About Water Buffalo

Milwaukee's favorite riverfront bar and restaurant in the heart of the historic third ward for nearly 10 years.

Fantastic outdoor riverfront seating as well as a dynamic, highly designed space with a varied casual American menu.

Plenty of parking via street parking and nearby structures.

This may be the most unique Riverfront restaurant and bar in Milwaukee.

If you don't happen to find the reservation time that you're interested in, please do call the restaurant: 414-431-1133

249 N Water St
Milwaukee, WI 53202
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Dining Style:
Casual Dining

Cuisines:
American, Comfort Food, Vegetarian

Hours of Operation:
Weekdays: Lunch from 11 am to 4 pm; Dinner starting at 4 pm
Weekends: Brunch from 10 am to 3 pm; Dinner starting at 3 pm

Cross Street:
Buffalo St.

Dress Code:
Casual Dress

Price Range:
$30 and under

Payment Options
AMEX, Discover, MasterCard, Visa

Phone Number:
(414) 431-1133

Website:
http://www.wbmke.com/

Parking Details:
Street and surface lots are plentiful; private parking lot also available near by.

Executive Chef:
Alex Sazama

Private Party Facilities:
Private space can accommodate up to 150 guests in the summer; great for group gatherings. No matter the occasion, Water Buffalo is the perfect spot for your event.

Private Party Contact:
Chrstine Bradford: (414) 585-8934

Additional:
Banquet, Bar Dining, Bar/Lounge, Beer, Cafe, Cocktails, Full Bar, Gluten-free Menu, Happy Hour, Non-Smoking, Outdoor dining, Private Room, View, Weekend Brunch, Wheelchair Access, Wine

Water Buffalo Ratings and Reviews

5
4
3
2
1

4.2

Overall Rating

based on recent ratings
food

4.2

service

4.1

ambience

4.2

value

3.9

Noise

Moderate

82% would recommend it to a friend

Waterfront (28)
Casual (21)
Scenic View (21)
See All
Great for Outdoor Dining (15)
Good for a Date (14)
Neighborhood Gem (13)
Romantic (12)
Special Occasion (12)
Good for Groups (11)
Great for Lunch (10)
Business Meals (9)
Fun (9)
Great for Brunch (9)
Comfort Food (8)
Good for Birthdays (7)
Fit for Foodies (7)
People Watching (7)
Bar Seating (6)
Creative Cuisine (6)
Pre/post Theatre (6)
Quiet Conversation (6)
Worth the Drive (6)
Good for Anniversaries (5)
Authentic (5)
Cozy (5)
Happy Hour (5)
Healthy (5)
Sunday Lunch (5)
Local Ingredients (4)
Great Beer (3)
Handcrafted Cocktails (3)
Notable Wine List (3)
Quick Bite (3)
Good Vegetarian Options (3)
Gluten Free Options (3)
Disabled Access (2)
Seasonal (2)
Tasting Menu (2)
Vibrant Bar Scene (2)
Afternoon Coffee (1)
Hot Spot (1)
Late-night Find (1)
Live Music (1)
Organic (1)
Paleo Friendly (1)
Vegan (1)
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863 reviews
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·Dined a day ago

The food was good and our waitress was good, however the host was so incredibly rude. I had a party of 5 and we weren't all there when I got there, so he told us we needed to wait to be seated until our whole party arrived. A few minutes later, a girl came and said she needed a table for 2 and that her friend was coming shortly and he sat her right away! When we asked to be seated, he said they don't like to seat parties when not everyone is there. Once 4 of the 5 people in my party arrived, he took us to table but was very short with us. He put us at a table that seated probably 10 people and our group made a joke about it and he rudely said "Well you're supposed to have FIVE people". This alone was enough to make me not want to come back again, although fortunately our waitress was friendly. The other issue was that 4 meals came out and the fifth one didn't come out for at least 10 minutes after everyone had already received their meals and all she received was 10% off of her next visit, which I didn't think was fair, as everyone was already at least halfway done with their food by the time she got hers (because we didn't want our hot food getting cold). I did enjoy the atmosphere, the decor and the view, however I'm not sure I would go back based on the service and the way we were treated.

