woman holding drink smiling at a restaurant table
Raves & Faves

24 New(ish) Places To Try Around Madison This Fall

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After 15 months of staying at home and worrying about the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s so nice to be out and about again. I attended my first concert since before the pandemic began earlier this year. And have been meeting friends out for dinner and drinks like it’s 2019.

However, many of my favorite shops and restaurants did not make it through these trying times. So, I’ve set a goal to explore the many new businesses that have popped up all over town (some in surrounding areas) instead.

Since there have been a lot of changes to the restaurant, bar, and shopping scene over the past few years, I thought it would be helpful to put together a list of some new places to try this fall. I’ve been able to make it to a few already. But there are still many more on my list!

Crispy skin porchetta entree on a plate at Amara Hilldale
Crispy Skin Porchetta at Amara Hilldale.


Amara at Hilldale Shopping Center is now open! And there has been a lot of buzz already about this high-end, contemporary Italian restaurant! It’s for good reason. My son and I went on Saturday and it was absolutely AMAZING. This should be tops on your list! I highly recommend the Crispy Skin Porchetta, which is one of their specialties.

Cadre on University Avenue is a French-inspired restaurant that technically opened in October 2019. However, they closed just four months later as a result of Covid. And have since reopened. I’ve still never been, so I’d like to try it sometime this fall.

Fairchild – Similar to Cadre, Fairchild opened in March 2020, and then closed two weeks later. They reopened last year, but I have yet to try this new fine dining establishment on Monroe Street! They are open for dinner Wednesday through Sunday and feature rotating menu.

Harvey House – Harvey House opened in summer 2021 in the old train depot off West Wash and has been gaining not just local, but national attention. Having made the 2022 Restaurant List in the New York Times and been named one of the “Best New Restaurants in America in 2021” by Esquire Magazine, just to name a few, this hot spot should be on the top of your list if you haven’t been already.

Jacknife – From the folks behind RED, another Madison favorite, Jacknife opened earlier this year as an order at the counter, “fast food” sushi, rolls, and bowls spot, but of the same caliber and quality you find at a sit down restaurant. The atmosphere is also bright and welcoming, making it an awesome lunch option. Plus they have a little side patio adorned in string lights that makes it a cute, casual date location as well.

sushi on a plate at Jacknife restaurant in Madison

Kettle Black Kitchen – This cozy spot is tucked away on Monroe Street across from Trader Joe’s and is open for dinner Wednesday-Sunday, along with a “late riser” Sunday Brunch from noon-4 p.m. Formerly a meal-pick up service, the brick and mortar restaurant featuring upscale comfort food opened in July 2021.

Little Palace – Little Palace opened in December 2021 on King Street, as an American Chinese restaurant featuring Tiki style cocktails and beverages. Some friends of mine went recently and said the food was fantastic and the atmosphere really fun, so this has been on my list of places to try. It seems like the perfect place for a night out downtown. Or when we go see a show at The Majestic.

Prost – This “German Beer Hall & Restaurant” opened in September on East Wash. It looks like the perfect place to go for a cold beer and a soft pretzel. Or a Reuben if you are looking for more than a snack. They have a full menu and are open for dinner starting at 4:00 p.m. nightly, with lunch on the weekends (opening at noon).

Turn Key on East Wash just opened last month in the old Pasqual’s space, by the owners of the Settle Down Tavern. It evidently has two different menus – one similar to Settle Down that is available in the game room. And another geared more towards fine dining in the main dining room.

Bars & Breweries

Cordial – This new bar on Park Street opened in June in the old Rustic Tavern space. They don’t have a website yet, but do have an Instagram page where they describe the place as “Outside looks like a dive, inside’s a vibe” and I’m here for it. Chef Tory Miller posted about it recently, and I trust his recommendations. So this little hidden gem, which is only open in the evenings and does not currently serve food, is on my list for a girls’ night out.

Oz by Oz – Calling themselves a “snackeasy”, this eclectic cocktail bar opened last October on King Street from the owners of The Settle Down Tavern (and now TurnKey, referenced above). It sounds too fun not to visit for a cocktail after work or a night cap after a good time out downtown.

Starkweather Brewing – This new east side brewery opened last fall where Next Door Brewing Co. used to be. According to their web site, they offer food in addition to their in-house beers on tap. Plus they have trivia on Wednesday nights! As an east sider, I drive by Starkweather often but haven’t been there yet.

The Wine Reserve – Located in Oregon, WI, The Wine Reserve is a self-serve wine bar that has different wines on tap, along with a full bar. They serve some snacks in house, but you can also bring in your own food. They also feature live music periodically on the weekends. My friend Joyce opened this joint last April, and I can’t believe I haven’t made it yet! Oregon is a bit of a drive for me, but it’s been on my list to make it out there for awhile now.

