Best of Madison 2021 Winners

When 2020 handed out lemons, they gave us their best.
Best of Madison 2021 on the left with cookies that have lemons and pitchers
Photo by Nikki Hansen
Vicki Cookies, bronze winner for artisan food product, decorates sugar cookies with intricate designs, as seen on these lemon-themed treats.

Following 2020, many local businesses have mastered the art of turning lemons into lemonade by pushing forward despite the challenges of COVID-19. This year, the 40th annual Best of Madison celebrates the people, places and businesses selected by our readers, with the addition of a few special editors’ picks. 2021 marks 40 years since Madison Magazine began highlighting what our readers deem the “best of” the city. This year we honor 458 businesses in our readers’ poll and 13 awards from our editors.

View our editor’s picks here.

Dining & Drink

Lombardinos dish with fish and a lemon

Sometimes all you need to take a dish to the next level is some fresh lemon juice for a dash of acidity. Lombardino’s adds a lemon garnish to some dishes, including this pan-seared halibut with roasted cherry tomatoes. Lombardino’s is this year’s gold winner in the Italian category. Photo by Nikki Hansen

Artisan Food Product
Hook’s Cheese Co. Inc.
Vicki Cookies

Bakery – Bread
Madison Sourdough
Stella’s Bakery
Clasen’s European Bakery

Bakery – Sweets
Greenbush Bakery
Bloom Bake Shop
Lane’s Bakery & Coffee

Beef Butter BBQ
North and South Seafood & Smokehouse
Smoky Jon’s #1 BBQ

Hubbard Avenue Diner
Short Stack Eatery
Lazy Jane’s Cafe

New Glarus Brewing Co.
Wisconsin Brewing Co.
Ale Asylum

Café Hollander
Bassett Street Brunch Club

Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry
Blue Moon Bar & Grill

ButcherThe Conscious Carnivore and grinding meat
The Conscious Carnivore
Knoche’s Old Fashioned Butcher Shop
Ken’s Meats & Deli

Cheese Producer
Carr Valley Cheese
Hook’s Cheese Co. Inc.
Farmer Johns’ Cheese

Chicken Wings
Chicken Licks
Monk’s Bar & Grill
Sconnie Bar

Imperial Garden
Dumpling Haus
Chang Jiang

Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier
CocoVaa Chocolatier
Madison Chocolate Co.

Eno Vino Downtown
Driftless Glen Distillery
Parthenon Gyros

Coffee Roasters
Colectivo Coffee
Just Coffee Cooperative
Rusty Dog Coffee

Coffee Shop
Grace Coffee Co.
Firefly Coffeehouse & Artisan Cheese

Curbside Pickup
Buck & Honey’s
Beef Butter BBQ
Parthenon Gyros

Glass Nickel Pizza Co.
Pizza Pit
Parthenon Gyros

Destination Restaurant (Outside of Dane County)
Ishnala Supper Club
The Del-Bar
Cimaroli’s Supper Club

Wollersheim Distillery
Old Sugar Distillery
Driftless Glen Distillery

Fish Fry
Quivey’s Grove
Toby’s Supper Club
Dorf Haus Supper Club

Food Cart
Curd Girl
Caracas Empanadas

Fried Cheese Curds
The Old Fashioned
Craftsman Table & Tap
Curd Girl

Greasy Spoon
Mickies Dairy Bar
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner
Brothers Three Bar & Grill

Grocery Store
Metcalfe’s Market
Woodman’s Food Market
Willy Street Co-op

Home Meal Kit Service
Pasture and Plenty
Isthmus Eats
Fit Fresh Cuisine

Ice Cream/Custard/Gelato
Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream Co.
Babcock Hall Dairy Store

Indian/NepaleseSwagat best of madison ad with indian dishes
Swagat Indian Restaurant
Swad Indian Restaurant
Himal Chuli

Bar Corallini


Sol’s on the Square
New Seoul Korean Restaurant

Lake View
Memorial Union Terrace
The Edgewater

Latin American
La Taguara
Monona Bakery and Eatery
Estacion Inka

Mediterranean/Middle Eastern
Parthenon Gyros
Mediterranean Cafe

Pasqual’s Cantina
Laredo’s Mexican Restaurant
Gloria’s Mexican Restaurant

New Orleans/Cajun
Liliana’s Restaurant
Louisianne’s Etc.
North of the Bayou

New Restaurant
Buck & Honey’s – Waunakee
Settle Down Tavern

The Old Fashioned
Cimaroli’s Supper Club
Dorf Haus Supper Club

Outdoor Dining
Buck & Honey’s – Monona
Riley Tavern
Parthenon Gyros

Salvatore’s Tomato Pies
Sugar River Pizza Co.
Glass Nickel Pizza Co.

Buck & Honey’s
Eno Vino Downtown
Short Stack Eatery

Sandwich Spot
Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen Inc.
Milio’s Sandwiches
Casetta Kitchen and Counter

Tempest Oyster Bar
North and South Seafood & Smokehouse

Southeast Asian
Hạ Long Bay
Sa-Bai Thong
Lao Laan-Xang Restaurant

Specialty Food Store
Penzeys Spices
Brennan’s Market
Fraboni’s Italian Specialties & Delicatessen Inc.

Tornado Room Steak House
Delaney’s Steak Seafood Wine
The Del-BarThe Del-Bar Best of Madison

Supper Club
Tornado Room Steak House
Toby’s Supper Club
The Del-Bar

Sa-Bai Thong
Liliana’s Restaurant
Nitty Gritty

Tapas (Small Plates)
Eno Vino Downtown
A Pig in a Fur Coat
Eno Vino Wine Bar & Bistro

Upscale Dining
Eno Vino Downtown
Rare Steakhouse

Vegetarian/Vegan Focused
The Green Owl Cafe
Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

Wollersheim Winery
Bailey’s Run Vineyard & Winery
Drumlin Ridge Winery

Find Editors’ Picks: Best Giant Spring Rolls, Best Innovative Collaborator, Best Salvadoran Quesadilla, Best Meal and Best Under-the-Radar To-Go Kit


Lemon drop cocktail from Driftless Glen with a bottle of liquor and lemon garnishes around

Driftless Glen Distillery added its lemon vodka to Reneé Sicilian Lemon White Balsamic and sour mix in crafting its lemon drop cocktail. The silver winner in the cocktail kit category has a variety of DIY drink options, but its citrus martini version is a sweet and sour treat. Driftless Glen also received silver for cleanliness and bronze for distillery. Photo by Sunny Franz

Bar With A View
Eno Vino Downtown
The Edgewater
Camp Trippalindee

Bloody Mary
Café Hollander
Riley Tavern
Nitty Gritty

Bloody Mary on top of a table with other drinks around

Café Hollander is the gold winner for best bloody mary. Courtesy of Café Hollander

The Regret, Merchant
Honey-Cap, Old Sugar Distillery
Margarita, Pedro’s Mexican Restaurante

Cocktail Kit
Driftless Glen Distillery
Mint Mark

Dive Bar
Le Tigre Lounge
Riley Tavern
Wilson’s Bar and Grill

illustration of tiger on the top of a bar

Le Tigre Lounge continues its reign as king of the dive bar category, winning gold for the fourth year in a row. Le Tigre is home to more than 300 tiger figurines, paintings, stuffed animals and pictures. COVID-19 forced the bar to stay closed because of its cozy size, but bartenders are back slinging cocktails and beers as of early June when Dane County regulations lifted. Illustration by Tommy Washbush

Local Craft Beer
Spotted Cow, New Glarus Brewing Co.
Fantasy Factory, Karben4 Brewing
Warped Speed, Lake Louie Brewing

Neighborhood Bar
Tip Top Tavern
Riley Tavern
Mid Town Pub

Pandemic Pivot
Liliana’s Restaurant
Short Stack Eatery
Monk’s Bar & Grill

Riley Tavern

Private Parties
Buck & Honey’s
Dorf Haus Supper Club
Eno Vino Downtown

Socially Distanced Bar/Layout
Eno Vino Downtown
Riley Tavern
Nitty Gritty

Sports Bar
Jordan’s Big 10 Pub
Wilson’s Bar and Grill
5th Quarter Sports Bar & Grill

Wine Bar
Eno Vino Downtown (tie)
Toot and Kate’s Wine Bar (tie)
Drumlin Ridge Winery

Find Editors’ Picks: Best Jazz Club

Arts & Entertainment

person sitting in front of an art museum

This year’s gold-winning art gallery, the Chazen Museum of Art is home to a collection of 23,000 works, including artist El Anatsui’s “Danu,” a sculpture made of repurposed metal bottle caps, metal wrappings and copper wire (pictured). This photo snapped inside Chazen’s Gallery 17 was taken by gold-winning photographer, Samuel Li. Photo by Samuel Li for Chazen Museum of Art

Art Gallery
Chazen Museum of Art
Overture Center for the Arts
Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Classical Music Group
Madison Symphony Orchestra
Wisconsin Chamber Orchestra
Willy Street Chamber Players

Doug Moe, Madison Magazine
John Nichols, The Capital Times
Michael Perry, The Wisconsin State Journal

Comedian/Comedy Group
The Monkey Business Institute
Dina Nina Martinez
Allie Lindsay

Local Artist
Art Paul Schlosser
Xizhou Xie
Madeleine Parker Pottery

Local Band
The Jimmy’s
Cherry Pie
5th Gear

Local Cover Band
Cherry Pie
Universal Sound Dance Band

Local Influencer
Rippeology, Facebook: @rippeology
Epicurean Chronicles, Instagram: @epicureanchronicles
Chloe Homan, Instagram: @frizzandfrillzz

Local News Website

Local Singer/Songwriter
Bree Morgan
Shelley Faith
Jackie Ernst

musician sitting with a guitar in a room filled with guitars

Jackie Ernst (bronze for local singer/songwriter) at Heid Music (silver for musical instrument store). Photo by Patrick Stutz

Madison Children’s Museum
Chazen Museum of Art
Wisconsin Historical Museum

Samuel Li
Maureen Cassidy Photography
Jen Lucas Photography

Radio Team
Jonathan & Kitty, 105.5 Triple M
Johnny & Dee, 94.1 WJJO
Mel & Floyd, WORT 89.9

TV News Team
Amber Noggle, George Smith, John Zeigler and Lance Veeser, WKOW
John Stofflet, Leigh Mills, Brian Doogs and Mike Jacques, NBC15
Erin Sullivan, Tim Elliott, Isabel Lawrence and Charlie Shortino, NBC15

TV Personality
Charlie Shortino, NBC15
Amber Noggle, WKOW
John Zeigler, WKOW

Virtual Performance
A Virtual Madison Symphony Christmas
Elizabeth Mary
Oakwood Chamber Players

Find Editors’ Picks: Best Time Capsule Efforts and Best Day-Brighteners

Home & Lifestyle

Spread of products from Orange Tree Imports with a bowl of lemons in the middle

Orange Tree Imports, which won gold for gift shop/specialty store, has everything you might need to brighten up a lemon-themed dream kitchen. In addition to lemon squeezers, you’ll find herbal tea, pasta, hand soap, towels and other yellow goodies. Photo by Nikki Hansen

Binh’s Tailoring Alteration Services
Right Size Alterations Services
Monetti Tailoring

Antique Store
Odana Antiques & Fine Arts Center
The Cozy Home
Antiques Mall of Madison

Assisted Living
Attic Angel Community
Oakwood Village
Oak Park Place

Auto Body Repair
Zimbrick Inc.
Sparkle Auto Body
Ball Body Shop Inc. – Division of Smart Motors Toyota

Barber Shop
Monona Barber Shop
The GIRL Barber
Blue Chip Barber Club

Bed & Breakfast
The Livingston Inn
Speckled Hen Inn
Iron Amethyst Inn & The 2One Speakeasy

A Room of One’s Own
Half Price Books
Barnes & Noble

Boutique Hotel
Mansion Hill Inn
Graduate Madison
Hotel Ruby Marie

LSM Chiropractic
The Joint Chiropractic
Infinite Athlete Chiropractic & Rehab LLCPrimavera Cleaning Service 2021

Cleaning Service
Primavera Cleaning Service
Mother Earth Cleaners
4 Senses House Cleaning4 Senses House Cleaning the bronze winner of best of madison

Clothing (Men)
Blain’s Farm & Fleet
Journeyman Co.

Clothing (Women)
The Purple Goose
Hive of Madison
McFee on Main

Commercial Developers
The Alexander Co.
The Gialamas Co., Inc.
Livesey Co.

Dealer Auto Service Shop
Zimbrick Inc.
Smart Motors Toyota
Don Miller Auto Group

Domestic Auto Dealer
Zimbrick Inc.
Don Miller Auto Group
Wilde East Towne Honda

Dry Cleaner
Klinke Cleaners
Lake Mills Cleaners & Dryers
Middleton Cleaners

Dave Jones Inc.
Hill Electric Inc.
Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning

Sergenian’s Floor Coverings
Coyle Carpet One Floor & Home

Felly’s Flowers
Klein’s Floral and Greenhouses
Brenda’s Blumenladen

Don’s Home Furniture
Rubin’s Contemporary Furniture

Gift Shop/Specialty Store
Orange Tree Imports
Booth 121
National Mustard Museum

Hair Salon
ANiU Salon & Spa
Anaala Salon and Spa

Health Specialty Store
Community Pharmacy
The Healthy Place
Willy Street Co-op

Heating & Cooling
Dave Jones Inc.
Harker Heating & Cooling Inc.
Cardinal Heating & Air Conditioning


Booth 121, a first-time Best of Madison winner, placed in two categories: gold for home accessories and silver for gift shop/specialty store. The Monona shop is filled with fun decor, clothing and housewares largely created by Wisconsin artists and makers. Courtesy of Booth 121

Home Accessories
Booth 121
Brenda’s Blumenladen

Home Builders
Veridian Homes
Hart DeNoble Builders
Acker Builders Inc.

Home Health Care Agency
SSM Health at Home
UW Health Care Direct Home Health Agency

The Edgewater
The Madison Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club
AC Hotel by Marriott Madison Downtown

Import Auto Dealer
Zimbrick Inc.
Smart Motors Toyota
Don Miller Auto Group

Interior Design
Zander’s Interiors
Washa Remodeling & Design

Goodman’s Jewelers
Chalmers Jewelers
TQ Diamonds

Kitchen & Bath Design
Frey Construction & Home Improvement LLC
Dream House Dream KitchensFrey Construction Kitchenbath Bom 1280x720 082021

Laser Hair Removal
ANEU Med Spa
Robertson Cosmetic Center
Milan Laser Hair Removal

Lawn, Garden & Landscape
The Bruce Co.
Weed Man
Olson Toon Landscaping Inc.

Local Etsy Shop
TacoCat Creations
Rescued Woodworks LLC

Luxury Auto (Import and Domestic)
Zimbrick Inc.
Lexus of Madison
Bergstrom Automotive (tie)
Fields Jaguar Land Rover Volvo Madison (tie)

Moving Company
Two Men and a Truck Madison
Badger Brothers Moving LLC
Gorilla Movers of Wisconsin Inc.

two people shopping in a record store

Whether you prefer listening to vinyl records or CDs, you’ll likely find what you’re looking for at a local music store. All three of this year’s winners in the local music store category opened in the 1980s, the same decade that Best of Madison was born. Strictly Discs, this year’s gold winner, opened in 1988 (customers Valerie Grayson and Tommy Yonash pictured at Strictly Discs above). B-Side Records has been a Madison staple since 1982. Sugar Shack Records opened in 1981 on State Street and moved to Atwood Avenue 22 years later. Photo by Paulius Musteikis

Music Store
Strictly Discs
B-Side Records
Sugar Shack Records

Musical Instrument Store
Ward-Brodt Music
Heid Music
Spruce Tree Music & Repair

Nail Salon
Diamond Nails & Spa
ANiU Salon & Spa

Non-Dealer Auto Shop
Smith’s Service Center
Aeschbach Automotive
Mike’s Automotive Repair

Outdoor Living
The Bruce Co.
Patio Pleasures Pools & Spas

Pet Day Care & Boarding
Camp K9 Pet Resort & Day Camp
The Dog Den
Paradise Paws Camp & Resort LLC

pet toys and treats

Treat your pet to some fun snacks, food, accessories and toys from this year’s best pet supplies stores, Mounds Pet Food Warehouse (above), MadCat Pet Supplies and bad dog frida. Photo by Tim Burton

Pet Supplies Store
Mounds Pet Food Warehouse
MadCat Pet Supplies
bad dog frida

Physical Therapy
Capitol Physical Therapy
UnityPoint Health – Meriter
Stoughton Rehabilitation and Sports Medicine Clinic

Dave Jones Inc.
Monona Plumbing & Fire Protection
RHD Plumbing Inc.

