A table at The Canteen gave us a chance to sample Madison's tempting taqueria.

Madison’s Tempting Taqueria – The Canteen

Exploring sure can leave us with an appetite. Fortunately, we found that downtown Madison, Wisconsin is filled to the brim with dining options. When lunchtime rolled around, we decided to try our luck at The Canteen. Located in clear view of the capitol building, this place has earned a reputation as Madison’s tempting taqueria, on the square. That’s quite a feat, considering that this area of the city is flush with dining options. We were in heavy-duty research mode, so a delicious lunch was needed to refuel for our afternoon adventures.

We want to thank Destination Madison for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own. 

The iconic design of The Canteen fits well on the capital square.

Down on the Corner

Our morning had already been filled with activity, including a visit to the Wisconsin Historical Museum. The afternoon would gear up with another museum and a tour of the capital, so our time was limited for lunch. The choice of The Canteen had been made long ago, during our planning phase. Tons of positive reviews had piqued our interest in sampling some South-of-the-Border dishes. We landed on the doorstep just as the staff was unlocking the door for a new day of service. I’m sure we looked anxious, but the truth is, we were!

The brightly colored interior bespeaks the tasty delights to come.

First Dibs

Sure enough, we were the first customers of the day. Our server led us to a table in the galley-shaped dining room. Bright colors and decorative accents surrounded us from all angles. The use of handwoven bowls adds an extra pop of color, as does the flower-themed wallpaper. Heavy wooden tables and chairs lend a comfortable feeling to the space. Our first surprise came when our server brought out a serving of Duritos instead of the traditional chips & salsa. These crispy wagon wheels of puffed wheat are kicked up with the addition of chili-lime tajin spice. It’s a light and airy snack that quickly became addicting.

A pair of Fish Tacos lend plenty of flavor and color to our table at Madison's tempting taqueria.

Seafood Success

We would have loved to linger over our mealtime, but the clock was ticking. I was looking for a filling meal that brought some interesting flavors to the table. The Canteen offers nearly a dozen options of tacos-by-the-twos. (A fun way to call out a pair.) Being just a stone’s throw from Lake Monona, I opted for Fish Tacos. This particular choice can be grilled or Tecate beer-battered, which I preferred. Red cabbage slaw, citrus salsa, cilantro, and Morita crema add their unique flavors and textures to the dish.  Each taco is served on a pair of white corn tortillas, which is helpful to hold in all of the flavors. A squeeze of lime and I was ready to devour these twins.

There is plenty of filling in the Classic Burrito at The Canteen.

Big ‘Ole Burrito

Crystal had been snacking on some Chips and Queso Dip while perusing the menu. When she selected the Classic Burrito, it was no surprise to me. Packed to bursting with Mexican rice, refried black beans, and savory chicken; it was calling her name. The flavors don’t stop there, as they also toss in avocado, Chihuahua cheese, and creamy poblano sauce. A cup of salsa verde is provided for those wanting to kick it up a notch. This over-plump offering was sure to challenge her appetite.

The authors enjoy some tasty treats at Madison's tempting taqueria.

Madison’s Tempting Taqueria

If only time would have been on our side, we could have swung back by for their Happy Hour. We would have enjoyed sampling one of their signature margaritas, as well as checking out more of the taco variations. Unfortunately, the life of travel bloggers does come with its own burdens to bear. Still, we were thrilled to have this opportunity to enjoy Madison’s tempting taqueria on the square. With lunch under our belts, it was time to return to our explorations. So much to see and do, but so little time. Perhaps you will have a chance to linger and enjoy this downtown destination.

the authors signatures.

2 thoughts on “Madison’s Tempting Taqueria – The Canteen”

  1. Thank you for visiting Canteen in Madison. As the GM, I’m happy to hear that your experience was good. I’m glad our team took care of you.

    We hope to see you again soon!

    Arle Montes and the Canteen Team

    1. We certainly enjoyed discovering your restaurant. The ambiance is very relaxed and the location makes it perfect for anyone visiting the nearby attractions. We hope to make it back your way in the future.

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