Come Back In

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Come Back InCome Back In
25 Ratings
Come Back InCome Back In

Type: Bar, Eatery

508 E Wilson St
Madison, Wisconsin, 53703-3431
United States

(608) 258-8619 | map

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Ratings: 25 |  Reviews: 19
Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev -1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4

Old school classic beer pub in downtown Madison. Always passed it by for the newer, shinier establishments, but Come Back In makes for a good standby. Once inside, there are historical touches like pressed tin ceilings, worn plank floors, barrelhead taps, and exposed brick walls. All manner of breweriana decorate the walls, including an impressive collection of beer cans and Hamms signs.

Selection was pretty good, focused mainly on local craft beers and middle of the road imports.

Service was good, we were greeted and helped by the bartender right away.
The one downside was a persistent "lady" that pestered us and followed us into the Essen Haus next door. The bartender guessed she was "probably a prostitute". Surely the staff knows what's up, and also knows that kind of shit is bad for business. No effort was made to bounce them out or anything. This was pretty late at night, so your mileage may vary depending when you go.

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Photo of redleg411
3.81/5  rDev -6.4%
vibe: 3.75 | quality: 3.75 | service: 3.75 | selection: 4 | food: 3.75

Photo of TheBungyo
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Todd
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of Jason
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of TX-Badger
4/5  rDev -1.7%

Photo of BarrelAgedG
3.5/5  rDev -14%

Photo of martyl1000
4.78/5  rDev +17.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 5 | selection: 5

Sunday night. Here for first tme. Came to came to sample the vaunted taps of this place and catch the end of Cowboys-Giants in what I'd expected to be a quiet Sunday evening. Wouldn't you know it but its Karaoke night. That's ok. I prefer the caterwaul of a drunken, screechy-warbling Steve Perry impression, over a Fox NFL broadcast, any day. The singer is doing his earnest Midwestern best with "Any Way You Want It (That's the Way You Need It)".

Bartender is a tiny, adorable, true super cutie in a Charles Woodson Packers Jersey that's got to be youth-size and is still big on her. I ask what Lakefront Fixed Gear is, and she answers w/o hesitatiion, "Wisconsin Red Amber".

The twenty six tap handles protrude from faux barrel heads, oh, and an actual barrel. The Fixed Gear comes in a tall half liter mug which I wish had been chilled. But the lack of chilled glass matters nada, as the beer is frigid cold and so sweet I suck it down before the glass has a chance to warm it even a degree.

Drunk patron bumps my shoulder as he leans conspiratorially on the bar to ask the manager if he can leave his car overnight. Mgr. says, "Sure Gus, lemme give you a note so you don't get a ticket." Now that's service.

Bartender has me waiting all of ten seconds before recognizing I need another beer. I order an Ale Asylum Big Slick Stout, which I'd heard three other people order in the few minutes it took me to finish my first beer. Bartender fetches the stout from the other unseen side of the bar, the karaoke side. The stout arrives at the perfect temp. I'm impressed.

Atmosphere gets high marks in part since the space is split down the middke by the bar and a partial brick wall, somewhat shielding me from the karaoke half. My half has a hot oil popcorn machine on the back wall. Three Spanish speakers share the bar next to me, a first for me in Madison.

Man, for a Sunday night, this place is happening.

Good crowd. Healthy mix of ages and. Men /women.

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Photo of BoitSansSoif
3.5/5  rDev -14%
vibe: 4 | quality: 3.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4 | food: 3

This is one of those places in which I've had a wide variety of experiences in just a couple visits. The atmosphere is pretty good, with a variety of interesting trinkets and decor around the entire place that is this place's calling card. The first time I went in some trashed patron was talking shit, and it seemed like the customers did more to get him out than the staff. Clientele is diverse, ranging from college students and macro fans to craft beer enthusiasts depending on the special of the night. Wednesdays have $2.50 domestic bottles, which is a great deal, and includes a wide variety of macros and micros from the fridge. You take and they uncap at the bar.

