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If you're visiting Madison to watch or participate in the 2019 Reebok CrossFit Games, finding healthy food options away from home might seem like a challenge— especially if your diet is vegan, gluten free, vegetarian, paleo or keto.
But we've done the heavy lifting for you. Well, at least in terms of compiling some of the best food and drink options in Madison for health-conscious eaters.
Many restaurants around Madison are offering CrossFit-specific menus for anyone to enjoy. Check out the menus only offered for a limited time from 21 restaurants by clicking the link above.
Other than the special CrossFit menus, we broke it down from dawn to dusk, finding you the best adaptable menus from your first sip of coffee to the last bite of a gluten-free dessert. These spots are local favorites of carnivores and herbivores alike, and we think you'll like them, too. We know that the path to becoming the "Fittest on Earth" isn't just about mastering safe, whole-body exercise. CrossFit is a lifestyle, according to the CrossFit website, and that lifestyle extends outside of the gym and includes good nutrition — even when you're traveling.
The Games go from July 29 to Aug. 4, so we made sure to include a variety of restaurants, bakeries, cafes and bars for each mealtime to sustain your cravings throughout your time in Madison.
But first, coffee
Don't be groggy for the Games — head to Regent Street for a rich latte, bold espresso or earthy drip coffee at Indie Coffee, which offers an artsy, intimate setting. Lactose intolerant? Indie Coffee offers non-dairy and organic options for all its crafted drinks. You can choose from almond or soy milk, or sip an organic loose-leaf tea. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
If people-watching is your thing, Grace Coffee Co.'s big bay windows look out over the State Street bustle where you might spot a CrossFit athlete or two strolling by. This chic and trendy Seattle-inspired coffee house offers non-dairy options for all steamed drinks. You can choose from soy, almond, oat or coconut milk. If you really need a pick-me-up, try one of Grace Coffee's espressos, sourced from Portland's Heart Coffee Roasters. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
Also on State Street is Sunroom Cafe, where you can take your cup of joe to go, or grab a window seat overlooking the 600 block of State Street. While the cafe is best known for its savory roasted breakfast potatoes, it also offers great coffee. Grab a velvety latte made with soy or almond milk before heading to the Games. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 12-minute drive
Looking for a small bite with your brew to tide you over until breakfast? Try a flaky pastry with your dairy free latte at Mother Fools Coffeehouse on Williamson Street, where all pastries are vegan and most patrons are artists of some sort. Or, choose from a citrus run raisin, molasses or chocolate orange gluten free vegan cookie. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
The two closest coffee shops to the Alliant Energy Center are Lakeside St. Coffee House and Cargo Coffee. Both offer many vegetarian and a few vegan menu items. Enjoy breakfast sandwiches, salads and snack plates at Lakeside while taking in a gorgeous view of Monona Bay. Lakeside also offers beer and wine and is open until 8 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Cargo offers smoothies and wraps that are good on the go. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: Lakeside St. Coffee House: 6-minute drive, 21-minute walk; Cargo Coffee: 7-minute drive, 25-minute walk
The most important meal of the day
The folks at Short Stack Eatery have your breakfast cravings covered. Look for the corner diner with pride flags, human rights posters and sometimes a line out the door on State Street. This place serves breakfast all day and all night from Wednesday at 6 a.m. to Sunday at 9 p.m. featuring fresh, simple and local ingredients. The menu offers vegetarian, vegan and gluten-free options and many dishes can be altered to meet your dietary needs. If you're concerned, check out this comprehensive Allergen Menu which tells you exactly how your meal is prepared, including risks of cross-contamination. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 9-minute drive
Bloom Bake Shop is one of Madison's most gluten-free and vegan-friendly bakeries in Madison. This bakery and cafe on Monroe Street offers a selection of handmade, small-batch pastries, donuts, loafs and scrambles. Try the gluten-free and vegan raspberry rose tart, with raspberry rose preserves baked into a house-made pastry dough. Or go for something nutty and order the cherry almond loaf. Similar to a coffee cake, the loaf has cherries and cinnamon folded into the batter, and is topped with an almond crumble and glaze. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 13-minute drive
