Best New Restaurants’ Best Kept Secrets

Charlie's on Main, Lucille and Tavernakaya
Best New Restaurants’ Best Kept Secrets
Tempura cheese curds at Tavernakaya

You might recognize the names of these buzzed-about restaurants that nabbed the top honors for best new restaurants. But these new kids on the block are more than what meets the eye.

Both Charlie’s on Main and Lucille have secret dens you maybe haven’t ventured into yet. Beyond the bookcase at Charlie’s (which is gold-winning chef David Heide’s second restaurant), you can spin a sidecar in the underground speakeasy from Thursday through Saturday. At Lucille, the new wood-fire and steal-pan pizzeria, there is a downstairs lounge located in an old bank vault, which is open Thursday through Saturday, 5 p.m. to close.

And bronze winner Tavernakaya, a Japanese izakaya (or gastropub), might not have a secret lounge, but it does have a sneaky good brunch and some of the best cheese curds around. Yes, you heard that right, the new Japanese restaurant on the Square has amazing fried curds that come in a tempura batter, topped with the Japanese togarashi chili powder and served with a spicy mayo.

Click here for the full Best of Madison 2017 Food and Drink listing.