Find Fine Dining around State Street

College towns are filled with coffee shops, bars, and pizzerias, but rarely do students indulge in fine dining. Although downtown Madison and Capitol Square are known for excellent dining, you can also find some of the best dining in Dane Country without leaving the UW campus area. Below you’ll find three gourmet fare suggestions on and around iconic State Street that represents some of the greatest food Madison has to offer.

 

Gauchos at Samba
Photo courtesy of Samba

Samba
240 West Gillman Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 257-1111

Step into Samba Brazilian Grill and you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to a real-life churrascaria. Enjoy a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, before sampling from the extensive salad bar. This first course features over 40 items including green salads, artisan cheeses, olives, breads, and roasted vegetables. The second course is reminiscent of Brazilian tradition in which gauchos carry around a variety of meats on skewers. Each table is equipped with a small cylindrical pillar, known as the “pillar of meat”, which has two sides: one red and one green. Guests are encouraged to flip the pillar to red to stop the flow of gauchos and to flip the pillar to green for more meat. Although not specific to Madison, Brazilian dining is certainly a unique experience.
Hours: Mon-Sat, 5pm-10pm; Sun, 9:30am-3pm (brunch), 4pm-9pm (dinner)

 

 

Tutto Pasta Exterior
Photo courtesy of Tutto Pasta

Tutto Pasta
305 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 294-1000

This classic Italian trattoria features 3 levels of dining plus a patio right along State Street. Freshly baked homemade bread is served immediately with olive oil and Italian spices. The restaurant’s extensive wine list features both white and red options from California, Italy, Australia, and even Wisconsin. Tutto Pasta offers a variety of pastas, pizzas, and salads including fan favorites like bruschetta, gnocchi, and chicken piccata. The high quality menu is contrasted with a casual, laid-back atmosphere that allows you to truly feel the love, warmth, and authenticity that go into running the restaurant. For a true Tuscan experience, head across the street after dinner for a scoop of Italian gelato at Paciugo.
Hours: Mon-Thurs, 11am-9pm; Fri-Sat, 11am-10pm; Sun, 11am-9pm

 

 

Outdoor Terrace at Fresco
Photo courtesy of Fresco

Fresco
227 State Street
Madison, WI 53703
(608) 663-7374
Located upstairs from the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Fresco is Madison’s prime rooftop dining experience. Head Chef John Jerabek focuses on fresh, local ingredients, many of which are found at Madison’s very own Saturday farmer’s market. The menu changes quite often (about every two weeks), but items usually include seafood appetizers, salads & soups, and various meat and pasta entrees. Fresco was recently voted “Most Romantic Restaurant” by the Madison community.  You won’t want to miss the stunning panoramic views available with outdoor seating.
Hours: Tue-Thurs, 5pm-9pm; Fri-Sat, 5pm-11pm; Sun, 5pm-9pm

About: Hannah Geise

My name is Hannah Geise and I’m an incoming junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. On campus, I’ve interned for the Wisconsin Alumni Association and write for one of our two school newspapers, The Daily Cardinal. I love going to football and hockey games in Madison and hanging with Bucky. Go Badgers!"