Tags: Casual, Sunday Lunch, Great for Lunch, Fit for Foodies
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food4
ambience4
service1
value3

vip
 (Milwaukee)·Dined 2 days ago

Great service. Good food--the wine is a bit pricey--but nice selection.

Tags: Special Occasion, Notable Wine List, Great for Outdoor Dining, Business Meals, Good for Birthdays
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
·Dined on November 12, 2017

We really enjoyed our meal. The food was delicious and was quite creative. We went with our servers recommendations and she knew what she was talking about. The atmosphere had a nice vibe as well.

Tags: Neighborhood Gem, Fun, Great for Outdoor Dining, Fit for Foodies, Great for Brunch, Quiet Conversation, Handcrafted Cocktails, Good Vegetarian Options, Pre/post Theatre, Sunday Lunch, Local Ingredients, Good for a Date, Bar Seating, Comfort Food, Great for Lunch, Waterfront, Special Occasion, Authentic, Good for Groups, Casual, Cozy, Scenic View, Romantic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on November 12, 2017

I can’t say enough positive things about our experience. The meal was great, drinks were amazing, server was top notch. Best spot to go.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on November 12, 2017

This was everyone in my group's first time here (8 of us) and we all enjoyed our food as well as the view!

Tags: Waterfront, Great for Outdoor Dining, Good for Groups, Scenic View, Notable Wine List, Quiet Conversation, Good for Anniversaries, Good for Birthdays, Romantic, Cozy, Special Occasion, Good for a Date
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Charleston)·Dined on November 11, 2017

In town for a wedding, Water Buffalo had been recommended by the bride and groom to be. We went for the Saturday brunch despite not being "brunch" people. We were totally impressed, from the Bloody Mary (served with a beer "back") to the short rib bowl that included breakfast potatoes and veggies along with two soft-boiled eggs. Great food, great bartender (we usually sit at the bar for lunch and often for dinner) and great atmosphere.

Tags: Great for Brunch, Good for Groups, Creative Cuisine
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on November 3, 2017

We celebrated our daughter's 19th birthday over lunch. The pulled pork was tender and tasty, the mac and cheese was outstanding. The fish and chips we a little greasy on the plate but non the less was very tasty.

Tags: Fun, Great for Lunch, Scenic View, Comfort Food, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (New England)·Dined on October 30, 2017

I ordered the salmon burger and it didn't taste fresh. The restaurant was under staffed because of call-out. It was barely OK for a mid-week dinner.

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food3
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on October 29, 2017

The service was good and the tuna was very good. Wish the Quinoa was a bit more interesting.

Tags: Good for Birthdays, Pre/post Theatre, Healthy
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food4
ambience4
service5
value4

 
·Dined on October 21, 2017

Had dinner with 5 friends and couldn't be more happy with overall experience. Everything was very pleasant evening from checking in with host, being greeted by our server, delivery of drinks and dinner which I must add was very delicious. All six had something different and all where very pleased. Will definitely return

Tags: Scenic View, Neighborhood Gem, Fit for Foodies, Waterfront
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on October 15, 2017

Nice brunch menu. Noise level was over the top. Felt like we had to shout to hear each other. Breakfast potatoes were hard and over done.

Tags: Sunday Lunch
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food3
ambience1
service4
value3

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on October 13, 2017

Great looking spot. Menu has wide appeal however, Food was just ok, not amazing. In particular, the Brussels sprouts were not that good at all, we asked to have them cooked longer. This was done, but they were still stringy and lacked the taste one might expect from a dish labeled "Carmelized." Other dishes were solid, I liked the fried chicken sandwich. Service met expectations but did not dazzle. It's not expensive, but it's not cheap either, which is kind of an expectation trap.

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food3
ambience4
service3

 
·Dined on October 8, 2017

My boyfriend and I went her for our one year anniversary, and we really enjoyed the whole experience. We were both huge fans of our meal. He ordered the pulled BBQ sandwich with fries and I ordered the Mac and cheese with chicken. This was amazing Mac and cheese and I am happy we spent our night there :)

Tags: Business Meals, Worth the Drive, Good for a Date, Authentic, Great for Lunch, Romantic
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food5
ambience4
service4
value4

 
 (Atlantic City)·Dined on October 8, 2017

I've been to Water Buffalo many times and this might be the time I stop. The food just wasn't as good as it used to be and the portions were smaller. My scallops and risotto were very overpriced for what I received, and the risotto had a different taste than in the past. My husband's lasagna was supposed to be huge--the server suggested he order it if he was really hungry--and he was actually left hungry afterwards. My kids shared the mac & cheese since they remembered it being super cheesy and delicious on past visits. This time, the portion was small and the dish was fairly tasteless with relatively little cheese. The server did come through with a warm cookie pie for my birthday, which was great and the highlight of our meal. But the rest left us wishing for the quality of past meals.