Service is fine. Most of the time I just go to the bar, since it's easier to take my bottle and have it uncapped. Also, during later hours there's no one circulating, so it's best to just go to the bar. I've had to exchange a few brews that had major flaws, and they were very polite and understanding. I haven't asked questions about beer there, so I don't know the extent of their knowledge.

Food is fine. I've only eaten there once, and it was standard fair. I don't like repeating things I haven't verified, but I hear it's the same kitchen as Essenhaus. I've eaten at both places, and I will say that Come Back In is much cheaper and tasted slightly better--at least for what I ordered.

If you go for the specials, the prices are excellent. Otherwise they are standard. Don't break the boot, you will pay for it!

Definitely worth checking out if in downtown Madison.

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Photo of mynie
4.5/5  rDev +10.6%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5

So many great beer places are packed into downtown Madison. On top of that, Come Back In is literally connected to the Essen Haus, so no matter what kind of beer you're in the mood for you can find it in one building.

The crowd was mixed but friendly overall. Hipsters and businessmen mingled with jaded 20-somethings and laid back academic types. Music was pleasant and at a tolerable volume. Waitstaff was quite friendly.

The place was laid out beautifully and the atmosphere was the tops. I am a sucker for old beer signs at this place had a collection of Hamm's clocks that was just magnificient.

The tap selection was large and varied. It wasn't supermassive, but it was very nice. The only complaint I can think of was a general lack of big beers; no beligans, no 9% Triple IPAs. Still, it was great. The bottle selection was wonderful, too.

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Photo of Erdinger2003
4.2/5  rDev +3.2%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

I didn't know this wasn't the Essenhaus, because it was like walking through the door to another bar in the same building. They have a great great bottle selection in a cooler. They also have a good selection on tap. While I was there I got a Bell's Two Hearted. The service was good, I didn't notice anything bad or exeptional, so must have been pretty good. They have yards too if you like to have that much beer. They have a lot of cool breweriana one the wall, it's like a little museum at which you can drink beer! Nice little bar, I will be back.

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Photo of Musky
3.98/5  rDev -2.2%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3

My dad and I hit this place the second Tuesday of every month as we are Stein Club member's at the Essen Haus next door.

The ambience is old school beer with Schlitz and Hamm's beer signs being used as art. A large cabinet of shot glasses graces the back wall, old coins are also on display. Dark and cozy is good way to describe this venue with dark woods it is a great place to throw down a few good beers with your best friends. A huge selection of on tap beers which is a rarity in the city of Madison, they also have a cooler full of individual bottles for you to pick from. Definitely top five in Madison for drinking establishments, just don't plan on eating there as it is mediocre at best.

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Photo of 4thoseabout2bock
3.93/5  rDev -3.4%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

First, I am a sucker for dive bars, so take my 4.5 atmosphere rating in that context.

Free peanuts and popcorn and a bar full of locals and I am happy.
To find a bar with a dive feel AND a great beer selection made me feel at home immediately.

The ambiance is New World German (not super kitschy but blue collar Wisconsin, and also very reminiscent of Lancaster/Berks County PA where I grew up and started drinking). There is beer paraphenila on the walls and knick knacks in glass cases, and big old barrels that sport the taps in the center of the square bar that sits in the middle of two bar rooms.

The tap selection is respectable and goes beyond "just" German imports to encompass a nice selection of microbrews as well.

On tap they had Captial Autumnal Fire, Spaten Lager and Oktoberfest, Franzikaner Weiss and Dunkel Weiss, Okacim Pilsner, DAB, Sprecher Amber and Black Bavarian, Summit Porter, Ale Asylum Hopalicious, Dogfishead 60 minute, Bells Oberon, Spotted Cow, Sierra Nevada Pale, Founders Dirty Bastard, Anderson Valley IPA, Moose Drool, (Stella, Newcastle, Guinness, Beamish) and something by Berghoff (sorry, didn't write it down, I just know it wasn' t the bock)

Plus, there are additional beers on tap next door at the Essen Haus.
They had both Spaten Optimator and Paulaner Salvator on draft. Between the doppelbocks and the Oktoberfestive atmosphere in the Essen Haus, I got a major yearning for a good German meal. Alas, this was not to be. DO NOT eat here. Just drink and enjoy the atmosphere, watch the game, and cnack on free popcorn and peanuts.

shoulda listened to dapeculierdane or whomever warned against this below, but unfortunately I hadn't read the reviews that closely before going. Now I will have to go to Laschet's here in Chicago, and soon, to get my fix!

