Madison Must Do’s

capitolI’ve lived in Madison for seven years now and have made it my goal to visit as close to 100% of the restaurants here. I love food, always have and started a running list of places I need to eat at in Madison. After eating at a lot of different restaurants over these seven years I’ve created a list of must do’s in Madison (which for me includes outlying “suburbs” as well). This list has grown substantially over the years and will continue to change as I keep visiting more Madison restaurants. I’ve seen other versions of this list that include all of the expensive restaurants by the square and none of the local, community gems. I tend to go back to those places and visit the restaurants on the Square only once or twice. I’ve also included my current list of places to visit and a list of places that I’ve had bad meals at.  I’m always up for new places to visit so please add your favorites in the comments section! Let me know if you disagree with my placement of a restaurant…I’d like to hear other people’s experiences!

Must Do’s (in alphabetical order)

My “to visit” list

  • A Pig in a Fur Coat
  • Anchor Inn (Edgerton)
  • Angelo’s
  • Argus
  • Baldwin Street Grille
  • Base Camp Cafe (Mazo)
  • Big Sky (Stoughton)
  • Black Earth Lanes (burgers)
  • Blowin’ Smoke BBQ (Waunakee)
  • Brews Brothers Pub
  • Brickhouse BBQ
  • Buckhorn Supper Club (Milton)
  • Cafe Costa Rica
  • Christy’s Landing
  • Cow & Quince (New Glarus)
  • Crandall’s Peruvian Bistro
  • Curry in the Box
  • David’s Jamaican Cuisine
  • Del Bar (Wisconsin Dells)
  • Delaney’s Charcoal Steaks
  • Dexter’s Pub
  • Dorf Haus Supper Club (Sauk City)
  • Essen Haus
  • Fat Jacks Barbeque
  • Field Table
  • Fitz’s on the Lake (Lodi)
  • Fleming’s
  • Forage Kitchen
  • Francisco’s Cantina
  • Grampa’s Pizzeria
  • Graft
  • Green Acres (Sauk Prairie)
  • Hamilton’s on the Square
  • Harvest
  • Hi Point Steakhouse (Ridgeway)
  • Ishnala (Lake Delton)
  • Jamerica
  • Kavanaugh’s Esquire Club
  • La Concha
  • Lao-Laan Xang
  • L’Etoile
  • Louisianne’s Etc.
  • Lucille
  • Maria’s Pizza (Oregon)
  • McFarland House Cafe
  • Melly Mell’s
  • Merrill and Houston’s Steak Join (Beloit)
  • Mixing Bowl Bakery (Sauk Prairie)
  • Naples 15
  • Next Door Brewing Company
  • One Barrel Brewing Company
  • Osteria Papavero
  • People’s Bakery
  • Plaka Taverna
  • Quivey’s Grove Stone House
  • Redamte Coffee House
  • Roast
  • Rockhound
  • Rossi’s
  • Rubb’s Steakhouse
  • Sa-Bai Thong
  • Salvatore’s Tomato Pies
  • Seafood Center
  • The Shack Bar and Grill (Black Earth)
  • Tempest Oyster Bar
  • The Fountain
  • Tip Top Tavern
  • Toby’s Supper Club (McFarland)
  • Umami
  • Vin Santo
  • VIP Asian Cuisine
  • Wah Kee
  • Wendigo (Stoughton)
  • Willie Ty’s Eatery (Sun Prairie)
  • Windmill Pizzeria & Sourdough Co. (Sauk City)

Places I’ll be avoiding (don’t avoid these based on my experiences but be aware that I’ve either been disappointed or not thrilled)

  • 4&20 Bakery
  • Bandung Indonesian Restaurant
  • Bassett Street Brunch Club (food wasn’t so great, coffee and donuts were pretty good)
  • Batch Bakehouse (good, but there are better options)
  • Benvenuto’s Italian Grill (almost a full step down from Olive Garden)
  • Bloom Bake Shop (if I’m going to eat a cupcake, I don’t want a vegan or GF one)
  • Blue Marlin
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Brocach (the one on the square)
  • Buck and Honey’s (overrated)
  • Captain Bills (great service, but the “waterfront view” is basically non-existent and the food is only OK)
  • Creamery Cafe (food is fine, the art is pretentious)
  • Dobhan
  • El Pastor (food was bland, restaurant smelled like cigarette smoke)
  • Eldorado Grill (Their brunch is amazing. Their lunch and dinner are not so great.)
  • Estrellon (the tapas are good, but not amazing)
  • Fit Fresh Cuisine (good, but pretty pricey)
  • Flying Hound Pub (great kale salad, heavy pub food, prices a little too high)
  • GiGi’s cupcakes (way too much frosting for me)
  • Graze (overrated)
  • Green Owl Cafe (review No. 1)
  • Harmony Bar
  • Hazelnut Cafe (not worth the distance)
  • Johnny Delmonico’s (high prices, small portions)
  • La Mestiza (except for their guacamole)
  • Lane’s Bakery (Scott’s is better)
  • Layla’s
  • Lazy Jane’s Cafe and Bakery (annoying seating, mediocre food)
  • Los Gemelos (not nearly as good as Taqueria Guadalajara)
  • Luigi’s (awful paninis)
  • Natt Spill (too trendy)
  • New Orlean’s Takeout (the shrimp creole and corn bread were good, but everything else was forgettable)
  • Nonno’s
  • Marigold Kitchen (good but not fantastic)
  • Mickey’s Dairy Bar (everyone should go once, but it’s not a regular place for me)
  • Monk’s
  • Oliva
  • Otto’s
  • Pancake Cafe (breakfast is decent, lunch is not good)
  • Pairie Cafe and Bakery (they only take cash, food was not memorable)
  • Rare Steakhouse
  • Rigby’s (their fried pickles and cheese curds were fantastic, but the burger wasn’t)
  • Saigon Noodles (not my favorite type of food, but the Thai tea was great)
  • Samba (the food was great and it was a fun atmosphere, but the prices are way too high)
  • Short. Stack. Eats. (High Prices. Small Portions.)
  • Sofra Family Bistro (breakfast was lacking)
  • Sophia’s
  • Sujeo (nothing spectacular…but I would go back to try the dim sum)
  • Swagat
  • Takara
  • Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace (good, but not great)
  • University Club (I wanted to food to be better than it was)
  • Veranda
  • The Victory
  • Village Bar
  • The Vintage (nothing special)
  • Waypoint Public House (tried it twice…bad meals both times)
  • Wise (good food, awkward location, not great service)
  • Zuzu Cafe
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