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Top 15 Madison Restaurants To Try

Enjoy amazing food at our favorite spots around the city.

Madison, Wisconsin, is commonly known for its university, lakes, and musical culture. However, it is also a burgeoning center for delicious food.

chef prepared dish at madison wisconsin restaurant

If you are unfamiliar with Mad city, you may think that every restaurant only serves beer and cheese curds.

While these delicious items are around if you want them, Madison’s cuisine landscape may be more complex than you think.

This article will discuss just a few of the best restaurants in Madison. When considering my favorite restaurants, I like to assess a few variables.

Best Restaurants in Madison

  1. A Pig In A Fur Coat
  2. The Old Fashioned
  3. Sardine
  4. Mint Mark
  5. Ahan
  6. Graze Restaurant
  7. Mickies Dairy Bar
  8. Paul’s Pel’meni
  9. Heritage Tavern
  10. L’Etoile Restaurant
  11. Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
  12. Hạ Long Bay Restaurant
  13. Tornado Room Steak House
  14. RED
  15. Salvatore’s Tomato Pies

Obviously, the quality of the food and drinks available is vital. I also look at the atmosphere, service, and a cohesive restaurant concept. Check out my list of the best restaurants in Madison below!


A Pig In A Fur Coat

940 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-316-3300
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Nestled between Lake Monona and Lake Mendota, A Pig In A Fur Coat serves Mediterranean food in comfortable settings.

Basically, this is the perfect restaurant if you want a sport for a cozy date with a bit of flair.

I love to start my meals here with some of their apps. You really can not go wrong with any of them, but my favorites are their endive and focaccia.

Next, I usually get their brown butter, yolk-filled ravioli, or the arctic char, and I finish the meal with any of their desserts. I am particularly obsessed with the delicate chiffon cake they have.


The Old Fashioned

23 N Pinckney St #1, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-310-4545
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If you want a taste of classic Wisconsin, The Old Fashioned may be exactly what you are looking for. The vibe of the restaurant is laid back and comfortable.

After your meal, you can visit one of the nearby parks or lakes. There are also plenty of theaters nearby if you want dinner and a show.

This tavern has plenty of favorites, including cheese curds, fondue, schnitzel, pickled beets, smoked trout, and beer cheese soup.

Look out for the classic fish fry if you are making your visit on a Friday, and do not forget the beer!


Sardine

617 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-441-1600
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Have your meal with a view of Sardine. As you enjoy baked creamed eggs at brunch or Moules Frites at dinner, you can gaze upon Lake Monona.

Since the restaurant is right near the Madison Capital Building, you can visit it so that you can see the gorgeous and historically significant architecture. 

One of my favorite things to do here is getting a bunch of petit platts when I am out with a group of friends.

That way, we can all try several different perfect bites. That being said, I also enjoy digging into one of Sardine’s beautiful entrees.


Mint Mark

1929 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608-285-5096
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The small plate menu and bar at Mint Mark are perfect for a fun after-work bite with friends, but it is also a lovely little date spot.

Since the restaurant is so near the Yahara River Parkway, I often enjoy going for a walk there after a meal at this restaurant.

The fun of this menu is that you can mix and match the whole menu and pair it with some delicious beverages.

Some of my favorite dishes on the menu include pierogi, raviolo al uovo, and olive fig spread. These bites pair well with the koala tail and the golden hour cocktails.


Ahan

2262 Winnebago St, Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608-867-4001
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Ahan is one of my favorite places to go in Madison if I am looking for a delicious Southeast Asian meal.

The restaurant is inside the Bur Oak, which hosts events and musical performances. Ahan is also very close to Lake Monona and Lake Mendota.

This restaurant also does a great job of ensuring that options are available for people with several types of dietary restrictions.

They have plenty of options, including dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan, vegetarian, nut-free, and pescatarian options.

Some of my favorite dishes include the red curry udon, the papaya salad, and the pho tai. I also always get their Thai iced tea.


Graze Restaurant

1 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-251-2700
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Wisconsin is a state that is known for its robust agricultural industry. So, it is exciting when a restaurant builds itself around the ingredients produced locally.

Graze accomplishes this goal very well. The restaurant is on Madison’s Capitol Square. So, there is plenty for you to see.

Sit in the bright and open dining room of Graze and enjoy the available delicious food. The dishes are fairly eclectic but all cozy and delicious.

Some of the dishes I order over and over include the beet and walnut burger, bibimbap, oysters, charcuterie, and basque cake. If you want, you can also partake in Graze’s Friday fish fry.


Mickies Dairy Bar

1511 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711
Phone: 608-256-9476
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If there is one thing that Wisconsin is known for, it is dairy. Mickie’s Dairy Bar celebrates this ingredient throughout its menu.

With equally enjoyable breakfast and lunch options, a restaurant is a fun option before or after a Badgers game at nearby Camp Randall Stadium.

For breakfast, I love the french toast, omelets, or griddle cakes.

For other meals, I enjoy the redfish, mushroom and onion burger, and the chicken club. Most importantly, any meal at Mickie’s is best complemented with a shake, malt, or a root beer float.


