Take it outside: New Milwaukee patios for summer 2017
As sure as there’s a summer solstice, restaurants open new or upgraded patios every year.
Some new patios this year are tucked into courtyards for a bit of seclusion; built-in banquette seating is cropping up at several others. Those are things that help make patios feel like dining rooms, but ones in view of the sun and stars.
Beyond the dozen listed below, new or improved patios will keep rolling out this summer.
To name a few: The eagerly awaited rooftop deck at Good City Brewing, 2108 N. Farwell Ave., is due July 1, more evidence that Milwaukee is, ahem, elevating its patio game. The Ambassador Hotel, 2308 W. Wisconsin Ave., is expanding its patio at the front of the hotel with a covered outdoor bar, fire pit, heaters and more amenities. The hotel’s restaurant becomes The Fitz in late June, and its bar will be called Gin Rickey; the patio is due around the same time.
By late June, popular corner tavern Fink’s, 1875 N. Humboldt Ave., will add a deck for 40 behind the building. Any day now, a pergola-shaded patio will open behind the Italian restaurant Dino’s in Riverwest, at 808 E. Chambers St., where a fence will keep the dining area private.
And the new 40-seat patio is already open at Santino’s Little Italy, 352 E. Stewart St., where a train slowly chugs past every now and then, but more improvements are coming: awnings in the next few weeks to shade and protect diners in a light rain and, later, bocce courts.
Hotel Madrid (Bodegón and Vermutería 600)
600 S. 6th St. hotelmadridmke.com
Some restaurants are lucky just to have enough sidewalk space for tables; Hotel Madrid has an entire yard next to its bar (Vermutería 600) and restaurant (Bodegón), hidden from the street behind a fence and dense shrubs.
The patio seats 52 at chairs and a banquette that also divides the space into more-intimate dining areas. (It can be configured for 75 for private parties, and open lawn at the back of the yard can serve as event space, such as for a wedding.)
The patio, where diners can order either from the restaurant’s steakhouse-style menu or the more casual bar menu, will get fire pits in the coming weeks, and that means a paella party later in summer. The yard already is planted with sizable trees, but more greenery and blooms are coming soon. The built-for-summer cocktail list, one of the best in the city, is ready right now, though.
Smoking: Allowed in designated area. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: Open at 5 p.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Fuel Cafe, Walker’s Point
630 S. 5th St. fuelcafe.com
Overhead doors open the first and second floors to the outdoors at Fuel on S. 5th, but it’s hard to walk past the three-sided courtyard at the front of the building, with its banquettes, planters and metal grid overhead.
Fuel is an all-day presence on the block, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner (and weekend brunch). The menu goes beyond the appealing sandwiches of the original location with menu items such as steak frites and a brown rice bowl with sauteed vegetables and kimchi.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Not allowed. Hours: Restaurant, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily; the bar is open later. Cafe, 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
Motor Bar & Restaurant
401 W. Canal St., at the Harley-Davidson Museum. harley-davidson.com/museum
OK, this one’s been around awhile, but Motor at the Harley-Davidson Museum continues to make upgrades. It’s added a Leinie Lodge on the patio and high-top seating, along with a slip for boats. Besides overhead doors that open Motor to the outdoors, the large patio has lounge furniture and a fire pit, along with tables and chairs for dining.
The grassy area beyond the patio offers room for kids (or adults) to roam, and if the people-watching on the patio isn’t enough, the Hank Aaron Trail’s steady stream of runners, walkers and cyclists obliges. Or fix your eye beyond the trail, which winds around the property and beside the canal and Menomonee River, on Walker’s Point landmarks such as the Rockwell tower.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.
360 E. Erie St. dandanmke.com
Opened just this week, the upgraded, 32-seat patio in front of the modern Chinese-American restaurant has a wooden pergola with bench seating. Awnings will be installed soon; they’ll be water-resistant, helping to keep light rain off customers. But “We’ll be raining hip-hop down on people” from the patio speakers, said chef and co-owner Dan Jacobs.
New plantings include chives, sorrel and other edibles that Jacobs and chef and co-owner Dan Van Rite can use in the restaurant. Ornamental grasses eventually will grow lush enough to soften the view.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Friday, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday.
2535 S. Kinnickinnic Ave. kindredonkk.com
It looks good at any time of day, but dusk and nighttime flatter the Kindred patio, which stretches the width of the Kinn Guesthouse and flanks the walkway leading to the micro hotel and restaurant’s front door.
Gentle lights are trained on shrubs and trees, and the fire pit all but invites you to have a seat at a banquette for dinner or drinks. (Kindred’s menu — small plates and entrées, plus a dandy burger — and its cocktails are modern and thoughtful.) Occasional live music is planned throughout the summer.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: 4 to 9 p.m. Tuesday, 4 to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 3 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; the bar is open later. Brand-new Sunday brunch, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
1848 W. Fond du Lac Ave. tandemmke.com
Tucked behind the building, the cute courtyard patio at the Tandem is a sunny spot by day to enjoy the restaurant’s top-notch salads, burger, fried chicken and Sunday brunch. By night, lights strung overhead shine. And even though the patio is surrounded by buildings on all sides, breezes manage to reach diners at the patio’s seven tables. At summer’s start, vines were just beginning to make their way up the clever trellis made of bicycle wheels.
