Located right in between two previously featured establishments, Fiddler's Hearth and Saigon Market, Madison Oyster Bar is probably my favorite downtown watering hole. The beautiful wood bar, the warm colors of the decor and lighting, the big screen TV, and pool table all combine to make a very comfortable, yet classic atmosphere. It definitely doesn't have the feel of other sports or college bars in the area, yet it lacks the pretension of comparable bars, making it a perfect place for a drink after work, a few pitchers during a football game, or anything in between.
Another element of this bar is worth noting. While you can sit on the first and second levels any night of the week, the third (and arguably best) level is only open on weekend nights. On the third floor, you'll find 2 more pool tables, lots of seating, a separate bar, and even a couple vintage "Madison Oyster Bar" signs. I'd say this is what differentiates a Friday night at Oyster Bar from a Wednesday happy hour. Between the first, second, and third floors, you can find the ambiance you want for any day of the week.
Hours: Mon - Sat 11 am to 3 am, Sun 6 pm to 12 am
Tip #1: Go thirsty. They have some of the better drink specials downtown. Monday night specials include: $4.75 pitchers of Bud Light, Amberbock, and Killians, and $2.50 Washington Apple shots.
Tip #2: Go hungry. You can find their full menu here. Yes...true to their name, they do offer oysters, but I'd recommend the crab stuffed baked potato, the crabby cakes, or almost anything on the finger food side of the menu. Someday, I hope to try out the "Madison Oyster," a sandwich with three plump, fried oysters, tartar and lettuce on a Kaiser roll, but until that day I'll stick with the french onion soup or portobello mushrooms.
Tip #3: Did I mention hookah? It's one of the only places in South Bend to offer hookah, featuring all sorts of flavors from green apple to pina colada to vanilla.
Cost: NO COVER...ever