Restaurants That Give Back

With so many great nonprofits in the Madison area, it’s no wonder these great places pay it forward

TOP PHOTO BY AMANDA GUNDERMAN

Roman Candle Pizzeria gives back by supporting programs for the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin

Madison’s a city that loves its food. We’re passionate about our local restaurants and the devotion many have not only to serving up stellar dishes but also working with nearby farmers and producers to offer the freshest seasonal ingredients. We’re also a city that loves to give back—evident by the inspiring number of nonprofit organizations making tangible differences for people in need here. In a delicious committment to collaboration, many area eateries have teamed up with local nonprofits, meaning Madisonians can give back while chowing down. Here is just a sampling of restaurants doing good. 

The Roman Candle Pizzeria

1054 Williamson St., 258-2000

Are you craving a pesto, BBQ chicken or Vegan Destroyer pie tonight? Specializing in pizzas featuring local ingredients and creative combinations, Roman Candle elevates the delivery, take-out or dine-in experience. (And in the rare case you have a pizza hater in your horde, note that it also serves up great pastas and salads.) Though all three Roman Candle outposts are neighborhood-friendly, the Willy Street spot has assisted in coordinating food and fund drives and sponsored events for the Second Harvest Foodbank of Southern Wisconsin. $$ BOM

Graze and L’Etoile 

1 S. Pinckney St., 251-2700 (Graze), 251-0500 (L’Etoile)

L’Etoile and Graze’s commitment to regional farmers and producers is well known. But that focus results in more than just outstanding food showcasing local ingredients. The sister restaurants donate compostable items to UW’s F.H. King Student Gardens and have contributed to the efforts of American Family Children’s Hospital, the Clean Lakes Alliance and Eat for Equity community feasts. Chef Tory Miller has also served as the volunteer cook at Taste of the Market breakfasts during the winter months. $$$ (Graze) $$$$ (L’Etoile) BOM

Nitty Gritty

223 N. Frances St., 251-2521

Sample the Nitty Gritty’s new brunch menu and make a difference, too! On Saturdays and Sundays, as part of Color a Plate for Hungry Kate—Second Harvest Foodbank’s giving campaign—Madison’s birthday destination donates $1 for each kids’ menu that’s been colored. Can’t make it to brunch? On Mondays, the Gritty donates ten percent of its lunch sales to the food bank. $ BOM

The Coopers Tavern

20 W. Mifflin St., 256-1600

This Capitol Square hotspot, known for European-inspired dishes and an impressive beer list, recently hosted the third installment of Plough and Barrel, a dinner series by the FairShare CSA Coalition. The group works to connect community-supported agriculture farmers with local consumers, ensuring that the quality and accessibility of CSA shares is steadily increasing. The three-course dinners featured foods from FairShare farms and drinks by local breweries and Wollersheim Winery. All proceeds go directly to FairShare. $$

Madison Sourdough Co.

916 Williamson St., 442-8009

To make some of the best bread in town, Madison Sourdough turns to local producers—Lonesome Stone Milling, Sassy Cow Creamery and Yuppie Hill Poultry, to name a few—for some of the best ingredients around. And the bakery’s dedication to the community doesn’t stop there. In February, Madison Sourdough was a contributor to the Souper Bowl, a community meal event combining art, music and food that benefits Habitat for Humanity of Dane County. $$ BOM

The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.

123 E. Doty St., 284-0000

You can now purchase that growler of Crop Circle Wheat guilt-free. The Great Dane has long been a corporate partner in community giving in Madison, backing Big Brothers Big Sisters of Dane County, Domestic Abuse Intervention Services and Centro Hispano, to name just a few. Every holiday season, generous diners offer donations to Adopt-a-Family, and in the spirit of the season, the Dane matches them while staff personally deliver the gifts with a ho-ho-ho-ing Santa in tow. $$ BOM

