madison city guide {update}

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Today, our Madison city guide update comes to us from local Leslie Carey.  A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and lover of blogging, relief printmaking and being a foodie, Leslie has shared with us the ultimate guide to The City of Four Lakes!  Thanks Leslie for this lovely guide!-Stephanie

CLICK HERE for the full madison guide update after the jump!

Madison, The City of Four Lakes, is a draw to many people for education.  Most come here for school and never leave, myself included, because there’s much more to Madison than Academia (though access to some of the biggest libraries in North America and a letterpress printing museum certainly doesn’t hurt).  Madison is a college town and the seat of state government but it is also a progressive hub and a collection of eclectic neighborhoods that blend woods, lakes and urban jungle.

The weather here – like most of the Midwest – is crazy.  There’s no other way of putting it. The phrase you’ll hear from every native is, ‘if you don’t like it, wait five minutes and it will change.’  That said, our seasonal mood-swings keep us on our toes, so Madisonians make the most out of good conditions, whether it’s snow-covered slopes or serene lake beaches.  Come prepared!  With almost 400 public parks, there is plenty of green space to enjoy, including a massive Arboretum and my own secret beach hideaway.  The centrality of life on an Isthmus means that just about everyone here owns a bike, but you might still want a car to explore outside of downtown.

One of the most exciting aspects of Madison is our food scene.  From craft beers to guerrilla chefs, we strive for the coveted title of ‘most restaurants per capita.’  We’re at the forefront of the locavore movement (Michael Pollan and Rick Bayless have visited in the past year, among others) and have plenty of restaurants that showcase our grower goods.

And if those aren’t reasons enough to visit, here are a few more: Madison is a hot-bed for Indie Film (in April, the 4-day Wisconsin Film Fest takes over half the city); a frequent stop on the Dalai Lama’s itinerary; a hive of home-grown musical talent like Harmonious Wail; and host to the World’s Largest Brat Fest.

For me, it is all about ‘the local.’  Local art, local food, local music, local scenery.  I created the Yes, please. blog to explore and showcase the creative energy bursting out of this region and the Sunday Chef blog to satiate my culinary exploits, aided by the great foods grown in the Midwest.

For the most up-to-date information on events in Madison, check out the Isthmus or 77 Square.

—Downtown/Campus

Shop
Anthology: a crafter’s delight! In this quirky little shop you can make-a-button-for-a-buck, participate in a workshop or just browse knick knacks and textile goods from local artists.
Little Luxuries: a great gift shop with Thymes products, wallets & bags, hair accessories, and fun novelties from ID cases to fridge magnets.
Pop Deluxe: more unique gifts as well as Orla Keily bags and home novelties you won’t find anywhere else in town.
Artist & Craftsman Supply: a one-stop-shop for local artists and students – I couldn’t have gone through art school without them!
Tellus Mater Inc: goodies for home and kitchen.
The Soap Opera: 25+ years of hand-crafted soap expertise.
Patricia Shoppe: one of my very favorite boutique shops anywhere; handcrafted jewelry, fine fashion and fabulous accessories.

Eat
Breakfast at Marigold Kitchen, Lunch at Library Mall food carts {a quintessential campus experience – street food from smoothies to sushi}, Dinner at L’Etoile, Dessert at Paciugo, Drinks at Natt Spil Natt Spil {a dark, mysterious, unmarked building hiding a warm, jovial atmosphere inside}.

Visit
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art
Chazen Museum of Art
Dane County Farmer’s Market: you simply cannot come to Madison without visiting the largest producer-only farmers’s market in the country.

—West side/Fitchburg

Shop
Hilldale Shopping Center: recently renovated to be part open-air mall, hit up Anthropologie, L’Occitane and decadent David Bacco Chocolats.
Orange Tree Imports: purveyor of specialty kitchenwares and gifts for over 35 years.
Art Gecko: handmade jewelry, clothing and musical instruments from around the world.
R-Lifestyle (formerly Rubin’s Scandinavian): Scandinavian sibling of the chic downtown furniture furnisher.
Satara: organic bedding, bath and baby gear.
The Century House: one city can never have enough Scandinavian furniture.

