Heading to Wisconsin? Here are the best restaurants in Madison Wi. 

Whether you are a foodie or are just looking to enjoy some good old Midwestern cooking, Madison is the place to be. Here are our top picks of some of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. 

1. The Old Fashioned 

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Old Fashioned

Credit: Facebook

If you are looking for an eatery that touts some of the best all American food, then The Old Fashioned is where you want to go. Get a taste of some excellent midwestern cooking by popping into one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. This Wisconsin themed restaurant is home to some of the tastiest Wisconsin artisan cheese plates. There are four different rotating Wisconsin cheese place that you can choose from. Each cheese plate features three different Wisconsin pieces of cheese. 

Stop by during happy hour which is Monday through Thursday from three to five PM.  Make it in time to kick back and relax with friends and family. Take your pick from soups, salads, and sandwiches that are cooked to perfection. For a nice evening out, be sure to check out their nightly specials that are available after 4 PM. The specials are rotating so you are sure to have a chance at tasting each delectable meal on different days of the night. If you are looking to have a good time then be sure to stop in on Wednesday nights for Wednesday late night trivia. Trivia starts at 10 PM and is pretty competitive. The competition is only magnified by the great prizes that are at stake.  Get your buddies together for some memorable fun at one of the best restaurants in Madison WI.

2. Cento Ristorante

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Cento Ristorante

Credit: Cento

This next pic is another one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. Cento Ristorante puts a spin on Italian food by providing old-world Italian recipes and mixing them with modern techniques. Come to Cento’s to enjoy some of the best handmade pasta that Madison Wisconsin has to offer. Savor the flavors of authentic Italian pizza baked right in a wood-burning oven. There are also tasty meats on the menu that are cooked in a similar fashion. If you don’t come for the food, then you must come for the bread. Santos is well known for their sourdough bread, butter board, and farmer board. Dip these tasty pieces of bread in the honey, olive oil, and cheeses they are served with and you are sure to fall in love too. 

Come in during weekend brunch hour and enjoy some modern staples like avocado toast and smoked pork eggs benedict. Dine like the Italians do by indulging in tasty croissants with homemade jelly jams. If you are looking for a more elegant meal plan that is fitting for a romantic getaway, then be sure to check out their three-course meal menu. There is a three-course theater (this meal requires the participation of entire table). Once you have the table set, you can expect to enjoy a stand out meal that has got everything from warm marinated olives to mixed greens to risotto. Top the meal off with your choice of tiramisu, rice pudding, or gelato for dessert and you are sure to have a feel of how the Italians dine. 

What also makes this one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi is the fact that Cento’s also offers private dining experiences. If they were not known for their food, they would be known for their superb hosting of private events. Cento’s Ristorante can host both large and small events so it is the perfect venue for whatever event you have in mind.  

Finally, it would not be an Italian restaurant if some of the finest wines that Italy has to offer weren’t available. While you are here, browse through their carefully selected list of fine wines. Take your pick of Italian white wines, sparklers, and champagne. There are even domestic wines if the taste of Italy is too much for you. If you have a chance and are visiting Madison Wisconsin, stop by Cento’s Ristorante for an exceptionally elegant experience. This fine night dining establishment is easily one of the best restaurants in Madison Wisconsin.

3. L’Etoile

best restaurants in Madison Wi - L’Etoile

Credit: L’Etoile

This next restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi because of their farm to table approach. Since opening its doors in 1976,  L’Etoile has served local and seasonal foods throughout the year. The original owner, Odessa Piper, admired the farm to restaurant relationship and established that in her own restaurant. Although the restaurant changed hands when Piper sold the eatery to Chef Tori Miller, the original traditions established have lived on. These traditions are what make it one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. In fact, L’Etoile has been recognized in the Gourmet Magazine’s feature article America’s Top 50 Restaurants.

L’Etoile partners with local farms to provide some of the freshest ingredients available. Menus are careful he composed so that the ingredients from local farms or highlighted. You can expect changing menus with the changing seasons but that is quite all right. Chef Torrey has a lot of fun creating new menus when new ingredients come around. This gives L’Etoile an opportunity to mix different flavor combinations together to provide a superb experience. Not only that, but the changing menu gives diners a broader opportunity to sample L’Etoile well throughout the year.

L’Etoile a two-course selection along with dessert. Take your pick from delectable flavors ranging from artichoke, sweet petite oysters, octopus and much more. For dessert, sample some baked ganache cake and polenta almond cake that will have you rushing to book your ticket to France. The country that has inspired the creations.

One of the best things about this restaurant is their wine pairing availability. Their wine team does a dedicated job of finding the latest flavors and pairing them with the best meals. If you are looking for an outing on a fancy date, then we highly recommend giving l’Etoile a shot. The atmosphere of the building and sizzling flavors are a perfect way to relax and enjoy a lovely evening out on the town. Stop by what is easily one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi to experience L’Etoile for yourself.

4. Graze

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Graze

Credit: Graze

This next restaurant is another one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. From the location to the building to the food, we love everything about Graze. For starter, Graze offers an upscale experience to the farm to table approach. You will notice this immediately once you walk into the building this fine dining establishment is set in a beautiful building that features floor to ceiling glass walls. You can not grab a seat without having the beautiful capital building tower over you. Come in during the night time and you can take in scenes of the nightlife and the busy streets that hum by you. 

