tourism and vegetarian food in Madison, WI
November 2, 2005 10:48 AM   Subscribe

We are visiting Madison, Wisconsin at the end of this month. What are the must-see places? Where can two vegetarians find good food?

This is a much needed and much overdue romantic vacation to get away from the jobs, phone and computers. We have a car so anything within a 2 hour radius is fair game. Primary interests include good vegetarian food, gardens, historic communities, and art museums. We also have an antipathy for crowded bars, pubs, clubs, and sporting events.
posted by KirkJobSluder to Travel & Transportation around Madison, WI (14 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The Mount Horeb Mustard Museum!
posted by ldenneau at 10:58 AM on November 2, 2005

I don't think there'll be much sailing or activity on the water right now, but I was very impressed with the UW student union terrace on the water. Nice restaurant (veggie? no clue.), and lots of beer, and a great view.. seemed to be a nice family-style social center.
posted by kcm at 11:01 AM on November 2, 2005

Although your antipathy might conflict, if you like beer, you have to check out The Great Dane. You have never had a fresher glass of beer.
Just park your car, and walk around by the capitol building and hang out on State st. You will find plenty to do.
If you are ok with a 1.5 hour drive, come on over to Milwaukee and check out the Calatrava addition to our art museum. It is incredible and the rest of the world does not know it exists.
posted by bradn at 11:04 AM on November 2, 2005

Response by poster: The bad news is, neither of us can drink beer, not by choice, but by medical necessity.
posted by KirkJobSluder at 11:07 AM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: Prior discussion.

Madison is a great place to live, not so much to visit -- pleasant but unassuming. It's just a big university/government town, after all. There's a couple of nice museums, a zoo, the lakes, the beautiful State Capitol. There's a lot of neat things to do in the city's vicinity, too, from Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesin, to the Wisconsin Dells (the natural area, not so much the touristy development nearby), Devils Lake, and so forth. It really depends what your interests are. There's some nice neighborhoods, for instance, and a couple of Wright-designed structures (Jacobs House, Unitarian Meeting House, and now Monona Terrace). It can be fun just riding around the hilly University of Wisconsin campus (bring a map). You could visit the Arboretum if the weather is still pretty good. The Henry Vilas Zoo is in a nice natural setting. There are lots of interesting hikes in the lakeside parks.

Veggie food is absolutely no problem -- it's a very granola city, especially downtown.
posted by dhartung at 11:37 AM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: Himal Chuli! On 318 State St. has amazing vegetarian Nepalese food, for reasonable prices. They also have good lassis.

The Memorial Union often has free concerts in the weekend, particularly in Der Rathskellar. While they serve beer, there's definitely nonalcoholic options. For cheap fun, get some popcorn and go outside by Lake Mendota and feed the ducks.
posted by spinifex23 at 12:05 PM on November 2, 2005

Shoutout to fellow Madtowners.

I'd once heard that Madison ranks at least in the top 10 of restaraunts-per-capita for the US. Restaraunt guides abound, but you're bound to find something you like by just walking down State Street.

My wife and kids are vegetarians, and we never have a lack of good eats in Madison.

For entertainment, you may enjoy the pastoral setting of seeing a play under the stars at The American Players Theater in Spring Green (about 20 minutes due west out of town). Just take the belt line around to Highway 14, and head west. My little college still takes the entire freshman class up there in the fall to enjoy a good classic.
posted by thanotopsis at 12:27 PM on November 2, 2005

Best answer: I lived in Madison for five years, and while I too would recommend the American Players Theater for people who are visiting in the summer, I wouldn't recommend it for people there at the end of November, as KJS will be. Even if they had plays then, which they don't.

Many seconds for the various recommendations above. I'd add the Chazen Museum of Art (which apparently acquired its new name only within the last 6 months; I knew it as the Elvehjem (pronounced like the letters L-V-M) Museum of Art when I was there). If you like art--or even if you're not thrilled about art, as long as you don't actively dislike it. I'm hardly an art aficianado, but I enjoyed the Elvehjem.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:56 PM on November 2, 2005

oh yeah... seconded on the himal chuli recommendation. i live in the SF bay area now and have never been able to find nepalese/himalayan food that's even similar, let alone as good.

they had opened a 2nd, slightly more upscale restaurant at some point (i was last there 8 years ago) and it was pretty good too.

there used to be an all vegetarian place called "savory thymes" but i'm not sure if its still there.
posted by joeblough at 2:18 PM on November 2, 2005

this is ms. kirkjobsluder :)

thanks for the recommendation and link for the nepalese restaurant... i love tibetan food (bloomington, indiana has a couple of tibetan restaurants) and also indian, and this sounds somewhere inbetween... yum!

i do drink beer sometimes, i'm just not supposed to. :p i'd definitely make an exception for a good microbrew.

art museums, frank lloyd wright stuff, and good food are the main things on my list. thanks for all the advices. :)
posted by neko at 3:10 PM on November 2, 2005

The Mustard Museum isn't really all that exciting, though you can buy exotic mustards there, if you're into that.

Dr. Evermor's is a definite must-see, though. Should be beautiful this time of year, too.

I miss Madison.
posted by interrobang at 3:29 PM on November 2, 2005

I'm not sure where this is in relation to Madison, but I've had The House on the Rock on my list of things to see for, like, forever.

On closer inspection, it's in Spring Green, which thanatopsis gave you directions to. Looks pretty close.
posted by ruby.aftermath at 4:27 PM on November 2, 2005

House on the Rock is sur-fucking-real...

As for restaurants on the high end, L'etoile is absolutely fantastic. The owner was buddy-buddy with Alice Waters back in the day and was local and seasonal when local and seasonal wasn't cool. It's traditional French cooking, so I'm unsure about vegetarian options. There is a bakery in capital square that used to share management and has since been sold and, on my lone visit, sucked.

Magnus is based on foods discovered when the owner (who also owns the Blue Marlin and other Madison restaurants) took a bicycle trip through South America. They have, at present, two vegetarian entrees on the menu on the website, if they look good to you, you'll enjoy the restaurant.

Harvest blew my mind the first time I ate there. Very simply and kind of Earthy dishes that were understated and--dare I say it?--sublime. The second time wasn't as good, either because I was expecting a second revelation or because the restaurant is inconsistent, I can't say. I've heard they're a little inconsistent, but if the lone vegetarian option on the menu looks good, I doubt you'll be disappointed.

The Farmer's Market on the weekends is tremendous. Buy cheese, it's Wisconsin.

Madison also has more than its fair share of incredibley talented musicians. I don't know why, but check the Isthmus to see if there's anything that catches your fancy.
posted by stet at 8:13 PM on November 2, 2005 [1 favorite]

See Also: - The collaborative blog for Madison...
posted by raster at 11:28 AM on November 3, 2005

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