UW-Madison: Food on a Budget
ian's pizza in madison

Ian’s in Madison (John Fischer : Flickr)

We know money is tight for students at UW-Madison. That’s the one big negative that comes alongside all the great things about being in college. We also know that students love food. Especially in a town like Madison with so many great dining options. So we’ve scoured the internet (mainly Yelp, honestly) and found the best options for UW-Madison food that won’t ruin your budget.

Being (almost) broke doesn’t mean you can’t occasionally enjoy a quality meal.

Mediterranean Café

The Mediterranean Café has long been a favorite spot for Badgers.  Their Shawarma Plate has received rave reviews and visitors often comment on the sizable portions of food that are given at a reasonable price. Many would say they also have the best hummus in Madison and who can go wrong with that?

But if you’re going to head to the Mediterranean Café, you better plan ahead. They’re only open from 10 AM – 4:30 PM Monday through Saturday.

Our Favorite Yelp Review:

My favorite Mediterranean restaurant! The Lamb and Beef plate is my go to. The owner and workers are so kind. I used to eat here all the time when I was in college. I came back for a visit 8 years later and this was my first stop. Love it!

Taqueria Guadalajara

Taqueria Guadalajara boasts that it has the best authentic homemade Mexican food in Madison on its website.  Best of all, its tacos are just two dollars every day. Truly any day can turn into taco Tuesday at that price. Reviews rave about everything from the burritos to the tortas.

And if you’re stuck at home studying, fear not, because this taqueria delivers. But, word to the wise – they prefer cash to credit. Stop at an ATM before you arrive and you’ll be blown away about how fast and (wallet) friendly the experience is.

Our Favorite Yelp Review:

1416. In case you were wondering that’s how many miles it is from the Madison to the border of Mexico. You could drive that, or just dine right here in Madison for authentic Mexican cuisine. 

Ian’s Pizza

With a website like theirs, how could Ian’s have anything but fantastic pizza? A late night staple in Milwaukee and Madison, Ian’s offers interesting pizza options like Smoked Brisket and Tots, Macadilla Killa and Chipotle Sweet Potato by the (very large) slice.

Just be sure to get to Ian’s before the bars close and the line extends from Frances Street to the Capitol Building.

Our Favorite Yelp Review:

I had the chicken cordon bleu and a salad pizza.  Yup I had salad on top of my pizza and it was drizzled with a thick balsamic sauce, pretty freaking awesome.  The cordon bleu was great too.

OSS Madison

Feel free to start a meal at OSS with the cheese curds, but be sure that your meal includes a sausage of some sort. After all, OSS means Old School Sausages (we think).  And if you enjoy a meal and think of a creative idea at once, head over to the website and submit your own sausage recipe.

So if you’re interested in taking a few steps away from State Street once in a while, head over to OSS and enjoy a Fundido or a Banh Mi for under seven bucks!

Our Favorite Yelp Review:

Just woke up from an OSS induced food coma that lasted 2 days. Worth it? I think so!

Indie Coffee

A place so independent they use a .net rather than a .com. This coffee shop is consistently voted one of the finest coffee shops across colleges in America.

But coffee isn’t all they do right. The waffles are constantly earning praise and they offer a bevy of sandwiches and salads as well. So feel free to start your day or stop in for lunch at Indie Coffee.

Our Favorite Yelp Review:

 WAFFLES WAFFLES. I CAN’T HEAR YOU OVER THE SOUND OF THE WAFFLES. Cranberry walnut multigrain = a choice you will never regret.

Callie Kollenbroich has been the Operations Coordinator and Content Writer/Editor at Rent College Pads since 2015. When she’s not working, you can find her at home, eating peanut butter out of the jar and bingeing an unhealthy amount of Forensic Files. She’s not as lame as she sounds.

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