Coffee Shops

Forward Craft & Coffee – This new coffee + craft beer spot opened on Atwood in June, occupying the former Barriques space on the corner. They offer several different types of cold brew. Along with cold brew flights if you can’t choose! Plus have 20 different beers on tap as well. There is a nice back room you can set up in to work remotely as well if needed.

Mercie’s Coffee – I keep hearing about this new coffee shop that took over the spot where Cool Beans used to be over by East Towne Mall. It’s a full service restaurant offering both breakfast and lunch, along with coffee, espresso, and specialty drinks. They serve True Coffee, another local favorite of mine. And are on a mission to fight sex trafficking by building community through the shop.

Hodge Podge – My coworker keeps telling me about this new shop in Verona that opened in June. They serve Stone Creek Coffee, based out of Milwaukee. We used to have a Stone Creek on East Wash, which closed down several years ago after a short run in Madtown. So, I’m excited to learn there is a local spot that serves it! They also offer cocktails and a Happy Hour on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 3-6 p.m. Important to note, however, is they do not currently serve food. So plan accordingly!

Zippy Lube Coffee, Donuts, & Fried Chicken – The former Zippy Lube service station on Madison’s North side turned coffee shop is something you need to see for yourself (as do I). Owned by the same guy who owns the Tip Top Tavern, Zippy Lube opens in December and will feature Boom Brothers Coffee, old-fashioned donuts, and fried chicken. All great things.

Other New Spots

Bluemercury – Bluemercury is a luxury beauty, cosmetics, and skincare store that recently opened at Hilldale Shopping Center! They feature brands that are hard to find elsewhere in town, like Bobbi Brown, La Mer, and Wander Beauty. It’ll be another great resource for holiday gift giving. And to treat yourself all year long.

Branch & Daughter – This meat + grocery store + cafe opened last July in Windsor, WI. It’s a local butcher, plus market for small batch goods made in the area, beer, wine, and ready made meals. And they make specialty pizza and “wedgies” which is a really cute name for sandwiches. I’ve been really curious about this place, but haven’t made it out there to try it yet.

Ice Cream Social – What originally began as a hobby during the early stages of the pandemic, Ice Cream Social opened this March next to Pasture & Plenty on the near west side. A portion of the proceeds from all sales of their small batch ice cream (10% currently, according to their web site) are donated to nonprofit organizations and social organizations. I ordered on Instagram prior to their store opening and the ice cream was delicious. I can’t wait to get in there and see the new shop.

Good News Ice Cream – Another new ice cream spot opened in Madtown in summer 2021on King Street, and offers a grab and go menu for breakfast and lunch in addition to coffee and ice cream. Their web site says they have 9 flavors to try, including fun ones like Fig & Honey, and Strawberry Balsamic. This would be great to check out after dinner at Lucille, Settle Down, or Merchant!

J.McLaughlin – Another new store that just opened at Hilldale! J. Mclaughlin is a clothing retailer offering resort wear and accessories for both men and women. I haven’t been to one of their stores yet, so I’m excited to see what they offer. It’s always great to have new to retailers in Madison to shop with!

Little Pop Color Shop – This sweet little gift shop looks like a fun new addition to Downtown Middleton. From their web site, it looks like they have a wide array of gift items, from fun little trinkets, to coffee table books, and blankets. They offer party supplies and children’s items as well. I’ll definitely be checking this place out for gift giving this holiday season.

kid eating an ice cream cone at the Creekside Scoop in Cross Plains

The Creekside Scoop – This adorable little treat shop is located in Cross Plains, housed in the same building as Qet Botanicals and Honeysuckle and Spry (also new), which might be the most beautiful floral shop I’ve ever set foot in. They serve ice cream + boozy shakes for those 21 and up. Plus have candy, chocolate, and small toys/stuffed animals for sale. According to their web site, they offer all-inclusive birthday parties as well. It’s a great stop when you are in or driving through Cross Plains!

Which of these new(ish) places are you most excited to try? Which have you been to already?

Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!

Updated 1/13/2023.

2 thoughts on “24 New(ish) Places To Try Around Madison This Fall

  1. Wow, you’ve been a busy lady trying so many new places. I’ll have to see which ones Paulo and I can try. Thanks for the recommendations.

    1. You bet! I haven’t tried them all. So, this list serves as a resource for me to keep track of all the places I’ve been wanting to try as well! Lots of great places on the list! Have fun working your way through them! 🙂

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