Dining in Madison Wisconsin

Fine Dining in Madison Wisconsin

Madison Wisconsin is a mid-sized city with a big appetite for for good food! I have traveled to many places in my lifetime, but never have I encountered a city of Madison's size, where fine dining establishments abound.For good food and drink, Madison rivals cities such as Chicago or New York. If you live in or are planning on visiting Madison anytime soon, the following is a list of fine dining establishments that you would be well advised to check out. There is something for everyone here!

Johnny DelMonico's

Located just off the capitol square on the corner of south Pinckney Street, DelMonico's has the ambience of a 1940s steakhouse. Guests can begin with a delectable selection of salads or appetizers including bacon-wrapped scallops, lump blue crab cake with a tarragon aioli or decadent asian fried calamari. While Delmonico's serve a selection of seafood and other items, the steaks are what keep people coming back. Charbroiled to perfection, you can select from a variety of cuts with a variety of accents including bacon wrapping, steak oscar, or steaks with hollandaise, bordelaise, or bearnaise sauce; steaks cooked au poivre or blue cheese encrusted. The menu can admittedly be pricey ($18.00 - $40.00 per person), but it is worth the money. The value has also been enhanced with the inclusion of a starch choice to accompany your steak. This used to be a separate charge. Check out their menu at Johnnydelmonicos.com.

Tornado Steakhouse

This is one of our very favorite places for steak anywhere. Located at 116 south Hamilton, just off the capitol square, Tornado had been a fixture in the Madison dining scene for years! Their filet is second to none and topped with a fat, incredibly delicious onion ring. They also serve an unusual array of entrees that you don't find in most places such as rabbit and lamb. Appetizers include odd choices such as frog legs. But if you're not feeling that adventurous, don't fret. The steaks are so incredible that there is no need to try anything else. Prices aren't listed on the website, but range from about $25 - $35 per person. The menu also features a variety of seafood and duck. Saturday night you may enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth Prime Rib special and don't miss out on the Friday fish specials. Desserts are always marvelous as well, with a lovely, light creme caramel served with a fresh fruit accent serving as the perfect finishing taste. The ambience is casual and rustic with old vinyl booths and rustic wooden beams and tile flooring.

There is a separate bar with a small row of tiny tables and circular booths at which to enjoy drinks and appetizers if that's all you're in the mood for. Try the Key Lime Gimlet or the Nuts and Berries. Simply delicious!

Tornado also has a late night dining menu that is served from 10 pm until 1:00am. The menu features incredibly reasonable items such as steak sandwiches for $7.00! You might also enjoy the bleu cheeseburger or the Crab Louis. Complement your choice with a side of onion rings, fries or cheese curds, and wash it all done with a signature cocktail or a selection from Tornado's extensive wine list

Eno Vino

Traveling off the square to the far west side of Madison, you'll find an incredible wine and small plate dining establishment called Eno Vino. Located at 601 Junction Road in Portofino Place, Eno Vino features small plate dining at its best. Quite simply, there is no item that isn't delectable on this menu! Start with the fresh lump crab cakes. They melt in your mouth under the perfect cover of champagne butter and are topped with a small nest of baby rocket. Other outstanding choices include the crab spring rolls with sweet chili sauce and soy lime sauce; sea bass and scallops which are pan seared with basil verjus butter sauce and tomato jam; and prawns served with roasted red pepper, lime butter, chardonnay and garlic toast. They als have a wonderful selection of flat breads and salads. The wine list and cocktail menu are extensive. Your wait staff can recommend a wonderful pairing of wine with your menu choices. All entrees are portioned to share, but give you just enough to satisfy your tastebuds. In order to feel fully satisfied, the idea is that you and your guest try multiple items. There are beef, pork, seafood, duck and other items from which to choose. Visit them on the web at eno-vino.com.

The Icon

If small plate dining appeals to you, you may also choose to try The Icon. This small 1920s style bistro features an extensive bar with out-of-this-world signature cocktails and wines. Seating is fairly limited and there is a small seating area outside as well, so that you can watch people strolling by on State Street, which is a pedestrian only street in downtown Madison. While sitting on the street one can often enjoy street musicians and a host of other interesting characters. The Icon menu, much like Eno Vino, features an extensive listing of tapas, intended for sharing. Our favorites include chicken skewers, which are an excellent value; shrimp and chorizo skewers; scallops; and a host of other items including salads with fresh fruits, nuts and homemade dressings and fantastic flat breads. I had difficulty locating their website but they are located across from the Overture Center at 206 State Street and make a great place to dine prior to or after taking in a show. This is a pricey place, but well worth it.


Inka Heritage

This Peruvian restaurant located at 602 south Park Street is our favorite place for fish. We have never had a meal there that we didn't thoroughly enjoy. The restaurant is small and cozy, decorated in Peruvian art and bright orange walls. They have a limited wine list and also serve Inka Cola and a traditional South American, non-alcoholic beverage called Chicha Morada, which is amazing! They have fresh fish specials and the sauces they use are delightfully subtle. Entrees include vegetarian, beef, pork and seafood. Our favorites include the Trucha (trout) Andina and the Pescado Inka Heritage, which features a lightly fried fish filet stuffed with crab and shrimp over rice under a cover of homemade white sauce and parmesan cheese. Prices range from $12 - $18 per person, but the food tastes so good, you'll think you paid much more! Service is admittedly slow, but the food is so worth the wait.

Samba

This is likely the priciest option we've found, but the atmosphere is incredible, the food is really great and the whole experience is just plain fun! This Brazilian restaurant, located at 240 w. Gilman Street, often features live music on a large stage; spit roasted meats and a large salad bar with a wide array of pastas, salads, Spanish cheeses, breads, fruits, curry chicken salad, and more. Enjoy a luscious cocktail and listen to the live Brazilian beats while Authentic Gauchos visit your table and hand carve the freshly roasted meats of your choice right onto your plates. This restaurant is expensive (about $36 per person, kids 10 and under are 1/2 price), but it is also all you can eat. Each evening features about 5 or 6 different meat choices such as ham, steaks, roast pork, and chorizo. Meats are rubbed in different spices which will have your mouth watering! If a less expensive, more cafe type experience is up your alley, try the Cabana Room located in the lower level of Samba. This restaurant features Cuban style foods and often has live music at night as well. Visit their website at sambabraziliangrill.com.

I hope you have an opportunity to try some of these excellent restaurants next time you're in the area! You won't be disappointed!

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© 2010 Jaynie2000

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