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The other night some friends and I went out for drinks and afterward decided we needed a workout, so we headed to the Gym.

Anyone who reads my column on a regular basis would realize that there is so much wrong with that first sentence.

The last time I set foot in a gym it was for a sock-hop and that was many generations ago. There are two types of people: those that like to work out and the rest of us.

Some of you that push yourselves, do so for health, or vanity, and some people really do get that endorphin rush that physical activity supposedly brings.

Personally, I’ve never experienced that. For me there are only two reasons to run: either someone is behind me with a knife, or in front of me with a cheesecake. 

So, I’m not the type to hang out in a gym, or a bar called Gym, but my friends wanted to stop there because on Monday night they offer $3 appetizers. We shared a bunch of apps and a round of drinks and still were able to get away with spending about $10 a person, tip included.

Let’s start with the chicken tenders: wafer-thin slices of chicken breast in a crunchy panko-style coating. Crispy, lightly seasoned, and without the slightest hint of grease. The four-piece serving was perfect for sharing. In a nod to Gym Bar owner Rick Schmutzler’s Midwestern roots, our next apps featured a generous portion of fried cheese curds, accompanied by a marinara dipping sauce. If you haven’t tried this delicacy yet, you’re in for a treat, and Gym Bar’s version is as good as I’ve had at the Wisconsin State Fair.

Guacamole and chips and hand-cut fries aren’t that much of a bargain (they’re only a couple of bucks more when not on special) and weren’t anything to write home about. They weren’t bad, just not remarkable.

The onion rings, on the other hand, were delicious (even if I suspect they, like many of the apps, were pre-packaged). They were well-prepared; crispy outside and steaming inside. The smoked paprika aioli was the perfect accompaniment. The only thing wrong with the Southwestern chicken egg rolls was that I had to share them. I could drink a cup of the sweet chili dipping sauce served alongside them. There are additional apps, such as fried pickles. 

On Wednesdays, all hamburgers are discounted 50% off. With the average price of an a la carte burger just a little over $10 before the discount, that’s not bad. So, we headed back for dinner two nights later.

You can start with the build-your-own burger, with a choice of a hefty beef, turkey, or vegetarian patty topped with a choice of cheese and toppings (bacon-onion jam, chipotle mayo, catsup, mustard, and lettuce or tomato) for $10.25, just over $5, after the discount. There are several house specialties, each more delicious-sounding than the next.

I tried the Gym Signature Burger, dripping with beer cheese, and resting on a bed of black pepper bacon and topped with crispy onion rings. The cheese sauce had broken (separated), making it a bit of a greasy mess, but it was still tasty. My hubby had a veggie version of the ‘Shroom, topped with aged cheddar cheese, sauteed mushrooms, truffle oil, and garlic mayo. As veggie burgers go, it was one of the better ones I’ve tasted.  

Other special burgers include the Cowboy, with cheddar cheese, bacon, smokey barbeque sauce, and crispy onions, the Big Easy tops the burger with cheddar cheese, bacon, and a fried egg, while the Big Blue combines bleu cheese and bacon.

You place your order at the bar and are given a pager. When your food is ready you pick it up at the bar. It’s a no-frills affair with everything coming in little cardboard baskets. I found the bartenders delightful and sexy, and the street-side tables provide for some fun people watching. I had such a good time, and the food was so good I may just become a Gym (if not gym) regular.

Gym Bar
2287 Wilton Dr.

Rick Karlin is SFGN's food editor. Visit to read his previous reviews. Have a culinary tip to share? Email Rick at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..