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

    Oct 22 2019

    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 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!

    Cadre
    2540 University Ave
    Madison, WI 53705

    Goat cheese curds from Cadre

    Cadre is a brand-new restaurant taking over the space where Oliver’s Public House used to be. Luckily, they’re keeping a favorite menu item from Oliver’s on the Cadre menu: the Chevre Cheese Curd. Made with a bleu goat cheese and served with chili honey and pickled radish, these are by far the most unique cheese curds on this list. The flavors in this scrumptious appetizer go spectacularly well together. The fried batter smoothes out the sharp edges of the goat cheese. 

    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!

    Graze
    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. 

    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.

    Lucille
    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!

    The Tin Fox
    2616 Monroe St
    Madison, WI 53711

    Tin Fox gluten free pancake battered curds

    At Tin Fox, you can feast in a mash-up of brunch and cheese curds in this sweet and savory twist. The pancake batter – yes, you read that right! – is rich and crispy, and instead of a dipping sauce, these cheese curds are prepared with a maple syrup glaze. In fact, this delightful appetizer triggered memories of funnel cakes and other fair food! As a bonus, the Tin Fox has a dedicated gluten-free fryer, so these cheese curds are a great choice for gluten sensitive cheese lovers.

    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.

    Written for Madison Eats by Shona Mitteldorf

    Otehlia Cassidy stands in front of the WI State Capitol.

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