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Madison Good Food Guide

The definition of health is relative to the individual and that unique definition guides one’s independent nutritional journey.

 

‘Good food’ means many different things to many different people. For some people, it’s eating as clean as possible, and for others, it’s finding the most delicious dish. As a Nutrititional Therapy Practitioner, I have scoured through the many menus of Madison’s local restaurants, searching for nutrient-dense, whole foods that nourish yet taste good.

 

This is a list of local restaurants that serve a variety of delicious, sustainably-sourced entrées that fit an array of dietary needs.

 

Whether you need gluten-free (or gluten-friendly), low-carb, low-sugar, keto, vegan, vegetarian, macro-friendly*, or just good, whole-food options, there is something for your on the list.

 

This list, by all means, is not complete and will be continually updated.

 

Key:

Macro-friendly = whole-food choices that are easy to identify for easy food-tracking purposes

Paleo = nutrient-dense whole foods, grain-free, gluten-free

Whole30 = Dairy-Free, low/no added-sugars, no grains or soy

Counter Service

Enjoy these meals at the restaurant or order them as a quick, to-go.

Crema Cafe breakfast Madison Wisconsin good food guide

Crema Café

Gluten-Friendly, Paleo, Whole30

Locally owned and operated, Crema Café is by far one of my favorite in town. Their staff is incredibly friendly and are very willing to make alterations to their selections to fit your dietary needs. Their entrées are incredibly creative and thoughtfully sourced – farm to table and seasonal whenever possible. They even use ghee (clarified butter) when preparing their egg entreés; much healthier than the standard canola.

Fun Fact: The owner, Steve Buchholz, is an avid CrossFitter in town.

Breakfast

My go-to post-workout meal is the Lake Edge Eggs and Hash (pictured above) with egg-whites, house-made turkey sausage and (if I’m feeling it) gluten-free bread. They also have unique daily scramblers as well. For a macro-friendly increase in protein, order egg-whites instead of eggs. There is a gluten-free baked good, daily and they offer gluten-free bread for their toast or sandwiches.

 

Lunch

If you can do dairy, the Turkey Gobbler combines roasted-turkey with Door County Cherries** and cream cheese and is delicious.

Also, the Blue Bird is Crema’s unique take on chicken salad, using blueberries instead of the standard grapes; it’s a restaurant staple.

 

** If you are not from the area, Door County is a beautiful county in the thumb or peninsula of Wisconsin and their cherries are a Wisconsin must-have!

M – F 6:30 – 3:30PM
S – Su 7 – 2PM
Breakfast served until 11AM, lunch until 3:30PM
Brunch – Sat & Sun

good_food_low_carb_asian_meatball

Good Food Low Carb

Gluten-Friendly, Paleo, Keto, Whole30

First (and still) a famous Madison food cart, this order-up certified-Paleo café offers a completely low-carb, grain-free, no-added sugar menu. Serving salads, wraps, zoodle bowls, flat-bread pizzas (crust made with organic eggs, cheese and almond flour), delicious bone broth (seriously, the chicken is my all-time favorite), desserts and brunch on the weekends, this place is a dream for gluten-free, paleo, keto, whole30 and whole-food buffs alike! 

 

Though I haven’t tried everything on the menu (yet), everything I have had thus far has been delicious. Right now, my favorite entrée is the Asian Meatball Zoodle Bowl (pictured above). Let me just mention their bone broth again, it’s seriously good, nutritious and pretty affordable at $9 a quart.

M – F 11 – 9PM
Sat  9 – 3PM, Brunch

bassett_street_brunch_club

Bassett Street Brunch Club

Gluten-Friendly, Paleo, Keto, Whole30, Vegetarian, Vegan

Bassett Street Brunch Club was one of my first, Madison-favorites. Just as the name states, they serve brunch the entire day. THE WHOLE DAMN DAY. #brunchconnoisseur #brunchinlove. Their friendly staff is knowledgable and their retro, robot themed decor is quirky and super fun, creating a cool vibe and atmosphere.  Their brunch and dinner entreés are very unique twisting the classics (i.e. Savory French Toast, Chicken and a Biscuit) into a modern favorites. They also serve espresso drinks, cocktails, and Voo-Doo inspired donuts.

