Amid a casual ambience, Ironworks Cafe slakes stomach suspirations with breakfast and lunch menus founded on fresh, locally sourced ingredients. Breakfast-farers halt hunger with classic dishes, such as eggs benedict with ham served with your choice of side salad, fresh fruit, or potatoes ($8); or an Ironworks skillet stuffed with roasted potatoes, savory sausage, peppers, and onions, blanketed with pepperjack cheese and over-easy eggs ($8). For lunch, quiet midday stomach rumblings with a savory sandwich, such as the swiss-chard and oyster-mushroom melt ($8.50), or order your inner-brontosaurus a large spinach salad tossed with chevre, cucumbers, and toasted nuts in a berry vinaigrette ($5.75).
The family-owned-and-operated shop brews sumptuous gourmet coffee and espresso while serving a plethora of sweet treats and tasty baked goods. Ordered weekly, Meg's coffee is always fresh and many are certified organic, with tempting roasts such as sugar plum berry, white chocolate mousse, and butter pecan ($1.55–$1.78 per cup). Meg's array of caffeinated concoctions includes blended smoothies, iced coffees, cappuccinos, and chai teas, covering the full range of the caffeine rainbow. Meg's menu features several fresh pastries and light lunches, including the ham and cheddar sandwich or feta-cheese-topped Meg's special salad. Visitors can indulge in a blueberry muffin ($1.97) while melting the icicles off their antlers in front of the fireplace at their Alpine location.
One of the best BLTs in Madison doesn't have bacon on it. Dubbed the TLT, Jennie Capellaro's meat-free version swaps out the pork for strips of tempeh, a type of cultured soy. The sandwich's smoky flavor won over the critics of 77 Square, claiming Best BLT honors in 2010. PETA named it one of the country's best vegan BLTs in 2012. And in 2013, it was named "Favorite Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant" by The Daily Page.
Jennie and her team at The Green Owl Cafe strive to similarly surprise their diners by coaxing out unexpected flavors from their vegetarian and vegan dishes. Championing freshness, they prefer to work with local suppliers, such as Blue Skies Berry Farm and Sprouting Acres. They also throw monthly raw nights, treating guests to prix fixe dinners comprised of all raw courses. Jennie matches her menu's celebration of nature with a rustic, wood-paneled interior and an outdoor patio where diners can catch the free vitamin-D capsules regularly tossed down by the sun.
The menu at Pancake Cafe is impressive—almost as impressive as their nine straight awards for Best Breakfast in Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison. For breakfast, the staff serves home-style meals such as oven-baked omelets or house-made biscuits and gravy. The eatery’s namesake comes in unexpected varieties, including an award-winning apple pancake that’s baked for 20 minutes with fresh fruit, baker’s sugar, and Sinkiang cinnamon glaze. Pancake Cafe also whips up gluten-free versions and an old-fashioned potato pancake capped with applesauce or sour cream. They even squeeze fresh orange juice by wringing out a traffic cone as aggressively as possible. At lunch, servers put the waffles down for a nap and begin presenting plates of white-albacore tuna melts, Angus burgers, and Chicago-style italian beef sandwiches.
Owner Lance Ratze named Yola’s Café for his Grandma Yola, a sensational cook who hoped to own a cafe but passed away before realizing her dream. She did come close, though. In addition to filling her kitchen with restaurant equipment, she piled her basement's ping-pong table high with roast beef, waffles, and pies so as to serve as many people as possible.
Today, Yola's aims to recreate its namesake's hospitality by filling stomachs with baked goods. By lunch, artisans dole out sandwiches, salads, and soups to sate midday cravings. As they dine, grownups peruse a rotating selection of local artwork, while kids play with the cafe's toys, board games, and an old tin can.
Though inspired by the northern California cafés of the early 1980s, Espresso Royale fits right in with Michigan’s modern coffee drinkers—in 2012 readers of The Michigan Daily voted it Best Coffee Shop for the third year in a row. Their coffees include a house blend developed in 1987, which has since been joined by a seasonally appropriate autumn spice blend and a southern Italian-style espresso called Napoli. Royale's customers also clamor to the counter for favorites such as raspberry mochas, mint hot chocolates, and ginger dragon, a tea layered with fresh lemon and steeped ginger root that can be served iced or heated by a dragon named Ginger.