City Life

Best of Madison 2018

We're off to see the winners of BOM!

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

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 Café
Candinas Chocolatier

Coffee Roaster
Just Coffee Cooperative
True Coffee Roasters

Coffee Shop
Colectivo Coffee
Fair Trade Coffee House

Cup of Tea
Macha Tea Co.
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
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


Sushi Muramoto

The Roman Candle Pizzeria
Hubbard Avenue Diner
Rocky Rococo

Sol’s on the Square

Lake View
Memorial Union Terrace

Latin American
La Taguara
Fuegos - Steak•Tapas•Vegan
Crandall’s Peruvian Bistro

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern
Parthenon Gyros
Kabul Restaurant

Eldorado Grill
Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace

New Restaurant
Miko Poke
Fuegos - Steak•Tapas•Vegan

Outdoor Dining
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.
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
Liliana’s Restaurant

Restaurant Ambience
Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro - Downtown

Sandwich Spot
Milio’s Sandwiches
Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen
Casetta Kitchen and Counter

Tempest Oyster Bar
Captain Bill’s Seafood Restaurant

Southeast Asian
Ha Long Bay 
Sa-Bai Thong Thai Cuisine
Lao Laan-Xang 

Specialty Food Store
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
Fuegos - Steak•Tapas•Vegan

New Orleans Take-Out
Ha Long Bay 
Sa-Bai Thong Thai Cuisine

Upscale Dining

Vegetarian/Vegan Focused
The Green Owl Café
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

Wollersheim Winery & Wollersheim Distillery
Old Sugar Distillery
Lewis Station Winery

Wine & Spirits Store
Steve’s Wine | Beer | Spirits
Woodman’s Food Market

*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
The Robin Room
Avenue Club and The Bubble Up Bar

Bar with a View
Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro - Downtown
The Boathouse

Bloody Mary
Café 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

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
5th Gear

Local Band or Singer – Cover Band
Steely Dane
Madison County
5th Gear

Local Band or Singer – Folk/Bluegrass
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
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.
St. Vincent de Paul Store

Clothing (Women)
Stori Anne Co.
McFee on Main

Consignment Store
Happily Ever After Children’s Resale Boutique
The Next Generation

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 Décor

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
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

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

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