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Madison, Wisconsin is one of the most livable cities in America.
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Where to Eat While Visiting Madison, Wisconsin

Make Bucky proud during a road trip to the state capital

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Madison, Wisconsin is one of the most livable cities in America.
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Madison has long been included in the discussion of the country’s best college towns — as well it should be. But the state capitol of Wisconsin offers up much more than bars and Badgers games. One of the USA’s best outdoor cities is also a vibrant hub of food, art, music, beer, and festivals. In fact, it’s quickly become a favorite of millennials who’ve made it one of their top moving destinations. The city’s thriving dining scene remains as loyal as ever to local bounty, which is showcased weekly at the Dane County Farmers Market. The nationally renowned market features some of the Midwest’s best farms as it sets up around the State Capitol building on Saturdays (seasonal). The market is a vital lifeline to the the city’s thriving dining scene, which remains a wonderful mix of both old and new. Here’s our picks for some some spots you’ll want to check out while in town.

Studies indicate that there is a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. The latest CDC guidance for vaccinated diners during the COVID-19 outbreak is here; dining out still carries risks for unvaccinated diners and workers.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Oakcrest Tavern

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5371 Old Middleton Rd
Madison, WI 53705
(608) 233-1243
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Many of Madison’s local watering holes are also great places to eat, particularly if you like burgers. Throughout town diners can find bars where the bartenders also tend to small cooking stations outfitted with grills, often located directly behind the bar. Oakcrest Tavern makes what might be the best bar burger in town and it all starts with streak trimmings from Knoche’s Butcher across the street.

2. Marie's Soul Food

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1637 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 405-5729
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Those that find comfort in plates of crisp, highly-seasoned fried chicken surrounded by mac and cheese and collard greens need to keep their eyes open for ordering times from this local social media food darling. Check Instagram from when ordering is available.

3. Mickie’s Dairy Bar

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1511 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 256-9476
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Madison’s most iconic breakfast destination has been serving up hearty plates of potatoes and eggs since the 1940s. Just a stone’s throw from Camp Randall, Mickie’s is a popular spot to pre-game during football season. The bar still makes its milkshakes from scratch and considers the Scrambler Plate its speciality. This massive mountain of food starts off with a layer of fried potatoes that are covered with three scrambled eggs and a choice of meat and or veggies. Gravy tops the whole dish, or you can ask for it on the side where it will accompany buttered toast. Though it didn’t debut on the menu until the early ‘90s it’s now one of the city’s most recognized dishes. It’s rare to come across somebody who spent time in Madison and didn’t eat at Mickie’s.

4. Greenbush Bakery

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1402 Regent St
Madison, WI 53711
(608) 257-1151
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Madison’s best doughnuts are found at this Kosher bakery not far from Camp Randall. Try whatever looks good but make sure there’s a sour cream old fashioned or three in your order.

5. Paul's Pel'meni

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414 W Gilman St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 467-3234
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From its early days as a takeout shack on State Street to its current iteration as a bar on Gilman, Paul’s Pel’meni has thrived making just one thing. Its Russian dumplings have been the only food item on offer since day one. They come filled with ground beef or mashed potatoes — a “half and half” gets you a mixture of both. To fully understand why this dish has quickly become one of the city’s most iconic, one must order them with the works: butter, curry powder, sweet chili sauce, and cilantro. Sour cream comes on the side and everything mixed together makes for an amazing flavor combination diners are hard pressed to find anywhere else.

6. Fromagination

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12 S Carroll St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 255-2430
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You can find many of the Midwest’s most heralded cheeses at this hip Capitol Square cheesemonger. In the summer months, locals like to grab sandwiches and picnic baskets and head to one of the city’s 260 or so public parks. 

7. The Old Fashioned

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23 N Pinckney St #1
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 310-4545
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The Wisconsin-themed restaurant offers up elevated takes on the state’s regional offerings in a convenient downtown location. Try the cheese curds, double-brat burger, and the always available Friday Fish Fry for a great taste of the Badger state. Those over 21 who take a “when in Rome” approach should also try a Brandy Old Fashioned. Wisconsin is said to consume more than half of the world’s brandy (not a typo) and an Old Fashioned is the state’s preferred way to enjoy it. 

8. L'Etoile

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1 S Pinckney St #107
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 251-0500
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Since its founding by Odessa Piper in 1976, Madison’s most prestigious restaurant has been a leader in the sustainable food movement. The kitchen is now run by James Beard-winning chef Tory Miller, who remains committed to supporting the state’s local farmers and artisan producers. Miller and his team cook French-inspired food offered in the form of a daily five-course tasting menu and a la carte options.

9. A Pig In A Fur Coat

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940 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 316-3300
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Chef Daniel Bonanno cooks up Mediterranean comfort food using inspiration from his Italian roots. During his youth, Bonanno worked for his dad at the legendary Tenuta’s Deli in Kenosha, Wisconsin before staging at kitchens in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Florence, Italy. The small-plate offerings shift based on what’s in season. Bonanno and his team are big boosters of the area’s local bounty. 

