Dining and Drink

16 brunch hotspots in Madison

Brunch knows no rules at these places

There are no rules at brunch. Go ahead, order a burger and a Bloody Mary at 10:30 a.m. Get American fries with your brisket Benedict. Brunch knows no bounds—it’s not even restricted to a certain time of day. All brunch is concerned with is fulfilling sweet and savory cravings of you and your crew. Luckily, Madison is not short on brunch options. From avocado toast and jumbo New York bagels to Wisconsin originals (like a cheese curd breakfast burrito), you won’t want to miss a single weekend brunch opportunity. 

DLUX
There’s almost always a weekend brunch crowd for DLUX’s jumbo breakfast sandwiches, bottomless mimosas and Bloody Mary bar. But the all-star item of this brunch hotspot is the breakfast potatoes. We’re talking about flavors like sharp cheddar cheese and green onions, blue cheese and bacon, Parmesan cheese and truffle cream and, for the spice seekers, sriracha aioli. If breakfast potatoes aren’t your thing, check out DLUX’s fresh donut balls decorated in powdered sugar and a strawberry cream cheese glaze. $   
 
Everly
Everly has entered the scene as a brunch powerhouse with healthy options you don’t have to feel bad about. Food Fight’s newest restaurant, which offers brunch, lunch, dinner and a full bar, is as Californian as it gets in Madison—from the Cali-inspired menu to the eatery’s clean, airy atmosphere. Eat like the west coasters do and order avocado toast, or step out of your comfort zone with the smoked whitefish toast. Trying to be extra healthy? Check out the brunch bowls full of fresh veggies and eggs for a nourishing start to your day. $$
 
Gotham Bagels
We should consider ourselves lucky to have access to fresh New York-style bagels in downtown Madison via Gotham Bagels. These jumbo hand-rolled bagels come in 13 varieties, from the classic sesame seed to Gotham’s original super egg everything. Take the traditional route and enjoy the satisfying bacon, egg and cheese on a bagel, or try a signature sandwich, like the Yellow C.A.B. or the Spanish Harlem bagel. If you’re looking for a little crunch to go along with your meal, you’re in luck, because each bagel sandwich comes with a crisp signature bagel chip. $ 
 
Green Lantern Restaurant
Friday night fish fry isn’t the only time Green Lantern Restaurant is packed to the gills. The classic Wisconsin eatery in McFarland is a hotspot before noon, too, with a seafood-packed brunch menu. Get yourself to the Greenie, as the locals call it, on Saturdays and Sundays for unique and delectable land and sea brunch options. Be sure to try their Lantern omelet loaded with shrimp, ham, veggies and eggs. Look a little farther down the menu for the popular (for good reason) lobster Benedict with tarragon hollandaise, a melt-in-your-mouth-tender meal. After you’re done eating, admire the Green Lantern’s Lake Waubesa views, sipping coffee as you stroll out onto the pier. $$   
 
Manna Café  & Bakery
East-side locals probably would rather you not know about the cozy Manna Café, where you can enjoy excellent pastries, breads, homemade brunch plates and hand-crafted espresso drinks. Manna’s weekend brunch is an egg lover’s heaven with beautifully plated eggs Benedict topped with homemade hollandaise sauce and expertly cooked frittatas for an open-faced feast. This café’s offerings are consistently good, but what tips its brunch over the edge is the soft Eastern European bialy bread with a center pocket bursting with savory poppy seed onions served with all weekend egg dishes. $   
 
Mickies Dairy Bar 
If you wander down Monroe Street on a Saturday morning, especially in the fall, you’ll come across a herd waiting to get into Mickies Dairy Bar, one of Madison’s classic diners serving breakfast all day. Don’t worry, tables open up fast. You’ll soon slide into a comfy booth surrounded by authentic diner décor and peer up at a simple menu sprawled across the wood-paneled back wall. This 71-year-old greasy spoon is known for massive scramblers topped with signature hash browns, gooey cheddar cheese and your choice of meats or veggies smothered in gravy. If that doesn’t get your stomach rumbling, then maybe a plump, luscious pancake the size of a dinner plate will do the trick. $ BOM
1511 Monroe St., 256-9476
 
Nitty Gritty
Don’t let your birthday be the only day of the year you visit the Nitty Gritty. “The Official Birthday Place” offers a weekend brunch that turns all of your favorite sandwiches into “brunchwiches.” Try the Californian, with crispy bacon, local pepper jack cheese, a fried egg, fresh avocado and tangy cilantro lime sauce. The waffle brunchwich consists of hand-battered chicken, crispy bacon and a fried egg served between two waffles. For an extremely filling meal, try the cheese curd burrito, bursting with fried white cheddar cheese curds, scrambled eggs and breakfast potatoes all bundled into a flour tortilla. $ BOM  
 
