Capitol Cuisine

A day-trip-worthy Madison eating itinerary

Only 150 miles to the northwest, Madison is an epicenter of our region's farm-to-table movement. An obvious stop is the farmers' market (the Midwest's largest producer-only market, now in indoor winter mode). Start there, with a loaf of hot and spicy cheese bread from Stella's to fortify your further adventures.

Fill Up Just off Capitol Square, the bustling Marigold Kitchen has been a Madison breakfast-brunch-lunch staple for nearly a decade. It's the place to go for quick pancakes or local eggs. For a slower meal (and a beautiful view of the lake) try Marigold's lovely, three-year-old sister restaurant, Sardine. Have a warm salad of pulled duck confit, green beans and a poached egg ($10), or the smoked-salmon sandwich with arugula, radishes and capers ($11) from the savory-slanted brunch menu. Or, sit at the marble bar (pictured) and order oysters or mussels with frites ($9).

Stock Up There's local cheese at the farmers' market, but the biggest selection is at Fromagination. Pick up some Roth Käse Grand Cru Gruyère, seasonal beer from nearby New Glarus Brewing Co., and a Nueske's ham sandwich ($7.50).

Drink Up For a well-crafted afternoon cocktail on the square, try The Old Fashioned, which offers five versions of their namesake cocktail. Serious connoisseurs head to Maduro Cigar Bar, which has an extensive menu of spirits, cocktails, sherries and cordials, plus 18 beers from Michigan's Bell's Brewery on tap.