Dotty Dumpling's Dowry

very good

28 Ratings
Dotty Dumpling's DowryDotty Dumpling's Dowry

Type: Bar, Eatery

317 N Frances St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703-1970
United States

(608) 259-0000 | map

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Added by Skidz

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Reviews: 17 | Ratings: 28
Photo of TheBungyo
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%

Decent taplist and service. Burgers were also good, but the cheese curds stood out as the best in town. Funny, I lived in Madison for many years and always meant to stop here. Glad I finally did all these years later.

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Photo of manitouman84
4.05/5  rDev +6.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 5

I love this place. The atmosphere is very british pup esque, just off the main drag of busy university, you walk into a cozy pub with comfy low key lighting and nice woodwork throughout, and yes, crazy crap on the walls, but tastefully so. Seems to always be busy, especially before a game, my favorite place to go before a hockey game, the atmosphere is great. The beer selection is fairly big, although by local standards its nothing impressive. You will no doubt still be able to find a good beer, and it will definitely wash down an excellent burger. All specialty burgers, they are not obnoxious half pound burgers; carefully prepared to house standards (slight pink, medium rare), these burgers are succulent and delicious. You can even get an ostrich, lamb, or bison burger if that suits your fancy. Have not had a burger yet that I havent loved. Check this local standard out, some may not agree, but I do believe they stand by their burgers, and they are some of the best in town.

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Photo of ErmahgerdPhD
3.75/5  rDev -1.3%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 5

Dotty's has the best cheese curds in Madison, IMHO. Yes, even better than the Old Fashioned. I have never had bad food at Dotty's and their burgers are fantastic (with their garlic spread). Ordering is a la carte, so you have to order curds/fries separate from your meal. Their beer selection is pretty good, but not fantastic. I wouldn't go here to drink all night, as the atmosphere is not spectacular. However, it's a great place to start your night and is better food than you'll get at a bar on State Street. I would suggest starting here and polishing off a few staple Wisconsin beers and then heading over to Wando's/State Street Brats/Brothers/Church Key. Dotty's will definitely give you a great meal and some good brews to get your drinking night started!

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Photo of cwcolby74
4/5  rDev +5.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

This is definitely another one of my favorite Madison haunts. The place is reknowned for its out-of-this-world hamburgers, and it never disappoints. I'd add that the cheese curds are ridiculous. The food really is very very good.

The beer selection is just so-so. A few Wisconsin types, a few national brands, and some imported stuff. I did enjoy having Hacker-Pschorr on tap the last time I was there, but I usually stick with Spotted Cow.

Service is usually just so-so. The waitresses are always cute and fairly attentive but aren't always the most talkative. That may be more as a result of me and my buddy who I drink with acting like drunken cretins. But we're just being friendly, I swear.

I like this place a lot and couldn't recommend it more. I also like the ambiance - it's dark, everything is wooden, and there's plenty of seating. It does tend to get a bit of an older crowd and families, probably because the hamburgers are outrageously good and fairly priced.

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Photo of blackie
3.63/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 3 | food: 4

nice enough atmosphere - dark and wooden with a mix of UW paraphernalia and aviation trinkets handing from the ceiling and adorning the walls, has usually been pretty quiet during the early dinner hours

selection is pretty average and doesn't really seem to change much - local options are of course always available and you'll likely find some sort of Bell's, Lake Louie, and New Glarus on tap among others, though these tend to be standard offerings and nothing really exciting, all beers are served in standard pints

given the ho-hum beer selection, the fried sampler basket with cheese curds and mac & cheese wedges is what keeps me coming back, and the burgers are really good as well

while service has been good when service has been had, I've gotta knock them down a notch considering the time we were forced to walk out after sitting around for 15 minutes without any acknowledgment

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Photo of Atron67
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3 | food: 4

A- I actually like the atmosphere of this place, idk why it stands out as being better, because I know a bunch of other places that are pretty much the same thing, but it comes together much better here, anyway, its kinda reminds me of applebees, except minus the generic boring part. theres airplanes and other things on the walls, some woodwork. overall pretty nice. gives a good bar atmosphere

Q- everything seemed pretty well done, and was worth the cost of it.

S- the server was nice and quick, though not exactly a beer person, confused capital amber with two hearted. ohh well, got the orders correct

S- the beer selection was pretty standard for madison, two hearted, capital amber and hoegarten were ordered, stella artois and a couple other INBev were present. a new glarus fat squirrel, Bud and bud light, a couple more but not much more.

F- food was pretty tastey and came in large amounts, although fries dont come with the burger, which stinks becuase the burgers are novel, but not that special, the appetizers are nice as well.

V- i didnt spend too much but the menu is mainly burgers, and at 7/8 a burger without fries its not great, but i feel like something at that price deserves either a bigger burger, or a little bit of fries. side of fries are 3 or so, so its 10/12 for fries and a burger....

