Riverwest is one of Milwaukee’s trendiest neighborhoods. Situated between Capital Drive on the northern end, North Avenue on the southern end, and between the Milwaukee River and Holton Avenue, this neighborhood is known for its bohemian vibe, diversity, and eclectic collection of bars and restaurants. Riverwest has also become a popular living destination for college students, artists, musicians, and as a result, has a decidedly young and artsy feel. Check out below for a full guide to exploring the Riverwest neighborhood in Milwaukee.
Riverwest was first settled by German Americans starting in the 1830s. As of the 1880s, the neighborhood had a strong presence of German Americans, both upper class and working class, and Polish immigrants. The northern part of Riverwest developed considerable industry, while the southern part remained mostly residential.
Since the 1980s and 1990s, Riverwest has been one of the most diverse neighborhoods in Milwaukee, and the area took on its own character dedicated to grassroots activism and collective projects, including a collectively owned grocery store, bar, and communal gardens. Dotted throughout the neighborhood are also plenty of trendy spots for coffee, drinks, music, and food.
Riverwest is easily accessible from downtown Milwaukee, whether by taking the freeway, a taxi, public transit, or even by bike. Once in the neighborhood, most things are walkable, though a bike or taking short trips through a rideshare app is probably the best way to get around. If using a car, parking can be a little tricky since most of Riverwest are residential neighborhoods with crowded street parking, and it will limit the ability to take advantage of Riverwest nightlife options.
Jump to info on:
- Riverwest Restaurants
- Things to do in Riverwest
- Festivals in Riverwest
- Breweries in Riverwest
- Riverwest Bars
Best Restaurants in Riverwest
There are plenty of awesome restaurants in Riverwest that cater to every type of palate. From vegan spots to gourmet Italian, sit down to quick service, there is something for everyone. While there are tons of awesome destinations for food, consider stopping by one of these great restaurants while in Riverwest.
Breakfast and Coffee
Any day exploring a neighborhood should probably start with a quality cup of coffee along with a quick and tasty bite to eat. Check out one of these two spots to start your day off right in Riverwest.
Fuel Cafe is a longtime resident of Riverwest, and is one of the most popular spots in the neighborhood for coffee and breakfast items. The cafe now has a second location in Walker’s Point, but the original is definitely worth checking out. They offer great coffee, various breakfast items, and is an ideal location to start your day before further exploring the area.
- Address: 818 Center St.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 7am-7pm | Saturday and Sunday, 8am-7pm
Collectivo Coffee on Humboldt
Collectivo Coffee is a really popular local chain with spots all over the city. One of the best is the Riverwest location conveniently located on Humboldt, right in the center of the neighborhood. They offer tons of excellent coffee drinks, smoothies, and tasty breakfast items including breakfast burritos, pastries, and other sweet and savory options.
- Address: 2999 N. Humboldt Blvd.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 6:30am-9pm | Saturday and Sunday, 7am-9pm
Grab Lunch and Dinner in Riverwest
Beerline Cafe is one of the best restaurants in the city for vegetarian and vegan cuisine. They offer great food for breakfast, lunch, and an early dinner. Regardless of whether you are a vegetarian or not, diners always leave Beerline Cafe satisfied.
- Address: 2076 N. Commerce St.
- Hours: Closed Mondays | Tuesday-Thursday, 7:30am-8pm | Friday, 7:30am-9pm | Saturday, 8am-9pm | Sunday, 8am-7pm
Cafe Corazon Riverwest
Cafe Corazon has two locations, one in Bay View and the original restaurant in Riverwest. Both serve some of the best Mexican food in the city, with gourmet yet affordable takes on Mexican classics, excellent margaritas, and plenty of vegetarian options so there is something for everyone. Cafe Corazon serves lunch and dinner, and has a tasty weekend brunch.
- Address: 3129 N. Bremen St.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 11am-10pm | Saturday, 10am-10pm | Sunday, 10am-9pm
Milwaukee Beer Bistro
Located right on Humboldt with its own parking lot, Milwaukee Beer Bistro has one of the largest selections of Wisconsin tap beers in the city, in addition to serving upgraded bar food that pairs perfectly well with some hoppy goodness. Check out Milwaukee Beer Bistro for dinner or weekend brunch.
- Address: 2730 N. Humboldt Blvd.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 3pm-10pm | Saturday, 10am-11pm | Sunday, 10am-10pm
View MKE is tucked into a residential neighborhood right between Brewers Hill and Riverwest, and is definitely worth checking out for either dinner or a weekend brunch. They have an awesome patio, some of the best views in the city, and exceptional food.
- Address: 1818 N. Hubbard St.