Eat
Breakfast at Original Pancake House,
Lunch at La Mestiza for a unique Oaxacan (wah-ha-can) sit-down or jog across the street to the more casual but very well-hidden gem, Los Gemelos, Dinner at Quivey’s Grove, Dessert & Drinks at Bluephie’s {the infamous cookie-dough eggroll is a must try}.

Visit
Sundance 608: one of only two Sundance cinemas in existence, enjoy independent films with Caffé 608 food that far exceeds the average bucket-o-popcorn.
Play in the Mud Studio: a small private studio in the woods where you can take pottery classes, use open studio time or even have a clay party.

—East Side/Willy Street

Shop
The Kitchen Gallery: locally owned gourmet shop where all the chefs go.
Hempen Goods: clothes and accessories made from a historical cash-crop this region was once famous for.
Burnie’s Rock Shop: a Madison classic offering rocks, minerals, gems and jewelry.
Fontaine Interior Designs: have a chat with Barry about your projects and check out the wall of fabric sample books at the back of the store.
Absolutely Art: a community-based art gallery and store.

Eat
Breakfast at Lazy Jane’s {enjoy some amazing scones in a refurbished old house}, Lunch atThe Green Owl Cafe, Dinner at The Weary Traveler {so characteristic of this neighborhood – small, cosy spaces, indie vibe, warm people, and plenty to drink}, Dessert at Daisy Cafe & Cupcakery, Drinks at Ale Asylum

Visit
Olbrich Botanical Gardens: gorgeous sprawling gardens and home to the awe-inspiring Thai Pavillion, one of only four located outside of Thailand.
Tenney Park: a picturesque fishing and wedding hot-spot with a great view of the city and lake Mendota.

—Middleton

Shop
The Paper Deli: a new independent paper peddler featuring brands like russell+hazel.
Francesca’s
Oompa: non-migraine-inducing chilren’s toys imported from Europe.
La Bella Vita: artful gifts.

Eat
Breakfast at Blue Spoon Cafe, Lunch Hubbard Avenue Diner: {classic diner style with ‘new american’ food and heavenly pies}, Dinner at Biaggi’s, Dessert at Bloom Bake Shop {locally sourced, eco-friendly and ridiculously delicious}, Drinks at Capital Brewery

Visit
Pheasant Branch Conservancy: ride your bike or take a walk through the trails of this vast, diverse ecosystem on a protected stretch of land just north of the city.

Nearby

Baraboo: Visit Devil’s Lake: a state-wide summer favorite for hiking, swimming and camping.Mt. Horeb: Shop Open House Imports: for Norwegian goods and check out the trolls along main street.
New Glarus: Visit New Glarus Brewing Company: for a tour and taste of the preferred local brew, Spotted Cow.
Sauk City: Visit Wollersheim Winery: treat yourself to an amazing Ice Wine or everyone’s favorite Prairie Fumé.
Stoughton: Eat Fosdal Home Bakery: one of the few places you can still get delicate rosette cookies – yum!
Verona: Shop/Eat Tuvalu CoffeeHouse & Gallery: amazing coffees and a great stash of local artist works.

Laura Anderton

I’ve lived in Madison all my life. There are a few things you forgot; Anthologie is a new store on State Street with all hand crafted items, and Lakeside Fibers is by far the best yarn store in Madison, plus they have an amazing coffee shop with huge windows overlooking the lake.

Dawn

I currently live here as well and I agree I agree I agree. Pick more daisies is amazing, with an owner that is more than accommodating.

There are endless food options in this city, and I love it.

Laura, I miss the candy shop (where Anthologie is now), but I love Anthologie so I can’t be too upset.

grace

thanks dawn and laura! i’m going to give it a few more hours and then i’ll add reader suggestions to the guide if we see a lot of repeat requests :)

grace

Kelly

I absolutely cannot believe Roman Candle isn’t on the food list. They make the most awesome pizza and everything I drive up from Chicago, I have to eat here.