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Went here for the first time after passing by it at least twice a week. My wife was here last week with friends and liked it, but didn't get to try a burger. She got a burger, and I got an ostrich burger. Both were pretty damn good, but it sure wasn't the best I've had. The rolls are just white sesame rolls you'd pick up at the corner store, although they cook the meat perfectly to order, and it's good. Ordered a New Glarus Fat Squirrel. The service was good, and there was a nice long set of taps behind the bar across from where we were sitting. I had just woken up and met my wife for lunch, so I wasn't in drinking mode yet where I felt like sampling the entire row. The lunch crowd was in, so it was pretty bustling and loud. The menu was expansive, and the prices were reasonable. You have to order fries separately, but one order is probably enough for two people as a side. I'll most surely be hitting this place again later in the afternoon when it's quieter and I'm thirstier.

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Photo of drseamus
4.18/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Classic nice resturant with tons of crap on the wall. Fortunately, I'm not the type of person that would hold that against a place.

Advertises the best burger in Madison. I'm not sure if it's the best, but they're pretty damn good. Their cheese curds and fries are excellent as well. Their selection is pretty good, I had a pretty hard time deciding on what to go with. The servers are extremely friendly and the food came pretty quickly. All in all a great burger joint and somewhere I'd go often if I lived here.

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Photo of citrusjim
3.5/5  rDev -7.9%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 3 | food: 3.5

Happened to be staying at the Doubletree next door to Dotty's. Looked good, went in. Comfy barroom vibe (dark, tvs, etc.). Beer selection is decent with some local stuff on tap. I had Bell's Two Hearted. They claim to have Madison's best burger. I ordered one, it was good, not the best I have had though. You need to order fries separately! I had an order of Jambalaya too. I bit watery for me. The server was nice - there is no shortage of students available for this job. The price is right where it should be. I could see my self there once in a while if I lived in town. All in all, a pretty good place.

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Photo of miskatonic
3.48/5  rDev -8.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4

Ok, so I am obviously applying East Coast sensibilities and experiences to a Great Lakes area establishment, and a Madison institution at that, but I think as many other reviewers have mentioned there must have been something left behind at the old location. I really like the general look of the wall decorations and the logo of the place in general, but it seemed like the interior of this place was designed with maximum tonage in mind - the booths are crammed into every corner from the fron door right up to the bar and the open view kitchen, and the newness of all the wood interiors and fixtures contrasts poorly with the pastichy old posters and signs. The bottle selection is pretty good, but could definitely improve easily by carrying a wider range of local microbrews, and though the 24 taps are impressive in number and by the shortage of BMC type beers, there is a macro-import heavy lean (Stella, Newcastle, etc.). The cheese curds were stellar, and the o-rings were awesome, but the burgers, which this place is obviously quite famous for (there are more than a dozen different burgers on the menu, and many plaques touting years worth of awards won) were nothing to write home about. The would-be-missus and I split each others burgers and neither was worthy of that much praise (good certainly, but I've definitely had better in many other places around the US). All in all I wish the space was a little less cramped, and thought they could definitely take better advantage of their tap space, but the prices are very very reasonable and food is tasty. Though the burgers don't seem award worthy to me, this place is definitely worth a visit for some pretty tasty food and some fine Wisconsin beers.

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Photo of dirtylou
3.85/5  rDev +1.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

dotty's is a pretty short walk from my apartment and is a pretty solid choice for food and beer selection

the tap list is roughly 20-25 strong...I was happy to see Bell's two hearted on there, also had a three floyds alpha king and a lake louie porter. Theres plenty of other beers worth drinking but nothing but nothing really high in abv if thats your thing. The bottle list was mabye 50 in total ( rough guess) and expanded on the breweries represented in the draft selection

the food is solid...great burgers, my favorite of madison thus far...we had the sampler basket too which had some fried mushrooms, french fries, cheese curds, and macarroni and cheese wedges...pretty good starter basket

atmosphere is pretty good. its definately in the state/university bar district but it sits on the perimeter and gets a noticably different draw...larger mix of non-students here than in a lot of places but still pretty upper-classmen heavy. pretty small, decent service, for some reason seems like a great place to be in the winter...its quite cozy

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I stopped by after work for a burger and was very pleased. Alpha King on tap is definitely the highlight although 2 Bells, 2NG, and a Tommy Porter make it a tough competition. Founder’s Dirty Bastard was the most impressive bottle from my point of view and highlife was a quick second.

I saw a sign advertising buckfiddy Old Style Tall Boys on Mondays. I’ll have to go back for those but as far as specials go, Wednesday and Thursday win. Wed. is 2 buck badger night so Tommy Porter and NG pints are only 2 bucks. On Thursdays, domestic taps are 2 for 1. You can’t beat 2 for 1 Alpha Kings.

