Top 12 Restaurants in Madison

As the capital of Wisconsin, Madison has a thriving culinary scene with excellent dining options. From fancy fine-dining to cheap eats, the city boasts restaurants serving up delicious cuisine. Madison’s food culture embraces the state’s local products, with many eateries focused on ingredient-driven menus.

RestaurantCuisineSpecial Feature
L’EtoileContemporary AmericanSeasonal, locally-sourced ingredients; elegant dining
ForequarterLocally-raised meatsButcher shop with seasonally-driven menu
HarvestShareable platesUtilizes produce from its on-site farm
GrazeGlobally inspired gastropubDiverse menu with local ingredients
SardineSeafoodFresh daily catches and shellfish
SujeoKoreanElegant Korean cuisine with local ingredients
A Pig in a Fur CoatUncommon meatsFeatures wild game and novel meats
LucilleItalianWood fired pizzas and authentic Italian dishes
EstrellónMexicanFresh, coastal Mexican fare
Heritage TavernFarm-to-table AmericanAmerican dishes with locally-sourced ingredients
CentoItalianHandmade pastas and regional Italian cuisine
The Old FashionedWisconsin fareClassic tavern serving local specialties

With so many tasty choices, it can be hard to narrow down where to eat. Here are 12 of the top restaurants in Madison to check out.


Name and Location: L’Etoile, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Highly acclaimed fine dining restaurant open since 1976, known for its tasting menus.

What to Expect: Inventive & elegant dishes, attentive service, upscale atmosphere. Seasonal ingredients.

Visitor Information: Open for dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations essential, jacket recommended. Valet parking available.

Serving contemporary American cuisine, L’Etoile is one of Madison’s most acclaimed fine-dining restaurants. Open since 1976, the elegant restaurant crafts tasting menus showcasing seasonal, locally-sourced ingredients.

Dishes like seared scallops with corn purée and trotter ham with black trumpet mushrooms demonstrate the kitchen’s creativity. The dining rooms sophisticated ambience and attentive service further elevate the experience. L’Etoile also offers a pre-set Chef’s Counter menu at its counter seats overlooking the open kitchen.


Name and Location: Forequarter, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Popular farm-to-table restaurant open since 2011, known for meat and seafood.

What to Expect: Creative small plates, cozy atmosphere, locally-sourced cuisine. Excellent charcuterie options.

Visitor Information: Dinner Tuesday-Sunday, brunch weekends. Reservations recommended. Street parking.

Specializing in locally-raised meats and provisions, Forequarter puts a refined spin on the butcher shop. The restaurant meticulously sources whole animals from area ranches and farms to create its seasonally-driven meat-centric menu.

Popular dishes include the dry-aged beef burger, rotisserie pork shank, and smoked trout. The clean, modern interior incorporates wood and steel elements inspired by Scandinavian design. Forequarter supports local agriculture and makes dining sustainably raised meats approachable in a casual upscale environment.


Name and Location: Harvest, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Farm-to-table restaurant open since 2011, changing menu daily.

What to Expect: Locally-sourced dishes, rustic chic ambiance, specialty cocktails. Menu changes daily.

Visitor Information: Dinner Tuesday-Saturday. Reservations recommended. Valet parking available.

Serving both lunch and dinner, Harvest focuses on shareable plates that utilize produce from its on-site one-acre farm. The courtyard farm supplies the kitchen with just-picked vegetables, greens, and more throughout Wisconsin’s growing season.

Menus center around these hyper-local ingredients in dishes like beet tartare, carrot ragu pasta, and grilled peach salad. Located in the trendy Atwood neighborhood, the urban rustic ambiance suits Harvest’s farm-to-table ethos. It’s a go-to for creative vegetarian fare alongside seasonal Midwestern cooking.


Name and Location: Graze, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Popular local gastropub open since 2004, known for cheese and charcuterie.

