Only a 10-minute drive from downtown, Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood is the East Side’s up-and-coming scrappy sibling, and Kinnickinnic Avenue is home base for exploring all that the area has to offer.
Dubbed “KK” by locals, Kinnickinnic Avenue winds through Milwaukee’s Bay View neighborhood, an area that, five years ago, began to shed its working-class skin and don a hip factor that attracts people from across the city for a night out or an afternoon browsing indie boutiques. Just off KK and a few blocks east is an easy stroll along Lake Michigan and the marina at South Shore Yacht Club. (During summer months, its companion green space, South Shore Park, hosts a Saturday-morning farmers market.) To the west lies Humboldt Park, home to the Chill on the Hill Tuesday-night summer concert series. Also along KK are a half-dozen independently owned coffee shops, which are meeting grounds for the neighborhood’s writers, coffee snobs and community activists alike.
Snagging a reservation at Odd Duck is tough but worth the wait (if dining solo, grab a seat at the bar). Since opening in April 2012, the 16-table restaurant offers farm-to-table plates that change frequently but which might include whole-roasted rainbow trout with dinosaur kale or a charcuterie plate with duck rillettes and Spanish chorizo, along with handcrafted cocktails inspired by the season.
For some truly authentic Vietnamese fare, visit Hue, where Carina Tran uses her mother’s Central Vietnam recipes to create tasty bowls of pho and bubble tea in a crisp, contemporary dining space.
Plaid banquettes, crystal chandeliers and mounted deer heads drive the decor at Boone and Crockett, open since May of last year. This contemporary riff on vintage speakeasies specializes in, naturally, Wisconsin tap beers, but it amps up the style with classic cocktails prepared with seasonal, fresh ingredients.
Gently used Coach handbags and vintage Hawaiian shirts are among the treasured finds in men’s and women’s apparel and accessories at ReThreads, which opened in this location in May 2012.
Proof that records still rule is quite evident inside Acme Records & Music Emporium, open since last fall and curated by a disc jockey for 91.7, WMSE-FM.
The city’s lone hat shop, The Brass Rooster, sits on the ground floor of a former theater (Avalon Theater) that’s currently being restored. Milwaukee Repertory Theater’s milliner and her husband own the 2-year-old shop, which sells everything from fedoras to cowboy hats.
For a java jolt paired with Milwaukee’s Best Brownie (the actual name of these fudgy little cakes), head to the recently opened Alterra Café & Bakery. The KK location is a whopping two stories with an edgy, eco-minded design that includes colorful patio sets — for the city’s biggest coffee roaster.
The Alchemist Theatre stages quirky, original plays. Arrive early to visit the attached lounge for a drink, which can be brought into the intimate, 64-seat theatre.