- Hours: Closed Mondays | Tuesday-Friday, 4pm-11pm | Saturday, 10am-2pm and 5pm-11pm | Sunday, 10am-2pm and 5pm-9pm
Centro Cafe is one of those fantastic neighborhood Italian joints, with soft Italian music, great wine, and perfectly prepared pasta dishes. If craving Italian food while in Riverwest, grab a reservation at Centro Cafe.
- Address: 808 E. Center St.
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 5pm-9pm | Friday and Saturday, 5pm-10pm | Closed Sundays
Things to do in Riverwest
Take an Urban Stroll
Walking or biking around Riverwest is the best way to get a feel for the neighborhood. Most of Riverwest is pretty dense residential neighborhoods, with a few urban commercial areas. Parts of Center Street are certainly worth checking out, and some stores on the surrounding streets. Consider stopping by at least one of the following shops.
Fischberger’s Variety has all sorts of interesting trinkets, toys, and original gift items. Especially if shopping around for a souvenir or gift to bring home, head over to Holton and check out Fischberger’s.
- Address: 2445 N. Holton St.
- Hours: Closed Mondays and Sundays | Tuesday and Friday, 11am-6pm | Saturday, 10am-5pm
We Buy Records
For an eclectic shop dedicated to all things music, head over to We Buy Records. The store specializes in used records and other music related items.
- Address: 904 E. Center St.
- Hours: Closed Sundays | Monday-Saturday, 11am-5pm
Fyxation Bicycle Company
Whether you are an avid cyclist or not, Fyxation Bicycle Company is an awesome locally owned store dedicated to restoring bicycles, and selling all sorts of cool bike merchandise.
- Address: 2943 N. Humboldt Blvd.
- Hours: Closed Mondays | Tuesday-Friday, 11am-6pm | Saturday, 10am-5pm | Sunday, 12am-4pm
Enjoy a Unique Festival in Riverwest
If you happen to visit Riverwest in summer, there are two fantastic festivals definitely worth checking out.
Locust Street Festival
Locust Street Festival typically takes place every mid-June. The block party starts off with a Beer Walk or Run to raise money, and then leads into a day and night full of live music, with around ten stages, and plenty of food and drink stands to keep the fun going. There are also area vendors on site if looking to do some shopping.
Locust Street Festival Dates 2019: Sunday, June 9th 2019, 11am – 8pm
The Riverwest24 is definitely one of the most unique offerings in the city. Basically, the festival involves a twenty-four hour bike race (though most bikers only go for a couple hours), in a predetermined circuit from 7pm to 7pm often in late July. The real fun is for spectators, where crowds gather to drink, eat, and cheer on the cyclists.
Riverwest24 2019 Dates: July 26-27, 2019
Parks in Riverwest
While most of Riverwest is pretty urban, the neighborhood also boasts some really awesome parks. With awesome trails, city views, and walks along the river, Riverwest parks are actually some of the best in the city. If looking for some nature while urban exploring, head over to one of these parks.
Kilbourn Reservoir Park
Kilbourn Reservoir Park is a really original park right at the end of North Avenue. Its major highlights include some of the best views of Milwaukee’s skyline, and checking out the neighborhood communal gardens that are dotted throughout the park.
Address: 2230 N. Bremen St.
Gordon Park is Riverwest’s most popular park. With a playground, community spaces, and access to the river, there are all sorts of things to check out. There’s also plenty of space to just kick back and relax. The park is also on the popular Oak Leaf Trail if you feel like a scenic walk to other parts of the city.
Address: 2828 N. Humboldt Blvd.
Kern park boasts awesome walking trails, great access to the Milwaukee River, and various interesting sculptures. The park is ideal for grabbing a quick taste of nature before heading back into other parts of Riverwest.
Address: 3614 N. Humboldt Blvd.
Kadish Park is Riverwest’s backyard. The park is located atop a big hill that leads down toward Milwaukee River. The park has a permanent stage that hosts music and plays throughout the summer. During anytime of the year, Kadish Park has awesome views of downtown and makes for a great place to rest before more urban exploring.
Address: 750 E. North Ave.
Breweries in Riverwest
After a quick exploration of Riverwest streets or the neighborhood’s parks, head over to one of the awesome microbreweries in Riverwest. Each makes fantastic beer, are conveniently located, and are easily accessible through a rideshare app.
Company Brewing is a great choice for sipping on some quality suds or for a delicious lunch. They brew right in house and have a variety of great beers – plus the food is super quality as well.
- Address: 735 E. Center St.
- Hours: Monday Closed | Tuesday-Thursday, 4pm-12am | Friday, 4pm-2:30am | Saturday, 10am-2:30am | Sunday, 10am-11pm
Gathering Place Brewing Company
A pretty new addition to Riverwest, Gathering Place Brewing Company took over an old industrial spot and now boasts some of the best micro beer in the city. They have a cozy tasting room where you can try some of their specialty beers, which mostly consists of German-style beers done really well.
