The 12 Best Restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin

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Nestled along the picturesque shores of Lake Mendota, Madison, Wisconsin, is a vibrant culinary haven boasting a diverse array of dining experiences that cater to every palate. From charming bistros to upscale eateries, the capital city is a gastronomic delight for both locals and visitors alike. In this guide, we explore the culinary landscape and present a curated list of the 12 best restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin, where exceptional flavors, innovative cuisine, and warm hospitality converge to create unforgettable dining moments. Whether you’re a food enthusiast or simply seeking the finest culinary delights, our handpicked selection guarantees an exquisite journey through the heart of Madison’s dining scene.

Venture into the heart of Wisconsin, where the vibrant city of Madison awaits with an enticing symphony of flavors and culinary delights. Madison, a place where gourmands and foodies gather, offers a diverse culinary landscape that caters to every palate and preference. From classic American fare to exotic international cuisines, Madison’s restaurants promise an unforgettable dining experience. Join us on a gastronomic journey as we explore some of the city’s best restaurants, each with its unique story and distinct taste profile.

The 12 Best Restaurants in Madison, Wisconsin

1. The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant

Step back in time and immerse yourself in the charm and nostalgia of The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant. Established in 1910, this beloved institution has stood the test of time, serving generations of Madisonians and visitors alike. The restaurant’s rustic ambiance, with its wooden beams and cozy fireplace, sets the stage for a heartwarming dining experience.

The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant
The Old Fashioned Tavern & Restaurant

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 23 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 310-4545

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-10pm, Sunday: 10am-10pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “The Old Fashioned never disappoints! The food is always delicious and the atmosphere is so cozy.” – Sarah M.
  • “This place is a must-visit when in Madison. The fried chicken is out of this world!” – John D.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Fried Chicken: A signature dish at The Old Fashioned, this crispy and juicy fried chicken is served with mashed potatoes and gravy, making it the ultimate comfort food.
  • Beef Stew: Perfect for a chilly day, this hearty beef stew is slow-cooked to perfection and served with a side of warm bread.
  • Cheese Curds: A Wisconsin staple, these cheese curds are fried to golden perfection and served with a tangy dipping sauce.

Average Cost: $15-25 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://www.theoldfashioned.com/

Menu: https://www.theoldfashioned.com/menu/

2. Tornado Steak House 

For a quintessential Steakhouse experience, Tornado Steak House is an absolute must-visit. This family-owned restaurant has been serving up top-quality steaks since 1957, making it a Madison institution. The elegant and timeless decor, complete with white tablecloths and candlelit tables, sets the stage for a memorable dining experience.

Tornado Steak House
Tornado Steak House

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 116 S Hamilton St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 256-3570

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 5pm-10pm, Sunday: Closed

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Hands down the best steak I’ve ever had! The service was impeccable and the atmosphere was perfect for a special occasion.” – Emily R.
  • “The filet mignon at Tornado is worth every penny. Cooked to perfection and melts in your mouth.” – Mark S.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Filet Mignon: Tender and flavorful, this classic cut of steak is a crowd favorite at Tornado.
  • Lobster Bisque: Creamy and rich, this indulgent soup is a must-try for seafood lovers.
  • Chocolate Lava Cake: Save room for dessert and indulge in this decadent chocolate cake with a molten center.

Average Cost: $30-50 per person

Website, Menu

Website: http://www.tornadosteakhouse.com/

Menu: http://www.tornadosteakhouse.com/menu/

3. Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry 

If you’re in the mood for a juicy and satisfying burger, look no further than Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry. This casual and laid-back restaurant has been serving up some of the best burgers in Madison since 1972. With over 30 different burger options, there’s something for everyone at Dotty’s.

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Dotty Dumpling's Dowry
Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 317 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 259-0000

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-10pm, Sunday: 11am-9pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Dotty’s has the best burgers in town! The variety of toppings and sauces make each burger unique and delicious.” – Alex T.
  • “The veggie burger here is amazing! I’m not even a vegetarian, but I always choose it because it’s that good.” – Rachel L.