It is a fun, retro inspired joint with super gourmet, local and organic ingredients. My favorite is the pesto, feta, artichoke, mozzarella, red pepper & kalamata olive pizza. Yum!
http://www.theromancandle.com/

Ryan

I am so excited that Design*Sponge has come to Madison! I’ve been reading this blog for a long long time and have always thought it should come to our fair town.
I used to work at MOCO Market back in the day, and am sad it closed before y’all got a chance to look at it. It was really well designed.

I’d like to make an addition to the food section. Lazy Jane’s on Willy Street. Lazy Jane’s is the perfect breakfast and lunch spot. Plus it’s next to the Kitchen Gallery, which is a kitchen connoisseur’s dream come true. (And there’s that little antique store next to that with, as far as I know has no name, but is across from St. Vinnie’s.)
And as an added bonus, Lazy Jane’s also owns Mickey’s Tavern a few blocks down Willy (across from Gayfeather) which also sells awesome food. And who could forget the Weary Traveler on Willy, or Jolly Bob’s across the street. Oh and Sardine! I could go on and on and on. Come visit us in Madison! It’s a grand time.

lhw

Yea for d*s including Madison! I’ve lived in Madison for four years, and although I also miss the candy store, Anthologie is a great addition to State Street. As for dining, really any Food Fight restaurant (Bluephie’s, Delmonico’s, Tex Tubb’s) is as great as Monty’s, and what about The Old-Fashioned? It’s a beautiful space with delicious Wisconsin food.

Laurie | Your Ill-fitting Overcoat

Thanks for the additions, y’all! The list was getting crazy, so I had to stop somewhere.

I actually wrote this piece about seven or eight months ago, so it may not be 100% current either.

Keep the suggestions coming !

Katy

I’m a Madisonian too and was glad to see our great city finally make it to d*s!

Roman Candle DEFINITELY should be on the list, as should Sardine, The Orpheum, Marigold Kitchen and my absolute favorite – Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace.

Also, you can’t forget Frank Lloyd Wright, who had a huge influence on design in Madison and designed the Monona Terrace Community and Convention Center. His home, Taliesen, is only 40 miles outside of Madison in Spring Green, WI and is a great day-trip. Monona Terrace also hosts a monthly series of free lectures and films related to design.

Amy

Great list! Madison is a gem. Some of these I will still need to check out. Some other favorites of mine include:
The Sunroom Cafe
638 State St.
It’s perfect for Sunday morning brunch.
Also, Monona Terrace is a sight you can’t miss on a trip to Madison. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, it is worth the walk up State Street. Great views of the lake.

nikkita

Do locals know of any printmaking or letterpress studios in Madison? I know printmaking has a lot of roots there, but what’s happening today outside of UWMadison?

jane

we spent a day in madison in august, and i’d nominate atticus + fromagination for shopping, as well as sucre for lunch/pastry

Aine

So happy to see this! I second the props for Lazy Jane’s. Their lemon scones are the best… and I love the way the kitchen staff yells your name when your food is ready. :)

Cora

I couldn’t believe my eyes this morning when I saw you were reporting on Madison. Very cool! This town has some great, crazy and quirky places.

For food I insist Sucre on the square (best. pastries. ever…. oh, and the design!) and MMoCA’s Fresco with the beautiful view over State Street get some mentions :). For shopping, I second the choice of PopDeluxe… wonderful oddities and always something new to find.

If you are in the Madison area and are looking for some affordable, original art, I suggest you use this coming weekend to explore the cities and ca. 140 of its artists at the Open Art Studios: http://www.maoas.com and my own webpage: http://www.corahardin.com

Thanks for this entry! Very good summary over all :).

Sarah

Love that you did this! My boyfriend’s family is outside of Madison, so I’ll have to work some of these in during our next visit.

Such a great city – I’d love to live there if I thought I could handle the winters, but I can’t even handle Boston winters anymore!

Mackenzi

Great idea! I miss Madison all the time….but now I know all the good new places to check out when I visit my alma mater….and Monty’s….oh! Monty’s….got, how I miss the “Sheldon” …the veggie Ruben…. yum!

Jess

Madison looks beautiful – yet another place to add on my travel wishlist.

