Madison is a foodie haven. You'll find whatever you're craving, even if you’re seeking plant-based eats and vegan food.
If you’re thinking it’s only bowls of lettuce, think again. You’ll find everything from ooey-gooey vegan cheese curds to chic plates of artistically styled veggies.
I've compiled a list of the top 10 vegan dishes and sweets that will make your taste buds sing in Madison, WI.
Divine Dishes and Entrees
Gooey cheese curds at JustVeggiez
If you thought you would miss out on this iconic Wisconsin eat, think again! This Black-owned vegan restaurant has found a way to veganize fried cheese curds with a lightly-breaded coating that you can pull apart to reveal a hot, cheesy inside.
This isn't the only spot to find these golden treasures. MadisonTap inside Robinia Courtyard also has a vegan option.
Banana pancakes at Short Stack Eatery
Set your alarm because you'll want to be first in line at this vegan-friendly breakfast café. Short Stack's stellar vegan menu includes a mouthwatering lineup of sweet and savory favorites.
Hands down, you can’t skip a fluffy stack of banana pancakes topped with pecans and house-made coconut whipped cream — they’re so good you won’t believe that they are gluten-free! If you’re a coffee lover, pair those pancakes with a mug of their locally-roasted cinnamon hazelnut coffee (on a hot day, it’s terrific iced with oat milk).
Quesabirria & roasted maitake at Jardin
The globally-inspired menu at this chic plant-based spot is so amazing that I couldn’t choose just one dish! I started with their special Quesabirria stuffed with an exotic blend of mushrooms that pair delightfully with the tangy avocado crema and crema fresca. A word of warning, they are messy (but oh, so worth it).
Once you’ve gobbled those down, you’ve got to check out one of their flavor-packed main dishes. I couldn’t stop eating the sweet and savory Roasted Maitake. If you weren't a mushroom lover before, you will be after one bite!
Nutty vegan sushi roll at RED
All other vegan sushi rolls can’t hold a candle to the super nutty and veggie-packed Nutty Vegan roll at Red Sushi. You’ll never want to order a cucumber avocado roll again after this.
This specialty roll is created with grilled zucchini and avocado and topped with perfectly fried tofu, sweet chili sauce, toasted peanuts, and micro cilantro. It pairs deliciously with a simple green or crispy Brussels sprouts salad.
Lemon blueberry scones at Bloom Bake Shop
This vegan-friendly bake shop always has a stellar lineup of addictive vegan and gluten-free baked goods. If you’re thinking, "ew gluten-free," think again. Their specialty treats are so tender and decadent, even the most devout gluten lover might not realize it’s gluten-free!
You can’t go wrong with any of their sweet treats, but I was over the moon for their buttery and sweet lemon blueberry scone.
If you visit Bloom’s Northstreet location, be sure to pop over to Café Domestique for a lavender latte — lavender and lemon are a match made in heaven.
Loaded owl fries at Green Owl Café
Veggie lovers can’t dine in Madison without checking out the city’s very first vegetarian café, Green Owl. This casual spot is all about recreating popular comfort food from spicy buffalo chick’n wings to loaded mac-n-cheese, but what you can’t miss are their special owl fries.
These are no basic French fries. They are loaded with drool-worthy cashew cheese and seitan, topped with caramelized onions and their house-made owl sauce. With one bite, you'll have a hard time not finishing the whole basket.
Hashbrown bun breakfast sammie at Sookie’s Veggie Burgers
There's nothing quite like a hot breakfast sandwich loaded with savory veggie sausage, creamy cheese, and avocado. If you feel the same, you must head here first thing in the morning. The ingenious hashbrown bun definitely sets this sandwich apart.
Skip the traditional rosemary ciabatta roll and slap that sandwich between two crispy hashbrowns for a stellar way to start the day. Your sammie should also be paired with one of their locally-roasted pour-over coffees — the Bella Carmona from Guatemala is a perfect blend of creamy chocolate and apricots!
Sweets and Treats
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookie ice cream at Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.
This ice cream parlor has been delighting the Madison community for more than 60 years, and it didn’t forget about its vegan friends! You’ll always find a lineup of more than 10 ultra-rich and creamy vegan flavors.
Almost all the vegan flavors are made with an oat milk base, which makes the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie extra special! The mix of brown sugar and cinnamon swirled with chunks of oatmeal cookie dough, chocolate, and pecans is to die for!
If you prefer berry-packed flavors, the seasonal electric watermelon can’t be missed.
Coconut macaroon donuts from Level 5 Donuts (sold inside Ledger Coffee Roasters)
You can never go wrong with a plump donut and a piping hot cup of joe. Luckily, you can get both of those things when you visit the specialty coffee shop, Ledger Coffee Roasters. Every week they host an assortment of vegan baked goods from different local businesses. Every Thursday to Sunday, you can find epic donut creations from Level 5 Donuts.
Coconut and chocolate fans will go wild over their fudgy coconut macaroon donut — a fried chocolate cake donut covered in sweet coconut and dark chocolate drizzle. These sell out fast! Make sure to get there bright and early.
Addictive sweet and savory pecans from Fortune Favors
You know when you say, “I’m just going to have one bite,” and then it turns into the whole bag? That's precisely what will happen after you sample the irresistibly sweet and savory pecans at Fortune Favors.
These treats are iconic in Madison, and were created first as a mistake! Too bad all mistakes don't taste this good. Don't pass up their classic candied pecans if you've got a sweet tooth. These simple sweets are made with only four ingredients — pecans, sugar, salt, and canola oil. They are almost too good to be true.