Here's Our Travel Guide to This Nation of Over 7,000 Islands
Honey Creek Parkway
Blue's sets the standard for breakfast and brunch in Milwaukee, so it's only appropriate that they have a killer Bloody too. The homemade mix is well-balanced with spices. If you want to veg it up a little, opt for the veggie-infused vodka option. It's garnished with a crispy slice of bacon and always comes with a High Life shorty.
There are two different kinds of bloodies at Engine Company 3: a standard, acceptable version with homemade mix and topped with loads of pickled veggies, or the El Bombero, a spicy, smoky bloody made with tequila, roasted tomatoes and chipotle puree. I think the choice is pretty clear.
You have options at Buckley's. You can get their homemade bloody mix with either bacon and peppercorn-infused vodka, or a ridiculously spicy version with habanero, serrano, jalapeño and garlic-infused vodka. If you love spice but just can't pass up bacon, get the Half and Half bloody, which combines them both for that sweet spot of spice and pork.
4th Base is kind of a crazy, make-your-own-adventure steakhouse sports bar. There are no menus -- they just make you whatever you want to eat. The Bloody Mary, however, is constant. The homemade mix is made before your eyes, so you can customize it how you like. It's topped with fresh veggies and a mound of deep-fried haystack onions. And your chaser? It's a full pint of beer.
You probably think of the Miller Time Pub for beer (if you even think of it at all). But the Bloodies here are classic in flavor: just a little spicy, just a little sweet, and with plenty of tang. They up the competition on garnishes with a jalapeño popper, along with the standards like celery and pickle. They have won many Bloody Mary competition events over the years, but they still fly under the radar.
If you can’t decide on a drink from the 30+ page beer menu, then pick from the Bloody Mary list. It’ll narrow your choices down to eight. Cafe Benelux has different garnishes and types of alcohol, from local Kinnickinnic whiskey, to chipotle and horseradish-infused vodka. The Southsider is a classic with peppercorn-infused vodka, the savory house mix, extra hot sauce, and jalapeño-stuffed olives. It’s got just enough kick to wake you up in the morning.
This hopping bar has people clamoring for its Bloodys almost as much as its burgers. It goes through 10 gallons of its Bloody mix on Sundays, and with its generous vodka pours, that's roughly a metric ton of drinks. It’s easy to see why though: The mix is thick, smooth, and balanced with just enough tang. The squishy ball of fresh mozzarella and crispy slice of bacon help offset the abundant vodka.
This bar is connected to a popular wine and liquor store, and it serves homemade Bloodys on weekends with chasers you can choose from its taps. The mix includes a hefty amount of hot sauce, pickle juice, and the secret ingredient (shhh!) lemon pepper, which gives it an extra citrus punch.
A Bloody this good deserves a regal goblet. The mix includes Clamato juice, but don’t worry, it doesn’t impart fishiness like you’d expect. What it does do is lighten the mix so you can drink more than one of these behemoths, and you’ll want to. Who knew a Bloody Mary could be so refreshing? The large glass has plenty of room for a substantial garnish of a full beef stick, string cheese, and best of all, homemade pickled red potato. This is an Irish pub and inn after all.
You might just ignore the lounge and bar in the lobby of this storied hotel, but this bar has a secret named Valerie. She’s been perfecting her Bloody recipe behind the bar here for over 30 years, and it shows. It’s got just the right blend of spices without being overpowering, and lots of citrus to brighten it up. Sometimes, there’s a habanero-infused mix, and if you’re a fan of heat, don’t miss that one. Dip the large chilled shrimp in your drink, and you won’t need that overpriced shrimp cocktail at dinner.
The Bloody Mary at the bar inside the Iron Horse Hotel is just as bold as its Harley-riding clientele. It’s got a lot going on, including horseradish, steak sauce, and Guinness in an assertive mix with lots of spices floating around in it. Sundays during brunch there’s a Bloody Mary cart that rolls around, spreading joy in the form of vodka and beef sticks.
1. Blue's Egg317 N 76th St, Milwaukee
2. Engine Company No. 3217 W National Ave, Milwaukee
3. Buckley's Restaurant & Bar801 N Cass St, Milwaukee
4. 4th Base5117 W National Ave, West Milwaukee
5. Cafe Benelux346 N Broadway, Milwaukee
6. Oscar's Pub & Grill1712 W Pierce St, Milwaukee
7. Ray’s Growler Gallery and Wine Bar8930 W. North Ave, Milwaukee
8. County Clare Irish Inn & Pub1234 N Astor St, Milwaukee
9. Lobby Lounge at the Pfister424 E Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
10. Smyth500 W Florida St, Milwaukee
11. Miller Time Pub & Grill509 W Wisconsin Ave, Milwaukee
No matter what time of day you visit Blue’s Egg (well, it’s only open afternoons), there’s going to be a wait. An acronym for breakfast, lunch, in an urban environment and everyone’s good graces, Blue’s Egg offers Milwaukee diners glimpses of European breakfast or lunch menus with dishes like creamy polenta with poached eggs, roasted mushrooms, braised kale, and fonduta cheese, the Dubliner Benedict with corned beef, creamy leeks, rye toast, and paprika aioli, and a Hoppel Poppel, consisting of scrambled eggs, cream, sausage, bacon, caramelized onion, shredded potatoes, spinach, hollandaise, and toast. Fill your daytime meal cravings and put all of your eggs in Blue’s basket.