Monty’s Blue Plate Diner

2089 Atwood Ave., 244-8505

Come for the pie and stay for the chance to do something good. Dining at Monty’s the second Tuesday of every month supports REAP Food Group’s Farm to School program, which brings local food to area schools. To top it all off, the diner frequently donates to the Goodman Community Center and the Madison Area Community Supported Agriculture Coalition, among others. And it supported Madison-area farms and wineries last summer when it participated in the Farm Stop and Barley Pop Tour. $ BOM

Brasserie V

1923 Monroe St., 255-8500

Inspired by the French phrase “joie de vivre,” this crowd-pleasing taproom exudes European cool. In June, the restaurant hosted Duvel Art Glass night, where restaurantgoers created their own artistic drinking glasses and donated to Second Harvest Foodbank at the same time. Brasserie V and Duvel matched each $5 glass purchase. And in May, the restaurant contributed to the Jazzin’ 2013 raffle ticket efforts benefiting the UW–Madison Campus Child Care Centers. But it doesn’t stop there. Chef Rob Grisham plays up community connections, making it a point to use as many local ingredients as possible in each dish. Some examples include Potter’s Crackers, Hook’s Cheese and Rushing Waters’ rainbow trout. $$

Bunky’s Café

2425 Atwood Ave., 204-7004

With an extensive menu that’ll take you on a tour from Italy through the Mediterranean, Bunky’s is the place to go whether you’re craving an Italian meatball sandwich for lunch or falafel, kabobs or the special spaghetti on the board for dinner. The east-side café also thinks of those in need, donating unused food items to the Fritz Food Pantry, located in the nearby Goodman Community Center. $$

Dotty Dumpling’s Dowry

317 N. Frances St., 259-0000

Love burgers? Then you’re probably a fan of this downtown restaurant’s Wisconsin-raised beef. Dotty’s regularly contributes to local nonprofits by donating gift certificates to worthy causes. Most recently, it partnered with the Clean Lakes Alliance with proceeds benefiting the organization’s efforts as well as raising awareness of World Water Week. $ BOM

Manna Café and Bakery

611 N. Sherman Ave., 663-5500

This popular north-side café attracts a loyal following thanks to its homemade baked goods, hearty breakfasts and fresh sandwiches. Manna shares day-old and still-delicious bread with local food pantries or with organizations that need to feed volunteers. Most notably, the business has contributed to the development of Food Enterprise & Economic Development, or FEED, Kitchens, a shared-use food-processing facility helping entrepreneurs grow their businesses and train potential food service workers. $

Fisher King Winery

102 W. Main St., Mount Horeb, 437-6020

Tasting wine at Fisher King is a treat, thanks in part to the assortment of cheese, meat and chocolate flowing as well as the vino. This small-batch winery held two fundraisers this summer benefiting nearby Wisconsin nonprofits. One day in June, the winery donated its profits to the Alzheimer’s Association of South Central Wisconsin. The next month, a day’s proceeds went to the Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. $$

Botham Vineyards

8180 Langberry Rd., Barneveld, 888-478-9463

We're lucky to have locally produced wine available, but we're even luckier that another one of those local wineries, Botham Vineyards, has been a longtime giver to the Neonatal ICU at St. Mary's Hospital and the Iowa County Humane Society. Funds donated come from Botham's vintage car competition entrance fees and a portion of the proceeds from their annual Vintage Celebration. The Barneveld winery also donates thousands of dollars in product and time to charitable organizations throughout Wisconsin. Cheers to that!  

The Grumpy Troll

105 S. 2nd St., Mt. Horeb, 437-2739

Mt. Horeb's The Grumpy Troll is known for excellent craft beer and pizza, but it deserves much credit for all its charitable efforts as well. A true community partner, Grumpy Troll supports Mt. Horeb organizations like the soccer club, fire department, high school DECA team and the Dane and Iowa county humane societies. Beyond its own town, this restaurant donates ten percent of sales on a chosen day each October to Domestic Abuse Intervention Services, or DAIS. For more information on the many other orgs this eatery supports, visit thegrumpytroll.com/about/community. $$

Don't see your favorite here? We know there are countless eateries that give back to the community. Let us know which other restaurants you'd like to see on this list by emailing gedquist@madisonmagazine.com

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