Dexter's Pub

Bar, Eatery

301 North St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53704-4920
United States

(608) 244-3535 | map

View: Place Reviews
Reviews: 16 | Ratings: 53 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of Billolick
Billolick from New York

4.24/5  rDev 0%
vibe: 4.25 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.25 | food: 4.25

must hit spot in Madison if ya want a real, non tourist kinda place...locals come here...local wisconsin kinda, down to earth food, over the top beer options with more then ample local options...really enjoyed our visit..great with the guys, but not a romantic date kinda spot

Jul 20, 2016
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CoreyC from Wisconsin

4.29/5  rDev +1.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4.5

Love this place. Feels like a small locals bar (although the restaurant can be fairly busy)but has an awesome tap selection of high quality uncommon beers with a high tech display showing ABU, IBU and quantity left, and it changes regularly.

May 31, 2016
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TheStoutHound from Wisconsin

4.45/5  rDev +5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 5

Dexter's is a small/medium WI style bar/restaurant. The vibe/atmosphere is nothing special and there is nothing wrong with it either. The staff is friendly and always as quick as physically possible. This place gets packed a certain times, especially Friday nights, so sometimes you have to be patient. The food is awesome. Best fish fry in town, great burgers and pizza too. Oh, and the cheese curds, yeah get those!
Important part, BEER: 23-25 tap beers and a solid bottle list. Of the tap beers, they typically have 2-3 one-off's or specialty barrels. Always a good variety on tap and almost always something that you have probably never had. The bottle selection is great too. You can find local BA beer on the list even in the off season and they'll hold back vintage stuff and put it on the menu at different times. The place gets some of the best tap takeovers in Madison/the state. Prices are fair. Their tap/bottle menu is available on their website.

Oct 22, 2015
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atone315 from Wisconsin

4.39/5  rDev +3.5%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4.25 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

Stopped in on a Thursday afternoon, around 2pm. I could see how this place could be more lively at night, so take my rating for vibe accordingly. There was a bar area with a few high-tops and a restaurant area that looks like it has seen it's better yourself a favor and sit in the bar area. I had a burger, the wife had a hummus plate.....both tasty and more than enough to fill us both, in fact we both took some home. About 20 taps, all craft, and a ridiculous amount of quality bottles, this place was definitely a nice spot to kick off a 4 day beer weekend in Wisconsin's capitol.

Feb 27, 2015
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johnkale from Wisconsin

4.23/5  rDev -0.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

First off, Dexter's is my go-to trivia bar. Reliably there every Wednesday.

Atmosphere is very neighborhood bar, numerous TVs (ideally playing Brewers games, the Bucks are pretty painful to watch and I prefer my friends' place for football games), large, nondescript dining area, incredibly friendly waitstaff. Food is wildly variable, awesome fish fry (except for the slaw), decent burgers, lots of overpriced other stuff.

Beer is great though, good selection, changes frequently, almost always served appropriately. Good mix of local/Wisconsin breweries, better known craft, and outliers you don't see other places (like Toppling Goliath, which definitely needs better distro around Madison, for my sake, please).

I love how this place blends a craft beer bar with a local tavern, just wish they would be more consistent with their food.

Nov 12, 2012
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chicano4craft from Colorado

4.28/5  rDev +0.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

On a trip to Madison my wife and I stopped in here three out of the four nights. Each time we ended a long day here. We ate here once and really enjoyed the food. For a smaller place the tap list was killer. Central Waters Illumination IIPA, 3Floyd's Robert the Bruce and New Holland The Poet were a few of the beers we tried.
I really dig the atmosphere. The building is nothing special and the decor screams DIVE. But who cares. The mixed crowd was cool and the staff was super friendly. If I was to walk into a similar looking place in Colorado the best beer I could find is Bluemoon...maybe. I learned this isn't the case in the MidWest.
If I lived in Madison thiswould be one of my spots. When I go back to Madison I positive I'll stop in several times.

Feb 18, 2011
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woodychandler from Pennsylvania

4.14/5  rDev -2.4%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4

Transcribed from extensive noted taken F, 07 Aug 2009.

