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Marquette Area, Wells and Wisconsin


Sep. 7, 2011
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The two marquee streets jutting through the towering cathedrals and ivy-riddled monoliths of Marquette University's Downtown campus make for a college kid's paradise: a refuge of greasy burgers and cold brews that come fast and cheap and have a way of making blurry weekend nights a bit more memorable.

Eating and Drinking

Perhaps the campus' best-kept secret is Sal's Pizza (2040 W. Wisconsin Ave.), many blocks away and thus usually rendered unreachable to those car-less 20-somethings who'd rather starve to death than engage in any form of physical activity. But Sal's oddball variety of New York-style pies are well worth the slight inconvenience of leaving your futon, delivering mouthwatering taste and gargantuan slices that could double as wind sails. Some of the more daring toppings are spicy buffalo chicken, Philly cheese steak and, for those who like to combine their comfort foods into one slice of awesomeness, macaroni and cheese.

Most times restaurants ride or die on location. Fortunately for Marquette Gyros (1607 W. Wells St.), it is in the holy grail of hot spots, just a few feet from one of Marquette's two campus bars. And at 2 a.m., after a long, rowdy night of uncoordinated dancing and bad decisions, nothing quite exonerates the shame like a piping hot pita crammed with deliciously fatty meat. See the line spilling into the street? Everyone in it agrees.

Welcome to the Thunderdome. That's precisely what Marquette students thought when they found out the world-famous Sobelman's (1601 W. Wells St.) burger was heading to Wells. At least they should have: It's the quintessential Milwaukee burger, a juicy mound of ground beef served with cheese, bacon and jalapeños on a pretzel bun created with the sole purpose of blowing your mind. The new location in the heart of the campus means hungry co-eds are that much closer to getting their mitts on the king of all quarter-pounds.

Legend has it that Broken Yolk (2040 W. Wisconsin Ave.) owner Jim Gatto had retired and was making his way across the country. Stopping to visit some friends in Milwaukee, he was promptly swayed to open a new restaurant at Marquette, and the rest is glorious breakfast history. Bro Yo features some of the best bang for your buck in town, serving up monstrous portions of sausage, eggs and hash browns for pennies and providing a large conglomerate of dizzy-headed partiers a much-needed early-morning hangover remedy. We don't know where Gatto was headed, but thank heavens he never made it there.

At times, Murphy's (1615 W. Wells St.) is more of a house party than a bar, and, frankly, that's why it's so much fun. The preferred late-night hangout of dancing machines that enjoy their crowds a little bigger and their music a little louder, Murphy's atmosphere is fast and loose, and the general theme is to get wild first and ask questions later—or sometimes not at all. The crowd here is a close-knit and friendly bunch, a colorful collection of students who want nothing more than to forget the studious week that was.

Of the two campus bars, Caffrey's (717 N. 16th St.) is certainly the more introspective, a place that's both casual and conversational without sacrificing the boisterousness that makes its twin, Murphy's, such a killer time. It could be said that Caff's is more of a weekday bar, a place to sit and chat and have a couple of cold brews among a more refined crowd—but that would be selling it short, considering it can challenge the decibel level of a rock concert on any given night. Still, Caff's manages to carry itself with more posture and maturity than other bars, proving to be a place more concerned with small talk than slamming drinks. And that's definitely fine by us.


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