Tags: Waterfront, Casual
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food2
ambience3
service4
value1

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on October 6, 2017

Service was great, very responsive and prompt. Meals were excellent.

Tags: Local Ingredients, Casual, Special Occasion, Great for Outdoor Dining, Comfort Food, Scenic View, Business Meals
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food5
ambience4
service5
value4

 
·Dined on October 6, 2017

Our dinning experience was great. We had a fun time, a great waitress and the food was very good. Dan Martino

Tags: Fun, Creative Cuisine, Paleo Friendly, People Watching
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food4
ambience4
service5
value5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on October 1, 2017

Food was good, service was very slow. Think they were understaffed for Sunday brunch.

Tags: Bar Seating, Waterfront, Handcrafted Cocktails
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food4
ambience3
service2
value3

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on October 1, 2017

Went for Sunday brunch. There really isn't one. It's a regular breakfast menu and if you add unlimited mimosas that's their brunch. Good food. Slow but curteous service. Only one wait person, I think. Needed to keep asking for coffee refills. Good food, good quantity, reasonable price. Limited menu.

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food3
ambience3
service2
value2

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 23, 2017

Long wait for outside tables.....one hour plus with a reservation.....

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food5
ambience3
service5
value3

 
·Dined on September 23, 2017

We arrived a few minutes early for our reservation but were seated immediately to a clean table. We ordered a caprese salad - it was well dressed but only had 3 small pieces each of (not fully fresh) tomato and cheese. For a $12 salad I expected a little bit more. I ordered a sandwich and asked if I could have one of their sides instead of the regular side for an upcharge. Instead of a small up charge on the original sandwich/fries or coleslaw combo, I was charged for both items full price. Because of this, I asked for the coleslaw to-go. The sandwich was delicious. I also ordered a margarita which was very good, and cocktail prices typical for downtown. Our server was pleasant and good came out quickly. The atmosphere was very calm in the restaurant.

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food3
ambience5
service4
value4

 
·Dined on September 23, 2017

This is the second time I've been here. The food is just not that good. It's kind of boring, and the menu is too small. The atmosphere is nice. It did take a crazy long amount of time to get a table in the patio. The service out there was rather slow, but we did still have a pretty good time there, but is it worth the trip? Not really. I think I'll try something else next time.

Tags: Scenic View, Casual, People Watching, Waterfront
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food3
ambience5
service4
value3

 
·Dined on September 23, 2017

Seated immediately but we were given a table in the corner when there were tables looking out on the river. Food was very good as was the service. Drinks were strong but that is a from a person that doesn't drink much. Other than the location of the table it was a very nice experience.

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food4
ambience4
service5

 
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 23, 2017

Men's bathroom smelt really bad like river water. Service was really good.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value4

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 23, 2017

Water Buffalo is an excellent restaurant. Food was outstanding and service is great.

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food5
ambience5
service5

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 19, 2017

We really enjoyed the restaurant. The atmosphere was wonderful being on the Milwaukee River. Grilled cheese sandwich was great. Bruschetta was wonderful.

Tags: Worth the Drive, Comfort Food, Casual, Neighborhood Gem, Scenic View, Tasting Menu, Business Meals, Romantic
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Las Vegas)·Dined on September 17, 2017

We received a call 15 minutes prior to our time to leave for the restaurant that the grill was not available due to a kitchen accident. It was too late to find something else for a party of 12 on a Saturday, so we decided to go and "deal with it". The restaurant was empty when we got there, understandable for the current kitchen situation. Our server was wonderful and accommodating and we were all able to find a "compromise" dish from items we originally were looking at earlier in the evening. Given the large, special occasion party and last minute inconvenience, I would have expected a complimentary beverage or dessert for the guest of honor, but it was still a great experience.

