Wisconsinites are fiercely loyal to their sports teams, even supporting them during painful rebuilding years and financing new arenas. While the sad reality of this cruel, cruel world is that we can't possibly go to every game in person, we can always do the next best thing: head over to one of the best sports bars in Milwaukee. While our city may have more than its fair share of these establishments, not all Milwaukee-area sports bars are created equal: we found the spots that take it up a notch, offering up 10ft projection screens, fire pits, and game day deals on pitchers of wings... in addition to all the cold beer and Rodgers jerseys your little heart desires.
Owned in part by the man who runs the popular, sports-themed barber shop next door, Gee's Clippers, Skybox serves just as much as a community gathering spot as a sports bar. Live music, TV show viewing parties, pop-a-shot basketball, soul food Sundays, and even hookah means you don't have to even care about sports to have a good time here. Though if there's a big game or fight on, every eye will be trained on the TVs, so fair warning.
If you recently graduated from Marquette with a liberal arts degree, Leff's is probably already your home base. It gets packed for Packers and Badgers games thanks to optimal TV placement, as well as food and beer specials. The fun often spills out onto the scenic patio, where the crowd tends to be less rowdy. Sometimes, Leff's even rents a giant LED screen-on-a-truck for outdoor viewing.
This bar sits on a stretch of Old World Third St that's full of taverns and restaurants, only a block away from the Bradley Center and Panther Arena. (Once the new Bucks arena is built, you'll have to walk another two blocks.) TVs line the wall behind the bar, but the projection screen at the end of the long, narrow space can be seen by everyone. Get the mac & cheese and bacon-topped brat -- it's pretty much Wisconsin in a nutshell.
Though the up north cabin theme -- complete with taxidermy and fish tanks -- may seem out of place in a sports bar, the vaulted ceilings with projection screens high on the walls make up for it. This place is raucous during games. There's different food and booze specials during each team's games, so whether you want a pitcher of wings or a fishbowl, you're covered.
Don't let the size and age of the original bar area fool you when you walk in; Matty's is a modern wonderland of prime sports viewing spots. A large, greenhouse-like dining area leads out onto the patio, which is where the real fun happens. Outdoor TVs and fire pits mean you can pretend you're watching the Packers game at the frozen tundra even during December.
Menomonee River Valley
There is not a single bad seat in the house at the sports bar in Potawatomi. The dining area is surrounded on three sides by soaring TVs and projection screens, so everywhere you look there's multiple sports in your view. There's always a ticker with the latest sports betting odds and results, if you're into that kind of thing. You are in a casino, after all, so you may as well partake.
Right across the street from the Panther Arena, Goolsby's is always hopping before and after Admirals, Panthers, and Bucks games. It's been around for decades, and it's a little dingy, but the TVs have been updated, and really, isn't that the important part? If you're a fan of breaded wings, you'll be thrilled with the crunchy version here, topped with a buffalo-like sauce and a Cajun dry seasoning.
You can watch any local team's games at Kelly's and have a great time, but it's Brewers games that really get the place hopping, mostly thanks to the free shuttle service they run to Miller Park, along with most of the bars on the same stretch of Bluemound Rd. The Opening Day party here is a must, and when you get back from the game, use your ticket stub to get drink specials.
Yes, this is an outpost of the TGI Friday's chain, but it's the most unusual one you'll ever see. Located inside Miller Park, it's open year-round, not just during Brewers games. Why watch baseball on a TV when you can munch on potato skins and watch from the bar or the left-field patio?
This spot is the make-your-own-adventure-story of the tavern world. It's a true sports bar, with memorabilia and TVs all over, but it's also a restaurant serving everything from ham sandwiches to lobster. There's no menu, just pick what you want from the cooler and discuss how you'd like it prepared. It's probably the best -- and priciest -- bar food you'll ever have.
Don't settle for macro brews here -- though it does have them -- because there's plenty of micro bottles to choose from in the antique wooden beer cooler, a cabinet that matches the tin ceiling and stained-glass back bar from when the pub was built in 1889 as a Schlitz saloon. Thankfully, the TVs have made the leap to the 21st century, and there's even a 10ft projection screen, so you can see every pore on the UFC fighter's face.
The Highbury is the place to go if you're a soccer -- sorry, footy -- fan. It opens at 6 or 7am on weekend mornings for matches, and you'd be surprised how many people pack into the bar that early in the morning. The beer selection is extensive, with a lot of choices from across the pond. It doesn't have a kitchen, but you might get a Pop-Tart with your Irish coffee in the morning.
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1. SkyBox Sports Bar2213 N Dr Martin Luther King Dr, Milwaukee
2. Leff's Lucky Town7208 W State St, Milwaukee
3. Who's on Third1007 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee
4. Club Paragon3578 S 108th St, Greenfield
5. Matty's Bar, Grill & Catering14460 W College Ave, New Berlin
6. The Fire Pit Sports Bar & Grill1721 W Canal St, Milwaukee
7. Major Goolsby's340 W Kilbourn Ave, Milwaukee
8. Kelly's Bleachers5218 W Blue Mound Rd, Milwaukee
9. Friday's Front Row Sports GrillMiller Park, Milwaukee
10. 4th Base5117 W National Ave, West Milwaukee
11. Upper 90 Sports Pub322 W State St, Milwaukee
12. The Highbury2322 S Kinnickinnic Ave, Milwaukee
For a town that loves its sports, we don’t actually have that many dedicated sports bars. So the owners of SkyBox, including a popular neighborhood barber, are filling that niche on the North Side. The two-story space is slick and filled with games like Pop-a-Shot basketball, framed jerseys, and TVs galore. In true sports bar fashion, there are wing specials, throwback sports trivia, and attractive servers in tastefully skimpy attire.
