Restaurants, Graze
© Eric Tadsen


Hot Spots & Best Fests

Madison is on the foodie map when it comes to being a top dining destination. And there’s a simple reason why: our history is rooted in agriculture. While what we do may seem “on trend” in today’s culinary world, eating seasonally and sourcing locally is the way we’ve always done food. And even more importantly—we love to share that passion with others.

With that, we invite you to sit down to a calendar full of the Best Fests and Hot Spots to try next time you’re in town. Cheers!

Culinary Calendar 2016




Isthmus Beer and Cheese Fest
January 16, 2016
An annual event that allows you to meet, mingle (and sample!) your way through hundreds of cheesemakers’ and brewers’ booths. This is a ticketed event.

Madison Magazine Restaurant Week
January 17-22, 2016
A Madison culinary tradition! Participating restaurants create prix-fixed menus featuring three different options for three-course meals starting at just $25. Reservations encouraged.


Madison on Tap Craft Beer Festival
March 5, 2016
This year, Madison’s largest Craft Beer Festival expands to two sessions! Includes live music, food and samples of more than 150 releases from some of America’s best breweries. This is a ticketed event.

MACN Chef Week
March 4-13, 2016
Madison Area Chefs Network chefs will “mash it up” by mixing menus, trading kitchens and end the week by participating in a street food event. Reservations at participating restaurants encouraged. Street food event is ticketed. Presented by Isthmus.

Madison Magazine Top Shelf Winter Taste
March 21, 2016
Sip it. Sample it. Taste it. Hear it. This top-shelf tasting event features local distilleries, wineries and purveyors, plus a live broadcast by ESPN—all at the elegant Edgewater hotel. This is a ticketed event.


6th Annual Madison Craft Beer Week
April 29-May 8, 2016
This event may have new owners—but guests can expect the same great experiences: special beer tappings, food pairings, educational programs and appearances by brewers. This is a ticketed event.


Isthmus Food Cart Fest
May 22, 2016
This annual festival takes place at Madison’s iconic Olin Park and features all-you-can sample food cart fare and live music. Craft beer is also available for purchase. This is a ticketed event.

May 27-30, 2016
Four days of live music, classic Wisconsin brats, rides, activities and more means fun for the whole family! In 2015, the event raised $125,000 for local charities and 156,608 brats were sold. This is a free event.  


Farm to Feast
June 5, 2016
Chef Michael Pruett of Cento will prepare a farm-to-table feast served on the grounds of Taliesin in Spring Green—home to the renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright. This is a ticketed event.

Mad City Vegan Fest
June 18, 2016
For more than five years, curious omnivores and longtime vegans alike have gathered at this event to celebrate the accessibility of veganism and enjoy delicious vegan dishes. This is a free event.


National Mustard Day at the Mustard Museum
August 6, 2016
The Mustard Museum has been the official sponsor of National Mustard Day since 1991, and annually welcomes more than 6,000 people to downtown Middleton. This is a free event.

Madison Magazine Top Shelf Summer Taste
August 8, 2016
Sip it. Sample it. Taste it. Hear it. The alfresco version of this top-shelf tasting event features local distilleries, wineries and purveyors, plus live music and fresh-air fun. This is a ticketed event.

30th Annual Great Taste of the Midwest
August 13, 2016
This event, organized by the Madison Homebrewers and Tasters Guild, is one of the premier beer festivals in the U.S. and features more than 150 of the Midwest’s finest craft brewers. This is a ticketed event.

Stoughton Coffee Break Festival
August 20, 2016
This event combines coffee, cars and crafts and includes family-friendly fun such as the 5k Java Jog—as well as music and food stands throughout the festival. This is a free event.

Yum Yum Festival
August 21, 2016
Yum Yum Fest—in its third year in 2016—gives Madison’s chefs an opportunity to highlight their creative and collaborative skills at a community event held in Central Park. This is a ticketed event.


Taste of Madison
September 3-4, 2016
Eat your way around the Capitol Square as part of Taste of Madison! This annual Labor Day weekend event features more than 80 local restaurants, 20 beverage stands and 3 music stages.
This is a free event.

14th Annual Thirsty Troll Brew Fest
September 10, 2016
This signature event in Mt. Horeb features more than 25 craft brewers with more than 100 beers to sample. New this year: a homebrewers’ competition! This is a ticketed event.

10th Annual Bike the Barns
September 18, 2016
A fresh take on riding events: consume more calories than you burn! Bike the Barns participants take a recreational tour of CSA farms in southwest WI, sampling all the way. This is a ticketed event.

Isthmus Oktobeerfest
September 24, 2016
This hip interpretation of the classic, German-style fest features more than 40 Wisconsin-focused brewers, as well as artisan sausage and cheesemakers for unlimited sampling and fun. This is a ticketed event.


23rd Annual Quivey’s Grove Beer Fest
October 1, 2016
Cold beer! Local music! Hot food! The best of all worlds are found at this fest, held on the wooded grounds of Quivey’s Grove. Sample more than 100 beers from 45 different brewers and food from the outdoor smoke roaster. This is a ticketed event.

REAP Pie Palooza
October 30, 2016
Pie for brunch? You bet! This annual event celebrates locally grown ingredients and all things pie. Take your pick from sweet and savory pies, plus tarts, quiches, turnovers and more. This is a ticketed event.


34th Annual Herb Fair
November 5, 2016
Growing and using herbs is the focus of this fun and educational event held at Madison’s renowned Olbrich Gardens. Workshops and demonstrations give growers a taste of the benefits of herbs. This is a free event.