Memorial Union Terrace- Located at the university overlooking Lake Mendota, this is a place where a large mix of people hang out to grab a bite to eat, watch sailing and just people watch. Free concerts and movies occur quite commonly. http://www.union.wisc.edu/terrace/
The Terrace is a Madison icon. There are colored metal "union chairs"--your parents need a picture together on these. It's a Madison thing. The Terrace overlooks Lake Mendota, where they would be in the company of a real mix of people (young, old, college students, alumni) and could watch the sailing, etc http://www.union.wisc.edu/
Sophia's Bakery - Everything is good here- save room for their pastries (especially cakes) or go just for their pastries. We love this place! www.yelp.com/biz/sophias-bakery-and-cafe-madison. Located on Johnson Street on the east side of town. Only open on the weekends unfortunately.
Marigolds Kitchen - Located downtown.www.marigoldkitchen.com. Yummy potatoes!
Monty's Blue Plate Diner - Located on Atwood Avenue.www.montysblueplatediner.com.
Lazy Jane's Bakery and Cafe - http://www.yelp.com/biz/lazy-janes-cafe-and-bakery-madison Located on Williamson Street. Yummy scones, homey place with play area upstairs- great place for kids.
Cafe Soleil - amazing soups, salads and sandwiches and local ingredients. Right by the capital under L'Etoile! www.letoile-restaurant.com/cafemenu.html. Highly recommended!
Marigolds Kitchen - see above
Himal Chuli- Himalayan/Nepalese food located on State Street. http://www.yelp.com/biz/himal-chuli-restaurant-madison
Ian's Pizza- Try the macroni and cheese pizza! Located on State Street . http://www.ianspizza.com/
Mediterrean Cafe- Good cheap Greek food. http://www.yelp.com/biz/mediterranean-cafe-madison
Coopers Tavern- Awesome beer selection and good sandwiches, located right by the square. http://www.thecooperstavern.com/
L'etoile - French fine dining. Definitely rated as one of the best restaurant in town- the food is really delicious, but pricey. Reservations recommended. www.letoile-restaurant.com
The Old Fashioned - The best of traditional Wisconsin food- you can find the staples here- beer, brats, and cheese! www.theoldfasioned.com
Monty's Blue Plate Diner- See above. Fun diner food and great vegetarian options. We love this place! www.montysblueplatediner.com.
Takumi- Great Japanese food located only a few minutes away from the hotels. Steph had the best Chirashi Sushi she's ever had here. http://www.takumirestaurant.net/
Sardine - Yummy bistro with a good bar and great atmosphere. A bit on the pricey side. www.sardinemadisoin.com/about.php
Avenue Bar - The best fish fry (fish and chips) in Madison. Reservations highly recommended if you don't want to wait for an hour. Ambiance not the best, but the fish is worth it! www.avenuebarmadison.com
Weary Traveler- Fun, late-night menu and bar. Awesome vegetarian options. We love this place! http://www.yelp.com/biz/weary-traveler-inc-madison
Restaurant Muramoto- Innovative Japanese food. People really love this place, but we thought it was okay. http://www.muramoto.biz/
Lao Laan-Xang- Laotian food. Steph dreams about the acorn squash curry. Two locations with one on Williamson Street and another on Atwood. Atwood is bigger but Williamson Street is better. http://www.yelp.com/biz/lao-laan-xang-restaurant-madison
Pizza Brutta- Located a bit further away on Monroe Street (across from Trader Joes), this place makes pizza the way so many (including me) likes it- thin crust, oven baked and simple. http://www.pizzabrutta.com/
Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier - We are picky about our chocolate, but this definitely passes the test. Amazing chocolate and Madison made. You can find the chocolates at the chocolatier on Atwood, or at local markets (Willy St. Co-op) and shops (Fromagination). www.gailambrosius.com
Matcha Tea House - This is a perfect place to unwind, have a cup of tea and some cookies or a cupcake. The owners are sooo nice, and make sure to try the Thai Basil and Cardomon cookies! www.matchateahouse.com/matcha/html
Fromagination - Swanky cheese shop near the capital- sample cheese and bring some home! Steph's favorite is the Gran Queso. www.fromagination.com
Trader Joe's - For those of you who don't live near a Trader Joe's, we have one in town. It's a fun food shopping experience, because not only is everything good, but it's cheap too!