Smoking: Decided case by case. Dogs: Decided case by case. Hours: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tuesday to Saturday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.
Pabst Milwaukee Brewery
1037 W. Juneau Ave. pabstmkebrewery.com
Plenty of beer gardens have opened this spring, but Pabst’s is worth noting here for its historical setting and for the food (it’s delicious and creative).
The beer garden is in a secluded courtyard behind the the brewery, where the original brewery’s silos make up one of the walls. Several custom picnic tables with appropriately industrial touches provide seating, plus there’s standing room around the bar (20 bar stools are coming soon).
The taproom’s menu includes items like house chips and onion dip, beet tartare, a burger and cauliflower “mac” and cheese in beer cheese sauce, as well as a cobbler for dessert that’s made with spent grains from brewing.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Not allowed. Hours: Open at 4 p.m. Monday to Friday, 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.
BelAir Cantina, Oak Creek
410 W. Town Square Way, in Drexel Town Square, Oak Creek. belaircantina.com
The patio at BelAir in the Drexel Town Square development is built for a crowd — it can hold 200 at the tables and chairs in the open air or under a pergola that’s fitted with ceiling fans and strings of lights. But the patio stretches and feels spacious.
At the far end of a gravel path is a grassy area with benches for chatting; in between, a fountain of weathered metal splashes, a soothing sound while you’re enjoying your guacamole and margarita.
(While you’re at Drexel Town Square, note that the new Valentine Coffee has a small but sleek little patio across the street from BelAir.)
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Not allowed. Hours: Open 11 a.m. Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. Last seating on the patio is at 10 p.m.
4144 N. Oakland Ave., Shorewood. ruckusburger.com
The patio at this burger and soft-serve ice cream stand on N. Oakland Ave. provides a little gathering spot at the corner of E. Wood Place. A U-shaped wooden structure that’s a little bit fencing and a little bit pergola has a bench built into it, where customers can gather around a fire pit. (Those are ferns growing from the pockets of a vertical garden under the pergola.)
Cubes and another structure supply more seating, along with conventional tables and chairs at the front of the building. In all, nearly 50 can gather at the patio here (and, if they like, pose for a picture with the restaurant’s penguin mascot, Rizo).
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9:30 Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday in summer.
Summer Camp at The Atrium
2107 E. Capitol Drive, Shorewood. facebook.com/theatriummke
Remember the late Anaba Tea Room’s fantastic rooftop deck, with its charming greenhouse, open space and plants upon plants upon plants? It’s open to the public again on select days as Summer Camp, a spot for adult beverages and tacos.
The former Garden Room building that housed Anaba now is home of the Atrium, a private-event space run by Camp Bar owners Paul and Natalia Hackbarth. For summer, the rooftop will be open to the public, with room enough for 100 people. Along with beer, wine and cocktails, customers can buy tacos from the Taco King cart that will be stationed on the roof. And just as at Camp Bar locations, customers can snack on popcorn, too.
Smoking: Allowed in designated areas. Dogs: No policy. Hours: 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday until at least October, barring any private events that might crop up. Keep tabs on available hours at the venue’s Facebook page.
Cafe Hollander, Brookfield
20150 Union St., off W. Blue Mound Road, in The Corners. cafehollander.com
Pick your view of The Corners development: ground level for closer people watching, or the bird’s-eye view from the second-floor deck. The newest Cafe Hollander, which opened in late May, has seats for sun lovers and, under looping canvas, for shade seekers on the ground floor, and in the open or under umbrellas on the second-floor deck. The deck also has benches and high-top tables for sipping one of the Belgian or American brews and chatting.
With room for 52 on the ground and 84 on the second-floor deck (due for a fire pit later), Cafe Hollander’s is one of the bigger new patios. There’s also a four-season sunroom (64 seats), and the entire restaurant opens to the outdoors by way of pneumatic hangar-style doors that swing up and form a canopy.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed on ground-floor patio. Hours: 8 a.m. to midnight daily.
606 N. Genesee St., Delafield. belfrekitchen.com
The large patio in front of Belfre Kitchen is a front-row seat for people watching (a number of them aboard bicycles). With vintage-style fencing ringing the patio, it feels a little like relaxing in the front yard of a friend’s Arts and Crafts home.
Besides tables for breakfast, lunch or dinner, the patio has a fire pit with lounge furniture around it, good for sitting with a cup of coffee or a glass of wine.
Smoking: Not allowed. Dogs: Allowed. Hours: 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday, 5 to 9 p.m. Tuesday to Thursday and 5 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday.