10 sports bars locals love in Milwaukee & Madison

March Madness: 10 Sports Bars Locals Love In Milwaukee & Madison

Photo courtesy of The Brewery via Instagram.

By UpNorthNews Staff

March 13, 2024

Whether you’re looking for a basket (pun intended) of freshly fried chicken tenders to savor while watching the season’s biggest basketball games or simply want to feel a sense of community while enjoying your favorite sport, you can always rely on a good local sports bar. And you’re in luck, as Milwaukee and Madison have no shortage of good vibe-filled options. That’s right — our so-called America’s Dairyland has much more to by way of fun venues than cheese shops and creameries, but you already knew that.

In selecting our top-tier sports bar list, we’ve relegated chain establishments to the back seat. This March Madness, we’re supporting local businesses and enjoying seriously good food and drinks in the process. So, without further ado, here are 10 spots you need to hit up for a fun time during basketball season. 

Who’s on Third

Address: 1007 N Doctor M.L.K. Jr Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53203

No list of this nature would be complete without one of Milwaukee’s premier sports bars: Who’s on Third. This sports bar is located downtown and encapsulates what makes this Wisconsin city so special (and no, we don’t mean its mouth-watering cheese curds, which you definitely should order). It’s casual, clean, and cool, and you’ll always be met with excellent service.

“Definitely a place that gives you a Milwaukee feel,” one Google reviewer wrote of Who’s on Third. Meanwhile, another called it a “great place to watch the World Cup.” If it’s good enough for the World Cup, it’s definitely great for March Madness. Oh, and Who’s on Third has outdoor seating, giving you plenty of options for how you want to enjoy the game and your visit.

March Madness: 10 Sports Bars Locals Love In Milwaukee & Madison

Photo courtesy of Who’s on Third via Instagram.

Players Sports Bar & Grill

Address: 2013 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704

You may not have time to watch the chefs cook your food, but that’s certainly an option that locals adore at Madison’s Players Sports Bar & Grill. The folks at Players are proud of the food and drinks they sell, and they’re equally proud to live and operate in Wisconsin, as evidenced by the establishment being ornamented in the Green Bay Packers’ color scheme. So, if you want to support an unabashedly Wisconsin business, your first March Madness stop should absolutely be Players.

But what are locals saying about it? “Great find. Looks like just a bar from the outside, but the food is truly outstanding,” wrote one Yelp reviewer. “The BEST burger in Madison,” another wrote of Players.

McGinn’s All-Stars Sports Bar

Address: 5901 W Bluemound Rd, Milwaukee, WI 53213

To experience an Irish spin on March Madness, check out McGinn’s All-Stars Sports Bar. McGinn’s is open until midnight most days of the week, and it boasts a tavern vibe that feels more communal than other bars in the area. Its menu reflects this, with dishes like the Irish Dip being a little more elevated and innovative than other bars’ offerings.

One Google reviewer went as far as to call McGinn’s a “big time bar with a small town vibe,” while another reviewer said it’s “affordable, comfort food galore, [and had] nice people, and a cozy atmosphere.” Locals also love the portion sizes. No skimpy bar food here! (And you’re going to need these big portions to fuel your basketball cheering.)

PS: It should go without saying, but you should also visit McGinn’s on St. Paddy’s Day. Let the green beer floweth.

March Madness: 10 Sports Bars Locals Love In Milwaukee & Madison

Photo courtesy of McGinn’s Sports Bar via Facebook.

The Red Zone Madison

Address: 1212 Regent St, Madison, WI 53715

Come for sports, stay for the live music. That seems to be The Red Zone Madison’s motto, as this sports bar treats guests to local musicians regularly. Talk about uplifting your community! Don’t worry, though — the sports don’t take a back seat. The Red Zone Madison boasts more than 35 TVs, so you’ll be able to see March Madness games no matter where you are in the bar.

“Great place to watch your favorite teams play,” wrote one Google reviewer who particularly loved the bar’s nachos. Another reviewer took it one step further, writing, “The Red Zone on GameDay was the perfect atmosphere to watch the early game while pre-partying…” 

The Brewery

Address: 1101 N Water St, Milwaukee, WI 53202

Formerly known as Water Street Brewery, The Brewery has been described by a Google reviewer as a “nice lil place downtown to grab a beer and watch a game,” and that’s enough to immediately entice us. The Brewery stands out on this list because, as its name suggests, it brews beer in-house and on-site, meaning your March Madness viewing experience can be elevated with fresh, delicious hops. Plus, you’d be supporting a local brewer in addition to a local sports bar, which is a double-win in our books.

As for its menu, The Brewery concocts drool-worthy dishes like Short Rib Empanadas, a house mac and cheese made with several types of cheese and bacon, and a Chicken Schnitzel Sandwich. Oh, and we can’t forget that The Brewery has games that guests can play, including arcade-style games and pool. Count. Us. In. 