Paul’s Pel’meni

414 W Gilman St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-467-3234
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Paul’s Pel’meni may not have the biggest menu, but the small menu they have is executed extremely well.

The main dishes on the menu include Pel’meni, a Russian dumpling that is the perfect snack on a cold day. At Paul’s, you can get potato or beef Pel’meni or a combination of the two.

Located in downtown Madison, Paul’s is close to the University of Wisconsin-Madison, the capitol building, and the Kohl Center.

This restaurant is a great place to stop for lunch after visiting the Madison Children’s Museum or the lakes.


Heritage Tavern

131 E Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-283-9500
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Heritage Tavern is another superb example of the fantastic farm-to-table options Wisconsin has to offer.

It only uses sustainable ingredients to make dishes simultaneously innovative and comfortingly familiar.

Heritage Tavern is right by Madison’s Capital Square. I love the deviled pickled eggs here as well as the heritage burger.

Adding the spaetzle and red cabbage to any entree is my favorite way to bring all the flavors up a notch. This restaurant is a great option for a nice date or if you just want to get some good food with friends.


L’Etoile Restaurant

1 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-251-0500
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One of my favorite things about L’Etoile is that it works hard to partner with local farms that grow heirloom varieties of vegetables and animals.

While L’Etoile is the main restaurant, you can also visit the casual Cafe Soliel or the gastropub, Graze, that I talked about earlier.

L’Etoile is a great choice if you have a fancy date. L’Etoile offers a tasting menu that features amazing ingredients.

Some items that I enjoy from the tasting menu include a halibut dish, a lamb ribeye, and a panna cotta. The suggested wine pairings were also fantastic.

If you would like, you can also order from the a la carte menu. The gnudi, snapper, and lemon cream tart are some of my favorites.


Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

2089 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704
Phone: 608-244-8505
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I adore a good diner, and Monty’s is exactly that. It is right near Olbrich Botanical Gardens, which makes it one of my favorite places to go with my Grandma after we take a walk through the gardens.

This restaurant is an equally great place to go with friends if you can not agree on breakfast or lunch. Monty’s is great for whatever food you may be craving.

They even have some delicious and creative vegan options. Some of my favorites include the breakfast sandwich, the copped cobb salad, the GBLT, and the ultimate mac and cheese. 


Hạ Long Bay Restaurant

1353 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-255-2868
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This Vietnamese and Laotian restaurant is another one of my favorites. It is right near the capital city trail, making it a great destination after a walk.

I love this restaurant for a date, a group hangout, or a family dinner. I have a few favorites at Hạ Long Bay, but I also love trying new things.

My go-to’s are the veggie curry puffs, fresh spring rolls, asparagus crab soup, Vietnamese crepes, pho, pad lad nar, and banh mi.

Whatever entree I get, I always get bubble tea. I either get bubble Thai tea or bubble Thai green tea.


Tornado Club Steak House

116 S Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-256-3570
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Tornado Club Steak House should be your first destination in Madison if you are looking for a good steak. It has a fun, classic, and rustic aesthetic.

This restaurant is also near the capital building and the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. You can choose from several cuts of steak, or the restaurant’s other yummy options.

They have venison, a rack of lamb, rabbit, duck breast, and salmon. You can pair these pieces of meat with several comforting sides, such as asparagus, green beans, or a baked potato. I am also a big fan of all of their appetizers.


RED

316 W Washington Ave #100, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-294-1234
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Come to RED if you are looking for a modern and upscale dining experience near the square. The restaurant provides amazing sushi and tasty grilled Japanese options.

Choose a complement to your meal from the equally delicious cocktail menu. My must-try dishes at Red include seared scallops, prawn sunomono, the red toro roll, the chef’s choice sashimi dinner, and the olive oil herb cake.

My favorite drink at Red is the lychee martini, but the servers are great at suggesting pairings if that is not to your taste. They also have a lovely sake selection.


Salvatore’s Tomato Pies

912 E Johnson St, Madison, WI 53703
Phone: 608-238-6040
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Salvatores has several locations, including two near the capitol building, one in Monona, and one in Sun Prarie. They are all consistently tasty.

The Chef/Owner, Patrick DePula, prioritizes local ingredient sourcing, and you can taste the quality ingredients in every bite. These pizzerias are a great option for meals with friends, family, and significant others.

In many ways, these restaurants have a fairly traditional pizzeria feel but with a modern spin, and there are many fun and innovative dishes on the menu as well as unique toppings.

Both the burrata and the beet pesto are amazing starters. The Diavolo and the fig and bacon pizza are two of my favorites as well.


Final Thoughts

Madison is quickly developing into a must-try destination when it comes to food. Whether you want familiar favorites, modern experimentation, or a fun balance of both, the city of four lakes is full of delicious restaurants.

All of this delicious food is best enjoyed after visiting one of Madison’s gorgeous botanical gardens, museums, or lakes.  

So give these restaurants a try and see which ones are the best restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin, for yourself.

Did we leave a restaurant out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!

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Written by Brian N

Brian has been an influencer in the food and beverage industry for over 20 years. He not only loves to eat and drink at restaurants on a regular basis, he also knows the business inside and out.