Madison, Wisconsin has been exhalted as a ‘dining mecca’, boasting over 200 restaurants within the city limits with more opportunities and experiences in the surrounding suburbs. During the typical Wisconsin summer, locals and visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor dining options that may offer spectacular views of the city, a robust nightlife, and plenty of areas to relax and wind down for lunch or dinner. Outdoor dining is a great opportunity to experience extended menus, unique offerings, and a pleasant and memorable atmosphere. Here are the top five outdoor dining hotspots in Madison, Wisconsin:
227 State St, Madison, WI 53703
( 608) 663-7374
Fresco’s stylish decor and exceptional menu will lure you to Madison’s newest addition to the outdoor rooftop area of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. The new restaurant opened by Food Fight, Inc. features a distinctive and refined starter and entrÃ?Â©e menu, that brings American and European fusion to a whole new leve. Inspired by the Overture center’s soaring architecture and contemporary setting, Fresco has captured a modern version of the Roaring Twenties in this high profile city setting.
Enjoy the Shrimp Diablo as a starter accented with garlic chili lime and a colorful jicama orange salad. The fresh shrimp and citrus infusion are an excellent way to start a meal or accompany an evening of drinks. The Artichoke Salad features a well-balanced assortment of fresh asparagus, peas, feta and feta cheese drizzled with a red wine mustard vinaigrette. Best picks for entrÃ?Â©e selections include halibut, pork tenderloin, escolar, and gnocchi. The Black Trumpet Crusted Halibut features a nicely sized piece of fish, encrusted with peppery seasonings, and finished with a red wine demi-glaze. The green scallion risotto is a fine accompaniment. The Colorado Rack of Lamb offers a succulent delight, served with roasted potatoes, lamb au jus, and finished with a sauce verde. The Grilled Escolar sits atop a seasoned blend of canelli beans and spring vegetables; the fish is a freshly cut extravagance and sure to please a variety of tastes. The Ricotta Gnocchi is a surprising addition to the entrÃ?Â©e menu, and offers a fine pasta sautÃ?Â©ed with shiitake mushrooms and seasonal vegetables. The simple but fitting brown butter sauce completes this dish.
Fresco offers one of Madison’s finest and newest dining experiences, with a seasonal menu offering local and changing varieties throughout the year. Seating outdoors is a great opportunity to enjoy Madison’s downtown culture, and the view of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art is one of a kind.
6405 Mineral Point Road
Otto’s is located in mone of Madison’s historic buildings, offering Mediterranean inspired fare within an 1870s stone farmouse. The outdoor deck offers diners a night of live jazz performances in a canopy-covered setting. Jazz performances include the work of Gerri DiMaggio and various local groups that draw the crowds. Whether its classic house specialties, steaks, or fabulous seafood starters, Otto’s offers a fine sampling of food from around the world.
For starters the Moroccan Crab Cakes will excite your tastebuds with flaked snow crab, hazelnuts, almonds, and spicy curry powder; the dish is served with a tomato ginger jam and caper aioli. The Broiled Mushroom Caps are also a must-try, stuffed with a variety of cheese includeing feta n dparmeson, and topped with seasoned bread crumbs. The house specialties ofer a Grilled Salmon in Grape Leaves, with a large piece of fresh salmon toped with toasted pine nuts and finished with a lemon-currant vinaigrette. This dish is served with roasted Yukon gold potatoes and sautÃ?Â©ed spinach. The Grilled Lamb Chops are a fabulous dish with a pomegranate and natural juice reduction; the dish is served with scalloped potatoes, haritcots verts, and golden beets.
Otto’s offers a fine drink and wine menu along with a lunch and dinner menu year round. The outdoor experience at Otto’s will find you with frequent jazz performances in a lively and relaxed atmosphere!
Edgewater Hotel’s CafÃ?Â© on the Pier
666 Wisconsin Avenue, Madison, Wisconsin 53703 – 608Ã¢Â?Â¢256Ã¢Â?Â¢9071
This upscale extension of the Edgewater Hotel overlooks the Madison’s famous Lake Mendota with soaring glass windows lining the Admiralty Room year round. The formal dining menu offers a breakfast, lunch, and dinners with a famous brunch on weekends. Outdoor seating is available during the summer months, offering the experience of CafÃ?Â© on the Pier. Free indoor parking is available for all pier guests, and the Pier opens each year on April 15 through Labor Day weekend.
