Best of Madison 2018

Best of Madison 2018

Madison is an enchanted city with as many colorful characteristics as there are in the Land of Oz. Come along on a journey to find out which businesses, people and places were voted the very best in Madison Magazine’s 37th annual readers poll.

Food & Drink

In L. Frank Baum’s original story of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz,” the land of the East was home to the Munchkins, who were good farmers and able to grow tall crops. When Dorothy vanquished the Wicked Witch of the East, the Munchkins threw a huge celebration where they laughed, sang and feasted on delicious fruits, nuts, pies and cakes. That said, the land of the Munchkins has nothing on Madison and its talented farmers, food purveyors, chefs, butchers, bakers and cheese makers. Here are the 162 winners in the most prolific and anticipated Best of Madison category.

Artisan Food Product

★ Hook’s Cheese Co. Inc.

★ NessAlla Kombucha

★ Potter’s Crackers

Bakery – Bread

★ Madison Sourdough

★ Batch Bakehouse

★ Stella’s Bakery

Bakery – Sweets

★ Greenbush Bakery

★ Bloom Bake Shop

★ Batch Bakehouse


★ That BBQ Joint

★ Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ

★ Eldorado Grill


★ Marigold Kitchen

★ Lazy Jane’s Cafe & Bakery

★ Short Stack Eatery


★ Wisconsin Brewing Co.

★ Ale Asylum

★ Karben4 Brewing


★ Short Stack Eatery

★ Bassett Street Brunch Club

★ Liliana’s Restaurant


★ Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry


★ Blue Moon Bar & Grill


★ Underground Butcher

★ The Conscious Carnivore

★ Ken’s Meats & Deli


★ Blue Plate Catering

★ Liliana’s Restaurant

★ Fresco

Cheese Producer

★ Hook’s Cheese Co. Inc.

★ Carr Valley Cheese

★ Farmer Johns’ Cheese

Local Chef

★ Dan Fox, Heritage Tavern

★ Jed Spink, RED

★ Dave Heide, Liliana’s Restaurant


★ Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar

★ Imperial Garden

★ SoHo Gourmet Cuisines


★ Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier

★ Chocolaterian Cafe

★ Candinas Chocolatier

Coffee Roaster

★ Barriques

★ Just Coffee Cooperative

★ True Coffee Roasters

Coffee Shop

★ Colectivo Coffee

★ Barriques

★ Fair Trade Coffee House

Cup of Tea

★ Macha Tea Co.

★ Barriques

★ Colectivo Coffee

Destination Restaurant

★ Ishnala Supper Club, Lake Delton

★ Cow & Quince, New Glarus

★ The Old Feed Mill, Mazomanie

Ethnic Grocery Store

★ Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen

★ Gino’s Italian Deli

★ Asian Midway Foods

Farmers’ Market (Other than Dane County Farmers’ Market)

★ Hilldale Farmers’ Market

★ Northside Farmers’ Market

★ Monona Farmers’ Market

First Date

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro


★ Liliana’s Restaurant

Fish Fry

★ Quivey’s Grove

★ Toby’s Supper Club

★ Avenue Club and The Bubble Up Bar

Food Cart

★ Banzo

★ El Grito Taqueria

★ Melted Craft Grilled Cheese

Fried Cheese Curds

★ The Old Fashioned

★ Craftsman Table & Tap


Greasy Spoon

★ Mickies Dairy Bar

★ Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

★ The Curve

Grocery Store

★ Metcalfe’s Market

★ Willy Street Co-op

★ Woodman’s Food Market

Ice Cream/Custard/Gelato

★ Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.