Service was nice enough, but also a little lost and not very knowledgable about their beer. Nevertheless, (perhaps because I had really low expectations) I really liked this place. Come Back Inn, I am sure I will.

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Photo of expatsteve
4.08/5  rDev +0.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

Went here to watch a Tigers/White Sox game, and try a few brews. Next to the Essen Haus, its german affiliate and more well known partner. With 26 taps and 100 or so bottles, this seemed like a good place to park for a few hours.

Nor was I disappointed - half-liters were $3, and the tap offerings included beers from Capital, Sprecher, New Glarus, Bells, and Great Lakes, as well as a number of German and English offerings and more recognized beers from Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, and Anchor. Service was attentive and friendly, and my glass never went empty. The bottle selection is similar in composition to the taps, with some good and hard-to-find German brews, and around 80 domestic craft brews from all over the country. Monday and Wednesday nights are $2 bottle nights, which provides the opportunity to sample some of these offerings.

The bar itself is a four-sided bar built through an internal wall. The two sides of the bar open on to two rooms that provide seating for diners and drinkers, with slightly dim lighting and old brick walls providing a more down-to-earth feel. The menu is fairly typical for a pub, with some fried offerings, sandwiches, etc.

But perhaps most noteworthy are the various collections of memorabilia located on the walls. From where I was sitting I could see an extensive collection of salt and pepper shakers, Hamms beer signs, and glassware. For people less interested in baseballs and kitsch, there are some video games and dart boards. The eclectic interior, far from being disorienting, manages to offer something for everyone.

Good for an afternoon brew or a night-long session. Will definitely please craft brew fans.

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Photo of rhoadsrage
4.14/5  rDev +1.7%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4.5

This bar is attached to the Essen Haus so when that closes you can stumble next door. I was on a quest for "the boot” so I was happy to see you can get your beers served in a 2L boot here aswell. They had a good list of taps but at the end of the bar, beside the free popcorn maker they had a large cooler of singles with many good selections.

The bartender was really friendly and pretty laid back but the manager was very adamant about the rules of how to drink a boot. It has been quite a few days since I chugged beer so I was content to sip my Black Bavarian and eat popcorn while watching my friends karaoke.

The bar is an oval in the middle of the room and on the other side is more tables with someone’s grandma's salt and pepper shaker collection displayed on the wall. In the back they have some dartboard and TVs around the bar.

It did have a nice old school feel and plenty of good beers on tap and in the bottle.

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Photo of Golden2wenty1
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

The Come Back has become a weekly hangout for my roommates and myself over the past year. Great place to avoid lame fratboy crowds on campus and overcrowded yuppies around the Square.

Atmosphere is quintessential Wisconsin. Old-timey Hamm's and Old Style signage, huge collections of tap-handles and salt-shakers, dark wood and beer-barrel motifs...makes one forget they're not in the Northwoods, but downtown Madison. There's nothing refined here, just loads of kitsch and best of all - good, cheap beer.

Upwards of 25 beers on tap, a mix of local, regional and national micros with a few good German imports and a fe standard Euro-imports. Founders, Anderson Valley, Three Floyds, Capital and Sprecher are frequent features. Beyond taps, the real gem is a singles cooler with upwards of 100 bottles to choose from. Micros from across the country and some decent imports as well (Okocim Porter was nice to find). Best of all, on Mondays and Wednesdays micro bottles are $2 a pop. DFH 90 Min and Founders Curmudgeon are recent gems, cheaper than you can buy singles anywhere in town. Other weekly specials include $10 boots on Thursdays and $3 half litres on Wednesdays. Free peanuts and popcorn seal the deal as well. Service is hit and miss, but as long as they can pour me a pint or open me a bottle, I could care less.

