In Bars & Clubs

The Stadium Bar offers drinking indoors and outdoors on game day.

In Bars & Clubs

The Nitty Gritty is a popular spot for basketball and hockey fans.

In Bars & Clubs

Lucky's draws a young, vibrant crowd of sports fans.

In Bars & Clubs

The burgers at Dotty Dumpling's Dowry are among the best in Madison.

In Bars & Clubs

State Street Brats is a place to eat and drink -- a lot -- before, during and after games.

Game on: Madison's best pre- and post-game bars

Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Jan. 22, 2009 at 12:09 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on, but it's possible some details, specials and offers may have changed. As always, we recommend you call first if you have specific questions for the businesses mentioned in the guide.

It's Madison Week at We sent our editorial staff to check out bars, restaurants, retail outlets and cultural venues in order to uncover some of the best of Wisconsin's second-largest city.

MADISON -- In July 2007, ESPN broadcaster Scott Van Pelt declared Madison to be "America's greatest college sports town."

The incredible thing was that he made the declaration after visiting his friend, two-time U.S. Open golf champ and big Badger booster Andy North in summer.

Obviously, Van Pelt didn't need to sample the Badgers' game experience (not to mention the pre- and post-game) to come to his conclusion.

Of course, as any visitor will attest, the game-day experience at Camp Randall Stadium, the Kohl Center and even Warner Park, home of the Mallards baseball team, are outstanding in their own ways.

We asked a panel of experts -- actually a couple of friends who live in Madison and like combining sports with an occasional frosty adult beverage -- to name their favorite spots to gather before, during and after a game.

Here are their top choices for food, fun, frivolity and frosty beverages:

5614 Schroeder Rd., (608) 274-7300

A favorite on the West Side for more than two decades, Babe's offers daily lunch and dinner specials and a tremendous plate of nachos.

Badgerland Bar & Grill
525 W. Johnson St., (608) 251-3033

Located in the Doubletree Hotel across from the Kohl Center, the Badgerland Bar is swamped on game days and is also home to some sports talk radio broadcasts, including the "Bo Ryan Show." Check out the appetizers and and a flatbread pizza.

Buck's Madison Square Garden
802 Regent St., (608) 251-4744

Fans of the late, great Walker's Point bar "Timers" will appreciate the vibe at Bucks. If you go on a slow night, it's a great place for relaxing drinks and intelligent conversation. Hit it on a weekend or before a game and the joint will be rocking. The food is solid -- word has it that there is a breakfast menu now -- and it's known as a solid place to meet "Mr. or Miss Right for Tonight."

Dotty Dumpling's Dowry
317 N Frances St., (608) 259-0000

Located near the Kohl Center, Dotty's offers "gourmet" fast food, fantastic burgers and 25 beers on tap. Family owned for 30 years, the restaurant which used to be located in the shadow of the Capitol is a great pre-game stop. Word to the wise: if you plan on going for a great burger before the game, get there two hours early. The place is always packed.

Jordan's Big 10 Pub
1330 Regent St., (608) 251-6375

Located just a few blocks from Camp Randall, this longtime fixture offers a solid beer garden and pre-game atmosphere. Our experts say it's "comfortable," which is to say "dirty, but in a good way." If you feel like hunting cougar, one expert said "if you stay too late, the crowd winnows out to 46-year-old divorcees." Insiders also say that the pub offers one of the better Friday fish fries in town.

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