Where to eat in Madison, Wisconsin. You might not know it, but Madison is a gem of a foodie town! With one of the largest producer only farmers’ markets and James Beard Award Winning chefs, Madison is brimming with creativity, and just down right delicious food.
As my time here in Madison, Wisconsin is coming to an end, I am filled with so many emotions. I’m in the process of writing a longer, more in-depth blog post on everything. . and I cannot leave Madison without sharing and compiling a comprehensive blog post listing out my favorite places to eat and what I recommend here in town!
I am rushing to get this post up so there are not as many photos as I would like and I’m not writing as much about each place as I’d like, but the list is the most important, so here it is!
Also, I know many of you have strong opinions and I, certainly, have not eaten at every place in town, so if there’s a restaurant that you feel is great and is MISSING, please leave a comment below! Thank you!
Before I moved here from Seattle, I had no idea what to expect food-wise. And honestly, my expectations were low. The first foodie event I attended was Taste of Madison, which, even though it showcases a lot of food here in town, I wouldn’t say it’s an accurate representation of the great restaurants and food we have here in Madison. We have more than just fried cheese curds and cheesecake on a stick. I quickly realized this as I started eating out and exploring.
There’s nothing wrong with fried cheese curds and cheesecake on a stick, but there’s SO much more to Madison, Wisconsin, which the rest of the country needs to know.
A Perfect Day
A perfect day of food for me in Madison, Wisconsin, would be this: starting the day with coffee and/or an iced matcha latte from Grace Coffee Co., my Brighton Beach Smoked Alaskan Salmon *absolute fave* bagel sandwich from Gotham Bagels, then skipping over to Porter to eat the veggie sandwich (you better go fast! It might be coming off the menu!) or the breakfast sandwich (Heritage farms smoked ham (two words: THE BEST), sharp cheddar, red onion, stone ground mustard and an over medium egg on a brioche roll. So freaking delicious! And I can’t leave without a stroopwafel.
For lunch, I’d run over to Casetta Kitchen for their Italian sandwich on focaccia, maybe the best Italian sandwich ever– whatever they have for their soup of the day and a chocolate chip cookie. And they have pizza on Tuesdays! And it’s incredible! Then, I’d drive over to Bloom Bakeshop for a cookie, cupcake and a doughnut and sit down for a moment because I’m starting to get full.
Later, I’d run over to Macha Tea Company for tea and sweet treats (if you know, you know). And then to Hilldale to get an açaí bowl from Blended, sushi from Muramoto, The Madison Club to eat a taco, or anything made by Chef Adam Struebing, stop in for a glass of wine at Square Wine and then to Heritage Tavern for cocktails (seriously, the best), assorted deviled eggs, tempura bacon-wrapped cheese curds (the best!), the Heritage Pork Schnitzel, or whatever whitefish Chef Dan Fox has on the menu and I’d end the evening there with dessert, probably the caramel profiterole or the chocolate & espresso opera cake. Pro tip: everything on their bar menu is excellent. The “old fashioned” ham sandwich, Heritage Burger, steak & frites, house cut fries. . I could go on and on.
On the way home, I would stop into Madison Chocolate Company for a Ghost Pepper Caramel and a Sea Salt Caramel Chewy, and then the Chocolate Shoppe for some ice cream. “Exhausted Parent” is one of my favorite flavors there (Bourbon-spiked espresso ice cream swirled with bittersweet chocolate chunks). Need I say more?
Then, I would roll home.
Where To Eat in Madison, Wisconsin
Here’s my LIST to the best of my ability. Again, if you feel like something is missing, please leave a comment down below. These are my recommendations.
These are NOT listed in any kind of order!!! Just listed them as they came to me.
If you follow me, you know I love a good oat milk vanilla latte. And I am a fan of latte art. So, check these places out and enjoy!
Ancora Coffee Cafes (two locations)
Bradbury’s Coffee (have coffee and a crêpe!)
