Bay View bar guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on March 25, 2019 at 6:01 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.
"Bar Month" at OnMilwaukee is brought to you by Miller Brewing Company, calling Milwaukee home since 1855. For the entire month of March, we're serving up fun articles on bars, clubs and beverages – including guides, the latest trends, bar reviews, the results of our Best of Bars poll and more. Grab a designated driver and dive in!
Bay View has certainly come a long ways since its days as "the other East Side." The Milwaukee neighborhood has grown and evolved into one of the city's hottest spots – especially for a night out on the town. And with bars sprawled all the way down the main Kinnickinnic Avenue drag – as well as spread out along side routes as well – there's plenty of room for adventuring and finding your new favorite watering holes in hiding.
No wonder it's been named by OnMilwaukee readers as the best bar district in the city for four straight years.
To help you on your next drinking expedition, here's a guide to the Bay View bars – from newcomers to neighborhood classics, hipster hideaways and beloved local landmarks.
2501 S. Delaware Ave., (414) 481-8030
At Random is a quiet and dimly-lit bar with decor stuck in the '60s, prodigious ice cream-based drinks and plenty of attitude. Of course, you can also have more typical cocktails, wine and beer, but who can pass up a cozy booth, an astonishing Tiki Love Bowl and two straws?
182 E. Lincoln Ave., (414) 483-2752
Don't be scared off by the bizarre sign out front, featuring a diapered infant in a military helmet and chomping a cigar: Baby Boomers is a classic un-frills Milwaukee dive, featuring cheap food and drinks accompanied by rich conversation with the locals wanting a drink off the bustling main drag. A perfect stop for any one, from millennials to ... well, you know.
2155 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 751-4087
The Backyard is as cozy and comfortable as hanging out in, well, your own backyard. The inside is a homey place to grab a drink and watch the games, but the obvious draw is the backyard itself, a wide open-air porch area that's both dog-friendly and grill-friendly – with three sizzling grills awaiting whatever tasty sausages and cuts of meats you may conveniently have on you.
Bay Street Pub
338 E. Bay St., (414) 744-4141
If you're crawling your way down KK, well, good luck to you. But make sure to stop at arguably the first stop along the way: Bay Street Pub, a classic neighborhood tap tucked away just off the main drag. Chat with the regulars inside – and maybe you'll become a regular, too.
Bay View Bowl
2416 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 483-0950
Yes, it's a bowling alley, but BVB also holds its own as a bar. With super-cheap taps of ice-cold beer, as well as famous Bloody Mary's, owners Mike and Andrea will treat you right. Just don't ask them to turn down the Cheap Trick.
3007 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 486-1344
Blackbird opened in the former Groove space in late 2008 and, in just over a decade, has quickly become a Bay View mainstay on the far south end of Kinnickinnic. The bar takes it old school with old time video game cabinets, board games and a pinball league. Come on Thursdays for Team Trivia, join the Wisconsin Beer Club and drink your way through the state, or just merely enjoy a brew and some convo in a cozy environment.
3158 S. Howell Ave., (414) 482-4941
Just don't call it a water fountain. Good beer, good service and good prices – plus, Vinchi's Pizza is served in-house, so there are plenty of goodies to nosh on while you drink and watch the games on one of the bar's HDTVs.
2599 S. Logan Ave., (414) 294-0490
Loyal customers of this neighborhood icon will tell you anytime what they love about their local bar. Pool and shuffleboard in the back, Burnhearts regularly has DJs, great drink specials, an extensive beer list and a hometown vibe. Happy hour is 3 to 7 p.m. every weekday, with $1 off all taps and $2 PBRs.
2496 S. Wentworth Ave., (414) 482-0160
The Cactus Club is a homey corner bar that welcomes a diverse crowd of alternative music fans. The expanded back room is the scene of regular gigs featuring a wide variety of live music by bands from Milwaukee and beyond.
Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery
2306 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 755-0377
Centraal Grand Cafe & Tappery more than filled the old open corner on Kinnickinnic and Lincoln Avenues, now a certified Bay View staple. Serving both lunch and dinner, the newly renovated and refreshed Centraal has a binder full of Belgian beers and taps and a long bar with plenty of room to sit down, relax and swig away the night.
2265 S. Howell Ave., (414) 294-5858
Cafe Lulu is known throughout Milwaukee for its scrumptious sandwiches, awesome Asian slaw and delicious homemade potato chips, but if you're looking for a liquid meal instead, the Bay View mainstay's bar can certainly provide as well, boasting an impressive beer and wine list – and making one heck of a Mojito.
2501 S. Superior St., (414) 483-6335
A remnant of Bay View's northern Italian community, the first such enclave in the city, Club Garibaldi – named for the great Italian patriot – is also a reminder of the many mutual aid societies that Italian-American communities founded throughout America. A friendly place with regular local gigs in the spacious back room, Club Garibaldi sits just across the Hoan Bridge making it a mere five-minute ride from Downtown.
Crabby's Bar & Grill
2113 E. Oklahoma Ave., (414) 769-9999
No reason to be crabby entering this Bay View mainstay. Originally named Francisco's, the bar and grill switched over to Crabby's two decades later due to its seafood-centric menu. But whether you're headed in for a dish or a drink – or why not both? – this neighborhood gem tucked away on the far end of Kinnickinnic is sure to put you in a good mood.
Enlightened Brewing Company
2018 S. 1st St., (414) 364-6225
It may just look like a big, cold warehouse space from the outside, but inside Enlightened Brewing Company is a warm, inviting tap room full of beer-minded friends and fans wanting to chat about their latest hoppy finds – and to try the latest concoctions from Enlightened's in-house brewery.
Frank's Power Plant
2800 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 763-1177
After a brief closure, a sale to a new owner and a bit of a refresh, Frank's Power Plant is back and plans to continue live music and add a bit of food to the mix, too. Read our story here.
The Highbury Pub
2322 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 294-4400
There still might not be a ton of soccer bars in Milwaukee (we're famously more of a football state than a futbol state) and until The Highbury, you certainly wouldn't find many in Bay View. But Joe Katz changed that when he opened the pub on KK. They focus on good beer and live music, and it's not hard to see the influence of Brady Street's popular Nomad World Pub at this uber-cool bar, just south of Lincoln. The premier place to watch the Premiership!
2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., (414) 446-3640
As you'd expect from the name, Kindred – housed in the former Down and Over Pub – is all about community and homey comfort (after all, it doesn't get much homey-er than a place with a micro-hotel upstairs). That extends to the restaurant, featuring sharable meals and a long communal table in the middle of the space, as well as the cozy bar serving modern twists on beloved classics.
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I was bummed to see Victoria's and Barnacle Bud's missing too. Still, a pretty good list.
Rocco's also has a brand spankin' new patio which we be open for dining and music wants the weather warms. It also has free live music Thurs. - Sat. New owners took over Feb. 1 and will bring drink specials and other surprises for the masses.
You forgot Baby Boomers. A family-run establishment with cheap drinks and a super good fish fry
This guide is missing many places in the heart of Bay View - Bay Street Pub, Gerry's Diamond Tap, Victoria's, Still Shakers, Home Bar, Bay View Sports Bar, The Backyard, even Barnacle Buds (technically a bar that serves food).
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