If you are looking for a great burger than Graze is where you want to get it at. Graze is known for their contemporary burgers and they should very well be because of their taste. All the bread at Graze is made in house and is gluten-free. We love that at Graze if you have any dietary modifications, the staff will work with you. Although they are not a certified allergy-free kitchen because of their bakery, the staff do an exceptional job of keeping your order in mind to prevent cross-contamination. If you are a vegetarian or vegan, you are sure to love the menu here at Graze as well. Graze does a fabulous job of diversifying their menu so that they can accommodate all foodies.

The inspiration behind Graze is the New York Gastropub seen. You can expect some good old traditional pub food when you walk through the doors. But be prepared, this isn’t your standard eatery. Grazes takes it up a notch and provides quality upscale dining that makes for a memorable experience.

We love that this restaurant lives up to its name. The small plates and variety of dishes to choose from allow customers to come in and “graze” the menu. If you know you’re hungry but are not sure where to eat, Graze solves this because they have a little bit of everything. If you are traveling with friends or are planning to live here sometime in the near future, you will be happy to know that Graze prides itself on its community appeal. GraZe is where you go to socialize and get together with familiar faces.

While the food is exceptional and the experience is just as enjoyable we love that the highlight of Graze is the way they source their food. Grace partners with local farmers to get some of the best ingredients on their menu. We love that before creating the menu, Graze draws its inspirations from the farmers who grow their ingredients as well as popular meals that the locals enjoy already. If you are looking for a place to gather with good friends and nibble on great food. Then this is one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi to do so at.

5. Tornado Steakhouse

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Tornado Steakhouse

Credit: Tornado Steakhouse

Our list of best restaurants in Madison Wi would not be complete without a steakhouse. If you find yourself in Madison and are craving a good steakhouse, then pop on over to Tornado Steakhouse. From start to finish, we love everything about this steakhouse and you will notice this as soon as you enter. 

Speaking of entrances, there are two ways to get into the Tornado Steakhouse. There’s one on Hamilton and another one in the back on S Fairchild. We recommend taking the second entrance because it provides a more intimate feel that enhances your experience of the Tornado Steakhouse. When you do you enter the steakhouse, you will be greeted by a nostalgic 1970s feel. The wooden walls add to the character of the steakhouse and you truly will feel that you are a supper club. Diners have repeatedly raved about the atmosphere of Tornado Steakhouse. It is an incredibly romantic setting that makes for a perfect romantic getaway.

We love that the menu is simple and straightforward. Take your pick from a variety of flavors including escargot and frog legs. If you go with the baked potato option, you will not be disappointed. Their baked potatoes or baked to perfection and are the perfect complement to any meal. While you are here, you have to sam we love that the menu is simple and straightforward. Their French onion soup is another fan favorite that will please any pallet too.

As far as the menu goes, you’ll be happy to know that there is a range of options for you to choose from. If you are a seafood lover, you are especially going to love the Tornado Steakhouse because of their variety of seafood. Take your pick from Alaskan king crab and salmon that are sure to the, please. We also love that this steakhouse has an interesting twist to their menu. You can order delicacies such as rabbit, duck breast, and venison. While you are here, you of course have to take a taste of their award-winning steaks. You can take your pick of a range of steak options available. We recommend trying out their 21 ounce T-bone steak if you are looking for a hearty meal.

From start to finish we love the experience that the Tornado Steakhouse offers. Not only will you fall in love with the food, but the character of the place will get you. This cozy eatery is perfect for a fine dining experience that will be one to remember. All around, this is easily one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi.

6. Salvatore’s

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Salvatore’s

Credit: Salvatore’s / Facebook

If you are in the mood for some of the best pizza in the Midwest, then head over to this next best restaurant in Madison Wi. Salvatore‘s is home to authentic pizza pies that will have you feeling like you are in Italy. Chef Patrick and his wife Nicole (who is also a pastry chef) have built Salvatore’s to what it is today. It is no wonder why their pizza pies have such a solid reputation. Chef Patrick uses old world Italian techniques of slowly fermenting the dough for all his pizza pies. The wheat in all their pizza pies are locally sourced too. All the cheeses and meats that go on their pizza pies are also locally sourced. 

The relationship between local farmers and restaurants is one that Salvatore’s holds to a high standard. You can see this in the fact that Salvatore’s tries to source its ingredients from surrounding farmers and local vendors. Family and home are the central themes in Salvatore‘s kitchen. This is a theme that this restaurant loves to extend out to their customers, easily making it one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi.

Stop by and enjoy building your own pizza with all the premium toppings you can think of. If you are not in the mood for pizza there are other shareable delicacies such as calamari and sea scallops that are perfect for passing around the table. A classic at Salvatore’s is their fish tacos that are made with the some of the best cod available. Their fish tacos are a fan favorite that has made a name for themselves. What makes Salvatore’s one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi is their wings. Indulge in their crispy fried wings with your choice of lemon pepper dry rub, Korean style barbecue, or traditional buffalo sauce. Salvatore’s steaks, burgers, and dogs are also to die for if you are looking for some classic American cooking.

