Best Madison Restaurants During World Dairy Expo- UPDATED FOR 2021!
I did not grow up on a farm. Some of you probably know this already because I don’t actually keep that a secret, but whatever. Not only did I not grow up on a farm, honestly my only connection to the dairy industry is that I grew up just off Rimrock Rd in Madison, WI. The very same road that Expo is located on. My deep Madison roots and our farm being just 30 minutes East of Madison, helps me keep on top of the best places to grab a bite while in Madison for World Dairy Expo.
I originally made this list back in 2017. Unfortunately, several places on the original list have now closed. So I’ve updated the list to reflect my current favorites. This list has everything on it from take-out and delivery to places to take clients or someone special for dinner.
There are the usual places; The Old Fashioned, Great Dane Brewery, Tornado Steak House, Nitty Gritty, Dotty Dumplings, they are all very good, and will be crowd-pleasers but there are so many more options in Madison, I have to share some you may not have heard of.
Things to do in Madison During World Dairy Expo-
Madison Restaurants To Try During World Dairy Expo
Salvatore’s Tomato Pies- In the mood for fancy pizza? Then you definitely want to go to Salvatore’s. Salvatore’s Tomato Pies has three locations now. So you’re probably not very far from one. The flagship is just a few blocks East of the capitol square. The Sun Prarie location is the one we frequent most often and now there is a new location in Monona. We have always been super impressed with our food and service and we love their pies. My favorite is the Woodsman, Hubs loves the Figgy Piggy, so we usually get half and half.
Eno Vino- Have a big group with lots of different tastes? Try out Tapas! Eno Vino has two locations. I personally have only been to the location downtown. However, I hear great things about their slightly more relaxed West Madison/Middleton location as well. The downtown location has an incredible view of the capitol building, perfect cocktails, and a menu that’s both fun and delicious.
Essen Haus– Essen Haus is a great German restaurant and bar and it’s fun for adults and still appropriate for families (minus Das Boot.) It’s located kitty corner to the Monona Terrace, downtown. If you’re visiting with kids, try the Kase Spatzle (German Mac n Cheese). Going with adults? I suggest beer. Essen Haus has lots of good beers on tap and in bottles. You don’t have to drink an entire boot full but it IS a very Madison thing to do.
Glass Nickle Pizza– You’re back to your hotel and you’re tired. You’re in the delivery zone of several pizza places, I suggest utilizing that since we all know, delivery pizza isn’t a thing on farms. My personal favorite Madison pizza place is Glass Nickle Pizza. They have several locations around the Madison area so you’re sure to be in their delivery area or a quick drive for eat in or carry out. Their pizza is amazing and their calzones are massive.
Tex Tubbs Taco Palace– Tex Tubbs is a casual near east side establishment does tacos and margaritas very, very well. They also have a salsa bar. Who doesn’t love a salsa bar? Oh and you can get a margarita flight there, because that’s a thing they do.
Bar Corallini- Right across the road from Tex Tubbs is my new most favorite restaurant. I love checking out new places but ever since I discovered Bar Corallini I keep going back. Hands down they have the best Italian food I’ve had outside of Italy. You do not want to miss out. This place isn’t huge, so make reservations early.
Graze– The sister restaurant to L’etoile the fanciest restaurant we’ve got in Madison, Graze benefits from all the culinary mastery of James Beard award-winning chef Tory Miller, without being super fancy or needing a second mortgage to pay the tab. Enjoy a relaxed meal on the capitol square, have a Korbel Old Fashion- Sweet, and select some cheese to try from their extensive list.
The Globe- This place has everything but seats. Ok, technically it has a couple of tables but plan on getting takeout from their truly global menu. Located right off State St and there is usually some parking nearby. Want tacos? Mexican, Korean or Teriyaki? Tibetan chicken dumplings? Yup. Curry? So many options! Noodles? YES! This tiny place is incredible. And I am not the only one who thinks so, because they have 4.9 stars on Google. I’m pretty sure that’s more stars than they have tables.
Fat Jack’s– Fat Jack’s is another Madison institution, in fact, I’m pretty sure it’s been around longer than I have. This casual, family-friendly BBQ restaurant has awesome hickory-smoked chicken and ribs and a decent salad bar. Their prices are wallet friendly and on weeknights, they offer all you can eat options.
The Green Lantern– A very short drive from Madison will get you dinner on the water. Known for their legendary Friday Night Fish Fry and huge breakfasts. The Green Lantern has the ambiance you expect of a Wisconsin supper club. Be prepared for a long wait on Friday night but don’t worry you can act like a local and belly up to the bar for some liquid libations until your table is ready.
Happy Dining! Be sure to add your favorite places in the comments!