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Dining in Madison Wisconsin

Updated on February 12, 2018
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Jaynie is from Madison, WI but has traveled extensively. Her family speaks 4 languages, making the world very accessible.

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 West and Eno Vino Downtown

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.

Since this article was originally published, a second Eno Vino has opened downtown. Located on the 10th floor of the AC Marriott Downtown, this venue has stunning views of the capital and an outdoor bar that extends over the street and is hopping all summer long. The menu is slightly different than the west side location but all items are delicious. The bar features a vast array of amazing cocktails. This location is all the rage with the hip after work crowd.

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. The menu changes periodically, but typically features a Spanish flare. They currently have delectable paellas that require a 30 minute cooking time, but are well worth the wait. The Icon is located across from the Overture Center at 206 State Street and makes a great place to dine prior to or after taking in a show. This is a pricey place, but well worth it. Visit them on the web at www.theiconmadison.com.


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© 2010 Jaynie2000

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