Weary Traveler Freehouse restaurant in the east side of Madison has delicious weekday lunches and dinners and weekend brunch. It can be really crowded, especially on weekend evenings, so it is best to arrive early or visit for a weekday lunch. The specialty at the Weary Traveler is Bob’s Organic Bad Breath Burger, which is a half pound burger topped with cream cheese, onions, garlic, and other vegetables and sauces. This is the best burger in Madison. The Weary Traveler serves food from small local businesses in Wisconsin and has organic, vegetarian, and vegan options. The Weary Traveler also is a bar that has a huge selection of local and imported beers and wines.
The Old Fashioned restaurant, on Capital Square, in Madison serves traditional Wisconsin fare. This is always a popular restaurant to bring any guests and/or visitors who come to Madison. Though the Old Fashioned has expanded in recent years, it is very popular and there is often a wait for a table. Thus, it is best to arrive early to put your name on the waiting list. The Old Fashioned also serves locally brewed beers and the bar tenders are knowledgeable and can guide you to a new favorite or help you to find an old friend. My favorite dishes that they serve are bratwurst or macaroni and cheese made with Wisconsin cheddar.
I absolutely love the restaurant, Fugu, in Madison, Wisconsin. Fugu serves very authentic Sichuan-style (Chinese food). Out of every Chinese restaurant that I've tried in the United States, the food at Fugu is the most similar to meals that I enjoyed in Yunnan and Sichuan, China. The menu is huge and the dishes are fresh and often very spicy. You can even order Chinese beer and white liquor (bai jiu). Fugu is best to visit with a larger party so you can order together and eat family style. This way you can taste several different dishes in one sitting. I especially enjoy their spicy string beans, Sichuan style cucumber, and ma po tofu. You can order in English or in Mandarin Chinese.
Wisconsin has great cheese and fresh produce, however there are very few restaurants that serve good pizza. One of the delicious pizza places in Madison is Glass Nickel Pizza, which has several locations in Madison. I love Glass Nickel Pizza because you can order your pizza and pay online with a credit card to have your pizza delivered at home. This removes the hassle of having cash to pay the delivery person. Additionally, you can create your own pizzas by choosing your favorite toppings. Another great thing about Glass Nickel Pizza is that they consciously work towards being environmentally friendly.
The Sunroom Café is a beautiful second floor restaurant on State Street in Madison. The restaurant offers a casual dining atmosphere and you order and pick up your food at the main counter. The Café opens early and has amazing breakfast with both healthy and hearty options. For lunch and dinner they have southeast Asian food, Mediterranean dishes, pasta, meat dishes, and huge salads. They also offer sweet treats and locally made root beer. The food is absolutely delicious at any time of day and the service is quick. It is best to arrive at not peak times otherwise you may need to wait in line for a table.
Soga Shabu Shabu is Chinese and Japanese hotpot restaurant located in an upstairs room on State Street in Madison. It is popular with students and is especially great on a bitter cold winter day. Hotpot, or shabu shabu consists of a boiling broth (typically spicy) that you cook meat, vegetables, and mushrooms in. This meal must be consumed slowly to allow for the food to cook fully and should be eaten in a very relaxed atmosphere. It is not uncommon for this meal to take at least two hours to eat. The atmosphere and hotpot meal at Soga Shabu Shabu is authentic.