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June 2017



In Riverwest, baby boomers and OG hippies peacefully coexist with millennials and hipsters. You’ll also run into artists, writers, musicians, yogis and plenty of other folks too. No matter which group you identify with, Riverwest is a progressive, charmingly quirky, all-around cool place to explore.

See & Do 

One of the many jewels in the Riverwest crown is the Florentine Opera. While the regular opera season takes a summer hiatus, the company lets opera fans get their fix with special events. Check out @ The Center, a summer performance of some of opera’s greatest hits, Friday, June 16, and Saturday, June 17. There’s a limit of just 65 seats each night. Florentine Opera Center, 926 E. Burleigh St., (414) 291-5700,

Can’t make it those nights? The Florentine Opera’s singers present arias and ensembles Wednesday and Thursday evenings at several Colectivo Coffee locations throughout the city, including in Riverwest. Grab a post-opera nightcap after the performance at Art*Bar, where an opera ticket gets you a free drink when you buy one. Colectivo Coffee, 2999 N. Humboldt Blvd., (414) 292-3320,; Art*Bar, 722 E. Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880

The energy of the area spills onto the streets each year at the Locust Street Festival of Music & Art. Scheduled for Sunday, June 11, the one-day festival features six stages of live music, local food vendors, and the 41st annual Riverwest Beer Run or Walk. Whether you hustle or amble the 1.8 miles through the streets of Riverwest, there are four mandatory beer stops at local bars along the way. The festival runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and the beer run begins at the corner of Booth and Locust streets at 11:30 a.m. sharp.

What do you get when you cross an old-school neighborhood bar with a community event space and a vintage bowling alley? Falcon Bowl is a trip back in time, encompassing all of the above. Serious bowlers can hit the basement lanes of one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country. Beer lovers will enjoy an impressive selection, ranging from old-school Miller products to the latest Lakefront Brewery varietals. 801 E. Clark St., (414) 264-0680 

Eat & Drink

The unofficial centerpiece of the neighborhood, the Riverwest Co-op & Café stocks fair trade, organic and local products. The adjacent café specializes in vegan and vegetarian dishes, including vegan pancakes and tofu or egg scrambles for breakfast, a vegan take on the Philly cheesesteak sandwich for lunch, and a grilled sweet potato sandwich topped with homemade hummus for dinner. Riverwest Co-op & Café, 733 E. Clark St., (414) 264-7933,

Need proof that an upscale restaurant can thrive in a funky neighborhood? Look no further than Centro Cafe. With a focus on supporting neighborhood initiatives and a contemporary, eclectic menu that emphasizes locally and seasonally inspired dishes, Centro draws foodies from all over town. The house-made gnudi are an M staff favorite, and the restaurant will debut a new greenhouse-like dining area this summer too. 808 E. Center St., (414) 455-3751,

Since 1993, Fuel Cafe has been a casual gathering spot for anyone who loves great food in a funky, cool atmosphere. Try Fuel’s famous gooey sub, the Toasted Cheesy Tomato, or stop by on Saturday or Sunday to sample the cafe’s homemade vegan chili. Chewy French bread for dunking included, of course. 818 E. Center St., (414) 374-3835,


11,100 (71 percent white, 17 percent African-American, 13 percent Hispanic, 1 percent Asian-American, 1 percent Native American)
*Provided by the U.S. Census Bureau

Did You Know?

The Locust Street Festival of Music & Art has its roots in political activism. The festival began 35 years ago to celebrate the combined efforts of neighborhood residents to prevent the widening of Locust Street, a project that would have erased the neighborhood feel of the area. Since that victory, the unofficial motto of Riverwest is “The fun starts here.”


This story ran in the June 2017 issue of: