A steady, reliable stalwart that's been around for almost a century, the well-loved, well-trafficked VC is within easy walking distance of the Schnitz, the Keller, the Fox Tower, and the Central Library, boasting a solid section of booze and beer, plenty of cozy booths, and a decent, if pricey, menu. Surprisingly enough, the best way to hit the often-crowded VC is when you've got a few people with you: While the wait staff tenaciously forbids all but larger groups from sitting at the best table—the big one near the windows—they'll let you take it over if you have a few friends with you. Then you've got attentive table service, a view of the library and the streetcar, and a comfortable spot to talk about whatever play or movie you all just saw. ERIK HENRIKSEN
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