The Old Fashioned 
This iconic tavern on Capitol Square translates its dinner menu into weekend brunch options that put a Wisconsin twist on breakfast classics. As you walk through the door you’ll be met by the delightful aroma of brats, cheese and breakfast food at The Old Fashioned. The Wisconsin benedict brings brats to the breakfast table, along with a sunny-side-up egg, rich mustard cream and rosemary potatoes. The supper club fish favorites are replaced by a crisp beer-battered walleye and sunny-side-up egg combination, along with rosemary potatoes and rye toast. If that isn’t enough Wisconsin meat, check out the sides, like the Miesfeld bratwurst patty or Bavaria’s smoked bacon. $$ BOM
 
Tip Top Tavern 
If you ever wake up and find yourself craving a juicy burger, grab one at the east side’s Tip Top Tavern, an intimate pub that doubles as a brunch joint. Enjoy the tavern’s brunch burgers for a belly-warming meal in the morning (without any weird looks). Try the Tip Top burger with aged sirloin, lettuce, tomatoes, red onion, pickles, Tip Top special sauce and a side of cheesy potatoes. Also on the menu is the bourbon-glazed ham and eggs benedict with farm-fresh eggs, thick-cut ham, a sweet Four Roses bourbon glaze and house-made hollandaise. Talk about a brunch that can do both. $ 
  
Ugly Apple Cafe 
You don’t need to sit down to get a jaw-dropping, one-of-a-kind brunch in Madison. Get a fast and fresh meal from the Ugly Apple Cafe, a new food cart serving delicious dishes six days a week. Not only does this food cart help reduce food waste, but the ingredients used are all from local farmers and nearby sources, like Stoddard’s Market in Cottage Grove. On the savory side, the menu offers gooey egg and cheddar sandwiches, hearty steel-cut oatmeal and the Southern staple of biscuits and gravy. Depending on the season, you can find sweets on the Ugly Apple Café menu like oatmeal spice muffins, mini apple fritters and donuts. $ 

All-Day All-Stars

Let brunch turn into dinner at these places that offer brunch favorites any time of day.
 
Cottage Café 
Not only does Cottage Café offer breakfast all day long, but it also lets you build your own breakfast burrito or omelet. Blend any juicy meats, fresh veggies or gooey cheeses together—let your creativity get to work! If you’re a meat eater, the country-fried steak and eggs breakfast will satisfy your taste buds. $
 
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner 
This gas station-turned-diner offers sweet, savory and specialty breakfasts all day long. Indulge in the Wisconsin salmon hash—a blackened salmon, spring onion, diced potato and two-egg dish. Enjoy the sweeter things in life with the almond milk French toast—silky cinnamon swirl bread in a blend of almond milk and spices. If all else fails, Monty’s offers a variety of omelets, breakfast sandwiches and scramblers sure to catch your eye. $
 
Bassett Street Brunch Club  
Bassett Street Brunch Club doesn’t judge your breakfast-for-dinner or dinner-for-breakfast tendencies.  For some filling comfort food, try the savory French toast, consisting of sourdough bread dipped in a Parmesan cheese-herb batter, topped with bacon, grilled onions, a sunny-side up egg and hollandaise sauce. If you’re looking for something lighter, try the Cyc omelet, stuffed with roasted red peppers, onions, black beans, pico de gallo and queso fresco. Don’t forget to check out the homemade donuts, including a maple bacon sweet and savory combination. $$

Sunday Sips

Turn Sunday into ‘Funday’ with some signature breakfast drinks in town.
 
Madison’s
Hit up Madison’s after a night on the town for bottomless mimosas or a “Morning After” cocktail. But be sure to save room because Madison’s brunch menu won’t leave you hanging between rich brioche French toast with fresh berries and the brisket benedict with spinach, poached eggs, hollandaise and, you guessed it, brisket. $$
 
Sardine
Sardine offers creative cocktails that’ll wake you up, like a beet Bloody Mary, infused with beet vodka, as well as its “strange brew” of lemonade, Cadence cold brew coffee, lavender, mint and house-spiced rum. You’re going to need something for that breakfast cocktail to wash down, right? Pair either with the crab, bacon and rock shrimp cakes or the baked cream eggs. $$$  
 
Nau-Ti-Gal 
Enjoy mimosas and Bloody Marys while overlooking the stunning Yahara River every Sunday at the Nau-Ti-Gal. Not only are the mimosas bottomless ($10 per person), but the brunch is unlimited as well. Take advantage of all-you-can-eat fluffy omelets, creamy Benedicts, sweet French toast, thick waffles and much more. $$$
 
Danae Luetkehans is the web editor of Madison Magazine.

 


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