What to Expect: Farm-inspired small plates, craft beers, cozy patio. Large global cheese selection.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch, dinner, and brunch. Reservations recommended for dinner.

Graze puts a local spin on globally inspired gastropub cuisine in Capitol Square. The diverse menu draws from various world flavors in dishes like Korean fried chicken, Caribbean jerk salmon, and Moroccan spiced meatballs.

Locally-made cheese, charcuterie and fare from Wisconsin producers also feature prominently. Graze has an extensive beer list emphasizing regional breweries to pair with the food too. The bustling corner location, exposed brick interior and sidewalk-view bar seats make it a lively place to enjoy elevated comfort foods.


Name and Location: Sardine, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Intimate French-inspired restaurant open since 2011 in historic location.

What to Expect: Charming setting, seasonal tasting menus, specialty cocktails. Splurge-worthy experience.

Visitor Information: Open Thursday-Monday for dinner. Reservations essential. Valet parking available.

Tucked away on Madison’s east side, Sardine specializes in thoughtfully composed seafood. The menu centers around changing catches and shellfish delivered fresh daily. Dishes like seared scallops,whole roasted branzino, and lobster bucatini showcase high quality ingredients.

Starters like oysters on the half shell and an extensive raw bar selection provides pure ocean tastes. The understated atmosphere, with just a handful of tables inside and outside, keeps the focus on Sardine’s splendid seafood creations.


Name and Location: Sujeo, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Casual Korean restaurant open since 2014, known for lunch and brunch.

What to Expect: Korean fare like bibimbap and bulgogi with modern twists. Creative cocktails. Lively ambiance.

Visitor Information: Open Tuesday-Sunday. Reservations recommended for dinner. Metered street parking.

Led by Top Chef alum Gregory Elliott, Sujeo focuses on elegant Korean cuisine with local Midwest ingredients. Shareable plates like bibimbap, Korean fried chicken and crispy tofu provide staple Korean flavors. Fusion additions include dishes like kimchi cheddar spaetzle and gochujang glazed pork belly.

The beverage program also integrates Korean elements, with soju cocktails and makgeolli, a traditional rice wine. The stylish, modern setting pairs nicely with the creative interpretations on tradition. With its balance of innovation and authenticity, Sujeo is a stellar Korean dining destination.

A Pig in a Fur Coat

Name and Location: A Pig in a Fur Coat, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Upscale seasonal eatery open since 2013 located within a historic mansion.

What to Expect: Locally-sourced plates, craft cocktails, charming setting full of character. Prix fixe menus only.

Visitor Information: Dinner Wednesday-Sunday. Reservations essential. Valet parking available.

Specializing in uncommon meats and adventurous flavors, A Pig in a Fur Coat injects excitement into Madison’s dining scene. The eclectic menu features rotating wild game like elk, boar, duck, and more that you won’t find elsewhere.

Tame options like steaks are sourced from area ranches. With dishes like venison heart tartare and rabbit agnolotti, it attracts adventurous diners looking for something different. The vintage-chic interiors decorated with taxidermy fit the quirky ethos. For novel meats and daring cuisine, A Pig in a Fur Coat is a true Madison original.


Name and Location: Lucille, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Artsy pizzeria and cocktail bar open since 2010 in a historic building.

What to Expect: Gourmet wood-fired pizzas, charcuterie, extensive wine and cocktail menu. Lively vibe.

Visitor Information: Open daily for dinner. Reservations recommended. Street parking.

Nestled in an old service station, Lucille brings a touch of modern Italian flair to the city. Rustic wood fired pizzas are the specialty, with creative toppings like butternut squash and Brussels sprouts. Pastas, panini sandwiches, and bruschetta complete the authentic menu.

House cocktails, Italian wines and beers create a convivial, family-style atmosphere. The patio strung with café lights provides alfresco dining during Madison’s short summers. Lucille balances laid-back charm with top-notch dishes for a dose of dolce vita.