I wonder if we will see a London guide soon? Being a new arrival in London, it would be so useful to have a comprehensive guide!

Tiffany Mason

Yay! It’s great to see Madison on d*s! I just moved here a year ago, and believe me, it is overwhelming how thriving this town really is! It would be nearly impossible to cover everything this place has to offer.

A couple things I can point to that some of you might be interested in:

Someone asked about printmaking outside of UW. I am a part of Mess Hall Press that does printmaking and design classes for teens at the Goodman Community Center on Waubesa. The classes are completely free for the teens.
http://www.messhallpress.org/

Another thing I wanted to add is PhotoMidwest 2008. This event is held every other year in October. All throughout Madison, photography is shown in venues throughout the city. Various lectures and guest speakers are featured as well.
http://photomidwest2008.org/

Kari

This is so cool. I’ve been living in Madison for a year and a half and I love it. The Old Fashioned should definitely be on here, as should the Great Dane. drunknBUTTERFLY went out of business so that should probably leave the list. Also, I know this isn’t typical for a city guide but if you come to Madison and go out to eat you have to try the local beer. Capital, Lake Louie, Tyranena, New Glarus, Furthermore and Ale Asylum are some really great small breweries that are near Madison, that don’t have national distribution, so if you come to Madison you should try them.

Kindra

Wow! What a great list. I’m so happy to finally see a guide for my city! I second Pick More Daisies-I’ve found so many great things there. Also if you are in Madison, you can’t miss hanging out at the Union!

Lindsay H

DO NOT Forget: amazing clothing store…one of the best online and thier brick and mortar store is in Madison!

CONTEXT
113 King St.
Madison WI 53703

Store Hours:
Mon. – Wed. 12 pm – 5 pm
Thu. – Sat. 12 pm – 7 pm
Sun. 12 pm – 3 pm
http://www.contextclothing.com

Enjoy!

Kate

Romantic Madison . . . What a well rounded review. In terms of eats, a little less known restaurant, Bon Appetit Cafe (Willy St.), is a favorite I visit every time I come to Madison. The chef and owner, Greg Johnson is not only an innovative and creative chef but a fantastic painter who always has new and innovative art on the walls.

Allison

I also heartily recommend The Weary Traveler – where else can you get a great beer on tap and play one of the many board games they keep on that bookshelf? The food is great too.

Lao Laan Xang (also on Willy St.) has ridiculously good Laotian and Thai food, but is pretty small. There is a larger location on Atwood though.

Art Gecko is another reco – they have a location on State and another on Monroe and have cute jewelry, lanterns and home decorations like pillows and tapestries.

Madison is one of those amazing places where you come for a bit and stay forever (I should know, I came here for 4 years only, I’m on year 7 now!).

Julie

I love the Weary Traveler as well. wonderful place, games, great food, serves late and great service.

Bre

Six years and I didn’t know about GayFeather Fabrics? Wow, hurray for the internet!

It’s no surprise that Madison’s list is 50/50 food and design. The factoid that’s often thrown around is that Madison has the most restaurants per capita in the nation.

Tellus Mater on State Street is another great place for housewares: http://www.tellusmater.com

There are 3 Century House locations on University Avenue. http://centuryhouseinc.com/ They specialize in high-end Scandinavian design. Fun to look either way.

The East Johnson area is really focused on revitalization. Drunken Butterfly may have closed, but a new interior design store, Fontaine, recently opened @ 811 E. Johnson. They’ll often have things in their display window that I recognize from D*S.

kristy

love the old fashioned and the argus. the century house just opened another location on university (home store). the local beer is excellent and should definitely have its own column.

don’t forget that madison is an EXCELLENT spot to bike in. rails to trail has great off-road paved paths, as well as bike paths by the lakes. much bike fashion too.

