Ten MORE Unique (Kid-Friendly) Restaurants in Madison


Whole Foods Market


Last Fall I shared ten unique and kid-friendly restaurants in the Madison area. By popular request… here are ten more restaurants in the Madison area that won’t kick you out for dropping food on the floor or crying before your meal comes. Technically nine kid-friendly plus one date night restaurant – because a night out sans kids is important too.  YOU are no longer banished to the fast food chain or your kitchen table.  So get out there and give one of these a try.  I would love to hear of your favorite kid-friendly restaurants – share in the comments below.

Café Porta Alba, located at 558 N. Midvale Blvd., Madison (across the street from the entrance to the Sundance Cinema).  This rustically elegant café serves up authentic Neapolitan pizzas in their wood burning oven.  The first time we went to this restaurant they gave my daughter a ball of dough and let her play and shape it into anything (she made a bunny) then fired it in the wood oven for her.  She was smiling from ear to ear.  They have a nice wine selection and an upscale feel yet all of the times I have had children or a baby with me they have aways been very welcoming and friendly, so we never felt out of place.
Marigold Kitchen, located at 118 S. Pinckney St., Madison. This breakfast and lunch café is a wonderful place to visit when downtown.  Their description of “creative healthy food prepared by friendly folk” is dead on!  Organic milk boxes for the kids and a wonderful coffee menu for mom and dad…they have wonderful pancakes, salads, sandwiches and specials every day.  The vibe and the decor in the restaurant are hip yet relaxing.  It’s a fun mix of weathered wood floors and bright colored art on the walls. On each of our visits the staff was friendly, helpful and so kind to my kids.  They have high chairs there are well.  They have nice/ clean restrooms with plenty of room to change a diaper if need be.
Whole Foods Market, located at 3313 University Ave, Madison.  Yes I know this is a grocery store…but it’s also a wonderful place to take the family for a meal.  They have a great eating area with a play area for kids and highchairs.  They have a very extensive organic salad bar, deli food, hot food bar and bakery.  This is the perfect place to go when no one can agree on what to eat…everyone can get what they want.  They have clean bathrooms and changing tables as well, which is always a bonus.  
The Sow’s Ear, located at 125 S. Main St., Verona.  A fun combination café and yarn shop this eclectic place has a seasonal menu including many of the vegetables they grow in their garden.  In nice weather this is a great place to take the kids and eat outside.  They have a little play house and a nice area for the kids to run around.  The menu was fun and creative including smoothies and a full coffee menu.  They have clean bathrooms and a diaper changing station.  Even if you don’t knit it’f fun to be surrounded by all the colorful yarn too.
Basset Street Brunch Club, located 444 West Johnson Street Madison.  A newer restaurant in Madison, this locale is the perfect family destination.  They serve breakfast, lunch and dinner and have a wonderful menu full of choices, including many gluten-free options.  The girls shared eggs and french toast with fresh fruit.  The decor is fun with a retro feel.  They don’t take reservations yet even on a busy Sunday morning we only waited about 10 minutes for a table, plus they have comfy outdoor couches to wait on.  The staff was great and I know we will be returning soon.
Zuzu Café & Market, located at 1336 Drake St. Madison (across the street from the Henry Vilas Zoo).  A fun little café with a kid’s area including a train table.  The menu is fun with many choices.  We loved how most of the things on the menu were named after local streets here in Madison and the kid’s menu items are named after sesame street characters.  My girls love the Elmo (grilled cheddar sandwich).  For grown-ups they have salads, cold sandwiches, paninis and more, plus daily specials.  Oh, and did I mention they have coffee, ice cream, wine and 30+ Wisconsin beers?!  Really, I had you at train table though, didn’t it?
Craftsman Table & Tap, located at 6712 Frank Lloyd Wright Avenue, Middleton.  This fun restaurant has a fun and innovative casual menu with many gluten-free options.  They even have a gluten-free beer.  They have nice outdoor eating area and a creative event calendar.  The kid’s menu has many healthy choices.  I really like the warm, casual feel of this restaurant…another great place for families.  
Tuvalu Coffeehouse, located at 300 s. Main St., Verona.  A family owned, beautiful and eclectic place complete with art gallery and children’s area with toys.  They serve organic coffee and have a wonderful menu using local ingredients.  My girls loved the organic PB & Banana sandwich complete with a side of organic applesauce.  I love the relaxed and comfortable feeling here and abundance of healthy options.  A perfect stop if you happen to be in Verona shopping at The Purple Goose  (one of our favorite places for stylish yet affordable women’s clothes).  
La Brioche – True Food, located at 2862 University Ave., Madison.  Another local treasure of a restaurant.  They focus on local and organic foods.  I love the classic style and decor in this sweet little place.  My daughters always marvel at the “fancy” bathroom.  They have amazing brunch items, delicious and creative salads and a nice bakery.  I love the balance of an upscale restaurant and casual elegance.  Kids are welcome and they have high chairs and a great kids menu.

