On the Cheese Curd Trail – Twelve Best Places for Fried Cheese Curds in Madison, WI – Madison Eats Food Tours
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On the Cheese Curd Trail – Twelve Best Places for Fried Cheese Curds in Madison, WI

October 15 is National Cheese Curd Day, but we’re celebrating all year round with – you guessed it! – as many cheese curds as our stomachs can handle. Take a DIY cheese curd tour with us by sampling some of our favorite fried cheese curds from local Madison, WI area restaurants. From cheddar and muenster to goat cheese, we love our cheese curds battered, fried and melted perfection! Paired with a range of dipping sauces from the classic ranch to more inventive options like chile lime aioli, you’re sure to satisfy your craving for this Wisconsin tradition! Prefer squeaky fresh curds? We’ll tell you where to get fresh curds year round!

Did we list your favorite cheese curds in Madison? What other places are a must-try? Let us know!

1 S Pinckney St
Madison, WI 53703

Cheese curds from Graze

Nothing could be more Madison than eating fried cheese curds with a beautiful view of the Wisconsin State Capitol. Graze kicks their cheese curds up a notch by swapping the traditional beer batter for a vodka batter. This creates a deliciously light fried curd that holds back on greasiness. Graze is known for their farm-to-table values and for using local ingredients, so it’s no surprise that they source their cheddar curds from the award-winning Hook’s in Mineral Point, Wisconsin. Served with a house made ranch dressing, these cheese curds are indulgent, rich, and utterly delightful. Pair it with a brunch favorite — tofu scramble. And yes, cheese curds are on their brunch menu, too. 

Craftsman Table & Tap
6712 Frank Lloyd Wright Ave.
Middleton, WI 53562

Craftsman Tap and Table Curds

Craftsman Table & Tap is in the heart of downtown Middleton. They’ve got that upscale brewpub vibe with industrial chic aesthetics. As for their food, they have mastered the classic cheese curd. Beautifully presented in a metal tin and served with buttermilk ranch, this appetizer checks all the boxes. The Wisconsin cheese from Carr Valley tastes phenomenal, and they’re perfectly fried into oozing golden nuggets. Yum!

Curd Girl

Curd Girl curds

Cheese curds and food carts come together in perfect harmony with this delightful treat. Curd Girl focuses solely on this one Wisconsin tradition, so you know they’ve spent time and effort getting curds right! Since they’re out seasonally, it’s best to never pass up the opportunity to indulge when you see this food cart out and about. Most recently, we caught them at Taste of Madison over Labor Day Weekend. Keep your eyes peeled for the next time they’re slinging curds – you won’t want to miss out!

The Great Dane
123 E. Doty St
Madison, WI 53703
(multiple locations)

Great Danes cheese curds

In the 25 years since the Great Dane first opened its downtown location, they have expanded to include five total locations: three in Madison, one in Fitchburg, and one in Wausau. All include their Old Glory Cheese Curds on the menu, served with a Roasted Hatch green chili crema, which has just the slightest kick of spiciness. The best part is that these cheese curds are offered on their late night menu, making Great Dane the best place to go to satisfy your cheese craving in the middle of the night.

Heritage Tavern
131 E Mifflin St
Madison, WI 53703

Heritage Tavern bacon-wrapped cheese curds

Heritage Tavern’s upscale cheese curds are delicately fried, served with three different dipping sauces – buttermilk, carrot-gochujang and truffled fish sauce. And they’re bacon-wrapped. Need we say more?! Most cheese curds leave me craving a beer, but these light tempura style fritters pair better with a cocktail – perfect for a higher end bar-restaurant with a great selection of house specialty drinks and craft cocktails! Bonus: the order comes with tempura battered sweet potatoes which are a healthy addition to the plate.

101 King St
Madison, WI 53703

Lucilles cheese curds with two dipping sauces

Lucille gracefully blends bar, restaurant, and lounge to provide great food and a superb experience. They may be best known for their wood-fired pizzas, but everything they do, they do with care and skill, and the Cedar Grove cheese curds are no exception. They come with your choice of ranch or chile-lime aioli (of course, I chose both). The flavor of this crispy batter is exceptional. They’re served with a sprinkle of parsley, but I swear there’s a hint of lemon in there too, which goes particularly well with the slight kick of chile in the aioli dipping sauce. And then do get a pizza too – I particularly like the Don Quixote when it’s in season. 

Next Door
2439 Atwood Ave
Madison, WI 53704

Next Door Brewing beer battered curds

Next Door blends the best of brewpub and sports bar in a beautifully open restaurant layout. They mix things up by using muenster cheese instead of the classic cheddar to create their mouthwatering, oversized, cheese curds, served with a creamy ranch dressing. At Next Door, they’re passionate about their beers, adding it as an ingredient to many of their recipes – including, of course, in the batter of these curds. To satiate your sweet tooth at the end of your meal, you can even order a beer pie! 

The Old Fashioned
23 N Pinckney St
Madison, WI 53703

The Old Fashioned Cheese Curds

You just can’t talk about cheese curds in Madison without mentioning the Old Fashioned, and the No. 13 certainly lives up to its blue ribbon reputation. For me, what sets these curds apart is the cheese itself. The yellow cheddar is a concentrated pack of cheesy flavor, and tastes so good that the array of dipping sauce options seems almost unnecessary. Pictured here is the Spanish paprika and the buttermilk ranch. Both were delicious and the perfect consistency for a cheese curd condiment!

Right Bauer Brewing
239 E Main St
Sun Prairie, WI 53590

Right Bauer Brewing Fried Cheese Curds

Right Bauer has the self-proclaimed “best cheese curds in town” so of course, I had to give them a shot! Located on Main Street in Sun Prairie, Right Bauer is cozy and family-friendly. Patrons can choose to sit at the bar, grab a table, or even borrow a board game while enjoying their food and drink. For me, the real winner was their aioli dipping sauce!

121 S Pinckney St (Doty St),
Madison, WI

curds from Merchant – Photo courtesy

These cheese curds are light and delicious with a tang. These buttermilk fried Cedar Grove Curds and delicous! FAn fave is the buffalo sauce for a kick. Wash that down with a craft cocktail or a beer.

Tipsy Cow
102 King St
Madison, WI 53703

Tipsy Cow Fried cheese curds

For a neighborhood brewpub vibe in the heart of downtown Madison, get your cheese curds at the Tipsy Cow. My advice? Go for the goat. In addition to a traditional cow cheese curd, there’s the option for local goat cheese, and they’re absolutely worth the extra couple of dollars. Where their typical cheese curd is smooth and mild, their goat cheese curd is sharper and tastes great with the crispy, peppery beer batter. And if you can’t decide which to try, treat yourself by getting a half-order of each!

Dane County Farmers’ Market (squeaky fresh curds)

Let’s celebrate those fresh curds! Without them there would be no fried curds.  There are so many choices during the summer months at the outdoor market. Farmer Johns’ Cajun spiced curds and garlic curds are always popular. McCluskey Brothers, Schroeder Kase and Hook’s fresh curds are always a favorite.  La Clare Farms goat cheese curds are tangy and delicious. During the winter months the selection is more limited, but still fresh and direct from the farmer to your mouth. In the summer months join us on our Taste of the Farmers’ Market Tour for a taste of the delicious morsels of Wisconsin goodness.

Dotty’s Dumpling’s Dowry
317 N Frances Street
Madison, WI 53703-1970

Dotty’s White Cheddar curds are ever popular and make a great side to their famous burgers! Served with a delicious house-made ranch and honey mustard sauce–both pair well. Wash it down with a beer and your weekend is on.

Written for Madison Eats by Shona Mitteldorf