Bre

Always more! Someone above asked about printmaking in Madison. Little Friends of Printmaking are located here: http://thelittlefriendsofprintmaking.com/

As well as Planet Propaganda, http://www.planetpropaganda.com/work. Their founders moved on to Minneapolis to start Aesthetic Apparatus: http://www.aestheticapparatus.com/portfolio.php?subsection=posters&page=0

If you’re in town and looking for post shopping entertainment, The Ithsmus’ Daily Page is where go to: http://www.thedailypage.com/theguide/

Another good shopping resource: http://www.madisonverve.com/shopping/specialty/display.aspx?subcat=specialty

Angela

Wow! I’ve lived in Green Bay Wisconsin for years and have never made it down to Madison. We go to Chicago often but it’s so overwhelming there! I think our Fall roadtrip this year will be to Madison. For anyone coming up for a Packers game check out- Petal Pusher Floral Studio, Red Awning Bath Shop, Beselli’s and The Gift Itself- all have websites! Great review!

Katie

I ‘m a UW-Madison alumni and now live in Ohio. I miss Mickies Dairy Bar for breakfast on a Saturday morning — humongous and totally delicious outmeal and blueberry griddle cakes, gut-busting scramblers drowning in gravy, coffee cake, malts! Come to think of it my waste line and cholesterol might actually be better off in Ohio!

erin lang norris

FINALLY! I have been reading D*S for quite some time and hoped to see a Madison Design Guide since before moving here 9 months ago. Needless go say, I was ecstatic to read the title on this post just now!

Some additions I have:

I just recently visited Scandinavian Living in Middleton, off Parmenter St. They carry various items for the home direct from Scandinavia.

Adding a vote for Art Gecko- very neat little store. I have found a few great things for the home there and can’t wait to visit again. They also have some neat necklaces if you are looking for a quick fix.

I agree that there needs to be a beer section on here! Capital Brewery Island Wheat is my favorite, and Ale Asylum makes great beer as well.

Another vote for Roman Candle as well! Dine in on rather than carrying out, this place has a great atmosphere!

Walter

Actually Little Friends of Printmaking are based out of Milwaukee and the gentlemen who started Aesthetic Apparatus were employees of Planet Propaganda, not the founders. But both great places!

Walter

And I must add Sophia’s on E. Johnson (close to Mildred’s Sandwich Shop) for breakfast. They are open very limited hours (only weekend mornings?) and the whole place is the size of my bedroom, but BEST BREAKFAST EVER. Good coffee too. Also the UW- Swap is an awesome place to find amazing vintage office furniture, retro room dividers, and random stuff like a box full of chemistry beakers and sets of school lockers.

Laura

So great to see this collection of Madison highlights. Reminds me of some things I need to see and do. Thanks!

I’m writing to you from the new store Anthology on State Street. .. that’s ending with a “y” not an “ie” — I don’t mean to be a stickler, but it is not to be confused with anthropologie, which is also a cool store but not unique to Madison. Many people come into our store and say, “hey, this isn’t the candy store/anthropologie/Little Luxuries!”… but usually they are persuaded to linger anyway.

and just one more note: Little Luxuries has moved down the block to 230 State Street. The former LL space is now occupied by Epoch vintage, a great vintage clothing store run by Jen, who used to manage LL…. between the old and the new LL space, is Anthology, which is run by the two Komai sisters, who also managed LL… so there’s quite a strong LL legacy on this 200 block of State Street!

nancy sorensen

This is great! Glad someone mentioned Macha, Century House, Epoch and Iconi, but you’ve forgotten all the chocolate and other yummy specialty foods! ‘

Nilda’s Toffee!!! (E. Johnson)
Gail Ambrosius! (atwood)
Candinas! (on the square, and in Verona)
Vom Fass (taste vinegar and scotch)
Penzey’s Spices (world famous)
Crema Cafe (Monona Drive and soon to be west side as well)
Fork and Spoon Cafe! (home of RP’s fresh pasta, also responsible for all the Williams Sonoma pasta mixes).

Barbara

fabulous!!

ryan- i agree with you about lazy janes! my friend works there and the waffless are guarranteed the best in town!

sky

I’m a UW-Madison alumni and I’m living in Singapore. I second Mickie’s Dairy Bar!

What about Greenbush Bakery on Regent Street? – those donuts and apple fritters are to die for.

