The Best Student Bars In Madison, Wisconsin

University of Wisconsin-Madison's campus, courtesy of flckr
University of Wisconsin-Madison's campus, courtesy of flckr
Photo of Elizabeth Newhart
24 November 2016

University of Wisconsin-Madison is a massive college campus with more than 40,000 students. And as a Big Ten school teeming with athletics, this necessitates a lot of local bars and restaurants. We’ve whittled the options down to the top five around with this curated list that caters to those looking for a classic college-town bar packed with the most spirited students.

Jordan's Big 10 Pub

Bar, Pub Grub, $$$
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Camp Randall Stadium
Camp Randall Stadium | © Jim Bauer/Flickr
Jordan’s is a red-and-white Badger mecca on football game days as it’s about as close to Camp Randall Stadium as you can get. But even if you’re visiting in the off-season, it’s a year-round destination for the students on campus. They love its highly rated pub grub, including their weekly Fish Fry on Fridays. Jordan’s runs food and drink specials daily and also offer shuttle service to and from the university’s biggest events.


Bar, Restaurant, Nightclub, American, Pub Grub
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Wando’s includes three levels spanning a restaurant, lounge, bar and club space that get easily packed on the weekends with students looking to blow off steam. They have a mile-long list of daily specials for those with a student ID, but the most important one is their serving of free bacon to all diners on Tuesdays. They’re also famous for their giant fishbowl cocktails full of sweet, colorful liquor.

Kollege Klub

Bar, Pub Grub
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Madison nightlife
Madison nightlife | © WikiCommons
Kollege Klub has been a nightlife fixture on Madison’s campus since 1952, filling the role of nostalgic college dive perfectly. Expect everything that comes along with that label, including sticky floors, dim lighting and cheap drinks. The current owner is the fourth generation of the Meier family to operate the Klub, and they keep it running just like the good old days. Come for a good time at their prime State Street location.


Bar, Restaurant, American, Pub Grub
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This is the student-friendly sister location of Vintage Brewing Co., which can be found on Madison’s far southwest side. The campus outpost is always bustling and Badger-friendly. Come in to catch a game, dine al fresco or peruse their extensive craft beer list. Don’t forget to try their house beer, brewed fresh onsite at the Brewing Co.

The Plaza

Bar, American, Pub Grub
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University of Wisconsin-Madison's campus
University of Wisconsin-Madison's campus | © WikiCommons

Some bars are known for a particular night of the week, and Thursdays belong to the Plaza. It’s a Madison joint that feels frozen in time, and likely hasn’t changed a bit in more than 40 years. It’s actually been around for much longer than that and has become famous for the Plazaburger – a massive, juicy, covered-in-secret-sauce burger that is a must-try. Students and locals alike will always love the Plaza as an iconic late-night watering hole.