★ Babcock Hall Dairy Store

★ Michael’s Frozen Custard


★ Swagat Indian Restaurant

★ Himal Chuli Restaurant

★ Swad Indian Restaurant


★ Lombardino’s

★ Cento

★ Paisan’s



★ Sushi Muramoto

★ Tavernakaya


★ The Roman Candle Pizzeria

★ Hubbard Avenue Diner

★ Rocky Rococo


★ Sujeo

★ Sol’s on the Square

★ K-Peppers

Lake View

★ Memorial Union Terrace

★ Sardine

★ Paisan’s

Latin American

★ La Taguara

★ Fuegos – Steak–Tapas–Vegan

★ Crandall’s Peruvian Bistro

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern

★ Banzo

★ Parthenon Gyros

★ Kabul Restaurant


★ Eldorado Grill

★ Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace

★ Pasqual’s

New Restaurant

★ Everly

★ Miko Poke

★ Fuegos – Steak–Tapas–Vegan

Outdoor Dining

★ The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

★ Fresco

★ Sprecher’s Restaurant & Pub

Local Pastry Chef

★ Elizabeth Dahl, L’Etoile and Graze

★ Kristine Miller, Dough Baby Bakery*

★ Natalia Chehade, Tornado Steak House


★ Salvatore’s Tomato Pies

★ Glass Nickel Pizza

★ Ian’s Pizza


★ The Coopers Tavern

★ Cento

★ Liliana’s Restaurant

Restaurant Ambience

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro – Downtown

★ Cento

★ Fresco

Sandwich Spot

★ Milio’s Sandwiches

★ Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen

★ Casetta Kitchen and Counter


★ Sardine

★ Tempest Oyster Bar

★ Captain Bill’s Seafood Restaurant

Southeast Asian

★ Ha Long Bay

★ Sa-Bai Thong Thai Cuisine

★ Lao Laan-Xang

Specialty Food Store

★ Fromagination

★ Willy Street Co-op

★ Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen


★ Tornado Steak House

★ Rare Steakhouse

★ Delaney’s Steaks Seafood Wine

Supper Club

★ Tornado Steak House

★ Toby’s Supper Club

★ Smoky’s Club

Tapas Restaurant

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro

★ Estrellón

★ Fuegos – Steak–Tapas–Vegan


★ New Orleans Take-Out

★ Ha Long Bay

★ Sa-Bai Thong Thai Cuisine

Upscale Dining

★ L’Etoile

★ Harvest

★ Cento

Vegetarian/Vegan Focused

★ The Green Owl Cafe

★ Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

★ Everly


★ Wollersheim Winery & Wollersheim Distillery

★ Old Sugar Distillery

★ Lewis Station Winery

Wine & Spirits Store

★ Steve’s Wine | Beer | Spirits

★ Woodman’s Food Market

★ Barriques

*Dough Baby Bakery closed in October 2017.


We think Dorothy’s friends would have a great night out in Madison. The lion could let out a mighty roar at Le Tigre Lounge (voted best dive bar), while it’s safe to say the Tin Woodman–after having his joints oiled–might want to bust a move at High Noon Saloon (voted best live music venue) or Plan B (voted best dance venue). The yellow brick road leads to many great places in Madison–check out these 45 winners that readers decided were the best in the land.

Bar for Beer

★ The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

★ The Coopers Tavern

★ Brasserie V

Bar for Cocktails

★ Merchant

★ The Robin Room

★ Avenue Club and The Bubble Up Bar

Bar with a View

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro – Downtown

★ Sardine

★ The Boathouse

Bloody Mary

★ Cafe Hollander

★ Mickey’s Tavern

★ Short Stack Eatery


★ Clover Club, Merchant

★ Mimosa, DLUX

★ Margarita, Pedro’s Mexican Restaurante

Local Craft Beer

★ Spotted Cow, New Glarus Brewing Co.

★ Fantasy Factory, Karben4 Brewing

★ Commuter Kolsch, One Barrel Brewing Co.

Dance Venue

★ Plan B

★ Red Rock Saloon

★ FIVE Nightclub

Dive Bar

★ Le Tigre Lounge

★ The Plaza Tavern

★ The Caribou Tavern

Gay Bar

★ Plan B

★ Shamrock Bar & Grille

★ FIVE Nightclub

Hotel Bar

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro – Downtown (AC Marriott Hotel)

★ The Wise Restaurant & Bar (HotelRED)

★ Augie’s Tavern (The Edgewater)

Live Music Venue

★ High Noon Saloon

★ Memorial Union Terrace

★ Majestic Theatre

Neighborhood Bar

★ Tip Top Tavern

★ Harmony Bar & Grill

★ The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

Old Fashioned

★ The Old Fashioned

★ Avenue Club and The Bubble Up Bar

★ Dorf Haus Supper Club

Sports Bar

★ The Coopers Tavern

★ Babes Grill & Bar

★ Nitty Gritty

Wine Bar

★ Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro

★ toot + kate’s winebar

★ Cento

Arts & Entertainment

The Great and Terrible Oz was pretty good at putting on a show, but Madison’s entertainers and artists know a thing or two as well. This year we welcome back multiple genres under the “local band or singer” category, which paints a better picture of Madison’s music scene. These 81 winners help make Madison magical, whether it be through song, dance, art–or an Instagram account featuring feline friends (we’re looking at you, Cats of Madison).