Put out your burning desire for brunch at this renovated two-floor firehouse in Walker's Point, where breakfast and lunch take a tour around the world in specialty dishes hailing from Wisconsin to France to South Africa. Surrounded by exposed brick, firehoses, and vintage photos, try plates like smoked Hungarian sausage, quiche Lorraine, and Colombian patacon con huevo. The international dishes tend to change based on the availability of their seasonal ingredients, but you can bet that the ever-popular weekend brunch menu will feature plenty of rich and fluffy pancakes -- sometimes blueberry, sometimes s'mores. No matter what, you'll want to test your spice tolerance with the signature El Bombero Bloody Mary.
Cozy up inside small neighborhood bistro Buckley's for comfort food with a refined twist -- from croque-monsieur for brunch to banh mi for lunch to cornish hen for dinner. You can even start your day with Buckley's upscale take on pop tarts: fresher, (way) less-processed versions of the beloved pastries of your childhood, served with sweet seasonal fillings and fresh berries. Fans swear by the grilled Kettle Range beef burger, too, topped with American cheese, house pickles, shredded lettuce, and Thousand Island on a toasted bun. Expertly crafted cocktails are poured behind a 19th-century wooden bar plucked from an NYC pub.
Located in West Milwaukee, 4th Base is a your classic sports bar, decked out with memorabilia and TVs -- except it branches out with its food offerings, serving everything from ham sandwiches to lobster. There's no food menu either. Instead, you pick what you want from a cooler and tell the staff how you'd like it prepared. Get ready to peak: this may very well be the best (OK, and priciest) bar food you'll ever eat.
Café Benelux is a microcosm of the joy and vivacity characteristic of Europe's Low Countries. Like cafés in the real Benelux cities, this Third Ward spot gives equal play to coffee and beer, plus daily breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For lunch, try cheese curd-stuffed spiced bitterballen meatballs with curry ketchup or a plate of mussels provençal. Wash it down with one of the 30 beers on tap, and if you’re feeling especially ambitious, set your mouth afire with one of the infamous Benelux Bloody Marys. We suggest the Milwaukeean with bacon, cheese curd, and horseradish.
From the quintessential pub ambience (embossed tin ceiling, neon signs ablaze with familiar beer logos, chalkboard specials, and a warm, cabin-like back dining room) to the creative burger offerings, this is a go-to for those craving a hearty bite in the Mitchell Park area. Regulars flock here for signature dishes like The Big O, a bold Black Angus burger with chipotles, smoked Gouda, hickory bacon, onions, house guacamole, and jalapeños. If you appreciate the spicier things in life, we suggest you try the house Bloody Mary -- in addition to the regular garnishes, it’s finished off with a pearl of fresh mozzarella and a slice of bacon, proving that you can have it all.
Ray’s Growler Gallery and Wine Bar features beers and wines not readily found elsewhere, meaning brewery-only releases, special selections not found in bottles, or beer made exclusively for Ray’s. If you prefer grapes to wheat, you’ll dive headfirst into the wine program of over 14 sparkling, rosé, white, and red varietals. Clink your glasses on the full-service patio and snack on sliders and desserts from the visiting food trucks.
County Clare's Bloody deserves a regal goblet. The mix includes Clamato juice, but don’t worry, it doesn’t impart fishiness like you’d expect. What it does do is lighten the mix so you can drink more than one of these behemoths, and you’ll want to. Who knew a Bloody Mary could be so refreshing? The large glass has plenty of room for a substantial garnish of a full beef stick, string cheese, and best of all, homemade pickled red potato. This is an Irish pub and inn after all.
If you find yourself wandering around Downtown looking for a cocktail spot, head to the Lobby Lounge in the historic Pfister Hotel. Established in 1893, the hotel is a relic of the Gilded Age, with ornate gold-leaf crown molding, antique grandfather clocks, and the largest Victorian art collection of any hotel in the world. Enjoy a cocktail at the Lobby Lounge, where large upholstered sofas and armchairs are accompanied by live piano music. Beverages and light appetizers -- like tomato soup, crab croquettes, and truffle Parmesan chips -- are served here, including the Milwaukee favorite Pfister Mary, with premium vodka, house-made Bloody Mary mix, and rotating garnishes like lemons, limes, and even shrimp.
Smyth is located in the Iron Horse, a hotel frequented by Harley-Davidson riders who visit the museum just down the street. The American restaurant focuses on regional fare and sources many of its veggies and herbs from nearby Willow Farm, meaning menu options are seasonal and produce is always fresh. Stop by on Sundays for the Great Northern Brunch, a buffet teeming with favorites inspired by locations on the American trail from Washington to Maine. On offer are clam chowder, frittatas, short rib, potato au gratin, and, of course, almost bottomless mimosas (three per person).
It's Miller Time. No, really, it's time to hit up this handsome brick-walled pub that's serving the Milwaukee-born beer plus lesser-known craft brews from Wisconsin and otherwise. There are plenty of standard sandwiches and pub entrées (like fish & chips made with Miller High Life beer-battered cod), but you should go for one of the iconic burgers, composed of freshly ground beef patties and served with shoestring fries. Try the Juicy Lucy, the Minnesota classic featuring a double patty stuffed with a cheese and butter blend. As the menu advises (you'll find an expert beer pairing underneath each item), you'd be wise to pair it with a Smithwick's Irish Ale.