Must-Try Meals:

  • The Classic: Sometimes simple is best, and this classic burger with lettuce, tomato, onion, and cheese proves just that.
  • The Elvis: This burger is fit for the King himself, topped with peanut butter, bacon, and banana slices.
  • The Bad Breath Burger: Don’t let the name scare you away, this burger is packed with flavor from garlic aioli, caramelized onions, and blue cheese.

Average Cost: $10-15 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://dottydumplingsdowry.com/

Menu: https://dottydumplingsdowry.com/menu/

4. Naples 15

For authentic Italian cuisine in Madison, look no further than Naples 15. This family-owned restaurant prides itself on using fresh and high-quality ingredients to create traditional Italian dishes. The warm and welcoming atmosphere, complete with exposed brick walls and dim lighting, makes for a cozy dining experience.

Naples 15
Naples 15

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 15 N Butler St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 250-0113

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 4pm-10pm, Sunday: Closed

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Naples 15 never disappoints! The pasta is always cooked perfectly and the sauces are so flavorful.” – Maria G.
  • “The wood-fired pizzas here are some of the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly crispy crust and delicious toppings.” – Tom B.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Spaghetti Carbonara: A classic Italian dish, this spaghetti is tossed in a creamy egg and pancetta sauce.
  • Margherita Pizza: Simple yet delicious, this pizza features fresh mozzarella, tomato sauce, and basil.
  • Tiramisu: End your meal on a sweet note with this traditional Italian dessert made with ladyfingers, espresso, and mascarpone cheese.

Average Cost: $20-30 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://www.naples15.com/

Menu: https://www.naples15.com/menu/

5. Graze Restaurant 

Located in the heart of downtown Madison, Graze Restaurant offers a farm-to-table dining experience that showcases the best of Wisconsin’s local produce and ingredients. The menu changes seasonally, ensuring that only the freshest and most flavorful dishes are served to guests. The modern and sleek interior creates a sophisticated yet comfortable atmosphere.

Graze Restaurant
Graze Restaurant

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 1 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 251-2700

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-10pm, Sunday: 10am-9pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Graze is my go-to for a special occasion dinner. The food is always top-notch and the service is excellent.” – Sarah K.
  • “I love that Graze supports local farmers and uses fresh ingredients in their dishes. You can really taste the difference.” – Mark R.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Fried Cheese Curds: A Wisconsin favorite, these cheese curds are served with a tangy ranch dipping sauce.
  • Grilled Pork Chop: This hearty dish features a juicy pork chop served with roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie: Indulge in this decadent dessert made with a chocolate cookie crust, peanut butter mousse, and chocolate ganache.

Average Cost: $25-35 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://grazemadison.com/

Menu: https://grazemadison.com/menu/

6. Marigold Kitchen 

Brunch lovers rejoice, because Marigold Kitchen has you covered. This cozy and charming restaurant serves up delicious breakfast and lunch options all day long. From classic dishes like eggs benedict to unique creations like lemon ricotta pancakes, there’s something for everyone at Marigold Kitchen.

Marigold Kitchen
Marigold Kitchen

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 118 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 661-5559

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday: 7am-3pm, Saturday-Sunday: 8am-3pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Marigold Kitchen is my go-to for brunch with friends. The food is always delicious and the atmosphere is so cozy.” – Emily B.
  • “The lemon ricotta pancakes are a must-try! They’re light and fluffy with just the right amount of lemon flavor.” – Mike S.
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Must-Try Meals:

  • Corned Beef Hash: This hearty dish features house-made corned beef, potatoes, and onions topped with two eggs any style.
  • Avocado Toast: A classic breakfast option, this avocado toast is served on sourdough bread with a poached egg and arugula.
  • Cinnamon Roll French Toast: Indulge in this decadent twist on a breakfast favorite, served with cream cheese frosting and fresh berries.

