Guest post: A vegan guide to Madison!  »

So, you’re a vegan in Madison, Wis. Maybe you live there, maybe you’re traveling through. You may have a lot of despair in your heart, because you know that in Wisconsin, underneath the earth’s crust is a river of molten cheese. You may have also discovered that everyone born in Wisconsin is composed of pure cheese. In fact, if you were to shake my hand right now, it would melt.

Yes, the dairy industry is a proud part of life in Wisconsin. It can seem that there’s cheese at every turn (the streets are made of cheese), butter on every vegetable, and mayo in every salad. But if you know where to look, Madison can be a vegan’s delight.

Things I, Rachel, a vegan, ate at Madison restaurants: a list for your pleasure

  • Lemon poppyseed cheesecake
  • A BBQ jackfruit sandwich
  • Tangerine champagne cake with raspberry filling
  • A crab cake sandwich
  • Split pea soup
  • A grasshopper (a brownie with mint frosting)
  • A scone
  • So many muffins I am now known as “The Muffin Man”

AND MORE! “Lead me to this smorgasbord, Rachel,” you are saying to me right now. Forward!

The Green Owl Café
Located on Atwood on the near east side, The Green Owl Café is Madison’s first vegan/vegetarian restaurant. I went there twice in two weeks and wish I could transport it to Oakland so I could LIVE there. The most outstanding part of both meals was the desserts, which they make in house. The waitress said “Vegan lemon poppy seed cheesecake” and I screamed so loud it deafened her. I was like a hippo, making loud noises and eating everything and probably sweating from all the joy.

BBQ jackfruit sandwich

Tangerine champagne cake

Himal Chuli
Did you know that Madison has more Nepalese restaurants than any other American town? We have two, and they are next door to each other. Himal Chuli is where you go if it’s 2 degrees and hasn’t stopped snowing in three months. The food will warm you AND prevent scurvy! Their vegetarian menu is extensive, but I recommend the momochas and the takari (your choice of 2 vegetable blends). WARNING: the roti is made with yogurt!

Chocolate Shoppe
You can’t go to Wisconsin without eating ice cream. IT’S THE LAW. Luckily for us, Chocolate Shoppe ice cream is locally made and has soy options! My favorite flavor is the espresso oreo. The photo you see before you was taken when I ate ice cream for lunch one day. TREAT YO SELF.

The Willy Street Co-Op
This is the Rainbow of Madison, y’all. I ate like 55 muffins here? I also consumed a grasshopper as big as my head (see photo). The baked goods at this place kind of put the Bay Area to shame, you guys. The only thing they were missing is Cinnaholic rolls.

I left Madison with a sad heart and tight pants.

Rachel orders one pancake with her breakfast burrito at Saturn Café, just so she can cover the burrito with maple syrup. She organizes the SF Vegan Bakesales and is the genius behind @sfveganbakesale. Will you marry her?

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