Food and Art: Fresco is Italian for “cool” and “fresh” and Fresco’s flavors reflect their only-in-season menu which pulls from local offerings. The location is superb for before or after Overture Center shows since it’s conveniently located above the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art and overlooks State Street and the Capitol building. The adjacent rooftop sculpture garden is also stunning.
Comfort with a View: The lovely brick interior of the Brickhouse BBQ gives way to a beautiful third-floor rooftop patio strung with lights that offer an urban escape. This comfort food restaurant specializes in ribs, pulled pork, wings, four types of mac-and-cheese and brisket. There’s a street-level back patio, too.
Bird’s Eye View: Madison Blind, a seventh-floor rooftop restaurant and bar located in the Graduate Madison hotel, tips its hat to hometown cuisine with cheese curds, sausage plates and plenty of local craft brews. Don’t miss the cheekily decorated lobby and rooms, which pay homage to Wisconsin and to UW-Madison with vintage prints, outdoor gear and lots of plaid.
Little Europe: A Milwaukee transplant, Café Hollander is perfectly at home in Madison. The restaurant has two floors, both with open patios and garage doors that let even more of the outside in. Plus the menu delights with Belgian-esque items like frites, Dutch croquettes, seafood and a long list of beers on tap. Finish your experience by walking Hilldale Shopping Center, home to stores like Paper Source and Anthropologie.