The plant-based scene in Madison, Wisconsin is a must for all vegans, vegetarians and anyone looking for a unique and delicious dining experience. We’ve rounded up a non-exhaustive list of some of our favorite plant-based dishes in the city.
Plant-Based Vegan & Vegetarian Restaurants
Jardin, located in Robinia Courtyard, does dinner so well. This 100% plant-based menu is a fresh take on fine dining. Their snack menu features options like seasonal hummus with focaccia (a personal favorite) and chickpea paneer. The lobster casarecce main, another favorite, with the lion’s mane and lobster mushrooms pairs perfectly with the sage and white wine cream sauce. The small but impressive dessert menu features a classic cast iron cookie. The bar menu? Also all vegan. From the service and presentation to the taste and textures, Jardin is an elevated plant-based experience perfect for a celebration or a date night.
Sookie’s Veggie Burgers (on State Street) is another fully plant-based menu. Featuring black bean burgers, Impossible™ burgers and vegan chicken sandwiches that are incredible, Sookie’s is the perfect spot for a quick vegan bite. The sides and dessert options are fun and fresh.
Hop on over to Atwood Avenue for a meal at Green Owl Café, Madison’s first fully vegetarian and vegan restaurant. While some menu items are labeled as vegetarian, all can be made vegan upon request (and many are vegan to start with!). Green Owl’s menu is big and bold, with favorites like the Madison Philly (made with seitan), the oyster mushroom po’boy, the grilled jackfruit burrito and cashew and vegetable-based mac & cheese for the ultimate comfort food.
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Breakfast & Brunch
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner on Atwood Avenue has a full vegan menu (just ask for it!) with diner classics like French toast, banana pancakes and a tofu scrambler. End the meal with a vegan shake made from Chocolate Shoppe soy vanilla ice cream.
Head downtown to try Short Stack’s vegan hack menu. The gluten free/vegan pancake stack is topped with bananas, pecans and coconut whipped cream. Looking for savory? The vegan hash with roasted potatoes is also delicious. The full vegan hack menu features five entrees and six sides.
Bassett Street Brunch Club has vegan options sprinkled throughout their whole menu, from salads and grain bowls to American style and farmer’s hash breakfasts. Many of these options are made vegan by subbing a tofu scramble in.
There’s no shortage of vegan menus in the city, and Daisy Café is another example of a great one. A classic tofu scramble, vegan rancheros and vegan pancakes round out this large menu.
Wonderstate on the Capitol Square has amazing coffee and food. The vegan bagel and “lox” is a burst of flavor stemming from marinated carrots, smoked sea salt, capers, dill and pickled red onion. All of this served on a vegan bagel with garlic-dill cashew spread? Heaven.
Marigold Kitchen serves up a tofu scramble bowl and a three-grain tempeh bowl on their brunch menu. For lunch, the grilled sweet corn, black bean and avocado wrap is delicious. Pasture and Plenty on University Avenue cooks up one of the best brunch plates: mushroom toast. Made with locally sourced mushrooms, sherry cashew cream, spinach, onion, lemon and scallion, this toast is the perfect way to start any day.
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Lunch & Dinner
Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace boasts vegan queso and chips and multiple burritos and tacos that can be made vegan upon request, including an avocado or a fried cauliflower taco. Jacknife has a whole section of their menu dedicated to vegan sushi rolls. Standouts include the Mighty Mushroom (topped with crispy shallot) and the Green Machine (with miso agave dressing).
Tavernakaya on the Capitol Square has over 10 vegetarian or vegan sushi rolls but the two can’t miss menu items? The tofu buns and the vegan ramen, which features a mouthwatering mushroom-seaweed broth. Speaking of ramen, Morris Ramen on King Street offers vegan ramen with the option of shoyu or spice tare and vegan mazemen.
Also on King Street, you’ll find Little Palace, the perfect dinner spot for vegans and non-vegans alike. Little Palace’s menu features tons of vegan options, with the choice of tofu, eggplant or cauliflower showing up often in dishes. The Impossible™ Potstickers appetizer, made with Impossible “pork,” cabbage, ginger, green onion and more are a must-try.
With late night hours, Ian’s Pizza is the perfect spot to grab a slice. From classics like vegan pepperoni to unique flavor pairings like vegan mushroom pesto or vegan Smokey the Bandit (with bbq sauce and cauliflower), Ian’s rotates through their extensive vegan options. They can even make their signature Mac n’ Cheese pizza vegan. Catch these flavors and more every Tuesday evening, when they celebrate Vegan Night. Salvatores’s Tomato Pies also serves spectacular vegan pies — specifically their classic vegan pizza — loaded with vegan sausage, cremini mushrooms, roasted red peppers and more.
Looking for filling grain bowls and salads? Forage Kitchen offers tried-and-true delicious options like their Power Bowl and Thai Bowl or the option to create your own. Protein choices include lentil meatballs, roasted tofu and roasted tempeh. Another quick lunch option is to stop by a Willy Street Co-op location and order from the deli. Sandwiches like the Tofu Cuban (made with vegenaise) and the Tofu Reuben (which can be made vegan) make for filling, fast lunches.
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Snacks & Desserts
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream, a Madison favorite, churns out eight vegan flavors, including vanilla chocolate chip oat and black cherry oat. Just off University Avenue, Ice Cream Social serves up delicious ice cream, with proceeds going to a different non-profit every quarter. While flavors change often, the shop is 100% gluten free and keeps vegan options in its regular rotation. Fifth Scoop offers an entirely vegan ice cream menu and can be picked up at Pasture and Plenty, Sookie’s Veggie Burgers and Hodge Podge.
Nutkrack, one of Madison’s most-loved snacks, is vegan. The delicious “buttery” flavor is the natural flavor of toasted pecans. We dare you to eat just one. Donuts make a delicious breakfast, but they also make incredible desserts, and Level 5 Donuts are 100% vegan and locally made. Choose from classic flavors like chocolate and vanilla or try something new with flavors like cherry almond and Boston dream. Orders require 48-hours and can be picked up at Ledger Coffee in Garver Feed Mill. You can also find Level 5 Donuts at places like Mother Fool’s Coffeehouse, a Williamson Street coffee shop that serves delicious coffee and vegan cupcakes, cookies, brownies and more. Mother Fool’s is unique in that it doesn’t carry any dairy products at all, and coffee beverages are made by default with oat or soy milk. Bloom Bake Shop on Monroe Street also offers delicious vegan, gluten-free donuts and other pastries.
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There is no shortage of vegan food options in Madison. This list doesn’t cover all the tasty plant-based bites found in the city, but it’s a good starting point for those looking to explore the scene.