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Food and Drink
The Friday Night Fish Fry is a Wisconsin tradition. If you want the full cheesehead experience, head to one of these spots Friday night. They’re all road-tested and J-School-approved.
Other Favorites Worth Trying
Walking Distance from Vilas Hall or DoubleTree Hotel
Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry, great burgers
Vintage Spirits and Grill, known for beers and “Irish nachos”
Nitty Gritty, Madison’s Birthday Bar, known for a special sauce on their burgers
Porta Bella, known for throwback Italian interior and the Porta Salad, which is more meat than lettuce
Short Stack, 24-hour breakfast. Yes, you can get 4 a.m. waffles in Madison.
Long Walk or Short Cab
Head to the Monroe Street Area for Katy’s Top Choices
Brasserie V, known as one of the best beer collections in town and moule frites you’d sell your mother for
Pizza Brutta, wood-fired and amazeballs
Brocach or Gates and Brovi, both noted above for fish fry too
Walk up to the Capitol Area
Paisan’s, great pizza and Italian food with views of Lake Monona
Cooper’s Tavern, tiny space, great sandwiches. Upstairs will probably be open, and it has a breathtaking view of the capitol.
The Old Fashioned, riffs off the traditional Wisconsin supper club — be sure to order a Brandy Old Fashioned
Restaurant Muramoto, Asian fusion by one of the Midwest’s top chef
Graze, lower-priced restaurant by Tory Miller, known as Madison’s best chef and restaurateur
Wanna Spend More and Splurge on Madison’s Best?
L’Etoile, most expensive restaurant here but Tory will give you a meal you remember
Cento, Katy’s favorite higher-end Madison restaurant, try the ceviche
Smoky’s Supper Club, a Madison icon, steaks in the $40 range, meet Martini Bob and tell him Pomegranate Katy sent you
Sardine on Lake Monona, mussels are highly rated
Lombardino’s, actually not that expensive and the prosciutto and arugula pizza is outstanding
Johnny Delmonico’s, known for expensive steaks
Tornado Club, battles Delmonico’s in the downtown steak place race
Tempest Oyster Bar, the cilantro oyster shots are well worth a whirl
If you’re in Madison, you must visit Wisconsin Union’s terrace. Waterfront al fresco seating areas with brats, burgers, beer and ice cream. If you’re not with a someone who has a UW ID, you can obtain a guest pass online or in person.
Babcock Dairy closes at 4 p.m. But, it’s the iconic location of all things Wisconsin. From cheese to ice cream to a special Bucky coffee blend. If you can’t make it to the other side of campus before they close, you can still get Babcock ice cream at Daily Scoop locations around campus, including the Memorial Union while you’re there for the Terrace.
Some of you are asking for specific recommendations. Yay!
Thai food in walking distance: Rising Sons on State Street but note it’s cash only, no credit cards. (If you’re willing to short cab or Uber, Sa-Bai Thong really is the best Thai food in town.)
Greasy burger: Blue Moon, a short cab or Uber, true Wisconsin tavern