Midwestern transplants’ penchant for Denver popped into the local culinary scene when Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern opened in LoDo this past September. The team behind Rhein Haus named the adjacent 1417 Market St. location after partner James Weimann’s father, Wally. The same homestead sentiment manifests in the tavern’s casual summer cottage atmosphere: the wooden wall panels and bar take the guests back to nights along the Great Lakes, while classic arcade games yield universal nostalgia. Wally’s boasts 11 televisions, six of which are attached to tables. Don’t fret if the seats are packed; customers can easily transition next door into Rhein Haus. The food menu shines a light on traditional Wisconsin dishes, including the quintessential cheese curds, bratwurst, and schnitzel. In proper Wisconsin fashion, Wally’s hosts a weekly Friday fish fry. Folks from Michigan and Minnesota are encouraged to come in for “Love Thy Neighbor” nights.
Do Wally’s neighbors love the tavern? Here’s a round-up of what online critics think about Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern:
Heartland Charm Rockets Wally’s to the Hotlist: The restaurant’s vintage and Midwestern-inspired aesthetic landed Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern on a Zagat’s September list of “Hottest Bars in Denver.” The “family photo-filled annex” next to Rhein Haus specializes in drinks such as Schiltz and a brandy Old Fashioned, while white cheddar cheese curds rule the menu. The obatzda cheese “essentially Bavarian Cheez Wiz” in the Milwaukee Sampler’s is praised as a tasty twist to house charcuterie. Google reviews featured on Zagat also emphasized Wally’s “good Ol Wisconsin” vibes and overall “yummy bar food.” One diner gave the game day stamp of approval and shared that Wally’s emits a “great atmosphere for Packers games.” [Zagat]
A Taste of the Great Lakes: Most diners that try Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern can feel — and taste — the culture of Wisconsin and the Midwest. On Facebook, the bar cultivated a 4.8-star rating and more than 20 reviews that contend that Wally’s is “a step right into the Midwest.” The decorative details in the restaurant, from the mounted deer to booths “reminiscent of the older taverns back in the state,” proves that “Sheboygan lives on at Wally's” for many diners. Weimann is known to stop and chat with guests, as well, in true Wisconsin fashion. [Facebook]
Rhein Haus’ American Counterpart: Solely separated from Rhein Haus by saloon doors, the American tavern is “not a huge stylistic leap” from its German-inspired neighbor. However, Westword notes that Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern’s menu “reads like the greatest hits of Wisconsin bar food as it evolved from its Scandinavian and German roots.” Cheese curds naturally reign at the top of critic Mark Antonation list; the pretzel beer batter and jalapeño ranch dressing add their flair to the regional dish. Antonation only faced the Oshkosh cranberry slaw with uncertainty. [Westword]
Standard Bar Offerings (With a Little Bit of Gloss): 303 Magazine sees the glossy shine added to Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern’s typical dive bar formula. The Weimann’s family images, nestled among beer iconography and other memorabilia, demonstrate the love dedicated Wally’s namesake. It’s the type of setting “that could otherwise risk kitsch feels not only legitimate but heartwarming.” The 48th parallel, a tequila-laden rendition of an Old Fashioned, is the star of the “short and sweet” cocktail menu (that’s packed with old fashioned reinventions). The Bucky’s Bratwurst is a rare and “dignified” manifestation of “sin and indulgence” composed of bratwurst, bacon, and cheddar cheese. 303 favorably recommends Wally’s Wisconsin Tavern as “exactly the kind of place to eat comfort food and knock back a cold one.” [303 Magazine]