For private parties and catering, Salvatori‘s has got you covered as well. Call ahead to book your private party or event for an elegant and upscale dining experience. Whether you choose to dine at The Madison location or the Sun Prairie location, one thing is certain, you have made a good choice in dining. Come out and enjoy one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi with your friends and family for an authentic Italian experience.

7. A Pig In A Fur Coat

best restaurants in Madison Wi -  Pig In A Fur Coat

Credit: A Pig In A Fur Coat

This next restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Madison if you are looking for some good old comfort food with a nice Mediterranean spin. Don’t let the odd name for you. This catchy name is such an iconic figure located in the heart of Madison Wi. In fact, the name is so iconic you can purchase apparel that supports the logo of A Pig In A Fur Coat. We love this cheeky edge that A Pig In A Fur Coat is known for. 

The menu is pretty simple at this best restaurant in Madison Wi. It is simple and straightforward and we love that you can order ahead to pick up. Their menu consists of shareable snacks such as beef tartare and meatballs. The menu also includes small plates and large plates that offer a variety of treats that include delicacies such as octopus. If you do plan on visiting A Pig In A Fur Coat, be sure to try out their cheesecake for dessert.

Customers love the interesting twist that A Pig In A Fur Coat serves up. A traditional meal such as ravioli definitely has an interesting twist to it here at A Pig In A Fur Coat. Another example is their poutine made with duck fat fries. Their creations may sound a little strange, but they have been popular enough that it keeps customers coming back for more. If you are in the mood for something different then pop into this interesting restaurant. With a little bit of a funk and a whole lot of flavor, A Pig In A Fur Coat is sure to deliver an experience you will not forget.

8. Poke It Up

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Poke It Up

Credit: Poke It Up

This next restaurant is one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi and surprisingly so. Not too long ago, Poke It Up recently opened their door and have been making a name for themselves. This is the place to go if you were looking for some delicious dining and is surprisingly one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi. 

We love that you can dine into this laid-back restaurant or have your food prepared for takeout and even delivery. Although it has just hit the scene in Madison Wisconsin, Poke It Up has become a fan favorite citywide. Poke It Up is known for its twist on classic dishes and its use of the finest quality and freshest ingredients.

Poke It Up serves some delicious sushi and Hawaiian inspired meals. You can start your order by building up your bowl with a base, a mix, a sauce, and toppings. There are also house creations that you can choose from if you are not in the mood to make your own. Some of the popular house creations include a range of flavors from California style bowls and burritos two oriental inspired bowls and burritos. We love that Poke It Up offers a vegetarian option as well. Choose from one scoop to three scoops for your base to satisfy your hunger needs and top it off with the selection of toppings that are as tasty as they are plentiful. If you are in the mood for some delicious sushi, fish, and Hawaiian inspired food, then Poke It Up is where you will want to stop by.

9. Sweet Home Wisconsin

best restaurants in Madison Wi - Sweet Home

Credit: Sweet Home Wisconsin / Facebook

If you are looking for some classic all American cooking that will fill you up, then make your way to Sweet Home Wisconsin. If the name doesn’t attract you to one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi, then the delectable menu will.  Sweet Home Wisconsin is the one stop shop for burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. Pair them up with some refreshing drinks and you’ll have a meal that will carry you for the rest of the day. 

Customers who stop here can’t stop raving about the hot dogs and burgers that are served up. Juicy burgers stacked with all the works and stuffed into a fluffy sesame bun make for the perfect lunch or dinner meal. One of their most popular burgers is the garlic guitar lick burger. (You will soon see that music is a big theme on the menu). This burger is made with a third-pound beef patty that is locally sourced. The brioche bun is also locally sourced at is made by the Madison Sourdough company. Perhaps what makes this burger so tasty is their whiskey braised onions and muenster cheese and garlic aïoli. All the flavors speak for themselves when it comes to this burger. However, customers love to add some Ketchup and mustard for an added punch in the flavor.

While you are at one of the best restaurants in Madison Wi, be sure to sample some of their famous curds. Diners can’t seem to get enough of them and regularly come back for more. Not surprising as this is one of their best selling eats. While Sweet Home Wisconsin serves up some of the best American classics, the inspiration is drawn a lot from Chicago. Sweet Home Wisconsin plays tribute to Chicago food by serving up their own version of a Chicago dog called the Wisco dog. The Wisco dog is an Angus brief frank served on a poppy seed bun that is as delicious as it is sentimental.

Whether you are coming for a good time or coming to experience the history first hand, Sweet Home Wisconsin is the place to be. Bring along friends and family to enjoy some of the best American comfort foods that beautiful Madison Wisconsin has to offer.

Final Thoughts

Whether you are staying for a day or staying for the week, you have to check out some of the eats on this list. While there are many places to grab a bite, these are some of the best restaurants in Madison Wi that should not be ignored. One thing is for certain. Wherever you choose to dine, you will not be disappointed.

Related Article: Best Restaurants in Indianapolis: Take Your Pick

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