Tags: Gluten Free Options, Waterfront, Cozy
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food4
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 17, 2017

The host did not check us in so I was inconvenienced with having to let Open Table know we were there. He was very flustered and said our table would be a few minutes. We asked if we could sit at the bar instead and he said "you won't get your food any faster". He was rather short with us. My husband ordered a margarita and the bartender did not shake the drink. We had to ask for her to do that. The service was very slow and it took 20 minutes to get a water. We live in the neighborhood and will think twice about coming back.

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food4
ambience1
service1
value1

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on September 16, 2017

It would be great if they would serve regular menu stating at 2:00 on weekends
Their brunch menu is vey limited if you are a picky eater

Tags: Seasonal, Good for Groups, Bar Seating
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food4
ambience5
service5
value4

vip
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 16, 2017

Dined next to River, beautiful views, fish fry was excellent!

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food4
ambience5
service4
value4

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 10, 2017

Our service was great! The food was amazing too. It was a perfect dining experience.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on September 10, 2017

Food was fantastic at an unbelievable price. Just a great place to have a glass of wine and a meal.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Northern MI)·Dined on September 2, 2017

Great food and service. Interesting menu that has something for everyone. Good energy, fun night.

Tags: Bar Seating, Creative Cuisine, Seasonal, Great for Brunch, Special Occasion
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on September 2, 2017

The wait staff was slow to get us our first drink. 2 of the 4 orders were wrong . Salads were ok, meatball sandwich great.

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food3
ambience3
service3
value4

 
·Dined on August 26, 2017

It was very good. There were 4 in our party & we each enjoyed our meal very much. Water Buffalo has a great ambience too. This restaurant never disappoints us.

Tags: Scenic View, Gluten Free Options, Waterfront, Fit for Foodies, People Watching, Comfort Food, Casual, Healthy, Great for Outdoor Dining
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
·Dined on August 20, 2017

The manager was kind & checked in on our meal. Server was on top of things & friendly.

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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on August 20, 2017

Thank you to the hostess and other greeter who went out of their way to accommodate our desire to be seated outside. Friendly and patient staff.

Tags: Great for Outdoor Dining, Casual, Happy Hour
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food5
ambience5
service5
value5

vip
 (Chicago)·Dined on August 16, 2017

We chose this place as it has a patio with a river view, but a storm rolled in before we were seated so we sat inside, and although we had a window seat, you had to stand to see the river. Our server was very friendly and got us started with good cocktails, and the Cheese Spread, which was like a fondue rather than a cheese platter, and delicious. We both ordered a meat dish for our main: the beef kabob, and the Kansas City strip. That's when the experience went downhill - the steak in both dishes was flavorless, except for an overwhelming taste of burnt. The chef was obviously more concerned with getting scorchmarks into the meat than the actual taste, because it was horrible - I'd be surprised if the meat was even seasoned, or it was burned off immediately. It just tasted of the grill, maybe even a bit chemically like the gas used to cook it. We couldn't finish it, and the sides were just okay. We didn't stay for dessert, and we certainly won't be going back, even if the sun was shining and we could dine on the river bank.

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food2
ambience2
service4
value1

 
·Dined on August 13, 2017

Really enjoyed the food and the restaurant. Server and hostess could have been more attentive and friendly.

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food5
ambience5
service4
value5

 
·Dined on August 9, 2017

Poor service on all levels; forgetful waitstaff, long wait for even a menu and waters; burgers delivered without condiments and when requested then took more than ten minutes to receive. Mediocre food, warm at best when served because half of meal not even ordered on time. Received appetizers at different times and forgot one.

Tags: Quick Bite
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food2
ambience4
service1
value1

 
 (Milwaukee)·Dined on August 8, 2017

Made reservations on Open Table and requested outside seating. Understandably, outdoor seating is not able to be reserved and we were notified we would have to wait 30 minutes. Not a problem. We go sit at the bar and for 5 minutes we wait to be spoke to. Not one bartender speaks to us. A group of 3 walk in for outdoor seating 10 minutes after we had sat at the bar and were seated immediately. Skipping two other groups of 3. Horrible service by the staff. This was my spouses birthday.

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food1
ambience1
service1
value1

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