My friend Sox created this restaurant rating system for the vicinity of Virginia Tech.
I've appropriated this system, with some changes, for the restaurants of Madison Wisconsin.
Here's the scoop...

I ranked each place on a 1-5 scale for the following categories:
drinks, food, price.

And I threw in some flags to alert you to places that:
have live music, are fairly dressy, and are a good place to meet people .

This includes every restaurant I've been to in Madison, excluding chains and otherwise crappy places.

Amy's Cafe

The summary: college diner with bar

Angelic Brewing Company

The summary: the other college brew pub (see Great Dane)

Applebee's Neighborhood Grill

The summary: think crappy Chili's

Atlanta Bread Company

The summary: good sandwiches on the go

Avenue Bar

The summary: known for friday fish fries -- unbelievably crappy service

Big Mama and Uncle Fat's

The summary: great BBQ and (sometimes) music

Big Mike's Super Subs

The summary: college sub fav

Big Ten Pub

The summary: typical bar & grill, but real close to Camp Randall

Blue Marlin

The summary: surprisingly mediocre seafood for the price

Blue Moon Bar & Grill

The summary: good local bar & grill

Blue Plate Diner (Monty's Blue Plate)

The summary: great place for breakfast and alt-diner food


The summary: recently on the decline, attempted nice-diner food

Branch Street Retreat

The summary: a bland place to go if you're in middleton


The summary: the only wing joint on State

Cafe Continental

The summary: fantastic sicilian food that isn't noticably sicialian

Cafe Montmartre

The summary: wear black and expect to hear great music while paying way too much (cafe mo' money)


The summary: crappeli. diner food attempted by hippies and ex-cons

Canterbury Booksellers Coffeehouse Inn

The summary: indulge in a light meal here with your book

Casa Bianca

The summary: mass produced acceptable New York style pizza

Casa De Lara

The summary: State St. Mexican -- a step above Taco Bell

Casbah Restaurant

The summary: have a hookah with your middle eastern fare. really.


The summary: nice Nepali food - a step above Himal Chuli

Chi-Chi's Mexican Restaurant

The summary: you should know

Chili's Grill & Bar

The summary: you should know

China One Buffet

The summary: lots of mediocre chinese food served to lunch-break office spacers

Cleveland's Diner

The summary: fantastic diner food, esp the breakfast sandwiches

Come Back Inn

The summary: reliable brunch food, but bring back the $1 bloody mary's

Copper Grid

The summary: recently rendered nice, Camp Randall sit-down food

Copper "top" Restaurant

The summary: crappy west-side Kosher

Country Kitchen

The summary: the Bitchen Kitchen is not a place you should go to

Cousins Subs

The summary: the other, less popular sub place (see Big Mike's)

Coyote Capers

The summary: overrated but still darn good fancy American food

Culver's Frozen Custard

The summary: a Wisconsin institution. grow your cellullite


The summary: ribs and big ass TV screens

Delaney's Charcoal Steaks

The summary: if you're in middleton and bored-hungry, go here for standard American fare


The summary: acceptable italian sandwiches, hot and cold.

Dog Eat Dog

The summary: great chicago dogs, complete with spices, pickles and tomatoes on "top"

The Edgewater

The summary: hotel fare

Edwardo's Natural Pizza

The summary: standard sit-down pizza place

Eldorado Grill

The summary: great mexican food with a dizzying tequila list

Ella's Deli

The summary: Kosher deli with a fantastic circus theme

Essen Haus

The summary: 100% Germany, 100% of the time -- polka almost every night

Famous Dave's BBQ

The summary: midwest's BBQ favorite


The summary: you should know this

Fruit of the Earth Juice

The summary: juice / smoothy bar with great sandwich and soup offerings

Fyfe's Corner Bistro

The summary: East-side's best restaurant -- a gay mecca with great food


The summary: long-standing Italian favorite at lower prices than competition on State

Ginza of Tokyo

The summary: the only ginza restaurant, but avoid the sushi

Great Dane Brewing Company

The summary: the best brew pub on earth


The summary: painstakingly prepared food with an unfortunate theme -- the harvest (food tends to be rough and veggified)

Himal Chuli

The summary: fantastic, easy Nepali food in a serene, almost Buddhist atmosphere

Hong Kong Cafe

The summary: college crowd's favorite Chinese place offers free lunch on Labor day!


The summary: not worth the trip.


The summary: Mediterranean fare on State St. Good once or twice

Imperial Garden

The summary: popular Chinese with multiple locations in Madison -- sometimes has DJ's and hip hop when dinner is over

Irish Waters

The summary: an Irish bar, all the way

J T Whitney's

The summary: the West side's answer to the brew pub (so-so)

Jolly Bob's

The summary: tropical drinks made with potent rum, and authentic caribbean fare -- not to be missed


The summary: Crappy Italian food on Regent. Paper red-and-white plaid tablecloth-crappy.

Kabul Afghanistan & Mediterranean Restaurant

The summary: take Husnu's spillover crowd -- traditional Afghan food

Kennedy Manor Dining Room

The summary: hard-to-find basement place to eat and drink to live jazz

Kollege Klub

The summary: almost 1"0""0"% underage college kids

La Bamba

The summary: after-bar destination with burritos as big as your head

La Hacienda

The summary: so-so Mexican food served fast

La Paella

The summary: great Spanish restaurant. Smokey paella and great tapas bar.


