By Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host Published Mar 21, 2024 at 11:03 AM

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Last spring, we broke the news that Growlers East Tosa, a new sports bar and restaurant, would be coming to the former Red Dot space at 6715 W. North Ave. And, while construction delays pushed back its debut, the new neighborhood gathering place successfully held its soft opening over St. Patrick’s Day weekend.

Growler's exteriorX

The new venue merges the talents of industry veteran and operating partner, Jason Growel, building owner Mario Balistreri and Chef Pietro Balistreri (the Balestreris are also co-owners of BB’s on North). 

Its name draws inspiration from Growel’s surname, the bar’s focus on craft beer (and growlers to go) and Growel’s love for dogs, which will likely be evidenced through community events that support local dog-related organizations.

Sports & socialization

Step inside the new venue, which occupies the Eastern two-thirds of the building, and you’ll find a spacious dining area showcasing dusty green walls, hardwood flooring and wall decor that reflects the sports bar theme. 

Dining roomX

The space also features 15 televisions and a projector, which will be used to broadcast local sporting events. Meanwhile, a “sportsbook-like” screen astride the bar projects a display of upcoming matches and live scores for various games.


The L-shaped bar features comfortable seating for about 15 guests and a back bar that displays both the bar’s whiskey offerings and a collection of growlers from breweries across the U.S.


In keeping with that theme, Growlers East Tosa offers 24 tap beers, many of which are sourced from local breweries. All can be purchased in a growler to take home.


Guests can also enjoy a full complement of signature cocktails, including cleverly named quaffs like the “Love Shove” (gin, raspberry, lemon); “The Zone Infusion” (vodka, grape juice, lime); The Lambeau Leap Mule (vodka, lime, ginger beer, Midori Melon Liqueur).

Smoked Old Fashioned
Smoked Old Fashioned

Growlers' Famous Smoked Old Fashioned (pictured above), riffs on the classic Wisconsin-style cocktail featuring guests’ choice of spirits (Bulleit Bourbon, Crown Royale Whiskey or Korbel Brandy), sugar, muddled cherry and orange and a wisp of apple wood and hickory infused through a smoking cloche before the cocktail is finished with soda.

Just to the East of the dining room, guests can also enjoy the bar’s game room, which showcases entertainment like darts, bags, Putterball and Pop-A-Shot and the prerequisite pull tab machine.

Games in game roomX

As the weather warms, Growlers' guests can also look forward to patio seating in an area just behind the restaurant.

On the menu

The bar’s scratch menu was created by Chef Pietro Balistreri, who took inspiration from beloved bar fare to create a menu ot items that are both approachable, but fun.

“I like to take a playful approach to things,” he says, “So the menu showcases different takes on classic items, while also tying into the bar’s offerings.” 

That plays out in items like Balisteri’s Popcorn Shrimp featuring hand-breaded popcorn-coated shrimp served with popcorn and a choice of bourbon cocktail sauce or orange chili sauce ($14).

Popcorn shrimp
Popcorn Shrimp

The bar’s signature wings are flash fried, sauced, grilled and then sauced, resulting in a crisp crust and tender interior.

Garlic Buffalo wings
Garlic Buffalo wings

An order includes 10 wings with a choice of sauces (blackberry bourbon BBQ, honey Sriracha, bourbon mustard, garlic buffalo, truffle buffalo, garlic parmesan) or dry rubs (lemon pepper or blackened chipotle). Rather than the usual crudites accompaniment, Growlers' wings come on a bed of celery carrot coleslaw tossed in blue cheese dressing ($15).

BBQ wings
Blackberry Bourbon BBQ wings

Deviled eggs are infused with Nueske’s bacon and topped with chives and queso fresco ($7).

Bacon Deviled Eggs
Bacon Deviled Eggs

Guests can also order battered cheese curds served with housemade ranch and pepper jelly ($12); avocado fries (breaded avocado served with chorizo salsa and Sriracha ranch, $9); and nachos topped with beer cheese, pico de gallo and queso fresco ($10).

Salads include Caesar, Green Goddess and a Southwest Cobb Salad with bacon, chicken, chorizo, avocado, cucumbers, tomatoes and housemade ranch dressing (salads are priced $14-15).

Burgers also come in a variety of forms. Prime brisket patties are featured in the Gruyere Mushroom Burger, which is served with French onion aioli ($15); the Bourbon Bacon Burger featuring house bourbon bacon jam and pickled red onions ($14); and the BLT Burger featuring Nueske’s bacon, lettuce, tomatoes, housemade pickles, American cheese and garlic aioli ($14).

BLT Burger
BLT Burger

Balistreri has also created the Surf & Turf Burger featuring a lump crab burger patty topped with pineapple salsa and roasted poblano remoulade ($16).

Surf & Turf Burger
Surf & Turf Burger

But you don’t need to eat beef to enjoy a burger at Growlers. Balistreri has also created the Waldorf Chicken Burger with a ground chicken patty, roasted grape tomatoes, walnuts and apple cider vinaigrette ($14); and the Chorizo Burger featuring a chorizo patty topped with lettuce, tomatoes, pickled red onions, queso fresco and green goddess aioli.

Housemade desserts round out the offerings and include warm blondies with caramel and chocolate sauce ($6) and French Silk pie ($7).

Guests can follow Growlers East Tosa on Instagram and Facebook for updates and events, including the bar’s grand opening celebration, which is slated to take place sometime in May.

Growlers East Tosa is open seven days a week with hours Monday through Thursday from 3:30 p.m. to close and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to close. The kitchen is open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Parking is available in a lot just behind the building as well as on the street.

Lori Fredrich Senior Food Writer, Dining Editor, Podcast Host

Lori is an avid cook whose accrual of condiments and spices is rivaled only by her cookbook collection. Her passion for the culinary industry was birthed while balancing A&W root beer mugs as a teenage carhop, fed by insatiable curiosity and fueled by the people whose stories entwine with each and every dish. She’s had the privilege of chronicling these tales via numerous media, including OnMilwaukee and in her book “Milwaukee Food.” Her work has garnered journalism awards from entities including the Milwaukee Press Club. 

When she’s not eating, photographing food, writing or recording the FoodCrush podcast, you’ll find Lori seeking out adventures with her husband Paul, traveling, cooking, reading, learning, snuggling with her cats and looking for ways to make a difference.