The food was great. Had an interesting appetizer, deep fried macaroni and cheese with garlic mayo and a California burger which included sprouts, guaq, and jalapeño bacon, I mean jalapeno bacon…whoever put those two together should win the noble prize. It was delicious.

Decent enough, cheesy upscale college bar atmosphere. Pleasant server.

Good experience. I’ll be back.

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Photo of nchrist13
3.73/5  rDev -1.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

all in all a relatively good bar, however if you visit on a saturday nite then you're in for a good deal... $7 micro pitchers. they have a decent selection of local micros which previous reviewers have mentioned, i would just like to take a moment to point out that they do have lake louie brews on tap (and others like 3F alpha king, bell's 2 hearted, and a couple wisconsin dank brews for your sipping pleasure). the food? well, it's nothing special, but not a bad place to eat either. get a burger, they don't really have much else.

my only piece of advice is to ask for a non-chilled glass. for some reason they have the bad habit of providing you one unless you ask otherwise. oh, and the service took a hit in my review because my gf has gotten rather shoddy service there in the past. my experience has ranged from average to mediocre.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
3.83/5  rDev +0.8%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

Dotty resides on Frances St. between University and Campus and just about due South of Memorial Union and the lake.

I heard she might have a few good drafts so I decided to give it a whirl with some other BA in town. The atmosphere was dark and pub-like with very dimly lit booths and no smoking (way to go Madison!). The place was not overly noisy which was definitely a plus. The service was attentive, but not overly social. We had spoken with the hostess for quite some time and she gave us some ideas for good dishes and things to try, but the server had the personality of the table, wooden.

The selection was good with about 24 taps, some I had not seen before in my travels and was anxious to try. The food was good, nothing to brag about but good and the prices were fine. I'd go back, but only if I wanted a burger or sandwich since that is all that Dotty seemed to have on the menu.

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Photo of beveragecaptain
3.95/5  rDev +3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I stopped by Dotty's Dumpling Dowry for lunch, having heard about them on BA. The restaurant was very dark for lunch time. Bar on the left, tables on the right. The beer list has about 23 quality taps, and a couple crappy ones. I went with a Capital Wild Rice. Other good choices include Bells, Three Floyds, and Sprecher. There are some German and English imports. The bottle list has about 40 selections, half crap. My beer was in good condition, but much too cold. It was actually partially frozen. No big deal, just let it sit for a minute. The food is pretty good, but I would recommend staying with the simple stuff. Food prices are pretty good, beer prices average.

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Photo of Skidz
4.22/5  rDev +11.1%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5

EDIT (6/10/05):

Dotty's has jumped up a few notches in my book for having a near unbeatable tap line-up, at least for this area.

Lake Louie, Tyranena, Bell's (2), New Glarus (2), Capital (2), Three Floyds, Gray's, Sprecher....this list goes on down their line of 25 taps. Subtract 2 for High Life and MGD, and then cancel that out for a good selection of German imports and a few other Euro brands.

This is by far the best selection of taps in the downtown Madison area, put that on top of a killer atmosphere and you've got yourself a kick-ass bar.


I wasn't around for the Dotty's of ol', but this place has become a favorite. It's a fairly quiet little place, until it picks up on the weekends and before/after games. New building, and they keep it looking as such.

Besides the occasional new bartender, the service is good. Prices are not out of range, nor dirt cheap. Three Floyds Alpha King, Bell's Two Hearted and Tyranena are all on tap, YIPPEE! Only two domestics on tap out of 25 taps. Sure, the rest are major Euro brands or the usual American craft beers, but that's better than nothing.

Dislike their use of chilled glasses, but like the selection overall. Food is wonderful. The burgers are tasty, though the buns are weak IMO.

Try it out if you're hungry, thirsty and in the area.

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Photo of Sixpoint
3.43/5  rDev -9.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 3 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4 | food: 3

Ho-hum. I guess I miss the old days. Dotty Dumplings used to be off State St. near the Capitol. They had a truly classic location, in an old turn-of-the-century building with high tin ceilings and a balcony.

Well, those days are gone. That building was tore down, despite the protests of hundreds. In its place is the new Madison Civic Center. Dottys is now over by the Kohl Center (and I'm sure they do just as good numbers).

The atmosphere is all right, but pretty standard. The quality of the food has gone downhill. There's just no love in it anymore. The draft lines are pretty impressive... I think they have 20 or so. But let's face it, what good is it when half of them suck? There's Bass, Guiness, Harp, Berghoff, Blatz, Blue Moon, Amstel Light, Red Hook, Goose Island, etc. The only real good ones (man! I'm a beer snob) are Bell's and New Glarus.

The food is definitely not what it used to be. I think what's making this place go nowadays is the three rules of real estate: location, location, location.

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Dotty Dumpling's Dowry in Madison, WI
3.8 out of 5 based on 28 ratings.
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