4 Best Burgers in Madison (You Haven’t Tried Yet)
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4 Best Burgers in Madison (You Haven’t Tried Yet)

four Madison burgers that deserve a taste!

Madison is a paradise for burger lovers. But with so many great burgers, some will fly under the radar. Here are four Madison burgers that deserve a taste!

Throw a stone anywhere in Madison — you’re likely to hit a restaurant that makes a mean burger. This is America’s Dairyland, for cripe’s sake! We have some of the best beef, world-class cheese (of course), award-winning bakeries, farm-fresh produce, and decades of renowned burger culture built upon the hard work of Wisconsin farmers, artisans, and cows across the state. In short: Madison is an incredible place to eat burgers.

But in a city with an abundance of burgers, many will fall under the radar. Some great burgers barely miss out on the Cap Times annual best burger list; others get buried in “What’s the Best Burger in Madison???” Reddit threads by newer, trendier burger joints or the usual four or five mainstays. A few great burgers hide away at restaurants known for dishes other than burgers. 

It’s time to cut through the hype and explore some burger “deep cuts” — burgers that, for whatever reason, don’t get as much of the limelight. Here are four of the best burgers in Madison you might not have tried that are worth the visit.

The Best Burger Hiding on The Menu: 107 State

107 State St

107 State, an upscale tavern at the top of State Street, could be the best Madison restaurant you’ve never heard of — until now. Once you go, you’ll quickly realize why it’s a hidden gem of State. You’ll also realize why its DairyLand Bliss Burger — a smashburger with pickles, griddled onion, American cheese, and Wisco sauce (no substitutions, please) that is absolutely delicious and one of the best burgers in Madison — still gets overlooked in favor of other dishes on the menu. 

Owner and Chef Nathan Mergen used some of the finest local ingredients and decades of NYC culinary experience to create the Bliss Burger. But he also used all of those talents and resources to create the Chef’s Beef Ragu Ziti (divine) and the Roasted Mushroom Crostini (insane) — two of many Italian-inspired dishes you just can’t find anywhere else in Madison. It’s easy to say “I can get a great burger somewhere else” when some amazing pasta dishes are staring you in the face.

With that said, now you have no excuses. Next time you’re at 107, opt for the burger — or at least split one as an app before you dive into your favorite pasta dish. The pasta with shrimp is divine.

The Best Burger Your Dad Refuses to Try: Walnut Burger at Harmony Bar

2201 Atwood Ave.

We all know the type: the person who takes an issue with any burger that isn’t made of beef. It’s not a matter of taste to them — it’s a matter of principle.

If reading the above paragraph reminds you of someone you know — or even worse, feels like looking in a mirror — then it’s time for an intervention. There’s no need to give up your beloved beef burgers. All you have to do is try Harmony Bar’s Walnut Burger: a decades-old recipe from one of the most culturally significant restaurants/venues/third spaces/karaoke bars/open mic spots/Packer bars/Badger bars in Madison. (It does all of those things well.)

With an oh-so-secret walnut patty recipe, Wisconsin cheese, and just about any fixings you could imagine (choose the fried onions over raw), your taste buds might not even know it’s not meat. We encourage skeptics to love and appreciate the Walnut Burger for what it is: a burger that’s so good, it doesn’t need to be beef.

The Best Post-Hype Sleeper Burger: Oakcrest Tavern

5371 Old Middleton Rd.

Let’s not kid ourselves: the Oakcrest Tavern has, at many points, been hyped and talked about in the Madison food scene. So why is it on this list of underappreciated burgers and burger joints?

In short: road construction. Heavy road and infrastructure improvements on Old Middleton Rd. have had major impacts on businesses in the area. Throw COVID into the mix and it’s safe to assume the Oakcrest has faced some adversity in recent years.
Now that most of the major construction appears to be complete (for now), we’d suggest returning to the beloved Oakcrest for a burger, a beer, and some of the best sweet potato fries in town. They add steak trimmings to their ground beef for a uniquely rich and juicy patty, and their vast toppings selection allows you to make the perfect burger for your unique taste buds. Feeling hungry hungry? Upgrade to the three-quarter pound Hungry Burger that will leave even the biggest burger lovers with leftovers.


The Worth-The-Drive Burger: Paoli Pub

6893 Paoli Rd, Belleville, WI

No matter how you pronounce it, Paoli is a cute and charming farm village south of Verona. While some new purveyors have set up shop in Paoli in recent years, let’s not forget about the Paoli Pub. Located on right on the main drag in Paoli, this pub + grill is just a short drive from downtown Madison.

Choose a hefty house favorite burger, or build your own. The beef for Paoli Pub’s third-pound patties is sourced locally and pairs excellently with their selection of fresh toppings and sides — or an ice cold beer. It has that hometown feel of a bar with lots of TVs, pull tabs, great staff, friendly locals, and of course, burgers that are worth the journey to taste.

Looking for more great Madison food recommendations? Book a public or private tour with one of our food experts and dive deeper into Madison’s food scene. We’d love to tell you about our favorite spots!