Breakfast is served all day, every day at Monty's Blue Plate Diner on Atwood Avenue. Vegetarian? Try the savory potato zucchini pancakes, served with sour cream and cranberry sauce. Vegan? Order the tofu scrambler with mushrooms, onions, spinach and celery, dusted with turmeric and cumin. Monty's has something for everyone with a diverse menu that will keep you full and focused. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 14-minute drive
If you're staying near the airport on the east side, Lazy Jane's Cafe is the perfect cozy breakfast venue located on Williamson Street. Kick back on a big couch on one of two floors and indulge in a fluffy scone or Madison-famous morning bun. Or, choose from a selection of vegetarian and vegan options as well, like a seitan hash. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 12-minute drive
Clear your mind and calm your nerves before the Games at Yola's Cafe on Commerce Drive. This homey spot was named after Grandma Yola, who was always inviting people into her home and baking them delicious meals. The cafe donates $1 from each purchase of the monthly "Donation Waffle Creation" to a charity. July's waffle is the Mega-Berry, benefiting the Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County. Try the vegetarian and gluten-free veggie frittata, served with mixed greens or breakfast potatoes, or pick out a baked good from Yola's selection of gluten-free and vegan bakery items. The baked oatmeal is a cafe favorite and a vegetarian option to fuel up on carbs before the day's competitions. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 15-minute drive
A midday power up
It's the middle of the day and you're looking to refuel before heading back to the competitions. Madison has a variety of lunch bistros, cafes and restaurants suited to cater to your nutritional needs. At the Good Food Low Carb Cafe, things are just how they sound. If you're gluten free, order a hot zoodle bowl, made with spiraled zucchini instead of noodles. Any one of Good Food's wraps can be made into a salad, served with gluten-free dressing and no added sugars. Every menu item lists the amount of net carbs in the dish — a keto dieter's dream! Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 16-minute drive
Treat yourself to a relaxing yoga session at Perennial Yoga studios before grabbing lunch at Surya Cafe on East Cheryl Parkway. The cafe is located inside the yoga studio and serves plant-based meals using locally sourced ingredients. You can still get a taste of Madison's cheese culture (with a twist) if you're vegan or dairy-free with the vegan cheese board. The board comes stacked with cashew, cranberry and walnut vegan cheese and accompanied by sliced organic apple, almond chevre, olive tapenade and more. Dig into a sunflower beet burger on a gluten-free bun, or try the Havana, a savory Cuban-spiced jackfruit sandwich with cashew cheese, shiitake bacon, Dijon mustard, pickled red onions and greens. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 17-minute drive
"The vegetarian cuisine for people who love food" is the Green Owl Cafe's elevator pitch. It's actually Madison's only restaurant that serves a full menu of only vegetarian and vegan dishes. The restaurant on Atwood Avenue is open every day but Mondays. Try the Madison Philly, made with thinly sliced, beefy seitan on a toasted roll topped with melted cheese, sauteed peppers and onions. The sandwich can be made vegan without the cheese. Green Owl's goal is to prove meat-free food can still be delicious. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 14-minute drive
If you can't bare to leave the Games for a second, Fit Fresh is the right lunch option for you. Fit Fresh delivers your healthy midday meal straight to the Alliant Energy Center, or wherever you happen to be when hunger strikes. Each menu item is detailed with the grams of calories, protein, carbs, fiber and fat it contains, making it easy for you to track your macros. The tofu poke bowl can be prepared vegetarian, vegan and gluten free with 123 calories, 13 grams of protein, 4 carbs (with 2 grams of fiber) and 7 grams of fat. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 15-minute drive
Downtown? Check. DIY bowls? Check. Kombucha? Check. Forage Kitchen is a chic, health conscious restaurant right on the corner of State and Lake. You can choose from nine signature salads and bowls, or you can build your own. With ingredients like organic quinoa, organic tempeh, lentils, poblano slaw and avocado, it's hard to go wrong. Wash it down with any of Forage's hand-crafted cold-pressed juices. Try the Lean Mean and Green juice made with cucumber, kale, apple and lemon. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 11-minute drive to State Street location, 15-minute drive to Hilldale Shopping Center location
Liliana's is where New Orleans meets fine dining — with so many dietary modifications available. Start with the vegetarian smoked tofu wings, dipped in Spotted Cow batter and tossed in Buffalo sauce. If you don't try these wings, at least treat yourself to a Spotted Cow brew before leaving Wisconsin. (Remember, Spotted Cow only distributes in the great state of Wisconsin.) The lunch special gets you a housemade cornbread with jalapeño butter, tomato bisque (or file gumbo for $1 more), any 1/2 sandwich or 1/2 salad and housemade sweet potato chips for $10. Nearly all sandwiches can be modified to suit a gluten-free diet, and the vegetarian muffaletta can be served vegan. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