 

I love this place because they have some very healthy and accomodating options:

  • Spring Break Dietgluten-free, vegetarian
  • Farmer’s Hashpaleo, whole30, vegetarian, gluten-free
  • Lox Boxmacro-friendly
  • All of their salads – delicious

 

Yet, they have some crazy amazing, “indulgent” entrées (i.e. see the rest of the entire menu). It’s a great spot for your whole crew to get food that fits their mood.

 

MADISON MUST HAVE

My absolute favorite, indulgent (very much NOT gluten-free) entrée on the list is their Chicken and a Donut. Their light, flaky butter-milk fried chicken breast sits on-top of their home-made glazed donut and drizzled in a honey sriracha cream sauce. There is NOTHING healthy about this, but it’s a Madison must-have for sure.

M – Th 7 – 10PM
Fri  7 – 12AM

Sat  8 – 12AM

Sun  8 – 10PM

Brunch – all. damn. day.

Image borrowed from Yelp - Marisol P.
Image borrowed from Yelp - Marisol P.

Forage

Gluten-Friendly, Paleo, Keto, Whole30, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

Located on Madison’s famous State Street, Forage is a farm-to-fork restaurant known for it’s fast, yet flavorful, health-conscious entreés. Featuring locally sourced salads, grain (black rice or quinoa) bowls, smoothies, acai bowls and more, everything is gluten-free and made from scratch daily. They also use extra virgin olive oil for all of their sauces and dressings and make their own kombucha! That alone makes it’s a Madison must-have!

 

Mon 9 – 3PM

Tu – Fri 9 – 9PM
Sat & Sun – 11 – 8PM

Image borrowed from Yelp - Nora C.
Image borrowed from Yelp - Nora C.

Miko Poke

Gluten-Friendly, Paleo, Keto, Whole30, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

If you have never tried poke before, but are looking for something fresh, healthy and delicious- Madison’s original poke shop is a great choice. Poke bowls are a combination of fresh, raw fish (tuna or salmon – chicken, shrimp and tofu options also available) and vegetables on a bed of rice or greens; pretty much a deconstructed sushi roll. The bowls are very nutritious and flexible to your dietary needs.

 

My go-to poke bowl is the Hawaii Style with salmon. They are also known for the Hawiian shave ice and dairy-free soft serve, dole whip. Yum!

Sun – Th 11 – 9PM

Fri & Sat 11 – 10PM

freshii_bowl_juice

Freshii

Gluten Friendly, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Low-Carb, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

Located on Madison’s west-side, Freshii serves bowls, burritos, wraps, salads, juices and smoothies. The first chain restaurant to make it on the list, Freshii makes it because of it’s specific focus on health. With proteins such as chicken, tofu, steak, and falafel and bases such as brown rice, rice noodles, romaine, kale, quinoa and more – there are many great optoins for many dietary needs.

My go-to is the Fiesta salad and when I want a sweet treat, their Beet Juice hits the spot.

Mon – Th 7 – 8PM

Fri  7 – 9PM

Sat  8 – 8PM

Sunday Closed

jasons_deli_potato

Jason’s Deli

Gluten Friendly, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Low-Carb, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

The second, and last, chain restaurant on the list, Jason’s Deli is another great option for healthy food on Madison’s west side. Featuring piled-high sandwiches, salads, wraps, soups, mega-huge potatoes (pictured above) and more – Jason’s Deli is a hidden gem in corporate center of Madison’s west-side.

 

They are famous for their Salad Bar and free ice-cream cone with any purchase. It’s in their mission to make their food as custom to your dietary needs as possible, and they are extremely macro-friendly featuring a nutritional calculator per location on their website and an exclusive vegetarian and gluten-free menu. Also, the mega-huge potatoes and sweet-potatoes (not their official title, but again, they are huge!) make a great post-workout meal.

Sun-Sat  10-10PM

Nutritious Treats

Made from whole-food ingredients but definitely NOT low-sugar

saints_madison_juice_co

Saints Madison Juice Co.

Gluten-Free, Vegetarian, Vegan

Run by two female Madisonians, Saints Madison Juice Company offers fresh, raw, and locally sourced juices, nut-milks and shots.