Enjoy a large variety of dishes from the appetizer, lunch, dinner, and cocktail menus. The Shrimp Louie is a popular starter, offering fresh marinated shrimp dressed with the famous ‘Louie’ sauce and served with dilled lettuce. The Grilled Acapulco Chicken Salad is a fine lunch choice offering mescaline greens, corn, beans, tortilla chips, and grilled chicken tossed in a zesty lime cilantro dressing. Nothing beats a lunch in Wisconsin than a fresh fish sandwich; the Battered Fried Icelandic Codfish is top sandwich choice dressed with a homemade Sauce Remoulade. The CafÃ?Â© on the Pier also offers a weekly Friday Night Fish Fry, as well as a popular Thursday Nacho Night offering taco chips, refried beans, pulled pork, and Manchego cheese.
Whatever your tastes may be during the summertime, the Edgewater Hotel offers two unique experiences: the Admiralty Room is a great option for both indoor dining with beautiful views of the lake, while outdoor seating is offered at the CafÃ?Â© on the Pier.
21 N. Pinckney St.
Madison, WI, 53703
Harvest is located on Madison’s Capitol Square, and offers local and organic ingredients with an emphasis on French-American inspired cuisine. The popular restaurant draws both lunch and dinner crowds, and the upscale menu offers diners an abundance of fine tastes.
A Seasonal Caviar Course is offered as a first course; this assortment features a sweet pea bacon powder and crÃ?Â¨me fraiche, lemon with chocolate panna cotta, and rhubarb with almond tuile. The Dungeness Crab and Spring Floral Salad is a hit, served with a watercress gelee. Main course dishes include fresh fish, organically grown fruit and vegetable accompaniments, and premium cut steaks. The Roasted Breast of Pheasant is served with rutabaga, prune and pheasant sausage cannellonis, and pheasant jus. Or, enjoy the Lam Loin served with Lamb Jus, fiddlehead ferns, carrots, and nasturtium greens.
Harvest’s outdoor dining experience is enjoyable, and offered during the seasonal months; the bustle of downtown is balanced well with the exquisite and unique and upscale outdoor setting.
Casa de Lara
3040 Cahill Main
For authentic Mexican-American fun and fare, visit the Casa de Lara in Madison. The original spot on State Street offered an extensive menu of sizzling fajitas, homemade burritos and enchiladas, and various classic cocktails. The second location in Fitchburg, Wisconsin offers an expanded menu and a great outdoor dining and party area. Here you’ll find a complete deck outfitted for large groups and parties, and food served late into the night. The menu offerings include breakfast, lunch, dinner, appetizers, and desserts, and group menus are available up on request.
For appetizers, your best bets might be the Shrimp-Ceviche cocktail. This homemade dish offers raw shrimp, onions, and tomatoes marinated in a fresh citrus juice dressing, and finished with cilantro. The Chilaquiles are a tasty medley of fried corn tortilla strips topped with verde hot sauce and melted cheese. These are served skillet-style and make for a great light lunch. EntrÃ?Â©e picks include the ole Enchiladas, topped with an onion, garlic, and dried chili sauce mied with ground pumpkin, sesame seeds, and Mexican chocolate; this dish is truly made in the classic Mole style and is offered in chicken or cheese. The house dish named Torta, is a unique dish of a Bolillo Roll (a Mexican style bread) stuffed with fresh avocado, lettuce, tomatoes, Chipotle sauce, and sour cream. Your choice of meat completes the dish. Try the Plato Caribeno for a fresh dish with Mexican-Caribbean appeal; a marinated grilled chicken breast is topped with a tangy mango pineapple sauce, and served with vegetables and tortillas.
Casa de Lara offers a wide variety of dishes year round, but there is nothing like the experience of delicious appetizers and a classic Margarita on the deck! Enjoy a summer dining experience at the Casa de Lara, and you won’t be disappointed.