Milwaukee Dive Bar Guide

Upper Midwest Dive Bar Hotbed

Every region has its own unique characteristics that produce distinct dive bars, but it’s hard to argue with the confluence of factors active in the Upper Midwest. Cold climates pushing people indoors to congregate for hundreds of years does something to a drinking culture, compressing it and creating rich environments that ward off the winter months. When summer rolls around, the explosion of activity brings new life to these locations as the drinking spills out onto patios and porches ready for their literal moment in the sun.

Milwaukee is amazing city in that vein, a community that has kept some of the country’s oldest dive bars humming for over a century. Wolski’s Tavern is a perfect example, owned and operated by the same family since 1908 and famous for their “I Closed Wolski’s” stickers that cannot be purchased and must be earned by a late night at the Milwaukee dive bar. So omnipresent are these signature stickers that one was found affixed to one of Saddam Hussein’s thrones post-overthrow.

That same historical context can be seen in two bars that share a deep connection, the duckpin bowling capital of the world, Koz’s Mini Bowl, and site of the two oldest regulation bowling lanes in America, Holler House. Koz’s Mini Bowl has operated as a tavern of some sort since the 1880s, its miniature bowling lanes installed in 1947 to drum up additional business. They are the oldest continuously operating lanes in the country and are still operated by human pinsetters.

Similarly, the two-lane alley in the basement of Holler House is operated by human pinsetters, score kept by hand, naturally. Ownership is now on its fifth generation of the Skoronski family, much of it under the watchful eye of Marcy Skoronski. Though she passed away in 2020, her legacy lives on in the form of signed bras that hang from the ceiling of the bar, a tradition started after a particularly late night of drinking by Marcy and her friends.

There are countless other neighborhood gems throughout Milwaukee, symptoms of a community that values a good spot to grab a beer and will brave through the elements to do so. The deep commitment to dive bars creates some of the country’s best and longest-lived institutions.

Milwaukee Dive Bars Not Yet Reviewed

Must Visit Recommendations

Unfortunately, we have not yet been to every single dive bar in the city, but there probably a few more punch cards on our livers, so we’ll make it there soon. In the meantime, the curated list of dives below comes highly recommended by a variety of friends, online sources and drunks.

Avenues West

Conway's Smokin Bar & Grill

2127 W Wells St
Milwaukee, WI 53233
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Bay View

Cactus Club

2496 S Wentworth Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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Bay View

Lee's Luxury Lounge

2988 S Kinnickinnic Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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Bay View

The Bubbler

3158 S Howell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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East Side

Champion's Pub

2417 N Bartlett Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53211
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East Town

My Office

763 N Milwaukee St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Lincoln Village

Holler House

2042 W Lincoln Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53215
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Lower East Side

Regano's Roman Coin

1004 E Brady St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Lower East Side

Wolski's Tavern

1836 N Pulaski St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Lower East Side

Y-Not II Tavern

706 E Lyon St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Mitchell Street

Koz's Mini Bowl

2078 S 7th St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
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Riverwest

Falcoln Bowl

801 E Clarke St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Riverwest

Gee Willickers

2578 N Dousman St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Walker's Point

George's Pub

224 E Washington St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
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Walker's Point

Just Art's Saloon

181 S 2nd St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
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West Allis

Jimmy B's Trail End

7216 W Lincoln Ave #1819
West Allis, WI 53219
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Westown

Stella's: A Cocktail Dive

746 N James Lovell St
Milwaukee, WI 53233
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Other Dive Bar Options

Reader Submitted

Nomad World Pub

1401 E Brady St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Buckhorn Bar & Grill

9461 S 27th St
Franklin, WI 53132
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Cardinal Club

4741 N 124th St
Butler, WI 53007
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Fairview Tap

6712 W Fairview Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53213
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First Choice

3872 S 92nd St
Milwaukee, WI 53228
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Gas Lite West

4305 S 84th St
Greenfield, WI 53228
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Gator's Pub

601 E Bolivar Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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Hanke's

6101 W Lincoln Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53219
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High Dive

701 E Center St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Hosed on Brady

1689 N Franklin Pl
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Jamo's

1800 N Arlington Pl
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Kochanski's Concertina Bar

1920 S 37th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53215
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Mad Planet

533 E Center St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Monica's on Astor

1228 N Astor St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Puddler's Hall

2461 S St Clair St
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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Ray & Dot's Tap

6351 W Grange Ave #1328
Greendale, WI 53129
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Redheads Tavern

1412 Wisconsin Ave
Grafton, WI 53024
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Rollie's

7751 N Teutonia Ave
Brown Deer, MN 53209
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Sabbatic

700 S 2nd St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
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Scaffidi's Hideout

1837 N Humboldt Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Squirrel Cage

2402 N Dousman St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Sugar Cane Tavern

6710 W Forest Home Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53220
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The Hutch

1321 Wisconsin Ave
Grafton, WI 53024
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The Newport

939 E Conway St
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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The Standard

1754 N Franklin Pl
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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The Tracks Tavern

1020 E Locust St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Trailer Park Tavern

2989 S Kinnickinnic Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207
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Uptowner

1032 E Center St
Milwaukee, WI 53212
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Woody's

1579 S 2nd St
Milwaukee, WI 53204
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What Did We Miss?

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