And Michael’s Frozen Custard – mmmmmm

You also forgot about The Soap Opera on State Street.

miriam

i grew up in Madison. This is a fabulous list- the city has changed quite a bit in the past five years! Two restos you forgot to mention: Muramoto downtown and in Hildale (amazingly fresh Japanese fusion- try the foie gras nigiri), and Brasserie V on Monroe Street for authentic French bistro food.

Oh, and the Sundance Cinema- one of only two in the country (the other’s in SF), though of course I grew up going to the long gone Majestic and the Atwood for grainy foreign films and celestial seasonings tea. I guess *that* Madison is long gone. Along with Scoshi. Sigh.

One more place to mention: The Company Store Outlet on University. Fabulous pieces, all of them reduced.

BTW, she did mention sophias and the soap opera, and it’s “alumni” is plural- you must mean “alumna” or “alumnus.”

Naomi

I was born and raised in Madison, WI; and Laurie/Your Ill-Fitting Overcoat was one of my best friends while we were both there – she is still very dear to me and I have so much respect for her! Nice work on the write-up, Laurie!

I just also want to plug my partner, Mike Warren, whose glass art can be found at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, which was mentioned in Laurie’s list. It is quite affordable, and amazingly good. Check it out!

This write-up made me so nostalgic for Madison (I now live in northern California).

Moni

Hi! I was thrilled to see Madison make the D*S guide list.

I can’t help but notice, however, that none of the local brewery’s made the list. Beer and breweries are a culture icon, not just in Wisconsin, but Madison especially! but i’ll just mention two:
-The Capitol Brewery is right down University Ave in Middleton. Delicious local beers. (a really commercial sort of micro-brewery; but a fav among locals and foreigners alike)
-The Great Dane is a must-eat restaurant on Doty St (greatdanepub.com) that boasts numerous beer awards – they brew in house over a dozen regulars and multiple seasonal/specialties. Plus they make their own root beer and ginger ale too (mmm!) And for a true Wisconsin dining experience, try their Brat-Burger-Pretzel sandwich.

I cannot imagine a trip to downtown Madison being complete without a visit to the Memorial Union. the building is gorgeous, but you must grab either an ice cream from Babcock Dairy (produced on campus) or a beer from the Ratzgeller (a fantastic old world pub inside the Union!) and if it’s nice, head on back to the Terrace for a delightful view of Mendota Lake.

Lastly, breakfast is not done better in Madison than at Mickey’s Dairy Bar (bring cash and an elastic waistband)! A favorite of students, alum, and visitors – you have to fight (or at least wait) for a table at this little diner that boasts amazing scramblers, pancakes, and an old fashioned malt machine. Across the street from Randall Stadium, I think Mickey’s boasts one of the only icons left of Bucky’s (the UW Mascot) short-lived girlfriend from the ’50s.

Lisa

Yes, the Memorial Union Terrace is a must. If you’re visiting from May – October there is no better public patio in the country; live music, great cross section of people, beautiful lakeside environment with custom metal chairs and tables, and a great scene all around.

If you like the Weary Traveler, check out Restaurant Magnus for wine and tapas and Nattspiel for cocktails, music, and an eclectic art space. Both are near the capitol square and opened by the same brothers as the Weary.

And if you want to check out some beautiful and completely original mosaic art, see http://www.santafedesignstudio.com a local madison artist who commissions work around the country.

Becky

Wonderful resource! I’ve visited Madison so many times and now realize I need to go back and see it all again!

Lesley

We visited Madison in Sept 06 from Devon in England. We were bowled over by your stunningly beautiful city. The architecture (particularly the Monona Terrace where we had an evening reception overlooking the lake) was just awesome. Lakeside fibres was great although I made the mistake of walking to it from the centre of town! We English walk everywhere!
We could do with some recommendations for small hotels/guest houses to stay in because we would like to make a return trip.

Sarah

Lesley, I would recommend staying at the Mansion Hill Inn (mansionhillinn.com), recently renovated and opening this spring under new ownership. It just has 10 rooms and is one of the most beautiful historic houses in Madison and is just a few blocks from the Capitol Square. The other downtown accommodations don’t even begin to compete.

