The 10 Best Brunches In Madison, Wisconsin
After graduating from the French Culinary Institute, chef Tory Miller worked at many of the most sophisticated restaurants in New York City. It wasn’t until he moved to Madison however, to establish Graze that the James Beard Award-winner was able to ‘fulfil his dream of taking local farm-raised ingredients to the next level.’ The elements compiling the dishes on his brunch menu are no exception to this philosophy. There’s no wrong decision to make when ordering off the brunch menu, but the bibimbap burrito and the kielbasa being particular local favorites. Considering Graze’s superb farm-fresh fare, along with the stunning view of the Wisconsin State Capitol building though its large windows, it’s no surprise that Graze was one of the restaurants chosen by Madison Magazine readers as ‘Best Place to Take a First Date’.
Graze, 1 S Pinckney Street #107, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 251 2700
Bassett Street Brunch Club
The brunch menu at Bassett Street Brunch Club, a member of the elite Food Fight Restaurant Group, is a symphony of classic comfort foods with a sophisticated twist. Within its luxurious booths surrounded by playful, modern décor, enjoy dishes such as the savory French toast topped with hollandaise, the breakfast bur-roti laden with avocado black bean salad and the delectable lox box. If you’re looking for the perfect tipple to accompany any dish, consider one of Bassett Street Brunch Club’s complex cocktails – don’t miss out on the B.C.Manhattan, made with cherry bark vanilla bitters, or its Wake Up Beer made with Wisconsin Brewing Co. Porter and Colectivo espresso. Come early for freshly baked donuts in a variety of rotating flavors like maple bacon, Cap’n Crunch, crème brûlée and pumpkin.
Spend a Saturday morning taking a few laps around the Dane County Farmers Market collecting fresh fruits, vegetables, meats and baked goods around the Capitol Square, then head to Food Fight’s DLUX for its ‘Weekend Recovery’ menu – the contemporary, psychedelically decorated eatery has perfected the art of the boozy brunch. Enjoy treats such as the brunch-a-rita (made with agave tequila, fresh lime, raw sugar syrup and orange marmalade), the build-your-own Bloody Mary, or the espresso milkshake cocktail—and if you’re looking to make a morning of it, order bottomless mimosas for $10. Complement your drinks with DLUX’s delicate fresh donut balls, served with a strawberry cream cheese glaze, or one of their delicious savory breakfast sandwiches.
DLUX, 117 Martin Luther King Jr Boulevard, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 467 3130
Mickies Dairy Bar
While the Camp Randall area has been considerably built up over the last few years, the décor inside Mickies Dairy Barhasn’t changed a bit since the 1950s – the original menu still hangs on the wall – and, thankfully, neither have its recipes. Though there’s usually a long line to get in, especially on Badger football game days, know that your patience will have rewards: the generous helpings will likely provide you with enough food for the next two meals. After plunging into massive plates of its classic American-style dishes such as banana pecan pancakes, the legendary scrambler or a colossal cinnamon roll, you’ll understand the hype.
Mickies Dairy Bar, 1511 Monroe Street, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 256 9476
The Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned claims to be the place ‘where Wisconsin is king,’ and makes this philosophy evident in its detailed brunch menu. Take the Wisconsin Benedict, for example: instead of Canadian bacon or ham, this version incorporates the unofficial state meat, the bratwurst. Or check out the bagel with cream cheese – it’s not just any bagel, but a Gotham bagel from the Gotham Bagels shop right down the street. Even the donuts are pure Wisconsin – the apple fritters are made at Greenbush Bakery, located about a mile and a half from the Old Fashioned. If you wish to get a taste of true Wisconsin heritage is, the Old Fashioned is unquestionably the place to dine.
The Old Fashioned, 23 N Pinckney Street #1, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 310 4545
In college towns like Madison, brunch is often an opportunity to cure a hangover with eggs and coffee. Not at Sardine – a brunch outing at this French-inspired bistro is an opportunity to savor flavorful dishes and is the ultimate location if you’re looking to impress your dining companion. Slide onto a stool at the pewter-topped bar and order off the lovely chalkboard menus or, if you’re lucky, find a spot on the patio perched on the shore of Lake Monona. Sardine is renowned for its seafood so the crab, bacon and rock shrimp cakes, grilled Norwegian salmon or steamed mussels with frites are worthy selections. If you’re not in the seafood mood however, the Belgian waffle, warm duck confit or fines herbes and gruyere cheese omelette are also locally renowned.
Sardine, 617 Williamson Street, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 441 1600
The retro diner and its simplistic menu of pancakes, bacon and eggs is the archetypal setting for brunch in America. Embracing these classic elements, Food Fight’s Bluephies kicks it up a few notches with a minimalist color scheme, cozy leather booths, soaring windows and a vibrant menu. Try the red velvet pancakes or avocado extravaganza scrambler for modern variations on timeless diner dishes, or go further into the menu and order the carrot cake French toast, crab Benedict, breakfast jambalaya or waffle dogs – sausages coated in waffle batter and fried. If you’re looking for something a bit stronger than coffee to quench your thirst, Bluephies is not only a restaurant but also a ‘vodkatorium’, where the Bloody Mary options are seemingly endless.
Bluephies, 2701 Monroe Street, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 231 3663
Brunch menus often consist of rich, heavy options slathered in hollandaise sauce or loaded with bacon. While these dishes are delicious in moderation, if lighter brunch fare is what you’re craving, you’ll find it on the menu at Marigold Kitchen. The unpretentious, vegetarian-friendly line-up includes favorites such as tofu scramble, (made with champagne vinaigrette), barley sauté, chilaquiles and chili poached eggs. Meat-lovers will delight in options like the duck confit hash and the roasted salmon frittata. No matter what you decide to plump for, try to get a seat on the patio during the warmer months to soak up the sunshine – it’s the perfect place to enjoy a cold screwdriver.
Marigold Kitchen, 118 S Pinckney Street, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 661 5559
Tucked away on the second floor of an aging concrete building, Sunroom Café is one of Madison’s coziest brunch spots. Painted in soft pastel colors, decorated with the works of local artists and featuring a perfect view of the bustling State Street, the charming eatery is a favorite amongst University of Wisconsin-Madison students and one of the city’s best-kept Sunday brunch secrets. Before sitting down at one of the tables – all topped with a vase of fresh flowers – order your meal at the counter in the back of the room. On its ever-changing menu, vegetarians and meat-eaters alike will find delights like theSanta Fe frittata, tofu scrambler, huevos rancheros and apple buttermilk pancakes.
Sunroom Café, 638 State Street, Madison, WI, USA, +1 608 255 1555
Weary Traveler Freehouse
Get away from the crowds of State Street and Capitol Square and head to Williamson Street – affectionately known as Willy Street by locals – on the city’s east side. Among the quirky thrift stores, artsy housewares shops and funky bars you’ll find a bona fide gem: Weary Traveler Freehouse. Chic chandeliers pepper the ceiling and antique books line virtually every side of the wall, creating a vibe that’s at once homey and rustic-elegance-meets-hip-library. Cozy up at one of the tables, each of them topped with a Mason jar filled with a tea candle, and order the frittata du jour, le toaste (the Weary Traveler’s version of French toast), Andes egg-wich or steak and eggs. For the especially weary traveller, there’s also a great line-up of cocktails, such as the boozy Celtic coffee and the bloody traveler secret recipe Bloody Mary.
By Haley Henschel