They’ve Got the Goods at Palomino
A killer happy hour deal, scrumptious food and a great patio.
A few months back I went to visit Palomino in Bay View for this column but they were closed due to renovation. When I stopped in this week one of the first things I noticed was the dessert fridge. “Are those from Honeypie?” I asked the bartender, Sydney. Both Palomino and Honeypie are run by owners Valeri and Adam Lucks.
“Actually we now make all our bakery in house. We took away some of the seating in the back for a bigger baking space,” Sydney replied. Hence the renovation.
There is still plenty of comfortable seating inside and outside Palomino (2491 S. Superior St.), which is just a couple of blocks from Lake Michigan on the corner of Russell and Superior. This time of year the patio is the place to be, which is across from the site of the long-gone Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill, “the first major heavy industry in the region and an important producer of iron and steel for the Midwest.”
Inside Palomino there is an old school vibe, with wood walls, booths, leather chairs, and a classic mirror behind the bar. Their unique “ICE COLD CRISPY BEER” neon sign hangs in the side window on Russell street, which can’t be missed when driving by. Above the bar is another unmistakeable neon sign, “Don’t Stop Now,” which can be interpreted a number of ways. One of those might be referring to taking advantage of their all-day, every-day $6 tap beer and a shot deal, a dangerous come-on to be sure.
The official happy hour at Palomino is straightforward: $1 off all taps and $2 PBR tall boys, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Friday. The $6 tap beer and shot deal is easily the star, with the combos changing about every week. When I stopped in on Monday the board read Wathen’s bourbon and Surly Hell, but the keg of Hell had kicked, so Bell’s Oberon was its replacement.
Palomino has the largest selection of whiskey I’ve come across in town, with their booklet containing over 250 varieties of bourbon, rye, Canadian, Scotch and American whiskey. Sydney informed me that they recently hired a new bar manager and the liquor book will be changing soon, slimming down the offerings and rotating them more often. The spirits they do have inform their unique craft cocktail list, with drink names like “Bad Liver and a Broken Heart,” “Rosemary’s Baby Daddy,” and “These Waitresses Are Judging Me.”
In the bottle and can department Palomino has some fine choices, including four “Heavy Stuff” selections, four “Hoppy,” three Belgians, three ciders, 10 “Usual Suspects” (domestics, standard imports, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, Spotted Cow, Riverwest Stein), and three “Others” (gluten-free New Grist, low-alcohol Stiegl grapefruit radler, gose-style Sierra Nevada Otra Vez). In the “Heavy Stuff” category they currently offer Péché Mortel, French for “Mortal Sin,” an excellent American Double/Imperial Stout from Montreal’s Brasserie Dieu Du Ciel, my favorite microbrewery in the world.
Palomino has a dozen tap lines that rotate regularly. The rare beers on tap this week include Epic’s Brainless on Raspberries (a nitro fruit beer), Karben4’s Idiot Farm Imperial IPA, New Glarus’ Cranbic and Vintage’s Velouria. The Velouria is a fantastic peach amber wheat, one of the best summer beers I’ve tried. Palomino also carries eight wines by the glass ($7-$10) and bottle ($26-$34), Anodyne coffee, Rishi tea and local Dang! sodas from Imperial Flavors Beverage Company.
When my brother was living in Los Angeles a few years ago he called me up one night to rave about jackfruit tacos. “It’s kind of like a lighter, tropical version of pulled pork,” he exclaimed. As soon as I saw them on the specials menu at Palomino, which changes weekly, I knew I had to give them a try. Turns out jackfruit is delicious, especially in a taco, though I would’ve preferred a corn tortilla. It’s not overly sweet and has a consistency somewhere between an artichoke and a roasted garlic clove.
If I can recommend just one menu item at Palomino, it is definitely the tater tots. They are made in-house and are basically hash brown balls; crispy, mouthwatering hash brown balls served with a side of ranch. It’s also worth noting that Palomino sources most of their ingredients from over 50 local farms.
While dining at Palomino I ran into one of my brother’s high school friends and flight attendant extraordinaire, Tyler Armbruster, who was playing cribbage with his girlfriend at the bar. He highly recommended Palomino’s brunch fare.
“I’m a breakfast sandwich guy, and they’ve got the goods,” Armbruster insisted. Looks like a weekend visit is in order.
Tuesday July 26 Palomino will host a “Pie + Whiskey” night. Starting at 5 p.m. they will have a limited amount of savory handmade pies and a sampling of “a very special whiskey.”