Sophie Bolich
Grand Openings

New Bars and Restaurants That Opened in August

More than a dozen establishments opened their doors last month, including a sushi restaurant, riverfront cocktail lounge and a Neapolitan-style pizza trailer.

By - Sep 4th, 2023 01:55 pm
Site of Vault, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. Photo taken Aug. 29, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.

Site of Vault, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave. Photo taken Aug. 29, 2023 by Sophie Bolich.


Vault, a cocktail lounge and raw bar, was the latest of four new dining concepts to join the Associated Bank River Center.

Located on the second floor of the 28-story office building, 111 E. Kilbourn Ave, Vault offers a variety of fresh seafood, shareable appetizers and craft cocktails — all accompanied by remarkable views of the Milwaukee River.

The lounge is situated in the heart of the Milwaukee Theater District, making it a convenient spot to gather pre- or post-show.

Read our earlier coverage

Rock & Brews

A rock-and-roll-inspired restaurant by KISS members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley opened its doors at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino, 1721 W. Canal St., on Aug. 1.

The 6,000-square-foot establishment features space for up to 200 guests, as well as an in-house stage, double-sided bar with gaming machines and a private dining room for parties and events.

Rock & Brews serves American cuisine including chicken wings, burgers and barbeque ribs.

Read our earlier coverage

Local Pub

Local Pub, better known as LP, is the latest bar and restaurant to open downtown. Located at 1137 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., the new tavern enjoys foot traffic from those traveling to and from Fiserv Forum, as well as other venues in the bustling entertainment district.

The restaurant serves an assortment of appetizers and handhelds including a signature burger and a vegan sloppy joe, as well as beer, craft cocktails and other alcoholic beverages. The name is a subtle nod to the record store that once occupied the space.

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Pete and Jess Ignatiev welcomed guests to their dining room on Aug. 26 for the official opening of Heirloom MKE, a food truck-turned brick-and-mortar business.

The farm-to-table restaurant, 2378 S. Howell Ave., serves an extensive selection of upscale comfort dishes such as steamed mussels in white wine cream sauce, hand-stretched burrata salad and buttermilk fried chicken.

Alcoholic and zero-proof beverages include beer, wine, soda, seltzers and a vibrant cocktail list.

Read our earlier coverage

Taco Bandito

A fish taco concept with a loyal following made a comeback in mid-August when industry veteran Roman Torrez re-introduced Taco Bandito as a food truck.

The business previously operated out of a Walker’s Point gas station, where it accrued a customer base with its cornmeal-battered tilapia tacos — served with avocado mousse, chipotle aioli, red and green cabbage slaw, tequila vinaigrette and a hint of lime.

The food truck, which can typically be found near the corner of 1st and Florida Streets, serves well-loved tacos as well as street corn in a cup and habanero salsa.

Read our earlier coverage

Sushi Yuki

Sushi Yuki opened its doors to the public on Aug. 30, inviting diners into its Bay View dining room to enjoy a wide variety of fresh sashimi and sushi rolls, teriyaki, rice dishes and more.

The Japanese bar and restaurant, 2349 S. Kinnickinnic Ave., is a project of industry veterans Jin San Koh and Sung Hee “Jenny” Kim.

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Gray Jett Cafe

A new, plant-based cafe recently opened on the Marquette University campus, just in time for the fall semester.

Gray Jett Cafe, 1617 W. Wells St., hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony at the end of August to mark its official launch.

The restaurant serves a lineup of vegan dishes as well as their traditional counterparts. Options include barbeque sliders, pulled jackfruit tacos and garlicky party wings.

Read our earlier coverage

Who’s on Layton

The second location for Who’s on Third welcomed its first guests on Aug. 28. The new sports bar and restaurant, aptly titled Who’s on Layton at 517 W. Layton Ave, just blocks from the airport.

Who’s on Layton is much larger than its downtown sibling, and can accommodate up to 100 guests indoors, with additional seating on the new, four-season patio.

The gastropub serves beer and sports-themed cocktails, along with a pairing-friendly food menu of cheese curds, wings, sandwiches and burgers.

Read our earlier coverage

Pizza Ortolana

A former horse trailer is getting new life as a mobile pizza restaurant. Pizza Ortolana began serving its Neapolitan-style pies throughout Bay View in August, making stops at Cactus Club, Supermoon Beer Company and others.

The concept, named for a specific Italian pie, serves a rotating menu of vegetable-forward pizzas.

Read our earlier coverage

Señor Gorditos

The Drive-Thru, an East Side stop for coffee and doughnuts, recently completed its transformation into Señor Gordito’s, a Mexican food restaurant specializing in authentic dishes and fusion cuisine.

The new restaurant, 1801 E. North Ave., opened at the beginning of August, serving tacos, flamin’ hot Cheetos elote, birria ramen and more.

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Donnie Dries quietly opened Baccara in August, bringing new life to a space that has been vacant since the 2018 closure of Black Rose Irish Pub.

Baccara, named in honor of the previous tavern, offers a wide selection of alcoholic beverages, as well as a late-night menu of appetizers, sandwiches, salads, chicken wings and pizza.

Dries also owns the next-door business, Cafe Terrazza, which is slated to open in the coming weeks.

Read our earlier coverage

Cafe 94 Indian Fusion

A new Indian restaurant recently opened on the South Side, serving a variety of dosa, curries and other authentic dishes.

Located within Clarion Hotel at 6331 S. 13th St., Cafe 94 Indian Fusion often hosts live musicians including Bollywood performers.

The hotel itself is under new management, as of spring 2023, and is reportedly moving towards reopening.

Read our earlier coverage

Taqueria el Toro

The third brick-and-mortar location for the fast-growing Taqueria el Toro hosted its grand opening on June 22 — a date that was, regrettably, overlooked by Urban Milwaukee.

Nevertheless, the new restaurant, 2531 W. National Ave., has successfully surpassed the two-month mark. Those who venture out can expect a similar menu to the restaurant’s existing locations and small fleet of food trucks, with options including tacos, burritos, tortas and other Mexican dishes.

Read our earlier coverage

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Categories: Food & Drink

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