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Dock and Dine


July 2012

Do you have a boat? Does a friend of yours own a boat? If you have access to a pontoon or other watercraft some night this summer, consider ditching the car for a leisurely ride up or down the Milwaukee River. Quite a few restaurants are situated next to or above — in other words, just a few feet away — from boat slips.

There are a slew of spots to anchor a boat at Barnacle Bud’s, tucked behind Skipper Bud’s on the Walker’s Point/Bay View border, but the public ones are just to the west of the funky eatery that channels Jimmy Buffett with live guitar music, Bloody Marys and fresh oysters (as well as Friday fish fry). It’s not uncommon to see boats "double parked" on a sunny, cloudless day. A bit west along the Kinnickinnic River is Horny Goat Hideaway, which owns the dock alongside its restaurant, a companion to the craft brewery behind it. Some of the items on the food menu fold beer into the recipe, such as Red Vixen BBQ pizza and Horny Blonde Caesar Salad.

Just south of and below the bronze Fonz statue along the Riverwalk in downtown Milwaukee are public slips that are a stone’s throw from Rock Bottom Brewery (situated by the Milwaukee River, with its massive, curved patio hovering above the water) and John Hawks Pub (where fish and chips, as well as hometown and import pints and ales, rule on the patio). There is a three-hour maximum — still plenty of time to indulge in a beer, main course and dessert before retreating back to the boat.

A trio of restaurants along Water Street in the Third Ward features patios that hug the Milwaukee River. Fortunately, there are public slips (with a three-hour maximum) for boats to pull into for some noshing. Rustico Pizzeria’s pasta dishes and pizzas, followed by gelato, can be served to you for lunch, brunch or dinner on an outdoor patio a story above the river. Water Buffalo’s patio hugs the river and its fare is in perfect pitch, such as coconut shrimp, fish tacos and Louisiana crab cakes. Milwaukee Ale House’s double-deck patio is among the best in town. It is here where house-made ales and plates of gastropub fare — wings, burgers, hearty salads, thin crispy pizzas and hand-cut ribeye — are the perfect accompaniments to watching boats sail down the river on a summer night.

Farther south along the Milwaukee River, close to the mouth of Lake Michigan, Screaming Tuna Sushi & Asian Bistro in Walker’s Point has primped its patio, a few steps from boat slips, with chocolate-brown wicker furnishings. Eating sushi was never this stylish. And, just across the Third Ward bridge, you’ll find Ryan Braun’s Graffito, which is perfectly positioned on the Milwaukee River. It not only has an expansive patio with chic furnishings but a dock with room for five boats, too. Kick back with a cocktail en plein air before heading inside for hearty Italian fare. Also offering Italian cuisine is Riverfront Pizzeria Bar & Grill, closer to the Summerfest grounds and also along the river, where a dock is open to customers who wish to arrive by boat.

Of course, five-star dining at Harbor House is even more glam when you enter from Lake Michigan. Park your boat on the south side of Discovery World, where there is 450 feet of dock space open to the public. Anchors away — and bon appetit!


This story ran in the July 2012 issue of: