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Upscale American and the first restaurant in town to promote sustainable, organic produce from the region. This is the special occasion place you make your parents take you when they visit, since they have literally hundreds of wine bottles in their cellar. L’Etoile 1 S. Pinckney St., Madison, WI (on the Capital Square); 608-251-0500

Marigold Kitchen

Just off the Capitol Square, Marigold is an excellent choice for breakfast, lunch or brunch. The egg dishes are hearty and the produce is as local and seasonal as it gets. Also great for small groups, but be warned: it’s super-busy on weekends. Marigold Kitchen 118 S. Pinckney St., Madison, WI; 608-661-5559

Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry

One of my favorite places to visit as a student, and continues to be one of the best burger and fry combos anywhere. Be sure to get their onions rings and fried cheese curds, to go along with one of the local beers on tap. Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry 317 N. Frances St., Madison, WI; 608-259-0000

Heritage Tavern

Located just one block from Madison’s capitol square, Heritage Tavern combines old world elegance with global inspiration and Wisconsin’s finest ingredients. Their expertly crafted, seasonal cocktails are a must. Heritage Tavern 131 East Mifflin St., Madison, WI 53703; (608) 283-9500