Average Cost: $10-15 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://marigoldkitchen.com/

Menu: https://marigoldkitchen.com/menu/

7. L’Etoile Restaurant 

For a truly special dining experience, look no further than L’Etoile Restaurant. This upscale restaurant has been a staple in Madison’s culinary scene since 1976, serving up innovative and seasonal dishes that showcase the best of local ingredients. The elegant and sophisticated atmosphere makes it the perfect spot for a romantic dinner or special occasion.

L'Etoile Restaurant
L’Etoile Restaurant

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 1 S Pinckney St 107, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 251-0500

Operating Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: 5pm-9pm, Sunday-Monday: Closed

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “L’Etoile never disappoints. The food is always creative and delicious, and the service is top-notch.” – Rachel M.
  • “This is hands down the best fine dining experience in Madison. The attention to detail in every dish is incredible.” – John P.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Duck Breast: This tender and flavorful duck breast is served with a cherry gastrique, roasted root vegetables, and wild rice.
  • Mushroom Risotto: A vegetarian option that doesn’t skimp on flavor, this creamy risotto features a variety of mushrooms and truffle oil.
  • Chocolate Hazelnut Torte: Indulge in this rich and decadent dessert made with layers of chocolate cake and hazelnut mousse.

Average Cost: $50-75 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://www.letoile-restaurant.com/

Menu: https://www.letoile-restaurant.com/menu/

8. Bassett Street Brunch Club 

Bassett Street Brunch Club offers a unique twist on the traditional brunch experience. This trendy and modern restaurant serves up creative and delicious dishes that are perfect for sharing with friends. The industrial-chic decor adds to the hip and lively atmosphere.

Bassett Street Brunch Club
Bassett Street Brunch Club

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 444 W Johnson St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 467-5051

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday: 7am-3pm, Saturday-Sunday: 8am-3pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “I love the vibe at Bassett Street Brunch Club. The food is always amazing and the cocktails are top-notch.” – Sarah H.
  • “The chicken and waffles here are out of this world! Perfectly crispy chicken and fluffy waffles, it’s a match made in heaven.” – Mike D.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Breakfast Nachos: A fun twist on a classic, these nachos feature breakfast potatoes, scrambled eggs, cheese, and your choice of bacon or chorizo.
  • Avocado Toast Benedict: A unique take on eggs benedict, this dish features avocado toast topped with poached eggs and hollandaise sauce.
  • S’mores French Toast: Indulge in this decadent breakfast option made with graham cracker-crusted french toast, chocolate ganache, and toasted marshmallows.

Average Cost: $15-20 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://bassettstreetbrunchclub.com/

Menu: https://bassettstreetbrunchclub.com/menu/

9. Heritage Tavern 

Heritage Tavern is a celebration of Wisconsin’s rich culinary heritage. This farm-to-table restaurant sources all of its ingredients from local farmers and producers, creating dishes that are both delicious and sustainable. The warm and inviting atmosphere makes it the perfect spot for a cozy dinner with friends or family.

Heritage Tavern
Heritage Tavern

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 131 E Mifflin St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 283-9500

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 5pm-10pm, Sunday: Closed

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “I love the concept of using local ingredients at Heritage Tavern. The food is always fresh and flavorful.” – Emily L.
  • “The pork chop here is to die for! Cooked to perfection and served with delicious sides.” – Mark B.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Cheese Curds: A Wisconsin staple, these cheese curds are fried to golden perfection and served with a tangy dipping sauce.
  • Braised Short Rib: This hearty dish features tender short rib served with mashed potatoes and seasonal vegetables.
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Pie: End your meal on a sweet note with this indulgent dessert made with a chocolate cookie crust, peanut butter mousse, and chocolate ganache.
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Average Cost: $25-35 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://heritagetavern.com/

Menu: https://heritagetavern.com/menu/

10. Ha Long Bay, Madison 

For authentic Vietnamese cuisine in Madison, look no further than Ha Long Bay. This family-owned restaurant serves up traditional dishes bursting with flavor and made with fresh ingredients. The casual and welcoming atmosphere makes it the perfect spot for a quick lunch or dinner with friends.