 

Not only are the juices out of the world, but their names are creative and fun; Exorcist (it gets its dark color from activated charcoal), Upbeet, and Hot Shit (ginger, turmeric and herb shot).

 

You can actually get these juices delivered to you, but part of the fun is traveling to the store and taking a picture infront of the most Instagram-able wall in  Madison (pictured above); a Madison must-have!

Mon – Thur  7 – 6:30PM

Fri 7 – 5:30PM

Sat & Sun 8 – 5PM

IMG_7479

Bowl of Heaven

Gluten-Free, Paleo, Vegetarian, Vegan

If you are looking for a dairy-free, gluten-free, vegan treat – these acai bowls are delicious. My favorite – the Red Zinger.

Mon – Sat  8 – 7PM

Sunday 11 – 6PM

Sit Down & Enjoy

Delicious food with a stellar atomosphere

tex_tubbs_taco_platter_sign

Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace

Gluten-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

If you love Austin, Texas and it’s “Keep Austin Weird” vibe, you will love Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace.

 

With incredibly creative food combinations, their tacos are where it’s at; served on corn tortillas, most tacos are gluten-friendly. From their vegan Ancho Carrot Taco to their Southern-Fried Chicken Taco, the options are endless. Their non-taco options, such as the Schenk’s Corner Burrito is a great vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-friendly option. If you are looking for something without a tortilla, they have salads available and most of their entreés can be turned into quinoa or rice bowls upon request.

 

Tex Tubb’s is also famous for it’s salsa bar (yes, I said salsa bar – an all you-can-eat buffet of four types of salsa) and margaritas made with hand-squeezed lime juice (made fresh every morning) makes this spot a Madison must-have.

M & Tu 11 – 9PM

W & Th 11 – 10 PM

Fri  11 – 11PM

Sat  10 – 11PM

Sun 10 – 9PM

Brunch Served Sat & Sunday until 10 – 3PM

Image borrowed from Shrine of Gluttony.
Image borrowed from Shrine of Gluttony.

Graze

Gluten Friendly, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Low-Carb, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

Graze is located directly on ‘The Square’, or Madison’s city center and is privy to the city’s most intimate views of the Captial Building. This, and the fact that 80% of the restaurants walls are made of windows provides a bright and airy daytime vibe, and a chic ambiance at night.

 

Graze is the first farm-to-table restaurant I ever visited. Their locally sourced menu changes seasonally and never fails to impress. Their Deviled Eggs and Bibibamp are a few of my favorites – however, if you have never had Wisconsin Cheese Curds (and can do gluten and dairy) – these are a Madison must-have. Also, if you are looking for a great cocktail, Graze is where it’s at.

M – Th 11 – 10PM

Fri  11 – 11PM

Sat  9:30 – 11PM

Sun 9:30 – 3PM

Lunch 11am – 2:30pm

Brunch Served Sat & Sunday until 9:30 – 3PM

Image borrowed from Madison.com
Image borrowed from Madison.com

Red (Sushi)

Gluten-Friendly, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Low-Carb, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

Located inside a beautiful, contemporary building near the university’s center, RED is Madison’s most infamous sushi hot-spot.

Most people don’t know that most sushi contains gluten (it’s used as a binding agent to make the rice sticky). However, RED offers gluten-free rice, which is a saving grace for gluten-sensitive sushi lovers!

Mon – Fri 11:30 – 2:30PM, 4:30 – 10PM

Sat & Sun 4:30 – 10PM

eno_vino_downtown_tapas

Eno Vino Downtown

Gluten-Friendly, Keto, Paleo, Whole30, Low-Carb, Macro-Friendly, Vegetarian, Vegan

Eno Vino has arguably the best views in Madison. Located on the 10th floor of the AC Hotel, it’s floor-to-ceiling windows allow you to sit level with the capital dome. The menu consists of consistently changing, tapas style plates.

 

Honestly, I have tried too many things here to name – but the menu is stacked with an array of delicacies that do not dissapoint. If you are visiting the area, or need an spot to impress, Eno Vino has you covered. That being said, shorts and a tee-shirt are acceptable as well.

Sun – Th 4 – 12PM

Fri  & Sat 4 – 1PM