Wisconsin Week is almost over, everybody. And thank God.
As I reflected “Hey, I’ve spent enough time in Wisconsin,” I realized I needed to hear from Kind of…, who wasted even MORE of his life in Wisconsin than I did. And, asking him to regale me with stories or favorite haunts from his time in Madison, he offered me two:
“Maybe the Old-Fashioned (https://theoldfashioned.com/) or The Plaza (http://www.theplazatavern.com/) The Plaza has Plaza burgers with their own secret sauce, etc. Plus a classic bubble hockey table and you can order a half-pitcher of beer if you want.
We’re going to throw it back to the classic: the small-town (feel?) bar haunt. Because you look at the inside of the Plaza, and…man:
From the Budweiser sign to the games just kind of placed wherever to the wood paneling, that’s about as “classic dive bar” as you’re going to get. But add to it the widely-acclaimed burgers, and you’ve got yourself a Potluck question:
1. Writers, is there a Madison (or Wisconsin) dive bar that no experience is complete without? What’s their food (or drink, I guess) specialty?
2. Tell us about one of those haunts from your college days.
Thumpasaurus: You know, I’m sure the newly-rebuilt Illini Inn is nice, but it’s definitely a far cry from the classroom-sized hole in the wall two blocks off the quad that was the original. May she rest in peace.
WSR: You know the best dive bar to stop in after a trip from Minnesota to madison? The first one you find when you drive back across the border into Stillwater on 94 or La Crescent on 90.
Townie: I have yet to set foot in the great state of Wisconsin, but when I do, I will go to one of the recommended bars, because /looks around/ I’m a barfly
As a student at Penn State, I actually worked the door at a pure 80’s bar called The Surf Club, complete with neon shirts adorned with an angular, stylized shark. And I tithed a lot of the money I made at similar places. Depending on the night and the company, we’d go to The Saloon, The G-Man, The Skeller, The Phyrst and Zeno’s.
But my true favorite is Cafe 210 West. Give me a patio seat on a summer evening and a tall cool glass of anything. It’s now owned by the guy I used to play acoustic guitar and sing old tv show themes at The Saloon.
MNW: There were, by the time I got to Northwestern, next-to-no dive bars in Evanston, because Liz Tisdahl sucks and we need to talk about that more often. The Keg of Evanston (RIP) got run out around the end of my time in college, and Celtic Knot was a little more grad studenty, from what I remember. There were no dives. It sucked. Evanston is awful.
I guess the classic answer from the grad school days would be that you had to close Wolski’s in Milwaukee at least once…I never actually did, and besides, I’ll just buy the panties if I want to tell the world I did.
The dive in Milwaukee we frequented the most was the Y-Not II and its attached third shift bar, Coffeetails. Miss you, Miss Germaine.
Buffkomodo: Since I did not attend IU, I will give a brief shoutout to Angola, Indiana’s premier dive bar Wacky Jack’s. Words can’t express my love for the establishment, and especially for the highlighter shots that get passed around once or twice a semester. I also love the cash only business strategy and the hit band Big Dick and the Penetrators.
None of that was made up. If someone comments and says “The Venue is better” I’ll lose my shit.
Kind of…: MNW mentioned the burgers, but what’s important is the “Plaza sauce” which truly is a secret, looks primarily mayo-based (though thinned out) and tastes pretty damn good considering I just said “mayo-based.” Also, the most Wisconsin thing about the Plaza is that you can order a half-pitcher of beer. I’ll leave you to guess what % of half pitchers are ordered for individuals and what % are ordered to be shared.
BRT: I haven’t really done the dive bar thing in Madison, but I did do a “dive” breakfast– Mickie’s Dairy Bar. This is sort of a confusing name for a breakfast place, but, Wisconsin. The line for this was extremely long (and I understand it usually is), but as I was traveling alone, I got to skip the line and get a seat at the bar. Sometimes it pays to be friendless and lonely, kids. Anyway, it’s a classic breakfast with an interior that looks unchanged since about the 1950s–perhaps the perfect pep-you-up after a night at one of the actual dive bars someone listed on here!
I didn’t do a ton of dive bars in college either (I know, I’m a lot of fun.) But we did have a dive movie theatre just off of campus (RIP Starship 9), and our own dive breakfast location, albeit across town. In my day, it was open 24/7, but the pandemic has reduced its operating hours down to 6 am - 10 pm. We liked it in college because it had wi-fi before that was everywhere, and it was open literally all the time. For a long time, it had a bus parked outside called “The Freedom Bus” where you could go smoke, a dissent against the indoor smoking bans of the late 90s. It’s basic diner food, but with a hint of mysticism–this is from the website: “‘Don’t Ask, Just Believe’ That is the mantra at Hi-Way Diner. Not only do you get the 3rd egg free, but your toast can be ‘magical’.”
What are you supposed to just believe? No one knows. Just believe that Nebraska will ever have a winning season again, I guess.
MC ClapYoHandz: I can’t decide whether to rattle off all the random gimmick nights bars have/had to get you to drink on any calendar day, but I’ll opt to pass and just say that every day offered an opportunity to drink like money did not matter, even at a time in life where money very, very much did matter. Kind of… and BRT got some good unique experiences in there so I’ll just add some honorable mentions. Library Bar- couldn’t feel less like a bar but in a good way somehow. Stadium Bar (RIP)- sand volleyball all summer in a college town, excellent life. Curse you corporate overlords. Great Dane- good everything: food, beer, games, outdoor space, all solid.
I’m not telling you my Chicago answer because I want to preserve it as-is. Guess you’ll just have to visit me.