Just a laid back place to go on a weeknight and enjoy good, cheep beer and play cards or darts with friends. A frequent after-bar with its proximity to the EssenHaus (it's connected), Dane, and Maduro.

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Photo of DaPeculierDane
4.16/5  rDev +2.2%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5

Dirty, dank, skuzzy, and just wonderful. The comeback is a place rich with character, the kind of bar that we don’t have enough of these days. On top of that they have one of the best beer selections in town…and it’s cheap! Twenty taps include top offerings from Great Lakes, Lake Louie, New Glarus, Capital, Sprecher, Three Floyds, and Founders along with several German imports. Prices are generally low but the specials make them a downright steal. I was recently there on a Wednesday night when Founders’ Red Rye was going for $2.50 a half liter. They also have a special cooler for singles that don’t sell well. These beers are 2 for 3 bucks and I’ve found some real gems in there. Recently, a friend and I shared two bottles of Founders’ Black Rye from this cooler. Service is hit and miss. The crowd is very counterculture kid, mostly emo these days but with lots of dirty hippies too. Oddly, however, a fair number of businessmen also make their way down form the Capital Square too. I dig the eclecticism of it all. Perhaps the best thing about the Come Back is that it’s connected to the Essenhaus, which features an insane amount of German beers on tap and even more craft beers in the cooler.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not rating the food because I don’t want to bring down this bar’s score. For me this is a beer bar and I just ignore the whole restaurant part. Now this is very important…don’t eat here. Don’t ask why. You do not want to know. Just, what ever you do, don’t eat here. Don’t even think about it. Avoid the Essenhaus’s food too. Seriously!

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Photo of shbobdb
4.43/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 3 | quality: 5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 5 | food: 2.5

Located right next to the Essenhaus with access to all of there beers, PLUS three coolers filled with mircos, how could this place be anything but good? Indeed it delivers, with good beer and happy service.
I thought that the atmosphere was less rambuntious than that of the Essenhaus. Me, personally, I like a crazy bar with lots going on and I found the Come Back Inn to be rather subdued. A good place to grab a beer and chill with a friend or two, but hardly a good place to get your party on. Lots of Emokids here too. That was a major drawback for me. Not my flavor.
Ahhh, but the beer selection more than makes up for that. Lots and lots of craft brews and when they are on special (Wednesday night, I believe) many of them are actually cheaper than buying the singles at Riley's.

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Photo of beerinator
3.95/5  rDev -2.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 3.5

The Come Back Inn is a beer joint. Warning: Do not wear your Sunday Go To Meeting Jeans to this place. There is a good chance that you will smell of smoke when you leave here.

If you can get past the smoke and slightly grungy looking atmosphere (It's Character!) and start to focus on the very nice tap selection, you will realize that this is a very nice beer destination.

It's an easy walk or roll from the Great Dane or downtown.

On both of my visits here the service has been struggling. If you like beer joints with character, then you may find that the service is one of the only weak spots here.

The food, while simple, is good and very well paired with the "character" of the place. I had a reuben and some fries, which was good, but it took a long time to arrive after an even longer time of getting a server to take the order.

So, if you can catch this place on a non busy night, if you're not afraid of averting your eyes from the dim corners, and if you can get a non smoky spot to hang out, I think the Come Back Inn is a worthy beer drinking establishment.

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Photo of GCBrewingCo
4.09/5  rDev +0.5%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3.5 | selection: 4

The Come Back Inn is just a hop skip and a jump from downtown and the Capitol. With the new MadTown laws about smoking the atmosphere continues to improve. The quality was very, very high with proper glassware when needed, but unfortunately the service lost a tick. The server was a bit slow and although apologetic it really did not get me a beer any faster. The beer on this visit only really started to flow after the good folks from Founders started a tab and from that point forward no complaints. The selection was good and everyone was having a great time.