Café Porta Alba


Café Porta Alba


Café Porta Alba


Marigold Kitchen


Marigold Kitchen


Marigold Kitchen


Marigold Kitchen


Marigold Kitchen


Whole Foods Market


Whole Foods Market


Basset Street Brunch Club


Basset Street Brunch Club


Basset Street Brunch Club


Zuzu Café & Market


La Brioche


La Brioche


La Brioche








Footnote: I received no compensation for this review.  We paid for our meals ourselves.

7 Responses to Ten MORE Unique (Kid-Friendly) Restaurants in Madison

  1. Jessica July 18, 2014 at 8:43 am #

    Wonderful! We live across from Willy St. West and the kids and I will go there for lunch sometimes too. Great selections you made!

    • Tara
      Tara July 18, 2014 at 2:13 pm #

      Great idea Jessica! We like going there too:)

  2. Katie | The Surly Housewife July 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm #

    Porta Alba is one of my favs!! Love it there! With kids or no, it’s a great eating spot. Thanks for sharing all these spots. My family and I will have to check them out!!

    • Tara
      Tara August 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm #

      Thanks Katie, you’ll have to let me know if you find some new favorites:)

  3. Beth September 30, 2014 at 4:35 pm #

    The Basset St Brunch Club is also great because if you want to nurse a baby away from the table, they have comfy chairs and couches in the lobby of the hotel connected to the restaurant.

    • Tara
      Tara September 30, 2014 at 6:04 pm #

      Great Point Beth!! My girls always nursed a little better away from hustle and bustle:)

  4. Susannah December 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm #

    I have to add a couple of caveats to the Bassett St. Brunch Club recommendation. We went there last week, but we had a difficult time figuring out how to accommodate our 4-month-old daughter.

    My big thing so far has been the ability to set down a car seat/baby carrier. Usually we just do the old flip-the-high-chair trick, although that’s not super sturdy. The Bassett St. high chairs had a rounded top, so they couldn’t balance upside down. We could have at least put her carrier on a chair (with her out of it, mostly), but the shape of their chairs (with curved edges) ruled that out, too.

    Eventually, we decided to try her out in the high chair. She’s still a bit too small, but we stuffed my husband’s jacket around her to prop her up and she did okay. So… I guess that was a workaround, but this was the first place where I felt worried that we might not be able to sit back comfortably.

    The other thing that bugged me was the intense lighting. it looked like halogen bulbs on tracks, and they shone directly down on us. When Joey got a little sleepy, I think she was still kind of uncomfortable with the brightness, even when we pulled up the shade on her seat.

    The staff was fine, though, and the food is always tasty. Plus the parking situation is way better than many places, particularly downtown.

    Two other places:
    The Great Dane in Fitchburg has high chairs that are specifically designed to stay on the wide base while flipping the top to accept a baby carrier. We go there a lot because it’s big and easy to move around, the noise level is high enough to mask kid noises but low enough to talk and not get annoyed, and the servers seem pretty unfazeable.

    Luigi’s on Midvale has slings for baby carriers as well as regular high chairs. They also put crayons on all of their tables (covered with paper) and have coloring book-style artwork from patrons and staffers, including a big mural from nearby schools.

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