Leff's offers a sports bar and then some, with special events and a monthly burger special (among them things like the Blue Moon Burger and the Hash Burger). The outdoor patio can be a nice place to escape the sports-craze, except on the nights when the bar brings in a giant screen to air the games out there. In which case the patio becomes one of the best places to watch the game, short of the stadium itself.
Partially named after the Abbott and Costello routine "Who's on First," this official Bucks sports bar is a casual spot for game day food and drinks. Don't leave without trying their beer-infused cheese curds or Grandma's dip.
Milwaukee’s Club Paragon is a cabin-in-the-woods themed drinking bonanza. This sports bar is not only where Packers nation converges on Sundays to drink too-large fishbowls and watch the game, but it’s also the home to one of the city’s best Friday fish fries and a weekly edition of all-you-can-eat crab legs. During commercial breaks, you’ll want to maintain you and your barmate’s friendly rivalry at table shuffleboard. The beer program is solid and well-priced, with domestic, premium, imported, and micro brews on tap. A raucous joint you can hang at for hours on end, Club Paragon is really the combo of all things good in this world.
Matty’s Bar and Grille does not take the term “sports bar” lightly. The Milwaukee joint’s menu is divided into sports-themed sections, like “starting line-up,” “tip-off,” and “field of greens,” classifying fun finger food like nachos, quesadillas, spinach and artichoke dip, sandwiches, and pizza. Calories don’t count on football Sundays, that’s for sure; make sure you keep the grease a-comin’ with the famous Smokehouse Burger, a heaping hunk of smoked beef brisket and angus beef. Matty’s has the feel of one of those luxury suites that your company so generously took you to that one time, not just because they offer delectable, gourmet versions of ballpark food but also because there are 17 HDTVs with surround sound and a ton of walking room (not to mention 3 outdoor patios and a fire pit). If you’re looking for your sports haunt, you’ve found it.
Burgers and brews are what's on offer at this classic sports bar in the Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. Whether you're into football or hockey, catch the game on one of 34 (!!!) high-definition flat screens.
Just down the street from US Cellular Arena, Milwaukee Theatre & Midwest Airlines Center, and the Bradley Center sits Major Goolsby’s, a happy home for all Milwaukee sports fanatics. Named for a real-life (or theoretical; it doesn’t really matter) Civil War military character, who was coincidentally a lush, Major Goolsby’s is a sports “museum” whose walls are plastered with jerseys, photos, pennants, and other random memorabilia. Come here for a good time at what has been called the best sports bar in Milwaukee, and drink up the Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandy or Red Pale Ale available on tap. You’ll want to soak up your bubbly with cheeseburgers, cheese curds, Wisconsin bratwurst, and ballpark nachos. All at the same time.
It’s true, there might be little to no room to move or breathe at Kelly’s Bleachers before a Brewers game. But that’s the best part about this Bluemound sports bar; you can always count on someone’s elbow to tell you when you need to stop yelling at the ump through one of the TVs, but also about three other bar-goers egging you on. The staff is always friendly no matter how busy it is, so when you see a bartender, flash him or her your most charming smile and ask for the wings or the wonton-wrapped mozzarella sticks. They’re greasy and great. All sandwiches include a choice of fries, crab pasta salad, or chips, which go swimmingly with the beers on tap.
Friday's Front Row is unlike any outpost of the TGI Friday's chain you've visited incognito for potato skins with extra cheese before: it's located inside Miller Park and open year-round, not just during Brewers games. Beer and chicken fingers taste so much better -- and baseball games are way more fun -- when you're posted up at this bar or on the left-field patio.
Located in West Milwaukee, 4th Base is a your classic sports bar, decked out with memorabilia and TVs -- except it branches out with its food offerings, serving everything from ham sandwiches to lobster. There's no food menu either. Instead, you pick what you want from a cooler and tell the staff how you'd like it prepared. Get ready to peak: this may very well be the best (OK, and priciest) bar food you'll ever eat.
This sports pub in Kilbourn Town was built in 1889 as a Schlitz saloon, which explains the tin ceiling and ornate bar, where an abundance of micro brews are up for grabs. There's also an antique wooden beer cooler that holds these bottles and would be really fun to see a team pour onto their coach. Sprinkled throughout the space is vintage sports equipment and (fortunately not vintage) TVs, plus a 10ft projection screen that lets you see just about every bead of sweat on a Buck's face. Watch the game with a plate of gator bites (marinated Louisiana alligator breaded with Cajun spices) or the Elvis burger stuffed with peanut butter, banana, Nueske’s bacon, and cheddar on a brioche bun.
If you're looking for a festive spot to watch this weekend's soccer (football*) match -- even if it starts at 6am -- the Highbury is the place to be. This Bay View pub opens way early on Saturdays and Sunday for matches, and people actually show up. A lot of people. There are a lot of beers at this friendly watering hole, too, including plenty of brews aptly imported from across the pond. There isn't a food menu, so an Irish coffee will have to act as your balanced breakfast if you're showing up here at the crack of dawn (don't act like this hasn't happened before).