Local Actor

★ James DeVita

★ James Ridge

★ Clare Arena Haden

Art Gallery

★ Chazen Museum of Art

★ Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

★ Hatch Art House

Local Band or Singer – Alt/Indie

★ The Lower 5th

★ Late Harvest

★ Nate Meng and The Stolen Sea

Local Band or Singer – Blues

★ The Jimmys

★ The Kelsey Miles Band

★ The People Brothers Band

Local Band or Singer – Country

★ Madison County

★ WheelHouse

★ 5th Gear

Local Band or Singer – Cover Band

★ Steely Dane

★ Madison County

★ 5th Gear

Local Band or Singer – Folk/Bluegrass

★ WheelHouse

★ The Soggy Prairie Boys

★ No Name String Band

Local Band or Singer – Hip Hop/R&B

★ The People Brothers Band

★ Rob Dz

★ Young Delta

Local Band or Singer – Jazz

★ Ben Sidran

★ Cliff Frederiksen

★ Ben Ferris Octet

Local Band or Singer – Latin

★ Tony Castañeda

★ Golpe Tierra

★ Samba Novistas

Local Band or Singer – Rock/Metal

★ Cherry Pie

★ Lords of the Trident

★ Beth Kille

Local Band or Singer – Singer/Songwriter

★ WheelHouse

★ The Jimmys

★ Beth Kille

Local Blog

★ Things I Made Today

★ Doug Moe’s Madison

★ Madison Moms Blog

Classical Music Group

★ Madison Symphony Orchestra

★ Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra

★ The Madison Choral Project

Columnist/Print Journalist

★ Doug Moe, Madison Magazine

★ John Nichols, The Capital Times

★ Neil Heinen, Madison Magazine

Comedy Group

★ Monkey Business Institute

★ Atlas Improv Co.

★ Sloshed Shakespeare

Local DJ

★ DJ Nick Nice

★ DJ Chamo

★ DJ Tim Walters


★ Madison Children’s Museum

★ Chazen Museum of Art

★ UW-Madison Geology Museum

Local News Website




Performance Venue

★ Overture Center for the Arts

★ High Noon Saloon

★ Bartell Theatre

Performing Arts Group

★ American Players Theatre

★ Madison Symphony Orchestra

★ Children’s Theater of Madison


★ ilana natasha photography

★ Laura Zastrow Photography

★ Maureen Cassidy Photography

Radio Team

★ Jonathan & Kitty, 105.5

★ Mel & Floyd, WORT 89.9

★ Jackson & Andi, Q106

Social Media Personality

★ Cats of Madison

★ Adam Sodersten, Clean Lakes Alliance

★ Amber Noggle

TV News Team

★ Christine Bellport & Charlie Shortino, NBC15*

★ Eric Franke & Charlotte Deleste, WISC-TV

★ Amber Noggle & Greg Jeschke, WKOW 27

TV Personality

★ Charlie Shortino, NBC15

★ Charlotte Deleste, WISC-TV

★ Amber Noggle, WKOW 27

Youth Performing Arts Group

★ Children’s Theater of Madison

★ Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra

★ Young Shakespeare Players

*Hannah Anderson joined Christine Bellport and Charlie Shortino on the NBC15 Morning Show team in August 2017.

Home & Lifestyle

Don’t have it all together like Glinda the Good Witch? Well, neither do we. But that’s where the 100 winners in the Home & Lifestyle section come in. These businesses seem to grant wishes for everything under the sun. Mounds Pet Food Warehouse (voted best pet supplies store) has dog food fit for Toto, while you’ll surely find the right slippers at The Shoe Box (voted best shoe store). And remember how quickly the Wicked Witch of the West melted? That’s how fast your stress may melt away after a massage at Kneaded Relief Day Spa & Wellness (voted best spa).


★ Binh’s Tailoring

★ Right Size Alteration Services

★ Altered States Alterations

Assisted Living/Retirement Community

★ Capitol Lakes

★ Oakwood Village

★ Hope & A Future

Auto Dealer

★ Zimbrick Inc.

★ Smart Motors Toyota

★ Wilde East Towne Honda

Auto Repair

★ Zimbrick Inc.

★ Aeschbach Automotive

★ Turn Two Auto Repair LLC

Barber Shop

★ The Barbershop, A Hair Salon for Men

★ Cha Cha Beauty & Barber

★ Dick & Arnie’s Barber Shop

Bed & Breakfast

★ Mansion Hill Inn

★ Speckled Hen Inn

★ The Livingston Inn

Body Shop

★ Zimbrick Inc.

★ Gates Collision Centers

★ Collision Masters of WI Inc.


★ A Room of One’s Own

★ Frugal Muse (tied for silver)

★ Mystery to Me (tied for silver)

★ University Book Store


★ One City Early Learning Centers

★ Kids Express Learning Center

★ Goodman Community Center

Cleaning Service

★ Primavera Cleaning Service

★ Clear Vision Cleaning LLC

★ Chem-Dry of Madison

Clothing (Men)

★ Duluth Trading Co.

★ Jazzman

★ St. Vincent de Paul Store

Clothing (Women)

★ Stori Anne Co.