From 11-28-03
overall: 4.06 atmosphere: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 |
That goodness this is tied into the Essen Haus. After a bad beer experience there, this was a welcomed excursion.

The selection was good and the service was quick. The atmosphere was much less smoky than the bar at the Essen Haus next door. They had quite a few beers on the menu and we even happened to see Larry Bell of Kalamazoo in there and have a quick conversation with him. I liked the Come Back Inn due to it's beer list of mainly ales when I visited.

I would definitely "Come Back"...

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Photo of circuitmonkey
4.45/5  rDev +9.3%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4

I can't say enough good things about this place! And fortunitly the people who wrote review before me did a good job. I have to say I visit this play almost every time I go to madison (i think 5 or 6 times now). They have a great selection of beers that is usually in rotation with the seasonal's that alot of the local breweries carry, capital in particular. And the food is pretty cheap consitering how good it is... even if you arent hungry when you go there, at least get a 50 cent pretzle.. its well worth it.

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Photo of longarm
4.13/5  rDev +1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4

As the step-brother to the Essen Haus (they're attached), The Come Back Inn enjoys a great selection of beers, with less of the German feel as Essen and more of a laid back bar that you might find in any Wisconsin town. A great place to saddle-up to the bar, the bartenders have always been exceptionally friendly and chatty with me. Food is decent and reasonably priced as well.

As far as atmosphere, it's not quite as interesting as the Essen Haus, but it has plenty to keep the eyes occupied, including a substantial collection of beer cans from the 60s and 70s along with tap handles and other brewiana.

For those traveling in large crowds with diverse tastes in food and beer, the Essen Haus and Come Back Inn are a solid combination, since they offer wide selections of both within very close proximity.

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Photo of Sixpoint
4.22/5  rDev +3.7%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5

What a great place. When you go to school at UW-Madison, this bar is known as a "grad student" bar. I can see why. Since graduate students are often even more broke than undergraduates, it seems like a proper fit. With bargain drink specials ($2 half-liters!) it's hard to pass up.

The atmosphere is classic. On one end of the bar, you have pretty nice views of Lake Monona. Also, all around the bar is memorabilia from 1950s campus scenes at the UW. It's pretty priceless.

The quality is pretty good. I've never had a bad or skunky beer, but the place does not conjure up images of cleanliness and sanitation. Maybe because it gets trashed Thursday though Saturday, year-round.

The service is impeccable, mostly because it's all young hotties who make sure your glass never goes dry.

The selection is nothing to write home about, although they do have some impressive German beers on tap, such as Kostritzer Schwarzbier and Aventinus Weizenbock.

I definitely recommend going there for brunch the following day, and look for the Florentine omelet with a bloody mary.

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Photo of daledeee
4.05/5  rDev -0.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5

Had been to the Essen Haus. This is adjacent to them. Stopped by here for lunch. This is more of your traditional bar. A large collection of salt and pepper shakers. Other antique memorabilia. We were the only ones not drinking!!. I finally broke down after lunch. We had some Ruebens. I have yet to find a better one. I had a Franzekaner Dark Weiss served in a weisen glass. We like the place and will return.

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Photo of cokes
3.6/5  rDev -11.5%
vibe: 3 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4

Located adjacent to the Essen Haus, and will be generally overshadowed for that very reason. Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to step through the door and leave the Germanic surroundings for a beer or two.
Simplistic, standard barroom feel. Somewhat blue-collar and grimy.
Roughly 20 taps with plenty of top regional brews and local favorites. Well stocked self-serve coolers full of beer. Actual numbers vary considerably, but typically about 50-75 more brews in bottled form, covering a wide spectrum of origins and styles.

There is an interesting "discount cooler" which sometimes features attractive brews that haven't sold well to the masses. Some are old or just uninteresting, but there is usually a gem or two in there.

A worthy and welcome companion to the Essen Haus. Never quite as busy either.

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Come Back In in Madison, WI
Place rating: 4.07 out of 5 with 25 ratings