From the legacy of Aldo Leopold and John Muir to our famous farmers' markets and restaurants, Madison's roots in agriculture and farm-to-table philosophies help us stand out as a dining destination.
Named after the grass-fed animals and rotational items that show up on the menu, Graze is a foodie's paradise in the heart of downtown Madison. Almost all of their ingredients come from small farms in the region, and the menu changes with the availabilty of produce. You can also start at a renowned restaurant that pioneered the farm-to-restaurant movement: L'Etoile. This fine dining establishment has served local and seasonal offerings since it opened its doors 40 years ago.
Merchant is a casual farm-to-table restaurant, craft cocktail bar and liquor store. They work directly with local farmers, bakers, cheese makers, distillers, and wine and beer producers to form their ever-changing menu. Heritage Tavern and Nostrano (which means local in Italian) fuse Wisconsin's finest ingredients and global inspiration. Try the bacon-wrapped cheese curds (tempura style) at Heritage, or the roasted quail at Nostrano.
Throughout Greater Madison, you'll get a chance to enjoy seasonal and sustainable selections, from food carts on campus to traditional neighborhood spots like Lombardino's. Nestled near the University, Lombardino's is considered one of the top five Italian restaurants by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Fit Fresh Cuisine in Fitchburg emphasizes fresh, local and healthy fare and the menu was created by a registered dietician. If you like local foods served in creative proportions, you'll love Crema Cafe in Monona. And you most certainly won't want to miss Mazomanie's Old Feed Mill, serving old-fashioned favorites from pot roast to bread pudding.
Madison offers many ways to shop green, as well. REAP Food Group works to grow a local food system that supports small family farms and locally-owned businesses. Look for the "Buy Fresh, Buy Local" emblem while shopping in town, and you'll know you're shopping locally. For more than 35 years, Willy Street Co-op East and Willy Street Co-op West have been Madison's largest consumer-owned natural food stores. There you can find locally grown and prepared dishes, and hundreds of fresh produce items daily. Of course, the nationally renowned Dane County Farmers' Market is another way to eat clean. The market is open to the public on Saturdays, outside around the Capitol Square during warm months and in Monona Terrace starting in November.