Yet another corner location, this at North and Johnson with a window that directly overlooked the corner. The entry was along North and by turning right upon entering, I was in the restaurant area with booth seating along the windows and in front of the short wall separating it from the bar area. The center was filled in with standard tables and chairs. To the left, just before the entry to the bar area, were the lavs. The bar area had high tables and swiveling chairs in front of the short wall and next to the dart board and popcorn machine in the corner. The bar was a long, snaking blonde wood construction that ended at the entry to the kitchen which was in full view of the patrons. The back bar consisted of numerous shelves for liquor, three two-door coolers and the thirteen rotating taps.

The owner was an enthusiastic fellow who really gets it, as my FerMentor Lew might say. He has created a welcoming atmosphere in which to drink and eat.

Jun 26, 2010
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blackie from Oregon

3.88/5  rDev -8.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

second stop on the post-flight mini-tour of a couple establishments that have come into being since my last visit

interesting layout here - something of a combination of old but tidy sports bar and converted fast food restaurant, tv's range from ancient to decent and stream a variety of matches, it's no-frills but comfortable, only a few other fellows seated at the bar on this late Wednesday afternoon

limited but quality selection with a midwest focus - let's say 8/12 taps, bottles slightly expand upon the great lakes region micros with the majority being your typical macro/import garbage (gleaned this from the online menu), mr. lou went with the Great Lakes Blackout, while I had a Tyranena Bitter Woman in the Rye

guy working the bar was friendly, and was quick to provide samples of some Goose Island Belgian (eh)

Aug 23, 2009
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emerge077 from Illinois

4.01/5  rDev -5.4%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4.25 | selection: 4 | food: 4

Arrived here as our final destination the night before the Great Taste. It was a few blocks from the Malt House, and these two bars made for a nice evening. Dexter's was set back into the neighborhood off of Washington, on a corner with a lit plastic sign. Inside there was table and booth seating in an open carpeted room. The walls were wood paneled, with assorted beer signs and mirrors on the walls. It felt sort of like a divey neighborhood restaurant, with a bar in the back.

The bar had chalkboards hanging above with the evenings beer selections. Great Lakes and Dark Horse had an event earlier in the evening, and their beers were divided on the tap lines. GLBC Independence ale was pouring, also Dark Horse Double Crooked and Smells like weed IPA. It was nice to see the multiple taps from these 2 brewers. In the coolers there were many WI micros, Central Waters, Lake Louie, Furthermore, etc.

We sat at a table and had great service despite the busy Friday crowd. Food was pretty good pub grub: guacamole, curds, fried ravioli, sandwiches and pizza. Service at the bar was prompt too. Overall it was an enjoyable stop, and i'd return in the future.

Aug 10, 2009
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BoitSansSoif from France

4/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Enjoyable and unpretentious. This place looks like a bar where you would not get half the choices they offer, and bears that sole difference w/other local looks the same, but has more good beer. I filled up on Stone offerings, and even joined in a trivia game being hosted on-site. The beer choice is decent, the prices are reasonable, and I haven't tried the food but I was tempted. There are numerous TV screens if that's your thing, but in the other room (separating the bar from the restaurant) it's quieter and more laid back. Like a sports bar w/a good beer choice combined w/a family "bar & grill" type atmosphere. Worth trying.

Feb 14, 2009
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johanvond from Wisconsin

3.85/5  rDev -9.2%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 3.5

I've moved across the street from this place and it's a great place. The Decor is common and unassuming. There is nothing fancy here. There is also a strange amount of families. i guess it's because there is a wall between some tables and the bar. it's also in a neghbohood. The Service is fantastic. They 've been accomodating to me since I usually go in for Browns games. The food I've had are Fries, crispy and hot, and cheese curds, both of wich aren't greesy. The offer some interisting fair although it's not vegitarian. You carnivores should like it. The Beer slection is strong with Bell's and plenty of rotating beers on draft complete with a decient altough smaller bottle slection. Come and enjoy it's friendly and affordable.

Nov 25, 2008
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madcitymaurer from Wisconsin

4.05/5  rDev -4.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4

I've been living down the street for about 9 years now and I've seen this location transform from Stevens into The Sandlot, then into Dexters. I gotta say that it's great to finally have a decent beer selection in the neighborhood. I had a great time at the New Holland pre Great Taste of the Midwest party and had the pleasure of attending a special tapping of Dogfish 120 Minute Ale. The tap list is eclectic and ever changing with a good selection of local and U. S. Micros.