The summary: crappy work-a-day lunch spot when hungry for Mexican


The summary: Gourmet's #7 restaurant in the U.S. The bussers know more about cuisine than you ever will.

Little Village Cafe

The summary: great burritos for the capitol crowd

The Living Room

The summary: where the rich and artsy college kids go to drink


The summary: Cajun food when in Middleton


The summary: Almost as good as Peppino's, and less of an effort. Loved the ravioli in cream sauce with marscapone.

Lu Lu's

The summary: OK Mediterranean with an anorexic wait staff

Luther's Blues

The summary: the only cajun food joint with live bands (recently featured Phantom Planet)

Madison Masala Pakistani & Indian

The summary: so-so service, but hookah-rich atmosphere and high-end Indian food. dim lights.


The summary: overly ambitious and consequently-failing fusion food with an older-than-college clientele. wear black.


The summary: reputably the best place in town for steak. the best total experience: jazz, first class food, wonderful desserts and any drink you can verbalize


The summary: if you were alive in the 5"0"'s, you'd know what a Maid-Rite sandwich is. pleasant retro-experience with phosphors on tap.

Mediterranean Cafe

The summary: fast Mediterranean food at a reasonable. postcards from around the world on display.

Mickie's Dairy Bar

The summary: super crowded at the best time to go -- Sunday mornings for a heavy breakfast experience.


The summary: overrated and overpriced crap. their creme brulees taste dusty.


The summary: absolutely no reason to go here, unless you're in a boat (they have docks).


The summary: the best diner on State St. Greek owned. Great pies. Cheap and no-nonsense.

Nitty Gritty

The summary: the birthday bar. not worth going unless it's your birthday (when you get free beer).

Noodle's & Company

The summary: fast food noodles.

North American Rotisserie

The summary: little-known soul food joint in Fitchburg. chicken to remember, and sides better than yo' mama's.

Oakcrest Tavern

The summary: think Big Ten Pub, but with more tables.

Old Chicago

The summary: interesting pizzas, and over 1"0""0" different beers

Olive Garden

The summary: you should know this

The Opera House

The summary: Second only to L'Etoile. Fabulous food you remember like a World Series Game. Very knowledgable waitstaff.

Opus Lounge

The summary: Hell bent to extract the most amount of cash for your drinks with the most appealing waitstaff in Madison. But damn the drinks are fine.

Original Pancake House

The summary: Need a crepe? Lingonberry flapjack? Here's your place.

Orpheum Theatre Restaurant

The summary: A historic theatre's lobby turned into the most scenic bar in town.


The summary: The West side's answer to the Opera House, but with a North African twist.


The summary: Cheap college kids' Italian food. Where you go with your parents after your first role at the University theatre your Freshman year.

Panera Bread Company

The summary: Sandwiches and soups with the ever-present sun dried tomato.

Pasqual's Salsaria

The summary: Burritos. Across the street from Michael's Frozen Custard.

Pasta Per Tutti

The summary: Best Italian-only place in town.


The summary: Mexican on the West side.


The summary: Formerly of Middleton, best Italian place near campus.

Pizzeria Uno Chicago Bar & Grill

The summary: Standard sit-down pizza.

Plaza Tavern & Grill

The summary: This is where I drank when I was underage. a functional bar & grill and a good place to meet people

Porta Bella

The summary: Terrible Italian food, which they try to hide with super-dim lighting, but a near-impressive wine cellar


The summary: Burritos if you're in a hurry.

Quivy's Grove


The summary: In "Fitchrona," a classic country dining experience chock full of rehearsal diners.

Relish Deli

The summary: Very creative combinations in gourmet sandwiches. Exotic cheeses from around the world.

Rocky Rococo

The summary: Square pizza with overly-sweet sauce.


The summary: Pitas with substandard service.


The summary: Mass produced deli sandwiches and single pizzas.

Shish Cafe

The summary: Middleton's own Mediterranean cafe. Anything downtown is better.

Smoky's Club

The summary: Blatently Christian dinner club atmosphere. But a great steak, if a bit salty.


The summary: Handcooked by two people as you order. Tables turn over on the honor system. Quaint and worth every penny.


The summary: Nice, complex foods and a snooty owner. Place to meet people if you speak Italian.

State Bar & Grill

The summary: Your standard bar & grill on State Street.

State Street Brats

The summary: Famous for their red and white brats.


The summary: Thai food. Their lemongrass soup tasted a little too much like urine.


The summary: Salady-bistro fare.


The summary: So-so food with a second-floor view of State St.

Ton Ton

The summary: In the mood for sushi? Go to Wasabi.

Tornado Club Steakhouse

The summary: Great steaks and a retro-noir bar with knowledgable staff.

Tutto Pasta

The summary: Huge pasta menu and huge portions served by waitstaff in Italian soccer jerseys.

Upstairs Downstairs

The summary: Kosher deli if you're in the old folk's mall.

Vientiane Palace

The summary: Solid vietnamese and thai food. Sox recommends the beef salad, medium spicey.


The summary: The best place to get sushi. You'd forget you're in the midwest.

The West Side Club

The summary: Don't go here. You don't belong.

White Horse Inn

The summary: Tuesday and Thursday 2-for-1 margaritas (blended). The food isn't worth the trip otherwise.

Wild Iris Cafe

The summary: Not sure if this places is still open. Quaint and the best eatery on Regent St.