Madison Restaurant List
There is no shortage of great dining options in the Madison area. The following list is merely a sample and perhaps the first things that came to mind when we were asked about a specific type of restaurant. So, if you have other favorites or suggestions from friends, don’t hesitate to follow those leads. It’s hard to make an error in this city blessed with so many wonderful restaurants.
Our list is primarily made up of local, independent restaurants. If you were looking for a franchise restaurant Madison does have them all too. You will find everything from Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse to TacoBell here. But, try the local eateries. You won’t be disappointed.
The following are the Innkeepers picks based on our personal experiences and preferences in Madison by category:
(608) 251-0500 Closed on Sunday and Monday
25 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703 For fine dining in Madison L’Etoile is the place to go. The beautiful (small) dining room is elegantly appointed, the service is first class, and the food is superb. Dress up and get ready for a great meal. The view of the Capitol is great. Seasonal menu features local ingredients. Great wine list.
(608) 255-6075 Closed on Sunday
21 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703 An Alice Waters disciple in Madison? Great find! In a small storefront right on the square surrounding the Wisconsin State Capital, offers a great view of the majestic building out the front window. The inside is characterized by warm light woods and simple, but elegant modern style. The menu was relatively simple with 5-7 appetizers and 5-7 entrees. The food certainly has the French/American style with lots of fresh organic produce. The service is excellent and friendly and the restaurant is relatively quiet, even when packed. An overall wonderful dining experience.
(608) 663-7374 Closed on Monday
227 State St, Madison, WI 53703 Located on the rooftop of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Fresco is a modern dining space boasting panoramic views of the Capitol and State Street. Enjoy exceptional views of Madison while relaxing with martinis in the all-glass lounge. Dine indoors alongside a glass wall overlooking the museum’s 7,100 square-foot sculpture garden, or sit at the garden’s edge and enjoy dinner al fresco. Fresco’s menu consists of contemporary American cuisine made with fresh, local, and seasonal ingredients.
Pig in a Fur Coat(http://www.piginafurcoat.com)
Tornado Steak House (http://www.tornadosteakhouse.com)
116 S Hamilton St, Madison, WI
A great downtown Madison Steakhouse with a Wisconsin supper club atmosphere. The steaks are very good – don’t expect Chicago steak house quality – they are very good, not great. It has a nice “old house downtown” decor; pricing is what you would expect for a somewhat upscale steak house. They are open late too, so it’s a great place to go for a light meal after a show at the Overture Center.
Blue Marlin (http://www.thebluemarlin.net)
(608) 255-2255 101 N Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703
Blue Marlin is a small, intimate family style restaurant with comfortable seating, high ceilings, a stone wall and a relaxed and pleasant ambiance. They serve American cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood with steak and pasta entrees. Appetizers, soups, salads, sandwiches, side dishes and desserts complete the menu. They have a full bar with an extensive wine list featuring domestic and imported selections.
Vin Santo (http://www.vinsanto.us)
7462 Hubbard Ave, Middleton, WI 53562
Delicious food here, truly authentic. The mushroom soup is so soothing and complex. You will wait a bit longer for the food, but it’s worth it. Huge portions…be hungry!
Lombardinos Restaurant (http://www.lombardinos.com)
(608) 238-1922 Closed on Monday
2500 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705
Best Italian in Madison with a casual atmosphere: When I say best Italian in Madison, I mean just that. It can be a little pricey, but the costs are justified by the seasonal menus crafted by the expert chefs. This place can accommodate people in suits to people in jeans, in true Madison style.
Bellini Italian Restaurant (http://www.bellinirestaurant.com)
(608) 250-0097 Closed on Sunday
401 East Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703
Bellini Restaurant offers an enticing menu, with recipes rich in authentic Italian and Sicilian cuisine. Located 3 blocks from the capitol in a beautiful landmark church built in 1897.
Kabul Afghanistan Restaurant
541 State St, Madison, WI 53703
Best Mediterranean restaurant in Madison with hearty vegetarian options.
Sa Bai Thong (http://www.sabaithong.com)
(608) 238-3100 2840 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705
By far the best Thai restaurant in Madison – rivals those in Chicago. The food is plentiful and authentic. The servers are courteous and personable. The ambiance and original Thai art makes you feel like you are in Thailand – takes you away from Madison and makes you feel adventurous. Reasonably priced.
Essen Haus (http://www.essen-haus.com)
(608) 255-4674 Closed on Monday
514 E Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703
Das ist der real thing…Northern Germany-style. The beer list will blow your mind! Have the boot if you have a driver.
Friday Night Fish Fry/Bar
Avenue Bar (www.avenuebarmadison.com)
1128 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53703
Their evening dinners are awesome and they might have the best and most popular Friday Night Fish Fry in town. Favorites include the traditional beer battered fish, and the Door County fish boil.
This restaurant is owned by a local family in the second generation. Nice owners, bartenders, and servers. Two thumbs up.
Quivey’s Grove (http://www.quiveysgrove.com)
(608) 273-4900 Stone House is closed on Sunday and Monday, Stable Grill is close on Sunday
6261 Nesbitt Rd, Fitchburg, WI 53719
Be sure to visit the underground tunnel that leads to the wine cellar. Farmhouse atmosphere.
Restaurant Muramoto (www.muramoto.biz)
106 King St, Madison, WI 53703 A must-go place for Asian-fusion cuisine. Despite the price, Muramoto is one of our favorite places. This Asian fusion restaurant serves very authentic cuisines that sets it apart from others. Some of their best dishes are grilled black cod marinated in miso, sea eel tempura, beef short ribs (lunch only), and all of their desserts. The most interesting thing in this restaurant is the chef tasting menu available only on Sunday night. They will serve 5 courses for $30 and the menu changes every week. Large Sake collection.
Wasabi Japanese Restaurant (http://www.wasabi-madison.com) (608) 255-5020
449 State St, #2g, Madison, WI 53703
This is by far the best Japanese restaurant in Madison. Good sushi/sashimi that are fresh, like most Japanese restaurants. However, what really impressed me is the authenticity of their other entrees, appetizers, and the sushi bar. Great prices and great food. The restaurant is small but quaint.
4001 Lien Rd, Madison, WI 53704
Authentic Mexican food. If you have ever lived anywhere near Mexico, you will find this place as close to the border in spices & dishes, not like some places that use fillers to try to imitate it.
The food is outstanding and the service is unbeatable. On a Friday/Saturday night you have to wait for a table. No one can beat the warm chips & yummy salsa either, it just makes it so worth it!
Smoky Jon’s Number 1 B-B-Q (http://www.smokeyjons.com)
2310 Packers Ave, Madison, WI 53704 Closed on Monday
Excellent food. An absolute favorite place for BBQ anywhere. The place is small inside and there isn’t much parking but it sort of adds to the charm of it. The hardest part for me is deciding what to buy since I’ve really liked everything on the menu. Suggest carry out.
1707 Thierer Rd, Madison, WI 53704
The food is very good which is why it wins the Best of Madison prize every year.
Pizza by Paisans (http://www.paisansrestaurant.biz)
131 West Wilson, Madison, WI As long as I can remember I’ve enjoyed Paisans great food. Pizzas are world class. Try the Porta salad. Many pastas to choose from. The ambiance is romantic and cozy. It is a “must try” place for those passing through or new to the city! No reservations, so be prepared to wait. On the lake, near the Capitol. One of Madison’s best outside dining areas during the summer months. Free underground parking after 5:00 PM
Glass Nickel Pizza (http://www.glassnickelpizza.com)
2916 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704 Fantastic food: First of all, Glass Nickel serves a WIDE variety of food. Secondly, their pizza is the BEST. Instead of straight mozzarella cheese, Glass Nickel tops their pizzas with a three-cheese blend, which is simply amazing. I honestly don’t know who or what sparked the idea of this three-cheese blend, but it simply makes this pizza the best in town. Try their specialty pizzas…truly gourmet, great with wine. Friday night fish is excellent too! They deliver to the Inn and take credit cards over the phone.
Dotty Dumplings Dowry (http://www.dottydumplingsdowery.com)
317 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703 BEST BURGER: There is NO need to go anywhere else! Convenient location right downtown, and cannot possibly beat its selection of burgers. Not only do they offer interesting combinations, but they are always perfectly made. The ambiance is very cool and casual. The location is extremely convenient.
Market Street Diner (http://marketstreetdiner.com)
110 Market Street, Sun Prairie, WI Just a good, 1950’s style diner…wide variety, large portions. Excellent Shakes and pie and cheesecake. It is a great place to go when you want just a light meal with a killer desert (maybe “to go”)
Bunky’s Café (http://www.bunkyscafe.net)
2425 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704
Great funky atmosphere, wonderful staff, excellent food. The menu features authentic and original Italian cuisine, as well as diverse Mediterranean fare. The atmosphere is very inviting, as you feel you are sitting in the dining room of a very welcoming Italian family. Vintage family pictures adorn the walls, along with family heirlooms. Check out the ladies restroom! Gluten-free menu too!
Jamerica Market & Café (http://www.jamericarestaurant.com)
1236 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703
Hey mon, this is real Jamaican. Hole in the wall, but part of the experience. Also has carry-out.
Weary Traveler Incorporated
1201 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703
Great atmosphere; might be the best ambiance in Madison. You will enjoy the look of this place, and the food and beer were great. There is a great local feel to the place, and while it was clean and classy it also was easy-going and lived-in – the perfect combination! Truly a local gem in Madison, even if it is hard to find! One of those places you feel instantly relaxed in. Thick dark wood, dim lighting, good music, (live bands occasionally) interesting art on the walls, and probably the most mesmerizing bathrooms I’ve ever seen.
The Mariner’s Inn (http://www.marinersmadison.com)
5339 Lighthouse Bay Dr, Madison, WI 53704
Mariner’s Inn is a wonderful Madison tradition. It has an incredible atmosphere located at the northeast side of Lake Mendota. The atmosphere is rustic in nature with many sea port items on the wall. The lounge is a large room as you come into the restaurant with dim lighting – making for a better dining experience. The seafood is good, salads are simple and the steaks are perfectly pan-fried. A fun place to watch the boats dock at night.
Jet Room Pat O’Malley’s
3606 Corben Ct, Madison, WI 53704
A small private airport restaurant, in the best 50’s diner tradition. Good food. Try it for lunch.
Ale Asylum (http://aleasylum.com)
(608) 663-3926 Open for dining daily 11AM to 10PM, Tasting Bar 11AM-10PM on Sunday, till Midnight on Monday thru Thursday and till Bar Time on Friday and Saturday
2002 Pankratz St, Madison, WI 53704
Brand new brewery and bar. The menu is small and includes appetizers, salads, sandwiches, and Falbo Brothers pizzas, but these guys know how to make interesting and satisfying beers.
Great Dane Brew Pub (http://www.greatdanepub.com)
123 E Doty St, Madison, WI 53703
A place to stop when visiting Madison: Brewpub with pretty good lager and ales and good food menu of what I like to call “high-end bar food,” which is the food that you would find at most brew pubs – bar food but much better than a dive bar and a little better than the chains.
Erin’s Snug Irish Pub (http://www.erinssnug.com) 608- 242 – 7616
4601 American Parkway, Madison, WI 53718
Warm atmosphere and good food. They have a really nice selection of beers.
Doolittle’s Woodfire Grill
Uno Chicago Grill (http://www.unos.com)
3010 Crossroads Dr, Madison, WI
Uno’s legendary Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza is just the beginning! They have lots of great items like mouthwatering steaks, crisp salads, juicy burgers, sandwiches, flavorful pastas, grilled specialties, and tempting cocktails. Their take out is just as awesome as dining in! They have everything from steak to pizza to seafood to yummy desserts!
Texas Roadhouse (http://www.texasroadhouse.com)
4841 Annamark Dr, Madison, WI 53704 The steaks are good, as is the Prime Rib. Great atmosphere. Good service. Call ahead or you will have an hour wait to get seated.
4237 Lien Rd, #H, Madison, WI 53704 Great food! Great taste! Always made fresh. A real Chinese “mom and pop” shop. You may have to wait a bit longer for your food, but it is definitely worth it! Call ahead (speak slowly, English is not their strong suit), pick-up the food and bring it back to the Inn.
Ella’s Deli (www.ellas-deli.com) (608) 241-5291
2902 E Washington Ave, Madison, WI 53704 Fun to just sit. We keep going back for the desserts and the ambiance. All the decorations and moving objects (carnival atmosphere) are great if you are feeling particularly ADD… Ice cream – great ice cream….nuff said.