Grace Coffee Co (say hi to Pablo)
Gotham Bagels As I stated above, the Brighton Beach is my forever fave. SMOKED ALASKAN SALMON, CAPER CREAM CHEESE, TOMATO, ARUGULA, CAPERS, RED ONION on an everything bagel. Do it. I also recommend the O.M.F.G. and the Heritage Ham, smoked gouda and egg bagel sandwich.
Underground Butcher (Breakfast sandwiches on Sat & Sun 9am – noon).
Porter (Order the Breakfast sandwich!!! Heritage farms smoked ham, sharp cheddar, red onion, stone ground mustard and an over medium egg* on a brioche roll (mixed veggies available in place of ham on request!)
Bloom Bakeshop (the Homegrown Biscuit sandwich is my fave)
Bradbury’s Coffee (The crepes are so good!)
Short Stack Eatery (there will be a wait.)
Graze (two words: Bibimbap Burrito)
Muramoto (2 locations)
Casual/Quick Service Lunch
Casetta Kitchen and Counter (Italian sandwich on focaccia + a cookie = winning!)
Forage Kitchen (love all the salads and grain bowls)
Ian’s Pizza (Everything is good; I love the mac and cheese pizza)
Alimentari (Sandwiches! Order the Mortadella!)
Natt Spil (eat: Three Cup Chicken)
Heritage Tavern (If you couldn’t tell, Heritage Tavern is my favorite restaurant in Madison. Not only for the food, but also the service and atmosphere. I always take my kids there so I’ll say it’s somewhat kid friendly. If you go, please tell them I sent you!)
Bar Corallini (Recently opened and already a fave of mine. I really respect and love what Chef Giovanni Novella and team are doing here. Make a reservation ASAP!)
Salvatore’s Tomato Pies, two locations (I love the The Tomato Pie, The Classic! If you want something more substantial, order the Fat Uncle Tony, or the Fig & Bacon!)
Forequarter (some of the best vegetable forward dishes in town!)
Tornado Steakhouse I recommend Tornado for the rustic Wisconsin Supper Club vibe and experience. Order a brandy Old Fashioned while you enjoy your relish tray and a steak! Here’s a good read: The Story behind Wisconsin’s Iconic Supper Clubs
Estrellon (I love the paella!)
Lombardino’s Family friendly, good food, friendly, comfortable atmosphere!
Grampa’s Pizzeria Order the pork confit, the BRASSACRE! pizza and the sticky ginger cake
Rare Steakhouse I love the steaks here!
Eno Vino in the AC Hotel (views!!)
The Statehouse at The Edgewater Hotel; great food and views!
Mr. Kimchi (Korean food; it’s SO good!)
Imperial Garden (Chinese)
Lao Laan-Xang (Laotian cuisine)
Sol’s on The Square (Korean)
5 Star BBQ (Korean; if they are still open?)
Naples 15 (I only ate there once and it wasn’t that great but people seem to love it)
Forequarter (Happy Hour Burger! featured above)
DLUX (kid friendly plus milk shakes)
Forequarter (hard shell happy hour tacos- so good!)
Macha Tea Company (this place is a gem on E. Johnson Street. You MUST visit Macha Tea Company! They sell looseleaf teas and tea accessories and serve brewed teas and small batch baked goods at the tea bar. They also serve brunch occasionally. Follow them on Instagram to find out when. Go enjoy and turn off your phone. Also, if ordering food, bring your own glass container and/or to-go container.)
The Chocolate Shoppe (ice cream)
Babcock Hall dairy store (ice cream)
The Madison Club (I love The Madison Club! You do have to be a member to dine there)
Blended (formerly Bowl of Heaven) at Hilldale Mall for açaí bowls
Bambu Bubble Tea (Hilldale)
Macha Tea Company (see above)
Where to Eat and Drink In Madison from Food & Wine (2018)
10 Hottest New Restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin from Eater (2018)
Other posts I’ve written on Madison restaurants
I may come back and add some more but I think this is a great start! Enjoy!