Marquette bar guide
Note: The contents of this guide were checked for accuracy when this article was updated on Nov. 5, 2019 at 5:46 p.m. We continually update the thousands of articles on OnMilwaukee.com, 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.
You can't ignore it: The number of bars at and around the Marquette University campus – the one-time best Catholic party school, according to Playboy – has dwindled down over the past few decades. But while the decreased number of alcohol-slinging options has caused some students and alumni to migrate elsewhere outside of the Marquette bubble for their preferred watering hole, there are still plenty of places for MU students to hang out, cheer on the Golden Eagles, pregame a class, host a more-than-likely unproductive study session or simply celebrate a well-earned Thirsty Thursday.
Here are the Marquette spots, old and new, that are keeping up and carrying on the Warriors tradition.
804 N. 16th St., (414) 288-7769
Sure, there's something a little dorky about hitting up the university-owned bar, but the fact of the matter is The Annex is the closest thing the Marquette campus has to a true sports bar – and it sure as hell looks the part too. Al McGuire and other Marquette greats memorabilia drapes the walls along with giant TVs playing sports of all sorts. And if none of the games being shown suit your fancy, each booth at the restaurant/bar comes with its own individual TV as well. Between all of the screens and all of the atmosphere, The Annex makes for a pretty much perfect spot for March Madness bingeing – and that's not even including the bowling alley tucked inside, as well as bingo and trivia nights. And as a bonus: You can use MarquetteCash here (not on booze, though; bummer!), so there's savings as well!
1019 N. Old World Third St., (414) 224-8500
Thanks to the Golden Eagles' current home court at the BMO Harris Bradley Center – not to mention the fairly dry state of the MU campus – some of Old World Third Street and even Water Street can qualify as Marquette bars. Brothers and Duke's on Water Street, for instance, have Marquette followings. When it comes to Old World Third, however, Buck Bradley's might lay claim to the strongest Marquette connection – its famously long bar serving as the perfect meeting place for parents, students and alumni to meet up before a game across the street, as well as the perfect landing spot afterward to some (presumably) celebratory postgame drinks.
717 N. 16th St., (414) 933-9047
One of the few remaining bars located on the campus, Caffrey's – or Caff's for those in the know – is a bustling hotspot for MU students, parents and alumni. The campus bar has kept a steady hold on its spot right off the Wisconsin Avenue main drag thanks to its central campus location, cozy space both indoors and outdoors on the patio, and fun events, such as trivia on Monday nights and Thursday Mug Nights. Plus, if you're turning 21, you have to hit Caff's to get your Irish Car Bomb and ceremonial glass. Like the Square Dance, the Jump Around Guy and trying to ignore the Jesusmobile, it's tradition. And lest we forget potentially the most critical part of Caffrey's maintained success on an increasingly dry campus: the free popcorn.
Conway's Smokin' Bar & Grill
2127 W. Wells St., (414) 344-1262
If you're looking for a Marquette spot with a little flavor – both in the venue and on the menu – Conway's might be your destination of choice. It's a bit of a hike from the main campus – beyond Mashuda, beyond the former original Broken Yolk, beyond Sal's Pizza – but luckily Conway's will make for a satisfying journey's end, serving up not only thirst-quenching suds but also a variety of succulent smoked meats on Wednesday through Saturday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.
If that's not enough of an incentive to venture out from the typical MU spots, there's also the live entertainment, with all matter of music hitting the Batman-emblazoned stage to the delight of patrons – not to mention the fiberglass Jake and Elwood chilling out in the corner. And Conway's offers much more than the two types of music – country AND western – as the stage plays host to acts ranging from acoustic to blues to college bands and more. It's a longer trek than most MU watering holes, but just consider yourselves on a mission from God.
Harp & Shamrock
2106 W. Wells St., (414) 933-6080
The Harp & Shamrock is quietly one of Marquette's oldest traditions. The small, cozy neighborhood dive on the fringe of the campus has been around for over 130 years, serving as one of the oldest buildings in the area – in addition, of course, to serving up tasty brews to locals and students willing to make the mild trek. Things have to change, however, and it sounds like that's happening at the Harp & Sham. According to a Marquette Wire report from last year, the area staple went through a couple of changes, including a new owner with the goal of marketing more to students and emphasizing its historical place at Marquette – and in Milwaukee. Hopefully the dive charm earned over 130 years stays put, however.
