5 Madison, WI restaurants that take you around the world
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5 spots you don’t want to miss featuring global fare!

from Mexican to Italian and West African fare, here are some great international restaurants in Madison, WI

5 Madison, WI restaurants to try NOW for global flavors

The weather is heating up and so are the restaurant options throughout Madison, WI. The diversity of food offerings is increasing as well, and we are here to take you on a global food adventure, without leaving Madison. Here are 5 Madison, WI restaurants to try now for delicious bites that will take you from Italy to Colombia and all the way to West Africa.

Whether you are wanting tacos (who isn’t), West African food, Colombian food, Italian or ramen, we found something for you.

Camp Cantina

1503 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711

Located across from Camp Randall on the intersection of Monroe St. and Regent St., Camp Cantina is a family-owned restaurant that serves up big flavors and portions for a great price. Hailing from Guanajuanto, Mexico, the owners of Camp Cantina showcase decades-old family recipes that are regional variations on Mexican classics.

The Guajillo Pork (which is the recipe of the owner’s great, great grandmother) was extremely tender and flavorful. We also ordered Tacos Dorados (fried cheesy potato tacos topped with lettuce, onion, tomato, and salsa — delicious!

There’s a lot of new restaurants popping up on Monroe Street — and most of them are $25+ per plate or more. They’re also usually backed by either big-time restaurateurs (like Lallande) and/or investors. It’s so nice to have a restaurant in the area that is affordable (not college food!) but still offers great food and a comfortable dining experience. 9/10, will be returning!

La Pollera Colombiana

3579 E Washington Ave Madison, WI 53704

La Pollera Colombiana is in a large, welcoming space on E. Washington and decorated with murals of life in Colombia, including hats and ponchos on the walls. In Spanish, La Pollera is a hencoop, chicken run or basket for chickens. 

The menu was extensive with many options. The Filete A La Francesa, a French style filet with lemon sauce was delicious. The lemon-garlic sauce was well-balanced. The fish was light and baked with a nice breaded crust. The combo platter of steak, roasted chicken, pork and chicharon was abundant and decadent — every single thing was chock full of flavor.The maduros, deep fried ripe plantains, was caramelized and the perfect addition to the plate The sweet limonada quite sweet but refreshing. his spot fills up around meal times!

Les Delices de Awa

2045 Atwood Ave Madison, WI 53704

A taste of the Ivory Coast comes to Madison’s east side! Awa Sibi came to Madison from the Ivory Coast in 2015 to pursue her education, and today finally has her own brick and mortar restaurant on Atwood Avenue. Her path was not easy. She, like many immigrants, left her son at home while she came to pursue her degree. Eventually she was able to bring him over, but her struggles were just beginning. Her son has cerebral palsy and the medical bills stacked up, and she found herself in an abusive relationship. 

While in a shelter she enrolled in a 7-week program for personal and professional development. She eventually started her own catering company, and finally after several years of planning has a restaurant where we can now sit and enjoy the delicious cuisine in a welcoming and artfully decorated space. 

My favorites are the fried fish or roasted chicken, with delicious sides such as yucca, plantain or attieke, a fluffy grain that comes from cassava. She does have vegan and gluten free options (much of the dishes are naturally gluten free). No alcohol is served, but the case of fresh juices and soft drinks is welcome. Be on the lookout for weekend specials such as jollof rice with fish!


1301 Regent St, Madison, WI 53715

Fabiola’s offers classic Italian lunch/dinner staples, pastas, sandwiches, and craft cocktails — all at the heart of ever-changing (and soon to be more fancy and expensive) Regent St. It was created to bring Italian red sauce restaurants back to the Greenbush neighborhood — an area that was once known for its Italian immigrant population.

The Spaghetti Puttanesca — known as the chef’s favorite dish on the menu — was great! It was equally fruity (tomato), spicy (chile pepper?) and savory/umami/salty (anchovies). Super balanced and I like how it wasn’t drenched in the sauce but rather a well-balanced pasta dish. It came with green beans and cooked carrots which were delicious and made me feel like my Italian grandmother made it just for me and that I needed to eat my veggies. (I don’t have an Italian G-ma but I hope you understand what I’m saying. It’s very homey.)

Like many restaurants in the area, its audience is a mix of wealthy suburbanites and college kids. Weirdly, they’ve made a very attractive restaurant for both! This is a high-end-feeling date night restaurant for couples, yet it’s affordable enough for college kids who want something comforting and home-cooked. You can get an $80 bottle of wine, apps, pasta and dessert and feel like a king, but you can also get a plate of pasta and a breadbasket and be just as happy.

Zen Ramen

4674 Cottage Grove Rd. Madison, WI 53716

Zen Ramen was open in late 2023 in a strip mall on Cottage Grove Road in Madison, WI. However, this ramen is not necessarily what you would expect in a strip mall restaurant. Zen has a way to perfectly balance flavors and textures in their ramen. A rich, not-too-salty, broth drives the flavor you will taste in the heaping bowl of handmade noodles and locally sourced ingredients. Try a ramen with one of their authentic appetizers–Takoyaki, if you dare (squid balls). Enjoy the taste of Japan, without the flight with a big bowl of flavorful and tasty Zen Ramen ramen.

Want to enjoy more local global flavors? Join us on a food tour!

Looking for more great global bites and sips in Madison? Join us on our newly launched Willy Street tour! We visit 5 spots to enjoy a diversity of global flavors while exploring this vibrant and historic neighborhood. Learn more here or book your next tour here!