★ Twigs

★ McFee on Main

Consignment Store

★ Happily Ever After Children’s Resale Boutique

★ The Next Generation

★ ReThreads

Dry Cleaner

★ Klinke Cleaners

★ Lake Mills Cleaners & Dryers Inc.

★ Best Cleaners


★ Felly’s Flowers

★ Sweet Pea Floral LLC

★ Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses

Furniture/Home Accessories

★ A1 Furniture & Mattress

★ The Century House

★ Willow Creek Home Decor

Gift Shop/Specialty Store

★ Orange Tree Imports

★ The Soap Opera

★ Burnie’s Rock Shop

Hair Salon

★ RZ & Company

★ ANiU Salon & Spa

★ Ecco Salon

Home Health Care Agency

★ SSM Health at Home

★ UW Health Home Health Agency

★ UnityPoint at Home


★ The Edgewater

★ HotelRED

★ AC Hotel by Marriott Madison Downtown


★ Chalmers Jewelers

★ Goodman’s Jewelers

★ TQ Diamonds

Lawn, Garden & Landscape

★ The Bruce Company

★ Klein’s Floral & Greenhouses

★ Olson Toon Landscaping Inc.

Moving Company

★ Gorilla Movers of Wisconsin LLC

★ Mad City Moving

★ Dairyland Movers and Storage LLC

Music Store

★ Strictly Discs

★ B-Side Records

★ MadCity Music Exchange

Musical Instrument Store

★ Ward-Brodt Music Co.

★ Heid Music

★ Farley’s House of Pianos

Nail Salon

★ Diamond Nails & Spa

★ En Avant Nail Studio

★ Polished Nail Studio

Pet Day Care, Boarding & Pampering

★ Camp K9 Pet Care Center

★ The Dog Den

★ Waggin’ Tails Doggie Dude Ranch and Pet Lodge

Pet Supplies Store

★ Mounds Pet Food Warehouse

★ MadCat Pet Supplies

★ bad dog frida

Shoe store

★ The Shoe Box

★ Morgan’s Shoes

★ (shoo)


★ Kneaded Relief Day Spa & Wellness

★ Bergamot Massage Therapy & Bodywork

★ Therapeutic Massage Center of Middleton

Specialty Spa

★ The Skin & Co.

★ Float Madison

★ Pure Waxing Studio

Tattoo Shop

★ Ultimate Arts Tattoo

★ Iron Quill Tattoo

★ Blue Lotus Tattoo & The Piercing Lounge


★ True Veterinary Care

★ Sondel Family Veterinary Clinic

★ Four Lakes Veterinary Clinic

Recreation & Fitness

The road to the Emerald City is a rather long one, but you’ll surely be prepared for the journey with Madison’s 36 Recreation & Fitness winners. Take a class with Amy Sanborn of MadPower Training Center (voted best personal trainer), or find your center at Dragonfly Hot Yoga (voted best yoga studio). Take your little (or big) dog to Badger Prairie Dog Park (voted best dog park), or get ready to take flight at a Flyght Indoor Cycling class (voted best alternative fitness center).

Alternative Fitness Center

★ Flyght Indoor Cycling

★ MadPower Training Center

★ CrossFit MadTown

Bike Shop

★ Machinery Row Bicycles

★ Budget Bicycle Center

★ The BikeMobile

Bowling Alley

★ Ten Pin Alley

★ Schwoegler’s Park Towne Lanes

★ Bowl-A-Vard Lanes

Dog Park

★ Badger Prairie Dog Park

★ Prairie Moraine County Park

★ Token Creek County Park

Fitness Center

★ The Princeton Club

★ Prairie Athletic Club

★ MadPower Training Center

Golf Course

★ Pleasant View Golf Course

★ Door Creek Golf Course

★ The Oaks Golf Course

Martial Arts Studio

★ Silver Lining Taekwon-Do

★ Kicks Unlimited

★ Wisconsin Martial Arts and Fitness Center


★ Olbrich Park

★ Pheasant Branch Conservancy

★ Tenney Park

Personal Trainer

★ Amy Sanborn, MadPower Training Center

★ Hans Schiefelbein, Pinnacle Health and Fitness

★ Poppy Niosi, Spirit & Fire Personal Training

Running/Biking Trail

★ University of Wisconsin-Madison Arboretum

★ Capital City State Trail

★ Pheasant Branch Conservancy

Sports & Recreation Shop

★ Rutabaga Paddlesports

★ Fontana Sports

★ Movin’ Shoes


★ Dragonfly Hot Yoga

★ Inner Fire Yoga

★ Kula Yoga & Wellness

Want to celebrate this year’s winners? Please do! #BestOfMadison2018

Best of Madison 2018

Best of Madison 2018