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Belly up
Bypass formal table seating and hop onto a barstool at one of these local restaurants, each offering a unique dining experience

Photos by Matt Haas

October 2015

Poco Loco Cantina

An established Walker’s Point gem, Crazy Water is teeny tiny, but the entire space exudes warmth and coziness. There’s one specific spot, however, that’s just a tad more intimate than the rest — the plush, two-person bench/loveseat at the bar, which also offers direct views of the restaurant’s open-concept kitchen. 839 S. 2nd St., (414) 645-2606,

You’ll likely wait an hour, at minimum, for a table at Blue’s Egg on a Saturday or Sunday morning, but if you’re dining alone or with just one other person, bar spots are easier to come by. Breakfast foods with an elevated twist (like blueberry pancakes with lemon crème anglaise and whipped butter) populate the eatery’s menu, but the bar is quintessentially reminiscent of 1960s-style diner, complete with low stools, a stainless steel bar and bottomless cups of coffee. 317 N. 76th St., (414) 299-3180,

Calling all seafood aficionados: the raw bar at Harbor House caters specifically to you. Separated from the restaurant’s traditional marble-topped bar, the raw bar specializes in oysters, and each one is shucked to order, providing bar patrons an interactive culinary experience. 550 N. Harbor Drive, (414) 395-4900,

There’s a reason Balzac is consistently rated one of the top romantic spots in Milwaukee. The dim lighting, richly toned furniture and eccentric accents combine to foster an ambience unmatched by any other wine bar in the city. The bar itself is expansive, spanning nearly the entire length of the restaurant. (Insider’s tip: Order the duck nachos. You won’t regret it.) 1716 N. Arlington Place, (414) 755-0099,

Crazy Water

Those looking for table-side service should skip Poco Loco Cantina altogether, as every seat (with the exception of the outdoor patio space) in the restaurant is a barstool. The quaint eatery features a large wrap-around bar, and bold colors and vintage decor add to its Mexican cantina-inspired charm. 4134 W. River Lane, Brown Deer, (414) 355-9550,

Unlike many Japanese restaurants, the sushi bar seating at Kanpai is anything but intimidating. It blends seamlessly into the rest of the restaurant, ensuring patrons don’t feel singled out by their desire to watch Kanpai’s chefs at work. 408 E. Chicago St., (414) 220-1155,

Searching for a true German brew? Head to Café Bavaria in Wauwatosa and take in the full European-inspired experience — soccer and steins included. The bar’s decor resembles an Old World setting, with industrial-style stools, Bavarian-style accessories and more than one dozen German "biers" on tap. 7700 Harwood Ave., Wauwatosa, (414) 271-7700,

Football season is in full swing come October, and peeling the male population away from the TV is suddenly more difficult than ever before. Fortunately, the bar at Ward’s House of Prime satisfies all interests — its classically elegant decor caters to fine diners, and multiple TVs cleverly positioned throughout the space entertain sports lovers and fair-weather fans alike. 515 Wells St., Delafield, (262) 337-9199,


This story ran in the October 2015 issue of: