Madison Food Guide: 10 Must-Eat Restaurants & Street Food Stalls in Madison

April 14, 2018 Hector Krause

The sprawling University of Wisconsin sets the tone for this college town of cafes, bookstores, brewpubs, numerous restaurants (more per capita than anywhere else in the U.S.) and a good share of cultural and historical attractions. Stunning glacial waterways make the City of Lakes one of the more picturesque state capitals in the country. More than 250 parks offer residents and tourists plenty of recreational areas to choose from. If you visit the campus, be sure to try the famous Babcock Ice Cream at Memorial Union or Babcock Hall, before or after a visit to the Elvehjem Museum of Art's collection of Greek, Roman and Egyptian antiquities. And to really get into the college spirit, head over to State Street's eclectic range of ethnic restaurants. Be sure to try the mouth-watering bratwurst sandwich on a homemade bun at State Street Brats, a student favorite. At the end of State Street, the white granite, Roman Renaissance-style Capitol dominates the skyline and offers an observation platform for views of the city and lakes.
Things to do in Madison

1. Naples 15

15 N Butler St, Madison, Madison, WI 53703-4237 Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Street Parking, Free Off-Street Parking, Television, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover, Reservations, Accepts Credit Cards Italian, Pizza, Seafood, Mediterranean, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Dinner SGD 10 - SGD 79 +1 608-250-6330
Excellent
84%
Good
8%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 828 reviews

Naples 15

My desire is to transmit joy,and emotions to others through food, in exactly the same way you share at your home with your family and friends, and share my cuisine and my Neapolitan Culture with sincerity and passion. Thank You, Chef Salvatore Di Scala Il mio desiderio e trasmettere gioia ed emozioni agli altri attraverso il cibo, esattamente nello stesso modo in cui si condivide a casa con la famiglia e gli amici, e condividere la mia cucina e la mia cultura napoletana con sincerita e passione. Grazie, Chef Salvatore Di Scala

Reviewed By lindabNewYorkCity - new york city

We were in town to tour U of W and it was my birthday. This was a great choice. Service was great, food was delicious and it has a lovely ambiance. We ordered the grilled calamari to start, which was excellent, albeit I thought a bit pricey for what it was. There are many choices for pizza, can't speak to the entrees since we stuck to pizza. The gave me a free cannoli w/ a candle at the end, very nice touch.

2. Swad Indian Restaurant

6007A Monona Dr, Monona, Madison, WI 53716-3930 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Delivery, Highchairs Available, Free Wifi Indian, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch +1 608-819-6950
Excellent
74%
Good
22%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 146 reviews

Swad Indian Restaurant

Reviewed By Stephen O - Brookfield, Wisconsin

We had been for dinner before but not for their lunch buffet. The buffet is excellent and extensive. They had 2 soups, fresh salad, at least 12 different hot entrees including many chicken and vegetarian choices ,1 beef dish and grilled catfish. They had 6 dessert choices as well. All the food was delicious . The buffet is continually refreshed, no shortage of any dish. You also get warm nan with your meal.
The restaurant is very clean and nicely decorated, staff are very attentive and friendly.
This is by far the very best Indian lunch buffet I have ever had. Give it a try!
Cost is $10:95 a person with a huge selection of food choices.

3. Red

316 W Washington Ave, Suite 100, Madison, WI 53703-3050 (Formerly Red) Takeout, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Street Parking, Valet Parking, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Reservations, Free Wifi, Accepts Credit Cards American, Seafood, Japanese, Sushi, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Drinks, Lunch, Dinner, Late Night +1 608-294-1234
Excellent
69%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 175 reviews

Red

Reviewed By Mario G

Great atmosphere and delicious sushi. Very conveniently located close to the capital. Easy parking (lots of ramps around here). I️ personally like the chefs choice sashimi.

4. La Taguara. Venezuelan and Latin American Cuisine

3502 E Washington Ave, Madison, Madison, WI 53704-4115 Takeout, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Wine and Beer, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Reservations, Seating, Television, Accepts Credit Cards Latin, Venezuelan, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner, Brunch SGD 7 - SGD 20 +1 608-721-9100
Excellent
65%
Good
32%
Satisfactory
2%
Poor
0%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 172 reviews

La Taguara. Venezuelan and Latin American Cuisine

We offer traditional Venezuelan & Latin American cuisine. Visit us and delight your palate with the taste of delicious authentic Venezuelan SAZON. Enjoy our dining room or, for those on the go, call ahead and we'll have your order ready for you to pick up and carry out.

Reviewed By Robert S - Platteville, Wisconsin

Wanting to try something different on my trip thru Madison, so I dropped in. Had a kind of combo plate with plantains, rice, beans and 3 kinds of meat. WAY more food than I needed but it tasted so good. Highly

5. L'Etoile Restaurant

1 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703-2892 Reservations, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Private Dining French, American, Gluten Free Options, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options Dinner, Late Night SGD 33 - SGD 131 +1 608-251-0500
Excellent
73%
Good
14%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 321 reviews

L'Etoile Restaurant

Reviewed By MMouseMD - Avon, Connecticut

Private party took over the entire restaurant. Imaginative tasty appetizers, excellent bartenders. Impressive wine list. The filet was cooked to perfect temp, beet salad was cold and crisp with just enough goat cheese to keep it on taste. Panna cotta firm, but not gelatinous. Five-start service.