Maybe the competition to find the Fittest on Earth has you craving something a little more exotic. Order some fried tofu at Bandung Indonesian Restaurant on Williamson Street — the Tahu Goreng starter comes topped with green onion, diced tomato, Indonesian sweet soy sauce and a side of spicy sambal sauce. Then move onto a main dish. Choose from house favorites, or peruse the vegetarian-dedicated menu where there's a variety of curry and tempeh dishes to keep you full and ready to get back to the Games. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
Dine Wisconsin style
You've finished cheering on your favorite contestants, or maybe competed against your biggest rivals, and you need food now. Visit Pizza Brutta on Monroe Street where any pizza can be made with a gluten-free crust, and the mozzarella cheese is made fresh in-house daily. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 12-minute drive to Monroe Street location, 18-minute drive to Middleton location
Try the tapas at Fuegos - Steak, Tapas, Vegan, "where carnivores and vegans graze together." Chef Oscar Villarreal uses Latin inspiration across his menus, both vegan and carnivorous. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
Maybe you didn't get your personal best time and you're in need of some comfort food. Weary Traveler Freehouse has your back with a laid back vibe and homemade food. Weary's Tom Ka Tofu stew is vegan and gluten free. The carnivores might go for Bob's Bad Breath Burger, which is a hefty half-pound of pasture-raised Wisconsin beef, smothered in cream cheese, Green Goddess dressing, caramelized onions, garlic, tomatoes and Pickapeppa sauce. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
Celebrate a win at Graze, with locally famous chef Tory Miller who is equally adventurous and classic in his menu offerings. You'll feel good knowing his ingredients come from locally sourced farms and pastures. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 12-minute drive
Grab a cold one and a healthy entree at Alchemy on Atwood Avenue. Sip like a Wisconsinite on a variety of Wisconsin brews from Capital Brewery, New Glarus Brewing Co. and Milwaukee Brewing Co. Vegans can indulge in any of Alchemy's burgers or sandwiches by substituting meat for a tofu walnut burger from Nature's Bakery at no extra charge. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 16-minute drive
For a Best of Madison favorite, try the traditional Venezuelan and Latin American cuisine at La Taguara, where there's plenty of dairy-free, gluten-free and vegetarian options. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 20-minute drive
With an entire gluten-sensitive menu, ninth floor lakefront views, flatbreads and bruschetta, what's not to love about Eno Vino Downtown? The wine bar and bistro is currently offering a "Merienda Hour," with $1 off handcrafted cocktails, $2 off all wines by the glass and $3 off bruchettas, merienda and flatbreads. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 12-minute drive
If the weather is nice, head to Everly and enjoy the outdoor seating area, which is the only full-service patio area in the Monroe Street neighborhood. Vegans will enjoy the butternut squash and forbidden rice curry, while meat eaters might choose the grouper Reuben. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 11-minute drive
Don't let the six-sided menu overwhelm you at Haldi Masala. The South Indian restaurant serves "veg" and "non-veg" apps and entrees, as well as regional specials and a section for "Indo Chinese." Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 13-minute drive
Take your tastebuds north to the Nepali-inspired Dobhan Kitchen, where locally-sourced ingredients combine to create worldly entrees. There is a selection of vegetarian dishes made with tofu, beans and seitan. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 14-minute drive
Indulge with rich desserts
Swimming across Lake Mendota earns you at least one guilt-free dessert. So does watching people swim across Lake Mendota, we think. Madison has two prime locations for lovers of gluten-free and vegan chocolate. The first is The Melting Pot, which offers a vegan chocolate fondue served with fresh strawberries, bananas, pineapple, blackberries and raspberries. It's hard not to dive right in. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 13-minute drive
Next up is Madison Chocolate Co., which serves fresh, handmade chocolates from a storefront location on Glenway Street, right off of Monroe Street. Stop in after dinner on Friday or Saturday when the chocolate shop is open until 9 p.m. Enjoy a gluten-free item from owner Megan Hile's bakery or choose from a variety of gluten-free chocolates and truffles. Distance from Alliant Energy Center: 10-minute drive
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