- Address: 811 E. Virginia Ave.
- Hours: Closed Tuesdays | Monday, 3pm-9pm | Wednesday-Friday, 3pm-10pm | Saturday, 12pm-10pm | Sunday, 12pm-6pm
Black Husky Brewing
Located right in the center of Riverwest, Black Husky Brewing has some fantastic beer, a great interior space where visitors can often nab a seat, and a great outdoor patio ideal for summer.
- Address: 909 E. Locust St.
- Hours: Closed Mondays | Tuesday-Thursdays, 4pm-9pm | Friday, 3pm-10pm | Saturday, 12pm-10pm | Sunday, 12pm-6pm
Best Bars in Riverwest
No trip to Riverwest is complete without checking out some of the nightlife options. There are numerous really popular bars in Riverwest that are a favorite of locals and people from across the city alike. After dinner, head over to one of these establishments for a cocktail and good times.
Foundation Tiki Bar
Foundation Tiki Bar is one of the best tiki bars in the city, and is just an all around great experience. Walk through the front doors and enter a vacation, with plenty of tiki decor, great tiki cocktails, and overall great vibes. Be advised that Foundation gets pretty busy on weekend nights.
- Address: 2718 N. Bremen St.
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 4pm-1:30am | Friday and Saturday, 4pm-2:30am
Rub shoulders with area artists, bohemian hipsters, and college students alike at Art bar. The bar is dedicated to all things local art, in addition to just having great drinks, trendy music, and tasty drinks. Art Bar is an awesome time from open through close any night of the week.
- Address: 722 E. Burleigh St.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 3pm-2am | Saturday and Sunday, 12pm-2am
Riverwest Public House Cooperative
For an ideal alternative time, check out Riverwest Public House Cooperative. As the name implies, the bar is collectively owned and has a decidedly alternative vibe. All are welcome, and the bar is a favorite with locals. The drinks are also reasonably priced and they offer a great selection of libations.
- Address: 815 E. Locust St.
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 3pm-2am | Friday and Saturday, 3pm-2:30am | Sunday, 11am-2:30am
Bremen Cafe is one of those neighborhood bars that makes Milwaukee great. With a spacious yet cozy bar, friendly bartenders, and plenty of cheap drinks, Bremen Cafe will make you feel like a regular in no time.
- Address: 901 E. Clark St.
- Hours: Monday-Thursday, 4pm-2am | Friday and Saturday, 12pm-2:30am | Sunday, 12pm-2am
The Tracks Tavern & Grill
Locally known as Tracks, this bar and restaurant serves up great bar food, inexpensive drinks, and almost always feels like a party. For a true no frills neighborhood establishment, head over to Tracks.
- Address: 1020 E. Locust St.
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11am-2am | Friday and Saturday, 11am-2:30am
For a really unique experience, head over to Falcon Bowl, located in the Polish Falcon Nest, the hangout for a Polish American Association. Falcon Bowl is one of the oldest bowling alleys in the country, and along with some really cheap beers, can make for a great time.
- Address: 801 E. Clarke St.
- Hours: Monday-Friday, 5pm-2am | Saturday, 12pm-2am | Sunday, 12pm-12am
Watch Live Music in Riverwest
While most major live music shows in Milwaukee take place downtown and on the Summerfest grounds, for alternative types of music shows, no place in the city is better than Riverwest. For rock, jazz, hip hop, and everything else, consider straying from a local bar into one of these music venues.
For decades Mad Planet has been a Riverwest go to spot for live music, including everything from hip hop to heavy metal, in addition to DJ nights and 80s themed parties. Tickets are cheap, they offer a full service bar, and the party usually goes until bar close.
- Address: 533 E. Center St.
- Hours: Friday and Saturday, 9pm-2:30am | Closed Weekdays | Check online for calendar of events
Florentine Opera Company
The Florentine Opera Company recently moved to Riverwest. Check online for a schedule of live performances and ticket prices.
- Address: 930 E. Burleigh St.
- Hours: Closed Saturday and Sunday | Open 9am-5pm daily, and select shows | Check online for weekly schedule
Linneman’s Riverwest Inn
Linneman’s Riverwest Inn appears as just a regular really great locals bar, but in the past decade or so the bar has transformed into a really popular spot for local music acts. They mostly feature alternative rock bands. Ticket prices usually only involves a cover at the door.
- Address: 1001 E. Locust St.
- Hours: Hours vary. Check online for schedule of live shows.
The Jazz Gallery
The Jazz Gallery is located inside of the Riverwest Artistic Association. The space mainly functions as a spot for practicing, but just about every week they feature a live jam band with some exceptional jazz music. Check online for a full schedule of events.
- Address: 926 E. Center St.
- Hours: Open Wednesday and Thursday, 1pm-4pm | Select nighttime jam sessions, check online for schedule