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College bar roundup: Regulars share their thoughts

University of Minnesota students, alumni and more chimed in on why they go to each bar near campus.
Image by Alice Bennett
Sally’s Saloon is one of the eight bars surrounding campus that typically attracts a large crowd.

On weekend nights, friend group chats around the University of Minnesota light up with pregame plans and bar suggestions.

I went bar-hopping to eight of the most popular haunts near campus on a Saturday night and asked customers what they like and don’t like about each place. From law students at Blue Door to beer-drinking Gopher sports fans at Stubs, here’s what I learned:

The Blue Door Pub:

Near the intersection of 15th and Como Avenue is Blue Door Pub, one of five locations of the regional chain. Well known in the area for their “blucy” burgers, The Blue Door Pub is one of the main bars Como residents flock to.

“What I like about it is you can get a grilled cheese with a ton of toppings, and it’s very delicious,” said Alexa, a 2L (second year) law student.

When asked if anything could be improved at Blue Door Pub, Alexa said, “It is perfect; there is nothing you could possibly do to improve Blue Door Pub.”

However, not everyone in Alexa’s group of friends felt the same.

Roshanna, also a law student, expressed some criticisms.

“This is my first time at Blue Door, and I don’t think I like anything. The Pilsner is tasteless and is very tall. And the Hot Mother Clucker is very not spicy,” Roshanna said..

Blue Door is open until 10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and until 9 p.m. on Sundays.

Como Tap:

Further east on Como Avenue lies Como Tap. The bar’s decor is themed around ‘90s pop culture with dozens of framed photos of the era-defining stars: Beck, Pamela Anderson, the Spice Girls, Bill Clinton, 2Pac, etc.

Aidan, a second-year architecture student, said he’s a Como Tap regular because of the creative crowd.

“I like that there’s a lot of energy here, there’s a lot of people that are relatable like artists and musicians. There’s a lot of musicians that I know that I meet here,” Aidan said.

However, there is one way Aidan thinks Como Tap could improve.

“I think they should have live music,” he said.

Como Tap is open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and 1 a.m. every other night of the week.

Manning’s Restaurant & Bar:

Right across the street from Como Tap is Manning’s. Laid out much more like a restaurant than a bar, Manning’s tends to attract an older clientele than Como Tap or Blue Door, despite its location on the same street as both.

For some, Manning’s Restaurant has been a staple in their life for years, such as Jason, who has been eating there since the ‘80s.

“It’s tradition for me, I’ve been coming here since I was a kid,” he said. “I worked down the road, my dad worked down the road, so it’s that old for us. They had a little bit of a slump in food quality, but a lot of restaurants did over the pandemic. But the new ownership brought it back, so it’s back to the same quality it used to be.”

Jason said “not a thing” could be improved upon Manning’s.

Manning’s is open until 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and until 2 a.m. on weekends.

Blarney Pub & Grill:

One of Dinkytown’s biggest bars is Blarney. The bar is one of the most spacious on campus, with a huge open area featuring lots of seating, including a second floor overlooking the main floor with even more seating. At night, the staff moves some of the seating to turn the bar into more of a standing-room-only venue.

Bo, who goes to a different school but visited the University for the Feb. 25 hockey game, had nothing but great things to say about the bar.

“Honestly, I love the hospitality and all the workers,” Bo said. “It’s a perfect bar.”

Bo credits Minnesota Nice and a welcoming campus culture for some of Blarney’s best aspects.

“I don’t go to Minnesota, so there’s some very nice people here. I go to a campus that they’re all rude and kind of standoff-ish. So, I like how everyone’s outgoing and talkative here,” Bo said.

His only complaint? Having a little too much fun.

“I don’t like that at the end of the night I don’t really remember what happened at Blarney’s,” Bo said.

Blarney is open until 2 a.m. every day other than Monday.

Burrito Loco:

Dinkytown’s Burrito Loco, aka BLoco, is obviously known for their burritos, but it turns into a lively bar at night packed with University students.

The restaurant and bar attracts those who want a lively night with their friends, but also those who might visit earlier in the day when it’s less crowded, like business and marketing education student Emily.

“I’m kind of a grandma when I go out, so I don’t like there being that many people. So I like to come here early and leave early,” Emily said.

When asked what she likes about BLoco, Emily complimented the tacos, the atmosphere and the country music-heavy playlist.

Sully, an agriculture and food business management student, described the difference between daytime and nighttime at BLoco.

“I would say it changes a lot from daytime to later at night. It’s pretty calm during the day, but it gets kind of wild here at night,” Sully said. “I don’t love the DJ here; it makes it kind of loud at night when there’s not a lot of room.”

For drinks, Sully goes big.

“I would have to say the fishbowls probably would be my favorite part,” Sully said.

BLoco is open until 1 a.m. Monday through Wednesday, until 2 a.m. Thursday through Saturday and until 10 p.m. on Sundays. However, the kitchen closes at 11:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Kollege Klub:

On the same street as BLoco, 13th Avenue in Dinkytown, sits the Kollege Klub (KK), which also has a location near the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus.

Over the years, several bars have occupied the location, including The Library Bar & Grill and The Pourhouse. KK has occupied the property since 2019.

However, the name change has not stopped University alumni from returning to the Dinkytown establishment such as Sam, a class of 2019 graduate.

“Great barroom set up, great party room set up, honestly I’d say that’s what I like about it. A lot of good beers on tap. You know, hot bartenders, you can’t really complain about that,” Sam said.

When asked about what could be better about the KK, Sam said, “a dance floor would be great. You know, sometimes the boys like getting greasy on the dance floor and it’s a good time. You can only do so much talking, sometimes you gotta get griddy with it.”

The KK is open until 2 a.m. six nights a week, every day other than Monday.

Sally’s Saloon:

Sally’s, the sports bar known for its proximity to Superblock, is a perennially packed bar on Saturday evenings.

Tim, a biomedical engineering student and Sal’s regular, said that crowd both attracts and repels students.

“I like that I know a lot of people here every time I go here. There’s never an empty night,” Tim said.

The one downside to Sally’s, Tim said, is that it is “too crowded with too many freshmen.”

Sal’s is open until midnight on Sunday through Wednesday, until 1 a.m on Thursday and until 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Stub & Herbs:

Stadium Village’s Stub & Herbs (aka Stubs or Sterbs), located on Oak Street and Washington Avenue, is an 84-year-old institution with an extensive rotating tap list.

Max, a class of 2018 alum, said the bar’s location is one of the main appeals for him.

“I love its proximity to all the different venues around campus. I love its old school vibe because it’s been around for so long,” Max said.

However, space fills up fast.

“There’s not a lot of space to stand around here, if you don’t have a table you’re kind of out of luck,” Max said.

Stubs is open until 2 a.m. Monday through Friday and until 1 a.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

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