Easing Into the East Side

By Shayna Mace | Photo by Nicole Hansen Photography

When you explore the East Side of the city, it truly feels like the embodiment of Madison. Tidy bungalow homes dot tree-lined streets and businesses beckon locals and visitors alike to stop in for a vegetarian burger, a sweet treat or an herb-infused (not that kind) brew. Let’s explore a few blocks.


Fortune Favors (formerly Nutkrack) specializes in seasoned pecans — take your pick of sweet and salty, sweet and savory, and chili spiked — along with a few other flavors. Gail Ambrosius Chocolatier, whose business used to be in Fortune’s spot, is now conveniently located across the street. Her single-origin dark chocolate truffles and bars are influenced by her travels abroad — think: truffles laced with lemongrass and ginger, cinnamon and cayenne, and sweet curry with saffron.


Need a refreshment? Herbiery Brewing opened in June 2023 and brews hop- free beer. “We brew without hops because it allows more subtle, herbal flavors to be present in the beers … the taste is similar to traditional beer … all other ingredients (barley, yeast, etc.) remain the same,” explains founder and owner Nia Ryan. Sample a ginger lager, sage wit beer, chamomile raspberry blonde ale and more. Ideal Bar’s signage, brick and glass block window exterior lends it an air of old-school charm. Inside is much the same, with black-and-white checkered flooring, pool tables and cheap drinks.


This area is a hotbed of good eats. Stop by the quirky and colorfully-appointed Tex Tubb’s Taco Palace for tacos (obviously!) the salsa bar and hand-squeezed margaritas. Across the street is Bar Corallini, a sophisticated spot with a moody vibe for Italian coastal cuisine. Alchemy Café is open seven days a week for lunch and dinner — and you won’t regret ordering the stuffed grilled cheese with broccoli, carrots, tomato, red onion, cheddar, swiss and cilantro pesto sauce on grilled sourdough. (Tip: when it’s warm, sit outside in their quaint alleyway, adorned with murals.)

A neighborhood stalwart, The Green Owl has been serving vegetarian and vegan eats since 2009. Try their deluxe nachos with jackfruit carnitas (in place of beef) and cashew cheez sauce (subbed in for queso). Just want a burger and beer? The proudly divey Players Sports Bar can perfectly fulfill this desire.


  • Thorps Haircuts & Color smartly- appointed space is the place to go for cuts and color.
  • Need new specs? Sokol Advanced EyeCare can help with that.
  • Sell your old CDs and records or buy your next beloved soundtrack at MadCity Music.
  • Book a massage, Reiki or salt room session at SolEscape Healing Arts.
  • New! The Wedge, a beer and cheese bar, just opened in the former One Barrel Brewing Co. space.
  • Rooted in Sanity Kava Lounge, Madison’s first kava bar, serves kava drinks, mock- tails and coffee drinks.
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