Below are restaurant recommendations and suggestions. They are listed from nearest options around the Capitol, and slightly past the Capitol.
To get your bearings, Memorial Union is on Lake Mendota, just west of downtown, the main UW Library and the Capitol form the two ends of State Street.
Memorial Union Resturants:
- Der Rathskeller – food and beer, open late – perfect evening spot to relax
- Strada – Italian chain restaurant food
- Carte – sandwich shop
- Peet’s Coffee & Tea – chain coffeeshop
- Daily Scoop – excellent UW dairy ice cream!
Library Mall Restaurants:
(Across Langdon St and the Library Mall green space)
- Food Trucks include:
- Caracas Empanadas – Fabulous Venezuelan-Style Empanadas – highly recommended!
- Bulgogi Korean Tacos – Korean BBQ tacos – fusion wonderfulness!
- Toast – Panini perfection!
600 Block of State Street:
(Heading away from Campus, towards the Capitol)
- Forage Kitchen – Counter serving farm to table salads primarily
- Chipotle – Chain Mexican – build your own burrito (or tacos or bowls) restaurant – they also have a “secret” menu (for real, Google it for details)
- Poke Bowl Plus – Chain Hawaiian poke restaurant
- Sunroom Cafe – Cafe with especially good vegetarian and vegan options
500 Block of State Street:
- Colectivo Coffee – Local small coffee shop and bakery chain – good coffee variety selections
- Mooyah Burgers – Chain burger restaurant with shakes and some well-regarded veggie options
- Naf Naf Grill – Chain middle eastern food
- Roast Public House – Good sandwiches with local ingredients – open late with a wide selection of beers
- Whiskey Jack’s Saloon – There is a mechanical bull if you need to relive the 1980s. Do you really need to though?
- Hungry Badger Cafe – Vegan friendly cafe
- Soga Shabu Shabu – Chinese hot pot – fun and claimed to be authentic
- Koi Sushi – Easygoing stop for Asian Fusion
- Chen’s Dumpling House – Dumplings! Very good dumplings!
- Paul’s Pel’meni – Open late, fantastic Russian beef & potato-filled dumplings – great deal too!
*Around the corner on Gilman Street
400 Block of State Street:
- Cold Stone Creamery – Chain ice cream with confectionery (and other bits) folded in
- Dubai Mediterranean Restaurant & Bar – Absorb the contradictions in that name, but enjoy the pitas and shwarma
- Which Wich Sandwiches – Chain sandwich joint
- Sencha Tea Bar – Tea house – learn about white tea on a slower afternoon
- Fair Trade Coffee House – Local coffeeshop
- HopCat – Chain brewpub with good drink and food specials
*Around the corner on Gorham Street
300 Block of State Street:
~10 minute walk from Memorial Union to State St.
- Crandall’s Peruvian Bistro – Cozy restaurant with Peruvian soups, salads & entrees
- Parthenon Gyros – Fast Greek-style food – open late
- Pizza Di Roma – New York style pizza (at least according to the owners) – open late
- Tutto Pasta – Italian family-owned restaurant – a local student favorite
- Short Stack Eatery – Breakfast 24 hours a day on the weekends and long hours on weekdays
*On Johnson Street
200 Block of State Street:
- Noodles and Company – Chain noodles and pasta
- Fresco – Modern New American cooking on the rooftop of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art – excellent cocktails and great views!
- Nick’s – Greek-American diner with original 1959 decor – recommended experience
- Espresso Royale Cafe – Coffeeshop with fun staff
- Cask & Ale – A fine whiskey selection in a nice atmosphere
- Paul’s Club – There’s a tree in the bar – good selection of local beers and great place to hang out late
100 Block of State Street:
- Michelangelo’s Coffee House – Local coffeeshop
- Buck and Badger Northwoods Lodge – There’s a fireplace!
