The Shaka Smart era has hit soaring altitude, as Marquette University went from bottom-tier preseason Big East predictions to a two-seed in the 2023 NCAA men's basketball tournament. And what better place to watch the school take on the March Madness bracket – starting with a 1:45 p.m. tip-off against the Vermont Catamounts – than the MU campus, surrounded by alumni old and new.
Admittedly, the number of bars in and around Marquette University – the one-time best Catholic party school according to Playboy, whatever that means – has dwindled down over the past few decades. But while the shrinking number of alcohol-slinging options has caused some students and alumni to migrate out of the infamous Marquette bubble – to Water Street or Deer District, for instance – there are still plenty of places for MU students to hang out, pregame a class, host a more-than-likely unproductive study session, celebrate a well-earned Thirsty Thursday or, most importantly now, cheer on the Golden Eagles against the pesky Catamounts.
Here are the Marquette spots, old and new, where you can ring out ahoya with an M-U rah rah.
3rd Street Market Hall
275 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 249-5062
Milwaukee's newest food hall also happens to be a great new stop for fans who can belly up to the main bar, watch the game and order up some grub from any number of the market hall vendors slinging everything from burgers and hoagies to pierogies, pizza and frozen custard. The food hall also boasts plenty of fun activities, from shuffleboard and giant jenga to Nintendo.
804 N. 16th St., (414) 288-7769
Sure, there's something a little dorky about hitting up the university-owned bar. The fact of the matter is, though, that 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 so there's savings as well! (Not on booze, though; sorry!)
1019 N. Doctor MLK Jr Dr., (414) 224-8500
Thanks to the Golden Eagles' current home court at Fiserv Forum – not to mention the fairly dry state of the MU campus – some of Deer District 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 the former 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 just across the way, as well as the perfect landing spot afterward for 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 just off the Wisconsin Avenue main drag thanks to its central campus location, cozy indoor and outdoor spaces, 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.
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.
The High Note
645 N. James Lovell St., (414) 226-5852
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 an open mic-centric lounge, providing karaoke seven nights a week –complete with smoke machines and neon lights for living out your ultimate vicarious rock star/diva fantasy – along with open mic comedy and jam sessions. 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 few blocks south from the Golden Eagles' home court. And especially when it serves up some exceptionally tasty bar 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
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, the late Garry Marshall and many others. But when it's not hosting legends, Miss Katie's and its full-service bar hosts MU students and alums looking for an equally legendary night combining tuna melts and cocktails.
Murphy's Irish Pub
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 as well as the popular lineup of daily specials such as karaoke on Thursdays, Big-Ass Beers and more. Even more valuable than a Playboy Seal of Approval, however? The fact that Real Chili and Qdoba are within easy stumbling distance. Optimal drunk-food access: a winning feature.
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 rain! – to the original Sobelman's in the valley at 1900 W. St. Paul Ave. Now, thanks to the local 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 youths, I tell ya!
Considering Sobelman's at Marquette closes at 10 p.m. most nights, it's not much for late-night nightlife. But at any other point of the day, when it comes to grabbing good food, good beer and good Golden Eagles action, the new Sobelman's certainly draws a major crowd.
746 N. James Lovell St., (414) 276-9610
With the Harp & Sham no longer with us, for those looking for a dive in or around the Marquette bubble, there's the former Jim's Time Out, a longtime Downtown staple and revamped cocktail spot. Next time you're trotting over from the campus to Fiserv Forum for a home game or from dinner on one of the Downtown main drags, take a mild detour over to James Lovell Street for a drink or two or five at this cozy little spot.
As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.
When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.