The atmosphere is fine for a neighborhood pub. I actually like a little less TV with my beer but if some sports are on then there are plenty of good seats/tables around the bar. I've also been down for some volleyball league action and my wife has had a good time during trivia night.

It's also great to have a place I can walk to for some takeout. I'm a big fish fry advocate and Dexter's was well prepared and tasty.

Nov 18, 2008
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EliteDigger from Wisconsin

4.59/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.75 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.75 | food: 4.5

I've waited until I've been to Dexters quite a few times to be able to form a solid and comprehensive opinion. Dexters is one of those places that may not look like a good beer bar at first glance, but don't let it's older brick facade deceive you.
The pub is divided into two sections separated by an inner wall- a dining area that you enter immediately from the front door with booth's lining the outside of the room and tables filling the space in between. Plain and casual looking, it's actually a quieter area to be able to enjoy your meal in peace. The back section is the bar area complete with darts, jukebox, and a popcorn machine along the left wall, and a small selection of video games along the far right wall with a pool table bridging the walkway between the bar and dining rooms. The back wall has a bar running pretty much the length of the whole wall. There's newer flat panel TV's directly above the bar with an older big-screen and other smaller TV's scattered throughout.
The beer selection was good when I first started going to Dexters and they've only kept getting better and better. There's waay too many to list, but this is just a small, small sample of some of the great beers I've seen on tap: Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter, Bells Hopslam, Dogfish Head 90 and 120 minute, Tyranena's Devil Over a Barrel and Hop Whore, Rogue Chocolate Stout, Stone IPA, Arrogant Bastard, Double Bastard and Bitter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout, Capital Autumnal Fire, Founders Reds Rye, and Goose Island Bourbon County Stout. There's also some great beers available in bottles like Founders Breakfast Stout and Stone Russian Imperial Stout.
I've eaten there well over a dozen times now and while I've only had pub food like burgers, chicken sandwiches, fries, and pizza, it's all been outstanding. Hot, fresh and delicious, I would put their food up against any other similar bar/pub in the area and the staff has all been friendly, fast, knowledgable and efficient every time I've been there.
Nick, the owner has just a huge passion for good quality beers. He has the tap lines cleaned frequently and has concentrated on filling them with just a super solid selection of beers. More tap lines are being planned with a possible selection of Belgian beers added sometime in the future. He's also looking into doing some cellaring to be able to offer vintages of special beers.
All in all, this has become one of my favorite places to just sit, relax and have some good conversation, good food and great beer!

Edit: In the 7+ years that I've been going here, the owner has done a fantastic job fixing this place up. New bar area, new flooring, fresh paint, etc. has really turned this into a great bar to visit. The food continues to get better and better and the selection has always been great. New technology has been implemented to show all the tap selections on giant monitors...shows the beer, ABV, serving size, price, price for a pitcher and a small graphic that shows the state of the keg whether it's full or nearly empty and everything in between. Also, I now receive tweets when a beer is cashed and a new one replaces it.

Nov 18, 2008
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dirtylou from New York

3.94/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Dexter's formally known as the Sandlot - located at North and East Johnson, about 2 blocks from the malt house

This is not my neighborhood. My girlfriend lives within a few minutes though so I can see myself in here from time to time in the future.

The atmosphere is a little interesting. Much like the malt house, the actual building is somewhat of a dump. These are old crummy spaces that have been taken over by craft beer in the past months. The crowd was much different than what you would see downtown, monroe street, or the willy/atwood neighborhoods. This is a blue collar side of town so that's what you are going to see here. There is a pool table, some darts, some electronic games, a big bar area and also a dining area. There are some random tables on a volleyball court outside - odd.

There were a number of tv's, though none of them were high quality. A brewers game had just started and people were getting into that so i got the hell out of there in a hurry (Go Cubs)

So that's kind of my negative rant on Dexter's. The location isnt ideal to me and its a bit crummy with a clientele that i dont have much in common with. That aside, they have beer!