- Freiburg Taphaus – German gastropub
- Ian’s Pizza – Mac and cheese on pizza? Sure! It’s an institution locally and famous for pizza deliveries to protesters at the capitol – offer salads too
- Teddywegers – Cornish (savory) pastries – an interesting and odd local standby
- Cento – Fine Italian-inspired farm to table restaurant with food wine list – pre-theater crowd – expensive but worth it
*Around the corner on Mifflin
*15 minute walk from Memorial Union via State Street
- Food Trucks at Lunchtime
- Curd Girl – Genuinely the best deep-fried cheese curds around (Though there are those who claim the Old Fashioned’s ones are better – try both to be sure!)
- Bazo – The ur-food truck for Madison – Israeli-style falafel
- Melted – Grilled cheese wonderfulness – bow down to the grill
- El Grito Taqeria – Taco food truck to make you feel as though you’re in California – without the palm trees though
- Restaurants around the Square (clockwise from State St.)
- Cooper’s Tavern – Great beer list and good pub food – sit outside for the best people watching!
- Rare Steakhouse – Fancy, expensive, but very good aged steaks, wine, and cocktails
- Field Table – New American restaurant and market – not afraid to try new things
- Old Fashioned – Retro-Wisconsin pub – brats, beers, and cheese curds – often a line
- Harvest – Local farm to table cuisine – always an inspired menu
- L’Etoile – French-inspired food – high end farm to table – a Madison institution
- Graze – Less expensive farm to table dining – brilliant and exciting dishes
- Tavernakaya – Pan-asian fusion cuisine – open late
- Starbucks – Yes, there’s one here as well
- Candinas Chocolatier – Fine chocolates for self or gifting
- Fromagination – Wisconsin cheese store plus lunch-time sandwiches
- Graft – Yes, it’s across from the Capitol and called Graft – quality cocktails, wine list and tapas – there’s a turntable behind the bar, ask for your favorite vinyl to be spun
Near the Capitol Square:
- Lucille – Wood-fired pizzas – beautiful space
- Ancora Coffee Roasters – Local coffee shop with global coffees
- Tipsy Cow – Brewpub
- Merchant – Gastropub and liquor store with craft cocktails
- Marigold Kitchen – Breakfast and lunch food
- Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse – Steaks and an interesting, extremely well-curated wine list
- Tempest Oyster Bar – Fine dining seafood restaurant – beautiful space and classic cocktails – Restaurant Magnus is still remembered
- Osteria Papavero – Authentic seasonal Italian cuisine – some of the finest bitters for cocktails in town
- Great Dane – Pub and brewing company, fine outdoor space!
- Genna’s Lounge – Hang out with IceCube folks, the Happy Hour is mandatory – have some meatballs, cheese and discounted beer
- Tornado Steak House – Excellent steaks, old school all the way – late night value menu
- Canteen – Best mazcal and tequila bar in Madison – good mexican food as well
- Barriques – Local coffeeshop and wine store chain – pop in, buy a bottle of wine and drink it on the patio
- Boar & Barrel – Tapas, cocktails, and whiskey – not necessarily in that order
- Sol’s on the Square – Korean bulgogi and donkatus – Tasty!
- Heritage Tavern – New American cuisine and open late
- DLUX – Fine hamburgers
- Eno Vino – Best views in town (from up high) – fine wine list!
- Blue Agave – Mexican cuisine with an especially food table-side guacamole
- Sardine – Belgian-inspired fine dining on Lake Monona – also famously good weekend brunch – Oysters!
- Brasserie V – Belgian pub on Monroe Street – a bit noisy, but great beer selections
- Sujeo – Pan-asian contemporary bar and restaurant by well-known local chef
- Lao Laan-Xang – Laotian food on Willy Street – two locations, one set of fine flavors
- Umami Ramen – Best ramen bar in Madison – Willy St. is the old Madison hippie neighborhood – worth a walk
- Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry – A Madison hamburger institution
- Taqueria Guadalajara – Unassuming little spot is without a doubt the best Mexican food between Chicago and San Franciso – IMHO
- Red Sushi – Innovate sushi restaurant in a modern setting – great cocktails too
- Pizza Brutta – Neapolitan pizza perfection