6. Pizza Brutta

1805 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711-2024 Takeout, Reservations, Seating, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol Italian, Pizza, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options Lunch, Dinner SGD 13 - SGD 20 +1 608-257-2120
Excellent
64%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
4%
Poor
1%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 165 reviews

Pizza Brutta

Reviewed By michael m - Fort Worth, Texas

Absolutely one of my fave pizza places ever. And what a find. They make the pies right in front of you with the most excellent of ingredients! The salad of the day, 5.00, was so fresh you could taste the dirt! Wonderful place!!

7. Angelo's

5801 Monona Dr, Frnt, Monona, Madison, WI 53716-3558 Television, Serves Alcohol, Free Wifi, Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Highchairs Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Accepts Discover, Accepts Credit Cards Italian, Pizza, Vegetarian Friendly, Vegan Options, Gluten Free Options Lunch, Dinner, Late Night, Drinks SGD 12 - SGD 22 +1 608-222-1464
Excellent
77%
Good
17%
Satisfactory
3%
Poor
1%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 338 reviews

Angelo's

Reviewed By Jeff R - Marion, Iowa

Angelo's is a small, intimate Italian restaurant - the dining room looks to seat about 50 - 60 people - and has all the usual dishes one expects in an Italian restaurant. The bar area has a distinct hometown feel to it - you can tell the patrons there know each other but are also welcoming to out-of-towners.

My wife ordered the shrimp scampi and I had lobster ravioli. We both enjoyed our meals and split a tiramisu that was excellent.

The service was top-rate; attentive but not intrusive.

A very good experience.

8. Dotty Dumpling's Dowry

317 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703-1970 Takeout, Seating, Waitstaff, Television, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Accepts American Express, Accepts Mastercard, Accepts Visa, Free Wifi, Accepts Discover, Street Parking, Highchairs Available, Wine and Beer, Accepts Credit Cards American, Bar, Pub, Vegetarian Friendly, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Drinks SGD 10 - SGD 20 +1 608-259-0000
Excellent
60%
Good
30%
Satisfactory
6%
Poor
3%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 674 reviews

Dotty Dumpling's Dowry

Dotty Dumpling's Dowry is a Madison institution favored by the locals for over 40 years. Located in the heart of downtown, Dotty's offers award winning hamburgers, Friday fish fry, homemade soups and chili, fresh salads and so much more! Cozy up in a booth or at the bar and pick from 24 Wisconsin craft beers on tap while enjoying some Blues or Motown music in the back round. Dotty's is a Madison tradition enjoyed by guests of all ages!

Reviewed By ToddP70 - Waukesha, Wisconsin

My wife and 2 sons (19 and 13) enjoyed our experience at Dotty Dumpling's last week! We had the fried cheese curds as an appetizer, then each tried a different burger. Each of us mostly enjoyed our choices. I had the Heart Throb and was...MoreThank you so much for the kind review! I love that you all had different burgers. That really maximizes the experience. Please come visit us again soon! ?

9. Tornado Steak House

116 S Hamilton St, 116 S Hamilton St, 53703, Madison, WI 53703-3210 Reservations, Private Dining, Seating, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar American, Steakhouse, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Late Night +1 608-256-3570
Excellent
62%
Good
25%
Satisfactory
9%
Poor
2%
Terrible
2%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 591 reviews

Tornado Steak House

Reviewed By Kari K - Madison, Wisconsin

Steaks, potatoes, salad - this is the best dinner that can be had in Madison. Love the iconic hole-in-the-wall supper club atmosphere, located only a few paces from the Capitol square. Can't recommend it enough!!!

10. Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro

601 Junction Rd, Suite9, Madison, WI 53717-2155 Reservations, Outdoor Seating, Seating, Waitstaff, Parking Available, Wheelchair Accessible, Serves Alcohol, Full Bar, Private Dining Wine Bar, American, Gluten Free Options Dinner, Late Night SGD 26 - SGD 33 +1 608-664-9565
Excellent
66%
Good
23%
Satisfactory
8%
Poor
2%
Terrible
1%
Overall Ratings

4.5 based on 242 reviews

Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro

Eno Vino offers over 150 wines by the bottle and 40 by the glass as well as a full bar featuring their own Specialty Martinis and other Original Libations

Reviewed By acedaughter - Michigan

We were lucky to be seated at a window table, with a view of the state Capitol -- gorgeous! Six of us were dining and we thoroughly enjoyed all of the many dishes we tried. Favorites were the fried green beans and the center cut filet. The creme brulee was also delicious!

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