Name and Location: Estrellón, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Popular upscale Latin/Spanish restaurant open since 2007. Known for tapas.

What to Expect: Extensive tapas menu, specialty cocktails. Chic and energetic ambiance. Heated patio.

Visitor Information: Open daily for dinner and weekends for brunch. Reservations recommended. Valet parking available.

For fresh, coastal Mexican fare, Estrellón is a popular neighborhood eatery. Situated in a colorful converted house, it has a cozy bohemian vibe. Traditional plates like enchiladas and fajitas satisfy, alongside creative options like shrimp al pastor tacos.

Aquatic delights from ceviche to Veracruz-style whole fish provide lighter choices. Estrellón also offers weekend brunch with Mexican twists on classics. Their tequila-based drinks, from margaritas to palomas, provide the perfect accompaniment to bold South-of-the-border flavors.

Heritage Tavern

Name and Location: Heritage Tavern, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Farmhouse-chic restaurant open since 2012, known for California cuisine.

What to Expect: Locally-sourced seasonal menu, craft cocktails, rustic-modern ambiance. Extensive wine list.

Visitor Information: Dinner daily, brunch weekends. Reservations recommended. Valet parking available.

Located in a historic hotel, Heritage Tavern plates up farm-to-table American dishes amidst a chic atmosphere. The kitchen crafts plates that let the ingredients speak for themselves, like seared scallops, natural prime steaks and roasted chicken.

Sidekicks like wild mushroom risotto and butternut squash gratin elevate the flavors. For brunch, options range from crab cake eggs Benedict to chicken & waffles. Cocktails made with artisanal spirits and wines from small producers complete Heritage Tavern’s commitment to localism. It’s a go-to for well-executed comfort foods in classy, yet relaxed setting.


Name and Location: Cento, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Tuscan-inspired Italian restaurant open since 2011.

What to Expect: Housemade pastas, savory antipasti, specialty cocktails. Cozy ambiance with Tuscan-inspired decor.

Visitor Information: Open daily for dinner. Reservations recommended. Street parking available.

For handmade pastas and other Italian classics, Cento is an unassuming neighborhood eatery with big flavor. A seasonally rotating menu spotlights regional Italian cuisine. Fresh pastas like squid ink chitarra or ricotta gnocchi pair nicely with entrees from Abruzzese beef to Tuscan branzino.

Start with shared plates like arancini and caprese salad before moving onto hearty mains. Worthy of return trips, Cento balances creativity and tradition in perfect Italian harmony. The intimate space cultivates a laid-back conviviality perfect for lingering over a great meal.

The Old Fashioned

Name and Location: The Old Fashioned, Madison, WI

History and Significance: Popular Wisconsin-themed tavern open since 2004. Known for cheese curds and frozen custard.

What to Expect: Traditional Wisconsin fare like cheese, sausage and fish fry. Great selection of local beers. Lively atmosphere.

Visitor Information: Open daily for lunch, dinner, late night. Reservations for dinner advised.

No list of Madison’s best restaurants is complete without its beloved Old Fashioned. A city institution, this cozy tavern serves quintessential Wisconsin fare and hospitality. Cheese curds, brats, and of course, fried cheese are essential orders.

With over 50 state cheeses, the curated list also provides cheese tastings and flights. Local beers and housemade old fashioned cocktails highlight other Wisconsin offerings. As Madison’s original gastropub, the polished tavern ambiance and scratch-made food make Old Fashioned an emblematic local eatery.


From sleek fine dining to comfy taverns, Madison’s dining scene has something for all tastes. Food lovers will find plenty to savor among the city’s locally-driven restaurants. The breadth of cuisines, from contemporary American to authentic Mexican, reflects Madison’s rich culinary tapestry.

High quality ingredients get prime treatment across dishes, showcasing the best of Wisconsin’s bounty. So take your palate on an exploration of the city to experience Madison’s top tables and most crave-worthy cuisine for yourself.

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