Sara Henderson

Great list! I love Madison – grew up there. However, you left out Rocky Rococo’s! My friends and I practically lived there. Their thick crust pizza is amazing, especially with sausage and onions. Yum. Roman Candle is superb too, though it has a different vibe.

Monica

Oh, you guys are killin’ me … I was born and raised in MsdTown, graduated from the UW and still think of Madison as ‘home.’ I live in Costa Rica now, and I love it … but, it’s not Madison! A few stores to throw in I think may still be there from long ago: Sacred Feather on State Street (cool and funky hats galore), Yellow Jersey Bike Shop also on State Street. In my day, the best pizza in town was at Paizans; folks used to line up for a couple of hours to get inside. The Crustal Corner bar on Willy Strret is a quirky and fun place. The Laurel Tap on Monroe Street was a favorite after-hockey game watering hole too. The Caribou on E. Johnson was the place to go while you were washing your clothes at the laundromat next door. Oh, I could go on and on …

Siffuce it to say, you all have done my heart good by gifing me with a free visit home without spending a cent on airfare! Thank you.

Sarah K.

I’ve lived in Madison for over 3 years, and have to second Katie, who mentioned Lombardino’s. It’s my favorite restaurant in Madison — they serve the best Italian food I’ve ever eaten, by far (and that includes restaurants in NYC, Chicago, SF, and Italy!).

Other places I’m not sure anyone mentioned:

Eldorado Grill. Kevin Tubb’s first place — gourmet Tex-Mex and truly awesome margaritas

Greenbush Bar: Absolutely delicious thin-crust pizza, served not in a bar but more like a hip basement lounge with lots of twinkling lights and very happy eaters

Café Soleil: Owned by and located downstairs from L’Etoile (on Capitol square), they sell wonderful pastries, coffee, and lunch dishes in a beautiful environment (high ceilings, lots of light, plenty of seating).

Lastly, I have to reiterate Moni’s recommendation of the delicious ice cream at the Babcock Hall Dairy Store (a.k.a., The Daily Scoop). The whole idea is so charming, too — you’re eating ice cream made by UW Food Science students. So, you know, it’s for a good cause.

Thanks for profiling Madison!

Alissa

I wanted to add my two cents:

La Bella Vita (Middleton, University Ave.) – unique art and upscale home decor, art jewelry with contemporary style

El Kiosco (Willy St.) – Eclectic and quirky mix of salvage items, some antiques & odd curios.

Oompa Toys (Middleton, University Ave.) – wooden, European toys with great design, sans batteries and disposable plastic

Chiripa (downtown, Park St.) – Central & South American Craft. Extensive selection of handmade copper vessels & painted Oaxaca animals.

Restaurant Muramoto (downtown) – The Sunday tasting is not to be missed, with 4 courses of inventive deliciousness. Sake pairing available.

Villa Dolce (Middleton) – Gourmet pizza, made from scratch with fresh, high-quality ingredients.

Marigold (Downtown) – Excellent brunch & lunch spot with fresh, gourmet-style food. Often packed & service can be slow but worth the wait.

Lady Moxie (Odana Rd) – Upscale consignment boutique w/ exclusive designers. Great place to both buy and sell high-end brands.

Morgan’s Shoes (Hilldale) – Good selection of high-end comfortable and supportive shoe brands with top-notch customer service.

Cornbloom’s (Hilldale) – High-end shoe brands with a focus on fashion. Not as many “comfy” shoes as Morgan’s. Carries hard to find brands like Cydwoq and Manas Design.

molly

where is a good, reasonably economical place to stay/sleep?

Christian

Love Madison. Going there nearly every month now for work, but it’s not a work visit that I dread. This is one of the few towns that I look forward to a meeting with clients. It has a touch of southern charm while in the Midwest

Meghan

Oh Madison how I miss you. I was born and raised but have lived in Vancouver for the last 6 years. I love how food, art, and community truly define Madison. One of the things I miss the most is Babcock Hall ice cream, as mentioned. You just can’t beat pumpkin pie ice cream with chunks of crust!

