By Dan Newman
If you ask for recommendations for a down-home Wisconsin bar to get a beer and burger while you catch a Packer game, many many folks will steer you toward Chatterbox Bar on Wausau’s west side.
They’ve been around for as long as I can remember and are as known for their fresh food as they are for their strict “no swearing” policy.
It’s kinda on the small side, so don’t expect a dance floor in there. It’s not that kind of place. The bar itself has seating all the way around and dominates one side of the room.
Opposite that, you’ll find tables and gambling machines. Beer signs and Packer paraphernalia line the walls, and the place is decked out in holiday decorations.
Check out my video review, linked below, to see place and the food for yourself.
There’s an overflow room in the back with more seating, a second bar and a pool table. The room has thick, removable plastic sheets on the walls, as it’s used as a patio in the summer. The theme from the front continues back there with signs and a couple beer logos painted on the brick walls.
The menu is full of ‘Sconie delights, like burgers with pepper jack cheese and cheese curds, as well as classics like quesadillas and patty melts. All the daily specials are printed on the back. They even have cribbage and Sheepshead tournaments, if that’s your bag.
I started off with an order of Loaded Tots. These are tater tots topped with chili, pepper jack cheese, onions, pickled jalapenos, and topped with a dollop of sour cream. Everything tasted fresh, and the cumin from the chili went well with all the other ingredients because aside from the tots, everything in the dish is commonly added to chili. Very much a Wisconsin appetizer. It wasn’t too spicy, and the tots were more like mashed potatoes by the end. This was a meal by itself, so I took over half of it home.
Then I got a traditional patty melt. A thick 6 oz. slab of beef, grilled onions, Swiss and American cheeses, served on toasted marbled rye bread. Fries and pickles on the side. Chatterbox gets their meat from Zillmans, a local meat market, and it tasted so fresh I half expected it to moo. I ordered it medium well and that is exactly how it came, with a thin sliver of pink in the middle surrounded by well done hamburger. It had the natural peppery taste you always look for with fresh beef. The burger wasn’t heavily seasoned like other places so the natural flavors came through even more. The bread held the sandwich together all the way to the finish. This was hands down the best patty melt I’ve had. Period.
Now, about that swearing policy …
It boils down essentially to two main rules – be respectful and don’t drop any f-bombs. They will give you a warning before they kick you out, but have no doubt that if you’re swearing up a storm you will be asked to leave. I didn’t test this policy as I’m not known to drop f-bombs during a professional outing, but I know people who have been warned. They just want a family friendly atmosphere and safe place to get a meal or have a drink.
All in all, Chatterbox has a great menu full of ‘Sconie delights in a neighborhood bar setting. The food is outstanding and my server was polite and there any time I needed something. You should check out Chatterbox Bar next time you’re in the mood for some of the best bar food in town.
102 S. Second Ave.
Wausau, WI 54401