The Bomb Shelter
A huge beer list in a classic Milwaukee tavern setting
Off the beaten path, down that flight of stairs, or tucked behind some crappy façade in a strip mall, some restaurants are overlooked because of their weird locations. It’s almost like there’s a parallel universe of Milwaukee dining lurking just beyond the curtain of the conventional. Just because a restaurant isn’t on the East Side or in Bay View, though, doesn’t mean the food’s not worth tracking down. Case in point: The Bomb Shelter (1517 S. Second St., 414-384-2662).
Looking more like a basement rec room than a year-old bar, The Bomb Shelter might not seem like the home of one of Milwaukee’s largest and most diverse beer lists. But that’s exactly what this Walkers Point watering hole offers in a deceptively traditional environment—antique neon brewery signs, Packers carpeting, and a the herd of taxidermy critters on the walls.
The Bomb Shelter boasts 281 beers in all, including locally made brews, imports, and—in adherence to unofficial Milwaukee tavern law—the usual working-man favorites like Blatz and Schlitz. Everything is covered, from Abita Amber to Young's Double Chocolate Stout. (Brave souls can try the fearsome Mamma Mia Pizza Beer.) Staggering beer list aside, the liquor selection isn’t shabby either. Two daily specials starting at 4 p.m. and running through closing time give customers a variety ways to work their way through the drink medley without damaging their pocketbooks. Mondays feature $1 retro beers, Sundays offer $4 16-ounce Bloody Marys, and Wednesdays feature the Suds Club for beer tastings.
The Bomb Shelter doesn’t have many food options, but there are a variety of pickled items normally found only in small-town tavern: pickled eggs, pickled pork hocks, and the always popular pickled turkey gizzards. The commingling of time-honored tradition and contemporary favorites is even reflected in The Bomb Shelter’s in-bar activities. It’s one of the few places in town that still offers Silver Strike Bowling. If you look up from the pool table (past the trophy case of ancient-looking Wisconsin sports memorabilia) you can catch the game on an HDTV. Therein lies the appeal of this self-described “classic Milwaukee tavern”: The past and the present sit at the bar with their arms wrapped lovingly around each other.