Milwaukee’s Supper Club Culture Remains Strong into New Era
If you’ve ever stepped into one of Wisconsin’s 250-plus, tried-and-true supper clubs, you know that feeling of walking back in time, where you can get a big cut of prime rib, a fish fry each Friday, relish trays and a brandy Old Fashioned while feeling like you know everyone in the joint. Like elsewhere in the state, Milwaukee claims a handful of popular supper clubs and they aren’t to be missed. If you’re looking for an authentic Wisconsin supper club in the Cream City, check into one of these places.
One of the oldest, still-operating Milwaukee supper clubs, Five O’Clock dates back to 1946 and used to be called Coerper’s Five O’Clock Club. You can sip on classic cocktails, martinis and spiked ice cream drinks while throwing down with bacon-wrapped filets, Alaskan king crab legs and green beans almondine. If you’re looking to make a full evening out of your supper club experience, check out the on-site Alley Cat Lounge, where you can kick back to free live music in a 1940s retro lounge atmosphere.
Not much has changed in the more than 100 years since the Pandl family first opened this now-classic spot that has been designated a Milwaukee County landmark. Whether you go for brunch, lunch, dinner or the Friday fish fry, you’re guaranteed a delicious freshly caught namesake whitefish, wiener schnitzel, shrimp scampi or Pandl’s classic German pancake.
Voted the best fish fry by OnMilwaukee.com, which may have to do with its fish fry drive-thru window, but absolutely has everything to do with its combination of delicious food comprising the fish fry: clam chowder, cole slaw, marble rye and hand-breaded Icelandic cod that comes with either French fries or potato pancakes. The Wiken family has taken care of locals since they opened Packing House in 1974, and that love continues today when you order their famous onion shreds basket, crab-stuffed mushrooms and truly any entrée, which always include a relish tray and hot bread and butter.
Dubbed “Milwaukee’s Supper Club,” Jackson Grill opened in the Burnham Park neighborhood around the turn of the 20th century in an intimate space with just 35 seats and a bar for another 16. Here, a 1950s vibe permeates the room’s decor (including a series of famous sports signatures taken from chef/owner Jimmy Jackson’s father’s iconic restaurant, Ray Jackson’s) while guests enjoy fare like Cajun barbecue shrimp cocktail; Black Angus filet a la portabella; and seared sea scallops in a saffron risotto—and of course well-made martinis and Old Fashioneds.
Pitch’s, owned by the Picciurro family since 1942, takes its Friday fish fry seriously by dedicating an entire section on its menu to nearly a dozen Friday night specials, including beer-battered cod, pan-fried lake perch and the rib and fish fry combo: junior barbecue baby back ribs and two pieces of beer battered cod for just $18.95. But its massive menu offers something for everyone, including full and half orders of its famous shredded onion rings.