by Ted Burns

Madison is home to one of the biggest farmer’s markets in the country, a huge university and a good contingent of lawyers so it should come as no surprise that the restaurant scene has flourished downtown, close to the center of the action at the University and capital. While you can still find a fish fry every friday there are multitude of dining options for the fussy, budget conscious, or discriminating traveler. Here are some local options to check out while in town for 2012 Cyclocross Nationals.

Weary Traveler: Run by some cyclists who support a team and race cyclocross. Top of the pile just for that … food was solid and bar is a local favorite. It’s a little out of the way but will feel like home for most cyclists.

The Great Dane: Also a decent bar, but more of a scene. There are a few of these in different spots in Madison and Verona so it has a bit of a cool chain vibe.

L’Etoile: Fantastic & expensive high end french type of fare. The new location right across from the capital gives you a feeling of being close to the seat of power. Reservations needed.

Graze: A slightly cheaper, casual sister restaurant to L’etoile. I saw Wellens and Roberts eating here the night before their race. I was eating fried chicken and waffles (awesome), they weren’t. Pansies. Reservations needed.

Ocean Grill: Recommend the seared tuna for dinner. Also right next to the capital and pretty pricey.

Harvest: Local, organic, and pricey. Still a great option if you are going out for a nice dinner.

Natt Spil: Great bar and restaurnat run by the same folks that own the Weary Traveler. Also on the capital square.

The Old Fashioned: If you want to taste Wisconsin in one restaurant this is your spot. Get some cheese curds, brats, and a real beer within spitting distance of the capital square. Line ups can get long if you go late.

Marigold Kitchen: Awesome breakfast. A little precious but great food.

Sunroom Cafe: A breakfast option found on State Street, so if you want to check out the University and grab a quick breakfast this is a spot.

Mickeys Dairy Bar: A Madison institution right across from the Camp Randall Stadium. Great breakfast option and cheap.

Cluvers: This dinner/fast food joint is known for their custard and butter burgers. Thats right… that’s a burger fried in butter. Definitely the place to go AFTER your race. You can find Culvers spread through out Madison and Dane County.

Smokeys Dinner Club: Classic steak house food and experience. Awesome bar, and spot of the Cyclocross Magazine/ happy hour on Thursday January 5 at 7:30.

Gray’s Tied House: a brew pub in Verona right around the corner from the race venue. The beer is good which is always a plus and the location is convenient.

Brasserie V: A great Belgian/French restaurant in Madison that doesn’t break the bank. Who would have thought? Brasserie V is located on Monroe street, an easy target if you are heading back to your hotel downtown after the race.

Stay tuned for more details, and be sure to keep up on the latest Nationals news through Cyclocross Magazine’s coverage of the event on our 2012 Cyclocross National Championships page.