, traditional bread (especially sourdough) and more down-home items like monkey bread. You can also get a sandwich, some scrambled eggs or whatever bar is on special. Arrive early for the best selection and get ready to bump some elbows on weekend mornings.
7635 W. North Ave.
Part of Tosa’s sprawling municipal center, the Tosa Library is one of the best ones in the area. First, it’s rather large. Second, it scored well on the William H. Gass Quotient, an unscientific measure of a library (or bookstore’s) curatorial discernment. Gass, who died in 2017, was a famous but lower-profile writer, relative to his powers, and surprisingly easy to leave out of a collection. The Tosa Library has three Gass books, all fiction, which is a solid score.
8616 W. North Ave.
The weird thing about the 17-store chain of local Sendik’s groceries is that they look and feel like a pricier neighborhood store, and yet the prices aren’t bad. This one has ample liquor and sits next to Wisconsin Garden and Pet Supplies, which specializes in furred pets.
8930 W. North Ave.
Ray’s is another poorly kept secret. It’s basically a large neighborhood liquor store, but it’s so well put together you won’t have to check expiration dates on beers or brush the dust off a bottle of gin ever again. The merchandise just shines and chirps at you through multi-colored shelf talkers. While wine is the thing (including one $799 bottle), much liquor and beer surround the forest of bottles.
9125 W. North Ave.
It’s hard to recommend this one over the larger and newer one on 68th Street. But if you’re in the area, your choices for good coffee straight from a roaster are Colectivo or Colectivo.
More Notable East Tosa Spots
Ted’s Ice Cream and Restaurant, 6204 W. North Ave. Diner food delivered at an old-fashioned diner counter.
No. 1 Chinese Restaurant, 6119 W. North Ave. One of a handful of Chinese restaurants in East Tosa.
Creative Fire Pottery, 6427 W. North Ave. Pottery classes and gallery.
Wauwatiki Bar and Grill, 6502 W. North Ave. Tiki-themed bar with a full menu.
Hue Vietnamese Restaurant, 6519 W. North Ave. Vietnamese restaurant, pair to Hue in Bay View.
Great Taste Chinese, 6618 W. North Ave. Small Chinese restaurant.
Tosa Yoga Center, 6734 W. North Ave. Nice yoga storefront.
BelAir Cantina, 6817 W. North Ave. Tacos. BelAir was part of a surge in new interest in East Tosa.
Il Mito Trattoria e Enoteca, 6913 W. North Ave. Upscale rustic Italian restaurant.
Walters’ on North, 6930 W. North Ave. Relaxed tavern with pub food.
Famous Cigar, 7030 W. North Ave. Small smoke shop.
Chinese Pagoda, 7200 W. North Ave. Local Chinese standby.
Cosmos Cafe, 7203 W. North Ave. Quick, counter service Greek and Mediterranean fare.
Ono Kine Grindz, 7215 W. North Ave. Hawaiian food shop and caterer that has a large hot deli for takeout.
Tosa Bowl and Bun, 7212 W. North Ave. Sandwich and bowling emporium.
North Avenue Grill, 7225 W. North Ave. Classic, diner-style food.
Tosa Block Party, 7251 W. North Ave. A Lego-oriented business that offers a variety of parties and services.
Thai-namite, 8725 W. North Ave. Thai restaurant, sister to the location on Brady Street.