10. Lao Laan-Xang Restaurant

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1146 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 280-0104
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Wisconsin’s Hmong and Laotian communities are important parts of the state’s culture and history. One example of this is Lao Laan Xang Restaurant, which has been a fixture in the Madison area going on 30 years. During this time it’s been able to introduce the food and flavors of Laos to an endless number of curious students who often visit in search of something different than the usual bar food. Local vegetarians love its famous squash curry while house specialties include a wonderful green papaya salad topped with Lao fried chicken and a Lao-style steamed fish in banana leaves called Moak Pa. 

11. Weary Traveler Freehouse

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1201 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 442-6207
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The Willy Street neighborhood is one of Madison’s most memorable with its 10-block stretch of eclectic bars, restaurants, and other businesses such as one of the Midwest’s first co-ops. The Weary Traveler embodies the quirky neighborhood with its elevated, locally sourced bar food and hodgepodge setting. Patrons can sip some of the state’s best beer while relaxing in vintage furniture. The Willy Street fixture also offers offers a large selection of board games and one of the country’s most interesting burgers. Bob’s Bad Breath Burger is a made from a half-pound patty of pasture-raised Wisconsin beef sourced from the locally loved Underground Butcher. It’s dressed with cream cheese, green goddess dressing, caramelized onions, garlic, tomatoes, and Pickapeppa Sauce and served with a side of Yukon Gold potatoes. Many consider it the best burger in town.

12. Mint Mark

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1929 Winnebago St
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 285-5096
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One of the city’s most popular dining destinations since it opened in 2018, Mint Mark is the product of a group of Madison hospitality vets who built one of the state’s best restaurants by serving creative seasonally inspired small plates paired with craft cocktails and a well curated list of locally brewed beer. Visit on a Friday for what many consider to be the city’s best fish fry: filets of tender lake perch are joined by crisp and creamy fresh-cut fries, cole slaw, tartar sauce, and a slice of buttered rye.

13. Ahan

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2262 Winnebago St
Madison, WI 53704
(608) 867-4001
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Local Chef Jamie Hoang has found a home for her Southeast Asian-leaning food pop-up. You can find Ahan — meaning food in Lao — stationed as vendor inside of the local Bur Oak music venue. Hoang creates exciting, bright plates of food inspired by the areas local produce and her Lao-Thai upbringing. 

14. Toby's Supper Club

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3717 S Dutch Mill Rd
Madison, WI 53718
(608) 222-6913
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Experience a quintessential Wisconsin supper club at this old-time spot where your meal still starts with a relish tray. Toby’s Supper Club is a product of prohibition and — like many other supper clubs around the state — it started as a place where locals could both eat and booze clandestinely. These days all Old Fashioneds are poured out in the open and steak and lake perch are the big draws.

1. Oakcrest Tavern

5371 Old Middleton Rd, Madison, WI 53705

Many of Madison’s local watering holes are also great places to eat, particularly if you like burgers. Throughout town diners can find bars where the bartenders also tend to small cooking stations outfitted with grills, often located directly behind the bar. Oakcrest Tavern makes what might be the best bar burger in town and it all starts with streak trimmings from Knoche’s Butcher across the street.

5371 Old Middleton Rd
Madison, WI 53705

2. Marie's Soul Food

1637 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711

Those that find comfort in plates of crisp, highly-seasoned fried chicken surrounded by mac and cheese and collard greens need to keep their eyes open for ordering times from this local social media food darling. Check Instagram from when ordering is available.

1637 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711

3. Mickie’s Dairy Bar

1511 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711

Madison’s most iconic breakfast destination has been serving up hearty plates of potatoes and eggs since the 1940s. Just a stone’s throw from Camp Randall, Mickie’s is a popular spot to pre-game during football season. The bar still makes its milkshakes from scratch and considers the Scrambler Plate its speciality. This massive mountain of food starts off with a layer of fried potatoes that are covered with three scrambled eggs and a choice of meat and or veggies. Gravy tops the whole dish, or you can ask for it on the side where it will accompany buttered toast. Though it didn’t debut on the menu until the early ‘90s it’s now one of the city’s most recognized dishes. It’s rare to come across somebody who spent time in Madison and didn’t eat at Mickie’s.

1511 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711

4. Greenbush Bakery

1402 Regent St, Madison, WI 53711

Madison’s best doughnuts are found at this Kosher bakery not far from Camp Randall. Try whatever looks good but make sure there’s a sour cream old fashioned or three in your order.

1402 Regent St
Madison, WI 53711

5. Paul's Pel'meni

414 W Gilman St, Madison, WI 53703

From its early days as a takeout shack on State Street to its current iteration as a bar on Gilman, Paul’s Pel’meni has thrived making just one thing. Its Russian dumplings have been the only food item on offer since day one. They come filled with ground beef or mashed potatoes — a “half and half” gets you a mixture of both. To fully understand why this dish has quickly become one of the city’s most iconic, one must order them with the works: butter, curry powder, sweet chili sauce, and cilantro. Sour cream comes on the side and everything mixed together makes for an amazing flavor combination diners are hard pressed to find anywhere else.