The High Note
645 N. James Lovell St., (414) 226-5852
Returning to its roots as The New Yorker early last fall, The High Note – located on the far eastern fringes of Marquette's campus – might just be the perfect place to live out your rock-star aspirations or diva dreams, to belt out "Don't Stop Believin" or "I Will Always Love You" somewhere other than the shower or the lone car ride. That's right: The High Note is a karaoke-centric lounge, providing free karaoke from 9 p.m. until 2:30 a.m., complete with smoke machines and neon lights for living out your ultimate vicarious rock star/diva fantasy. The only thing missing is the hotel room to trash or an assistant to complain about your bowl of M&M's not being all reds.
340 W. Kilbourn Ave., (414) 271-3414
Any place that features a large painting of the late MU coaching legend Rick Majerus definitely merits a spot on a Marquette bar guide – especially when it's just a block south from the Golden Eagles' home court and especially when it serves up some exceptionally tasty bar/pub grub, namely its tasty burgers. While it might be a touch out of the way for a home-court stop, when it comes to watching the Golden Eagles on the road – or watching the tournament – Major Goolsby's is a major hotspot.
Miss Katie's Diner
1900 W. Clybourn St., (414) 344-0044
During the day, Miss Katie's Diner is a legendary Milwaukee staple, serving up tasty diner dishes in an authentic '50s-style venue – one that's played host to celebrities and public figures like President Bill Clinton, current presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, Rachel Ray, First Lady Michelle Obama, Henry Winkler, Gary Marshall and many others.
At night, however, Miss Katie's and its full-service bar serves as a nice stop for MU students and alums looking for an equally legendary night – especially on Thursday nights starting at 9 p.m., when the diner hosts karaoke. It may be one of the only places around where your cravings for tuna melts and live karaoke tunes can both be satisfied – along with a tasty beverage.
1613 W. Wells St., (414) 344-0116
It's been over a decade since Murphy's graced the pages of Playboy as the magazine's "College Bar of the Month." However, the Irish pub (owned by the same folks as the other on-campus hotspot Caffrey's) hasn't lost any popularity over the years thanks to a comfortable bar atmosphere – complete with dart boards, pool tables and a backyard terrace – and the popular lineup of daily specials. There's Mimosa Mondays, Townie Tuesdays, Ladies Nights on Wednesdays, karaoke on Thursdays and Student Appreciation Sundays – not to mention Big-Ass Beers.
Even more valuable than a Playboy Seal of Approval, however? The fact that Real Chili and Dogg Haus are pretty much right next door, and Qdoba is across the street. Optimal drunk-food access: a winner.
1900 W. St. Paul Ave., (414) 931-1919
1601 W. Wells St., (414) 933-1601
Back in the old days, if you were a Marquette student craving a Sobelman's burger, you had to journey – uphill both ways, in the snow and the rain! – to the original Sobelman's in the valley at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. Now, thanks to the burger king's second location right on Wells Street, serving up much of the same delectable pub fare – not to mention tasty suds to wash it all down – that made its original home so beloved, all the young Marquette whippersnappers don't even have to leave campus if they want some of the best burgers in the city. Entitled millennials, I tell ya!
Considering Sobelman's at Marquette closes at 10 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays, it's not much for late-night nightlife. But at any other point of the day, when it comes to grabbing good food and a beer, the new Sobelman's certainly draws a major crowd.
746 N. James Lovell St., (414) 276-9610
The Harp & Sham fits the bill for those looking for a comfy neighborhood dive on the far western side of the Marquette campus. However, for those looking for a dive on the complete other side of the Marquette bubble, there's the former Jim's Time Out, a longtime Downtown staple. Next time you're trotting over from the campus to the BMO Harris Bradley Center for a home game, maybe take a mild detour over to James Lovell Street for a drink or two or five at this cozy little spot.
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