I also should mention that included in Madison’s rich history are Georgia O’Keeffe, who was born in nearby Sun Prairie; comedian Chris Farley, whose family still lives there; and Dale Chihuly, who received his masters at the UW and contributed some beautiful installation pieces at the Kohl Center.

And to weigh in on the whole restaurant thing, you just have not had French toast until you’ve had breakfast at Cafe Continental at 108 King Street.

Michal Anne

I recently moved to the city and love it so far. Although, being from Texas, I’m not so sure I’m going to love the winter.

Unfortunately, I think Pick More Daisies is closing soon. They’re having a big sale right now.

Samantha

Madison is a great city in Wisconsin.. but I would LOVE to showcase Milwaukee, which, for being in the same state as Madison, has a completely different vibe and atmosphere. Let me know how I can help!

Kate

Well done! Next time this is updated, I would definitely add La Baguette (so needed on the west side!), The Old Fashioned and Lombardino’s. I’m so glad you included Burnie’s — I always make a stop when I come back to visit — and I really love Katy’s on Monroe, too. Lane’s or Clausen’s makes for a fun stop. And Manna Cafe is one of my favorite places for lunch. They make their own (incredible) bread, so even a grilled cheese is outstanding.

Marie

What a great list. I’ve been living in Madison for about 9 months and would love to see more vintage/antique shopping venues..esp those that carry reasonably priced furniture. Another thing to add to your list is La Brioche True Food. It’s just a bit west of campus and features the most sumptuous food and baked goods in the world all in a wonderfully homey atmosphere: http://truefoodrestaurant.com/home.html

Jessie

This list could use a bit of updating and reorganizing…a few of these locations have closed and the list is a bit of a modpodge.
Maybe organizing the locations by neighborhood, Williamson/Marquette, Schenk/Atwood, Vilas, Dungeon/Monroe, ect
There are so many great places in Madison that it might be easier to see it one neighborhood at a time!
Just a suggestion, love the site!

grace

jessie

this guide is over 2 years old, so it’s in the process of being updated. ;)

g

Jessie

Awesome!
What about the Henry Vilas Zoo, located next to Vilas Park by Lake Wingra? It’s free but donations are appreciated!
Community Pharmacy located on the corner of Gorham and State Street, which is an untraditional pharmacy with a traditional pharmacy, a homeopathic section, and all-natural body care and cosmetics.
Dobra Tea Room is located on the Corner of Henry and State Street and features an extensive tea menu and also sells loose tea and tea accessories.
Or Barriques Coffee on E. Washington, one block of the capital square and features excellent fair trade coffee and drinks and also has wine tastings! The have a vast wall of about 100 wine selections that you can either take home or pop the cork and sit and enjoy people watching.
The city guide on the site are amazing, they inspire me to try out cities I wouldn’t have normally! Keep up the awesome work!

Jessie

Oops sorry…Dobra Tea is on the corner of Gilman and State not Henry and State
Another place I tried today is, Bradbury’s…crepes, coffee, and espresso. I had the lemon curd and wild blackberry crepe, so delicious!

Very Merry

I love Madison! Smoky’s is a great lowkey family-owned steakhouse that is the quirkiest kind of place with crazy wall decorations. The steaks are to die for and the hash browns are also a must have. Prices are great too. Kind of crazy on football weekends but so is every other place and this one is worth waiting for. Here’s the link http://smokysclub.com/

Rae

Great Work! Some old favorites and some new enticements!
Sad update though :( Patricia Shoppe is closed and the building for lease.

Hollis

This is great! I agree that The Roman Candle, Pasqual’s/Gallup and The Old Fashioned should be added.

Everything else I love in Madison is already on there (especially Fosdal’s in Stoughton)!

Aubre

Ah! Although delicious, Biaggi’s and Original Pancake House are chains. On the west side/Middleton, try Eno Vino for dinner and drinks and Prairie Cafe for breakfast.

Jenny @ Stuff I Love

Thank you for this guide! I’m going there at the end of this month and I love that you have the recommendations separated by area. I’m staying downtown so I plan to walk around the campus and go to L’Etoile and the dark and mysterious Natt Spil.

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