Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Best of Madison: College student POV

Date spots, family dinners, bar life, music – we got you covered
Aidan McClain

When it comes to food and drink options, the city of Madison does not fall short. It’s about time UW students realized how amazing (and cheap) some of the restaurants are in this area, food trucks aside.

Best date spot: Merchant

Merchant is a chic cocktail bar behind the Capitol. Tucked away on South Pinckney Street, students often forget about this trendy, energetic spot. But needless to say, Merchant is the best date spot for those looking to impress their companion. For $60 on Tuesdays, Merchant guests can partake in their “Cheap Date Night”, which includes an appetizer and entrees for two, plus a bottle of wine. You won’t break the bank, but you’ll have a blast.


Best brunch: BelAir Cantina

Madison’s best brunch spot is hard to pin down given the ample amount of restaurants offering brunch, as well as the namesake Bassett Street Brunch Club. But BelAir’s selling point is their bottomless margaritas for $15. If you are looking to get plastered at 10am, BelAir is the place to be. With bottomless mimosas or margaritas for $15, it is the best deal. While bottomless requires the purchase of an entree, that is only to the customer’s benefit. With the choice of Mexican dishes like tacos or more traditional American delicacies like French toast, everyone leaves satisfied.

Best place to take your parents: Heritage Tavern

Owner and Executive Chef Dan Fox takes farm-to-table up a notch with his upscale restaurant Heritage Tavern, located right off of Capital Square on East Mifflin Street. The name ‘Heritage’ has a unique and unexpected origin. In 2011, Fox founded FOX HERITAGE FARMS, where he raises heritage breeds of pigs including Hampshire-Yorkshire, Mangalicas, Swabian Hall, Red Wattle and Tamworth-Hereford. Heritage appeals to parents’ more sophisticated palettes with their more experimental menu. Try their deviled eggs or their pork belly and tuna—your taste buds will thank us later!

Best place to take your grandparents: Tornado Steakhouse

Want to travel back in time? Tornado Steakhouse is just the place to take your grandparents for that old school steakhouse feel. With dark decor, dim lights, a jukebox, lots of leather and exposed wood, this restaurant is a one-of-a-kind Madison staple. Needless to say, it will make your grandparents feel right at home considering the older crowd that hangs out at Tornado Steakhouse.

P.S. Tornado has a late night menu! From 10:01 p.m. until midnight, they offer amazing deals. You can get a 8oz Sirloin steak for a whopping $14… talk about a deal!

Best deal: Taggs

Full name MacTaggart’s Market, dubbed ‘Taggs,’ this Langdon landmark is every frat boy’s staple stop for Natty Light racks. Their breakfast sandwiches are a perfect hangover cure if you manage to wake up early enough, but their regular deli made sandwiches are available into the wee hours of the night. Not only is it a one-stop shopping destination, but they even offer free popcorn while you peruse! Taggs wins best deal because of their “Word of the Day.” If customers add them on Snapchat and mention the word of the day at check out, they are eligible for a free Arizona Iced Tea, free fountain drink or free coffee.

Best bar food: State Street Brats

Brats lives up to its name. Their brats are simply better than the rest. There is nothing quite like pounding a bratwurst and a beer on the patio on a beautiful mid-fall day. Their cheese curds are always fresh and the pretzel bites are a savory appetizer to pair with a nice Bloody Mary. It is a quintessential Madison spot and a great place to spend game days, both inside or outside. 

Best hole in the wall: Plaza Tavern

Plaza Tavern, located on North Henry Street is the spot to be on Thursdays for $3.50 Long Islands. With bar games ranging from pool, to darts, to hockey foosball, to pinball machines, it offers a laid-back option for those of us not as into Madison bar life. Keep in mind, Plaza operates as a cash only bar. Plaza is one of the oldest bars in Madison. Famous for their Plaza Sauce, which was invented back in 1964, they’ve sold some two million burgers since.

Best Friday After Class : Danny’s Pub

Shocker – Danny’s has the best deals when it comes to a little Friday After Class indulgences. One dollar shots and $1 rails are a sure fire way to let off some steam from the hard school week. Lucky bar-goers may experience a energetic DJ if they travel up to the second floor of Danny’s.

Best happy hour: Canteen

Canteen rings in as the best happy hour for college kids on a budget who also want a good margarita. From 2 to 5 p.m. and from 9 p.m. until close, Canteen offers double happy hours deals every day, so you don’t have to be an early bird to get this worm. This means half off signature margaritas, beers, wine AND tacos.

Best late night: Paul’s Pel’Meni 

Russian dumplings? Say less. Paul’s convenient location right off of State St is a vibe at all times of day. Get a half or full order of the beef or potato dumplings and be sure to include the dipping sauces on the side. They’re open until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays and the Bria from TikTok also shouted them out recently — that’s when you know.

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