414 W Gilman St
Madison, WI 53703

6. Fromagination

12 S Carroll St, Madison, WI 53703

You can find many of the Midwest’s most heralded cheeses at this hip Capitol Square cheesemonger. In the summer months, locals like to grab sandwiches and picnic baskets and head to one of the city’s 260 or so public parks. 

12 S Carroll St
Madison, WI 53703

7. The Old Fashioned

23 N Pinckney St #1, Madison, WI 53703

The Wisconsin-themed restaurant offers up elevated takes on the state’s regional offerings in a convenient downtown location. Try the cheese curds, double-brat burger, and the always available Friday Fish Fry for a great taste of the Badger state. Those over 21 who take a “when in Rome” approach should also try a Brandy Old Fashioned. Wisconsin is said to consume more than half of the world’s brandy (not a typo) and an Old Fashioned is the state’s preferred way to enjoy it. 

23 N Pinckney St #1
Madison, WI 53703

8. L'Etoile

1 S Pinckney St #107, Madison, WI 53703

Since its founding by Odessa Piper in 1976, Madison’s most prestigious restaurant has been a leader in the sustainable food movement. The kitchen is now run by James Beard-winning chef Tory Miller, who remains committed to supporting the state’s local farmers and artisan producers. Miller and his team cook French-inspired food offered in the form of a daily five-course tasting menu and a la carte options.

1 S Pinckney St #107
Madison, WI 53703

9. A Pig In A Fur Coat

940 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Chef Daniel Bonanno cooks up Mediterranean comfort food using inspiration from his Italian roots. During his youth, Bonanno worked for his dad at the legendary Tenuta’s Deli in Kenosha, Wisconsin before staging at kitchens in places like Chicago, Milwaukee, and Florence, Italy. The small-plate offerings shift based on what’s in season. Bonanno and his team are big boosters of the area’s local bounty. 

940 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703

10. Lao Laan-Xang Restaurant

1146 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Wisconsin’s Hmong and Laotian communities are important parts of the state’s culture and history. One example of this is Lao Laan Xang Restaurant, which has been a fixture in the Madison area going on 30 years. During this time it’s been able to introduce the food and flavors of Laos to an endless number of curious students who often visit in search of something different than the usual bar food. Local vegetarians love its famous squash curry while house specialties include a wonderful green papaya salad topped with Lao fried chicken and a Lao-style steamed fish in banana leaves called Moak Pa. 

1146 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703

11. Weary Traveler Freehouse

1201 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

The Willy Street neighborhood is one of Madison’s most memorable with its 10-block stretch of eclectic bars, restaurants, and other businesses such as one of the Midwest’s first co-ops. The Weary Traveler embodies the quirky neighborhood with its elevated, locally sourced bar food and hodgepodge setting. Patrons can sip some of the state’s best beer while relaxing in vintage furniture. The Willy Street fixture also offers offers a large selection of board games and one of the country’s most interesting burgers. Bob’s Bad Breath Burger is a made from a half-pound patty of pasture-raised Wisconsin beef sourced from the locally loved Underground Butcher. It’s dressed with cream cheese, green goddess dressing, caramelized onions, garlic, tomatoes, and Pickapeppa Sauce and served with a side of Yukon Gold potatoes. Many consider it the best burger in town.

1201 Williamson St
Madison, WI 53703

12. Mint Mark

1929 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704

One of the city’s most popular dining destinations since it opened in 2018, Mint Mark is the product of a group of Madison hospitality vets who built one of the state’s best restaurants by serving creative seasonally inspired small plates paired with craft cocktails and a well curated list of locally brewed beer. Visit on a Friday for what many consider to be the city’s best fish fry: filets of tender lake perch are joined by crisp and creamy fresh-cut fries, cole slaw, tartar sauce, and a slice of buttered rye.

1929 Winnebago St
Madison, WI 53704

13. Ahan

2262 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704

Local Chef Jamie Hoang has found a home for her Southeast Asian-leaning food pop-up. You can find Ahan — meaning food in Lao — stationed as vendor inside of the local Bur Oak music venue. Hoang creates exciting, bright plates of food inspired by the areas local produce and her Lao-Thai upbringing. 

2262 Winnebago St
Madison, WI 53704

14. Toby's Supper Club

3717 S Dutch Mill Rd, Madison, WI 53718

Experience a quintessential Wisconsin supper club at this old-time spot where your meal still starts with a relish tray. Toby’s Supper Club is a product of prohibition and — like many other supper clubs around the state — it started as a place where locals could both eat and booze clandestinely. These days all Old Fashioneds are poured out in the open and steak and lake perch are the big draws.

3717 S Dutch Mill Rd
Madison, WI 53718

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