The tap list was maybe 12 deep and it had some hard hitting winners on this particular night. The two best beers are brews i havent seen anywhere else on tap - Stone 12th annivesary and tyranena devil over a barrel. There was also stone arrogant bastard, central waters mud puppy porter, pyramid apricot ale, lake louie warped speed, and a number of others. The bottle list had maybe 40 additional beers of quality, but not rarity like the malt house.

Service was pretty good and attentive.

We just had some fried appetizers (cheese curds and waffle fries) which hit the spot. The menu didnt look particularly special but i didnt eat a meal so i wont rate the food.

Aug 20, 2008
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cokes from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

This is the type of place I love. It's a dive for all intents and purposes, but the beer list is rock solid (and is probably way above most of its regulars heads).
Tons of good stuff here. The tap list (as of late July 08) includes Lake Louie Scotch Ale, Stone IPA & 12th Anniversary, Hennepin, Dark Horse Sapient Tripel, Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter. Those were the ringers, but there were probably 7 more decent brews on tap. The bottle list was also well-chosen with stuff like Oaked Arrogant, and various local/regional specialties.
Friendly, decently versed barstaff. Prices were decent. You gotta love a neighborhood pub with this kind of beer. Madison needs more places like this. Highly recommended for both locals and visitors.

Last visit (11/08/09) had Double Bastard, Old Gnarlywine, and Autumnal Fire on tap, amongst several others that were also quite good (but I can't remember given those first three option). It's just off the beaten trail, but it's one of Madison's best beer bars (with Malt House and Maduro and Brasserie V, and nothing else very close).

Jul 25, 2008
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DaPeculierDane from Wisconsin

4/5  rDev -5.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Atmosphere - Until recently, Dexter's was known as the Sandlot, a neighborhood/sports/dive bar popular with the drinking and volleyball crowd. Dexter's remains relatively unchanged.

It's a spacious place, divided into two areas. One half of the joint is comprised of beat up old tables and booths reminiscent of a 50's diner. The other half has a lengthy bar and large open fry kitchen. Glass beer coolers form nearly an entire wall behind the bar. Above and around the bar are perhaps a dozen flat panel TVs. Dexter's is a great place to watch sports and they do carry the Big Ten Network.

Expect a decent crowd during games or on summer nights. When I've been there the crowd has been 50/50 sports fans and neighborhood old men with small glasses of light beer (a constituency I very much enjoy drinking with).

Quality/Selection: Thirteen taps mostly consisting of Tyranena, Lake Louie, Sprecher, Capital, New Glarus and other local and regional craft selections. Bottle selection is similar. Many seasonal and one off releases from these breweries are offered. A large blackboard displays the list of taps as well as an on deck section featuring upcoming releases.

Service is friendly, quick, and likes good beer. Dexter's has only been open a short while and they're already hosting beer festivals (two weeks ago they hosted a chocolate and beer tasting for charity, an event formerly held at Wonder's Pub with salsa).
I don't know yet if Dexter's will fill the beer void left by Wonder's closing on the East/North sides but I'm starting to think that it might. The goals of the owners seem geared toward quality beer in a comfortable, uber casual environment. I'm optimistic that the place will only improve with time.

Food: I haven't eaten much at Dexter's yet so I won't rate the food but I have high hopes. What I have had has been good and some of the simple bar snacks and sandwiches coming out of their kitchen look and smell better than most. I was immediately impressed to see the cook using very fresh, high quality vegetables and meats. I'll try a Philly steak sandwich next time I go. They look authentic and smell amazing. Next I'll probably try one of their homemade pizzas, which look and smell just as good.

Overall, Dexters makes a solid addition to the Madison beer scene in a neighborhood that has until now been completely devoid of good beer.

Update: June 19, 2008 - I'm raising quality and selection scores from 3.5 to 4 and adding a food score of 4.5. Dexter's has been adding one killer tap beer after another to its list. I've tried 4 or 5 items off the menu and they are all great. In fact, I can now say with a certainty that Dexters makes my favorite bar food in Madison. Try the Philly with a side of Au Jus!

Feb 26, 2008
Dexter's Pub in Madison, WI
Place rating: 4.24 out of 5 with 53 ratings