madison

travel blog: madison, wisconsin

I decided that Sir Dave and I were due for a weekend away to relax, eat out and do some exploring. I have had several pals tell me that Madison is a super adorable place to visit with lots to do (and plenty of fried cheese curds to eat), so off we went!

We stayed at Hotel Red, which is a really lovely boutique-y hotel with cool decor, and a great restaurant + bar in the lobby. The rooms were really modern in design and we had a lovely balcony I enjoyed some coffee on every morning – highly reco this place!

For dinner the first night we decided to go to Graze. We were starving after the drive, so we ordered and inhaled the fried cheese curds, which were some of the best we’d ever had – they had a vodka batter and were served with ranch. Whoa baby.

Sir Dave went big and ordered the Graze burger, which is a burger made of ground short ribs, sirloin and bacon and topped with caramelized onion-cabernet jus, Swiss cheese and compound butter on brioche. WHAT?! It was unlike anything I’d ever tasted, and since Dave devoured every last bite, I’m pretty sure he dug it too.

I had the pork tenderloin with sweet corn grits, collard greens, shishito peppers, pickled shallots and bourbon jus. YUM. I have a feeling some of you might be thinking, THAT IS TOO PINK, but honestly you can eat pork that isn’t dried up into a tough grey hockey puck. ๐Ÿ™‚ It was delicious.

After this heavy meal and the drive (in the pouring rain, woof!) we headed back to the hotel and got a good night’s sleep so we were ready for the next jam-packed day.

Saturday morning we headed to a pumpkin patch, Enchanted Valley Acres. It was a sprawling farm with incredibly friendly staff and fantastic pumpkins.

After buying about 20 pumpkins, we headed back into the city to grab an espresso and a sweet treat. We headed to Williamson Street – a super cool shopping district – thanks to a recommendation from my friend Melle. We stopped into Madison Sourdough and had a fantastic dark chocolate eclair.

Our final big foodie-to-do on this trip was to head to Tornado Steakhouse for dinner. If you’re heading to Madison and dig meat – this is a MUST. It has such a cool old-school vibe, with top-notch service and one of the best steaks I’ve ever had.

They bring a cup filled with ice and veggies to the table. I have no idea what you call this type of thing, but I dug it, and we ate it all!

When I’m at a steakhouse, I order an extra dirty martini, yum.

We also ordered the shrimp cocktail which was perfection.

The star of the show was of course the steak. I had the filet, which was perfectly cooked and came topped with a giant onion ring, which is how I shall request all of my steaks from now on.

Honestly, we’ll be visiting Tornado steak house anytime we’re in Madison – it was that good.

After dinner we went to Genna’s Lounge, a cool bar right around the corner that played great music and had lots of friendly locals.

And that’s a wrap for our whirlwind weekend in lovely Madison! It’s a great weekend getaway from Chicago, and there’s so much more I’d love to see, do and EAT, so we’ll definitely be heading back. I’m already craving that steak again…

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8 replies »

  1. Isn’t Madison a neat city? We lived in the La Crosse area for about 16 years, until we moved to Colorado in July of 2016. You’ve made me want to check these restaurants out now! You guys should totally go to La Crosse for a getaway too. Lots of great restaurants and bars. I have lots of recommendations!

  2. Madison is a fun getaway! Hotel Red is cool and although Iโ€™ve never eaten at Graze, the owner/chefโ€™s other restaurant is next door and amazing, so Graze is definitely on my list (especially after seeing that burger). My husband wants to check out Tornado, and after seeing your pics we will have to go. Summer is great for a visit to Madison, the farmers market at the capital is worth the trip!

  3. Great post! Some of these pictures are familiar to me from Instagram. Every time I hear this place, I cannot help but think of The Young & The Restless, those Genoa City folks go there from time to time. (Yes, I watch #sorrynotsorry)

  4. I love everything about your post, but now I am simply starving after scrolling through your photos. I’m glad you took the photo of the art over the bed–seeing On Wisconsin presented visually and sonically is super cool!

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