Ha Long Bay, Madison
Ha Long Bay, Madison

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 1353 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 255-2868

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11am-9pm, Sunday: Closed

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “I love the pho at Ha Long Bay! It’s always flavorful and comforting, especially on a cold day.” – Sarah D.
  • “The banh mi here is amazing! Perfectly crispy bread and delicious fillings.” – Mike T.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Pho: A classic Vietnamese dish, this soup features rice noodles, broth, and your choice of protein.
  • Banh Mi: A popular street food in Vietnam, this sandwich is filled with your choice of meat, pickled vegetables, and herbs.
  • Shaking Beef: This stir-fried beef dish is served with rice and vegetables, making it a hearty and flavorful option.

Average Cost: $10-15 per person

Website, Menu

Website: http://halongbaymadison.com/

Menu: http://halongbaymadison.com/menu/

11. Nick’s Restaurant and Lounge 

Nick’s Restaurant and Lounge has been a staple in Madison since 1954, serving up classic American diner fare with a touch of nostalgia. The retro decor and friendly service make it a favorite among locals and visitors alike.

Nick's Restaurant and Lounge
Nick’s Restaurant and Lounge

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 226 State St, Madison, WI 53703

Phone: (608) 255-5450

Operating Hours: Monday-Saturday: 6am-2pm, Sunday: 7am-2pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Nick’s is my go-to spot for breakfast in Madison. The pancakes are huge and delicious!” – Rachel S.
  • “The burgers here are amazing! Juicy and flavorful, just like a classic diner burger should be.” – John M.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Biscuits and Gravy: This hearty breakfast option features fluffy biscuits smothered in creamy sausage gravy.
  • Patty Melt: A classic diner sandwich, this patty melt is made with a juicy burger patty, melted cheese, and grilled onions on rye bread.
  • Homemade Pie: End your meal on a sweet note with a slice of homemade pie, available in a variety of flavors.

Average Cost: $10-15 per person

Website, Menu

Website: http://www.nicksrestaurantmadison.com/

Menu: http://www.nicksrestaurantmadison.com/menu/

12. Monty’s Blue Plate Diner 

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner offers a unique twist on comfort food favorites. This cozy and welcoming restaurant serves up dishes that are both familiar and innovative, using fresh and locally-sourced ingredients. The laid-back atmosphere makes it the perfect spot for a casual meal with friends or family.

Monty's Blue Plate Diner
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

Address, Phone, Operating Hours

Address: 2089 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704

Phone: (608) 244-8505

Operating Hours: Monday-Friday: 7am-9pm, Saturday-Sunday: 8am-9pm

Reviews, Must-Try Meals, Average Cost

Reviews:

  • “Monty’s is my go-to spot for a delicious and affordable meal. The mac and cheese here is amazing!” – Emily K.
  • “I love the vegetarian options at Monty’s. The veggie burger is one of the best I’ve ever had.” – Mark S.

Must-Try Meals:

  • Meatloaf: A classic comfort food dish, this meatloaf is served with mashed potatoes, gravy, and seasonal vegetables.
  • Fried Chicken and Waffles: This indulgent dish features crispy fried chicken on top of fluffy waffles, served with maple syrup and hot sauce.
  • Vegan Chili: Made with a variety of beans and vegetables, this hearty chili is a perfect option for vegetarians and vegans.

Average Cost: $15-20 per person

Website, Menu

Website: https://www.montysblueplatediner.com/

Menu: https://www.montysblueplatediner.com/menu/

Conclusion

Madison, Wisconsin offers a diverse and vibrant dining scene, with something for every palate. From upscale fine dining to casual diners, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking for a romantic dinner, a fun brunch spot, or a taste of local cuisine, these restaurants are sure to satisfy your cravings. So next time you’re in Madison, be sure to check out one (or all!) of these top-rated restaurants for a memorable dining experience.