Wilson’s Bar & Grill

Address: 2144 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704

If you’re a sports lover in Madison and want to view several games at once, Wilson’s Bar & Grill should be your go-to destination. Wilson’s walls are lined with TVs — there are even TVs in the restrooms — and its decor evokes classic American sports bar vibes in the most nostalgic way possible. This is the type of place where you run into a teacher or old friend you haven’t seen in 20 years but immediately hit it off like no time ever passed. What’s more, Wilson’s has arcade games and darts, so you can easily get lost in the moment — just don’t forget for too long that the game is on! “If you like watching sports and eating this place is for you,” one Tripadvisor reviewer noted about Wilson’s, and honestly, that sums it up pretty well.

Crafty Cow

Address: 2675 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Vegetarian Wisconsanites, you know we’d never forget you. And as it turns out, Crafty Cow, despite its carnivorous name, is an excellent sports bar for those looking for satisfying meatless dishes while watching their favorite basketball teams play. That’s right: While Crafty Cow’s menu boasts a wide variety of chicken and burger options, it also has vegetarian substitutions, such as cauliflower wings, a black bean burger, hummus with whipped feta, and a vegetarian fried chicken sandwich.

Of course, Crafty Cow’s carnivorous options are plentiful and also mouthwatering-sounding, so there’s something for everyone. (We’re looking at you, award-winning Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit!) Plus, its beer prices are reasonable, making for a less stressful game day. “Very small town bar feels and it was a very comfortable place,” one Yelp reviewer wrote of Crafty Cow, and we couldn’t have summed it up better ourselves. 

March Madness: 10 Sports Bars Locals Love In Milwaukee & Madison

Photo courtesy of Crafty Cow via Instagram.

Locker Room Bar & Grill

Address: 1810 Roth St, Madison, WI 53704

Looking for a sports bar that’s a true diamond in the rough in Madison? Locker Room Bar & Grill has your back. It may be lesser known than other bars on this list, but its charm can’t be denied. Naturally, Locker Room has plenty of TVs for all your sports game viewing pleasure, and it has bar games for when you need to distract yourself from your favorite team losing (or, you know, to connect with the folks you came with). Word on the street is that, when certain sports teams claim victory, Locker Room even lights a fire pit to celebrate.

“Awesome bar! I travel a lot and know a good place when I find one,” one Google reviewer wrote about Locker Room. “Every game imaginable except shuffleboard available! Volleyball, cornhole, horseshoes, axe throwing, beer pong, darts, and two pool tables.” You can truly never get bored at Locker Room, so definitely consider it this March Madness season.

Who’s on Layton

Address: 512 W Layton Ave, Milwaukee, WI 53207

Who’s on Layton may be similarly named to another Milwaukee sports bar on this list, but it sets itself apart with its food. Comprising its menu are unique dishes like spicy mac and cheese, Country Fried Cod, Cajun Pasta, Grandma’s Dip (or a sour cream and onion dip for the uninitiated), and even Baked Cod — a more unusual but intriguing sports bar offering. On Friday evenings, you can even order the Chef’s Choice Fish Fry. Basically, Who’s on Layton really loves fish. Fret not, though — the sports bar sells classic burgers, chicken tenders, and more for our Wisconsanites who get the ick from seafood.

Ultimately, Who’s on Layton is a great newer establishment to support. While it just opened on August 28, 2023, and 2024 is its first March Madness season, folks are already loving it. “Great atmosphere with plenty of tvs for sports game and bar games. With great djs during intermission of the games,” one Google reviewer wrote.

March Madness: 10 Sports Bars Locals Love In Milwaukee & Madison

Photo courtesy of Who’s on Layton via Instagram.

7 Iron Social

Address: 508 State St, Madison, WI 53703

At the risk of sounding cliché, we’ve saved one of the best sports bars for last. Enter 7 Iron Social, where getting in on the action is not only allowed but also encouraged. Through more than a dozen simulated sports, including the perfectly apt basketball for March Madness, bar guests can feel like the pros they’re watching on the screens (because of course they also have TVs).

7 Iron Social describes itself as an “upscale sports bar,” and that’s exactly what it is. It offers something unique compared to some of the down-home-feeling options on this list, which are equally valid. “Great atmosphere, lots of room to hang out,” one Yelp reviewer wrote about 7 Iron Social, while another said, “This was such a fun place to check out.” Oh, and it’s not lost on us that this list hasn’t included any dessert recommendations so far. Good News: 7 Iron Social has beloved funnel cake fries. Thank us later.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.10 sports bars locals love in Milwaukee & Madison10 sports bars locals love in Milwaukee & Madison

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