PufferFish Tiki Bar Is Coming to Hotel Metro’s Rooftop

After hosting a one-night pop-up, the tiki concept begins a summer (into fall) residency as the hotel’s rooftop patio bar.

From 2020 until well into 2021, PufferFish Tiki Bar brought the mystique of tiki to the patio of Bay View’s Lost Whale (2151 S. Kinnickinnic Ave.), creating a respite of sorts from the worries of the world. After it closed, the PufferFish team hosted a series of popups, most recently at MARN Art + Culture Hub in the Third Ward. Now the tiki concept is popping up yet again – but with more longevity.  

On June 10 (4 p.m.-midnight), PufferFish will do a one-night popup on the rooftop patio of Hotel Metro (411 E. Mason St.). Co-creator JC Cunningham plans to serve a drink menu combining classics (such as the mai tai and zombie) and new school cocktails. Hotel Metro chef Aaron Miles is creating a small plates menu to complement the drinks.

Consider that popup night the bar’s “official coming-out party,” says Cunningham.

Starting June 23, PufferFish will take residency on the Metro rooftop with weekly hours that run through mid-October. Hours will be Thurs-Fri 4 p.m.-midnight; Sat 2 p.m.-midnight.; Sun noon-8 p.m. Just like at the pop-up, a menu of small plates will be available along with a selection of cocktails.

Cunningham calls the vibe a tropical escape with a mid-century modern backdrop. As they’ll be building PufferFish at Hotel Metro as they go, “every time guests come up, it will be something new,” he says.

Think of PufferFish as the city’s evolving tiki bar. Summer can start right now, as far as I’m concerned.

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Ann Christenson has covered dining for Milwaukee Magazine since 1997. She was raised on a diet of casseroles that started with a pound of ground beef and a can of Campbell's soup. Feel free to share any casserole recipes with her.