Well that…that’s a lot of “State” to start the season:
From a soft opener to the season to–BAM!–likely a B1G N00D SHOWDOWN at Ohio Stadium with Ohio State, huh? Thankfully, until the runner-runner conclusion with Iowa and Minnesota to close the season, the badgers sandwich their big tests against the Buckeyes and Michigan State Spartans between, historically, some cupcakes. A 7-2 record while holding all the head-to-head tiebreakers should be enough to win the Big Ten West, right?
- How does Wisconsin finish in 2022? Is it enough to get them to the Big Ten Championship Game?
- Do you wish you could grow a mustache as nice as Brock Spack?
- Name a coach who’s had as little success against your team as Jerry Kill has against Wisconsin.
BoilerUp89: I have wisconsin set as 3rd in West division odds but not far behind Minnesota or Purdue. I wouldn’t be shocked if they won it, but I’m not betting on them. I’ll say 6-3 with losses to OSU, MSU and one of Quadrangle.
My mustache is not nearly as nice as Brock Spack’s. Uhhh… Archie Miller.
Thumpasaurus: I’ve yet to do the math on how many teams can finish 8-4 in the Big Ten West, but Wisconsin will be involved in the at-least-three-way tie on the top. By the time they play Maryland, their inexperienced secondary will have played 8 games already so that minimizes the risk of losing a weird-matchup-game to an inferior team.
Mustache? I don’t gotta wish for a goddamn thing.
Juwan Howard has never beaten Illinois
WSR: How does wisconsin end their season? In some mid-tier bowl game after finishing 3rd or 4th in the West.
Yes, yes I do wish I had Brock Spack’s mustache. I may have to give it a try this fall/winter, in spite of multiple threats of violence and taunting from my daughters when I said that I wanted to shave my beard and have just a mustache last winter.
Aw shucks. I know they don’t count as being “Jerry Kill bad” because they each won one game, but Jeff Brohm and Scott Frost are a combined 2-7 against Minnesota.
Townie: Wisconsin has as many trips to the B1G Championship game as Ohio State does. And this year could add another notch to both teams’ belts. Wisconsin does not have a terrible schedule. All the non-con games look winnable. And they are good enough to be a solid tune up before conference play.
It sucks getting OSU, Michigan, Michigan State, and Penn State as your cross overs in 2 years though. Truth is, this team should be 5-1 going into the MSU game.That’s my pivotal game of the season. If they figure out a way to beat Sparty, that could give them a lift in the tougher divisional games at the end of the season.
Optimistically, I see this as a 2 loss team and B1G West Champs.
Realistically, they lose to OSU, MSU, Iowa, and probably one other derp game (Maryland anyone?). And I’m not sure if that’s enough to get them to their seventh B1G Championship game.
Buffkomodo: My best friend’s wife is a Wisconsin fan, and for the life of me I cannot wish hard enough for a 4-8 clunker of the season. That middle part of the schedule is bad, but let’s not forget how utterly terrible Wiscy started last year. Slow start sputters to 6-6.
MNW: James Franklin is 1-3 lifetime against Northwestern.
Sure, that’s not much, but what do you want me to do? Mention that Kirk Ferentz is 10-11 against Northwestern? That all Fat Barry could manage was a 7-7 record against Northwestern? We’re talking moral victories, but ones that nonetheless slightly irk you, regardless of context or of situation. We’re never talking dominance, just “fuck that shouldn’t make me mad, but now that MNW brought it up I’m going to have to say something about it!”
OH! That Northwestern Wildcats women’s basketball routinely holds Caitlin Clark and the Iowa Hawkeyes well beneath their scoring average (and is 3-1 against the Clark-led Hawkeyes). Long live Joe McKeown, long live The Blizzard.
I can’t grow a Brock Spack mustache, so the best I can do is offer that Wisconsin will lose both its crossovers, a quadrangle game, and finish 9-3 (6-3), just outside the Big Ten Championship Game on the merit of a head-to-head loss.
Kind of…: I can’t quite keep up with Brock Spack, but I can grow a pretty full mustache. Unfortunately it makes me look like I should be going door to door introducing myself for bad reasons, so it’s usually either full beard, goatee, or clean shaven for me.
Nobody (not even MNW) yet has mentioned that UW goes to Northwestern this year, and that the Badgers averaged 53 turnovers/game in Evanston. So, while it look like Lucy is holding the football, I guess I do think that this time the Badgers will kick it through. 5-1 heading to East Lansing seems right. If they’re 7-2 after @MSU, vs. Purdue, vs. Maryland, they’ll control their own destiny. If they’re 6-3, then loss #3 is likely to Purdue in Camp Randall, which means Purdue if probably going at least 6-3 in conference play. So, basically, beat Purdue, and UW will be in the conference race hitting the @Iowa, @Nebraska, vs. Minnesota finishing kick.
Perhaps oddly, @Nebraska spooks me the most. Nebraska gave UW all they could handle in Madison last year despite being -2 in turnovers. I’ll say 9-3/6-3, and a division title b/c the three way tie among UW, Nebraska, and Purdue will go tiebreak and UW will have the better intra-division record.
BRT: Um, let’s go with 6-3. We all know I never sit down and actually game these predictions out. And often, I’m at least as right as those of you who do.
Frankly no, I do not wish I had a mustache like Brock Spack. As I draw ever nearer to 40, however, my upper lip does look more and more Spackian if measures are not taken. Being a woman is pretty cool.
Lol, Nebraska has not proven epically unbeatable to any coach who is still in the game. Can we go with volleyball instead? John Cook had Russ Rose’s number a statistically high number of times given Rose’s overall success.
MC: Not sure how it could be anything but 12-0, perfect team top to bottom. Yep. No further questions I said good day stop staring at that quarterback room.
How does wisconsin finish in the Big Ten in 2022?
This poll is closed
3-6 or worse
8-1 or better
Overall, wisconsin finishes...
This poll is closed
5-7 or worse
11-1 or better