Real Estate Company
Sprinkman Real Estate
MHB Real Estate
Stark Company Realtors

Retirement Community
Attic Angel Community
Oak Park Place
Capitol Lakes

RooferFrey Construction Roofer Bom 1280x720 082021
Frey Construction & Home Improvement LLC
Ganser Co.
Badgerland Exteriors

Thrift Shop

Redecorate with the help of our winning secondhand stores: St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store, Agrace Thrift Store and Dane County Humane Society Thrift Store. Maybe if you’re lucky you’ll score a lemon-patterned cup. Illustration by Tommy Washbush

Secondhand Store
St. Vincent De Paul Thrift Store
Agrace Thrift Store
Dane County Humane Society Thrift Store

The Shoe Box
Morgan’s Shoes
DSW Designer Shoe Warehouse

Sundara Inn & Spa
Kneaded Relief Day Spa & Wellness
Rejuvenation Spa

Specialty Spa
ANEU Med Spa
Pure Waxing Studio

Tattoo Shop
Blue Lotus Tattoo & The Piercing Lounge
Art & Soul Tattoo and Gallery
Starkweather Tattoo Collective

Used Car Dealer
Zimbrick Inc.
Smart Motors Used Cars
Goben Cars

Sauk Point Veterinary Clinic
True Veterinary Care
Cat Care Clinic

Wealth Management
Madison Partners
Northwestern Mutual Financial Group
Dorn Wealth Management

Wisconsin Bank
State Bank of Cross Plains
Associated Bank
One Community Bank

Wisconsin Credit Union
UW Credit Union
Summit Credit Union
Heartland Credit UnionHeartland Credit Union Best of Madison

Find Editors’ Picks: Best Worker of Car-Cleaning Miracles, Best Dog Treats, Best Smudge Sticks and Best Show of Solidarity for Pets With Cancer

Recreation & Fitness

Ben Classon holding a yellow bicycle

Embrace the sunshine on two wheels in one of the most bike-friendly cities in the country. This year, readers voted Machinery Row Bicycles (general manager Ben Classon pictured above), Budget Bicycle Center and Trek Bicycle Madison the top three bike shops in town. Photo by Patrick Stutz

Alternative Fitness Center
Basecamp Fitness Madison
Orange Shoe Personal Fitness
Transformation Center

Bike Shop
Machinery Row Bicycles
Budget Bicycle Center
Trek Bicycle Madison

Devil’s Lake State Park
Governor Dodge State Park
Blue Mound State Park

Fitness Center
Princeton Club
Anytime Fitness
Harbor Athletic Club

Golf CourseUniversity Ridge Golf Course Best of Madison Ad
University Ridge Golf Course
Pleasant View Golf Course
Door Creek Golf Course

Martial Arts Studio
MadCity Martial Arts
Moh’s Martial Arts
Infinity Martial Arts

Kayak on the water

When it comes to the best campground and park, readers chose Devil’s Lake State Park for the top spot in both categories. Devil’s Lake in Baraboo has three campgrounds with 423 campsites and nine group campsites for additional campers. With two large beaches and more than 29 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails, there are land and water activities that will keep you busy for hours. That, and the beautiful views, may be why it claims gold this year.

Devil’s Lake State Park
Olbrich Park
Indian Lake County Park

Personal Trainer
Katie Frank, REFORMadison
Erin Tallard, Transformation Center
Amy Sanborn, MadPower Training Center

Running/Biking Trail
Pheasant Branch Conservancy
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Monona Lake Loop

Person holding up a yellow shoe

Speed into a new pair of shoes from the silver best sports and recreation shop, Fleet Feet. This retail store has two nearby locations, one in Middleton and one in Sun Prairie, with large selections of women’s and men’s shoes. Photo courtesy of Fleet Feet

Sports & Recreation Shop
Fleet Feet
Madison Boats (Brittingham, Marshall, Wingra)

Virtual Workout
Dfly on Demand
Virtual PiYo with Britt

Dragonfly Hot Yoga
Inner Fire Yoga
Haumea: Yoga, Fitness, Massage, Chiropractic

Find Editors’ Picks: Best Use of Our Official City Bird

Best of Madison turns 40! A special edition flip cover is coming in November to celebrate Best of Madison’s 40th year. We will induct the names with the most wins over the readers’ poll’s four-decade history into the Best of Madison Hall of Fame.

image with cover of Madison Magazine and an open spread offering a subscription deal