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The Green Owl Cafe

  • Vegetarian Vegetarian
    ( 44 reviews )
Contact 608-285-5290

1970 Atwood Ave (at Winnebago St), Madison, Wisconsin, USA, 53704

Most of the main entrees are vegetarian versions of traditional meat dishes. Many vegan options, including desserts, marked. Try the soups and the sweet potato fries. Pleasant atmosphere. Open Tue-Sat 11:00am-9:00pm, Sun 10:00am-3:00pm.

Category: Vegan-friendly, Lacto, Ovo, American, Beer/Wine

Reviews (44)

First Review by Boomer

Love It - Edit

I love this place. Wholesome, hearty food, tons of vegan options, intimate environment, house made kombucha. Everything here tastes like it was made from scratch. It's just real food. And it's good. Very good. The people of this neighborhood are so lucky to have the Green Owl.

Pros: Real Food, Kombucha, Vegan Options

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An Oasis - Edit

My husband and I were traveling across the country and went out of our way to visit vegan/vegetarian restaurants along our trip. The Green Owl Cafe was an oasis for these traveling vegans in the not so veg-friendly middle of the country! The majority of the menu is vegan with very diverse options. I ordered the Raw Taco Plate and the Devil Wings and loved them both! My husband ordered the Crabby Cake Po'Boy, but didn't really care for it.
I even bought a cute t-shirt as a souvenir.

Updated from previous review on 2016-08-28

Pros: good vegan options

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3 strikes you're out - Edit

Terrible service, small portions, better food elsewhere. Ordered for takeout, told 15 minutes but it was 40! No apology or anything and kept saying it wouldn't be much longer. They knew they had a large order before us and were talking about it before we ordered. Completely unacceptable. When it was finally brought out the boxes were set on a table. We had to ask for a bag and cutlery which they put on the counter for us to assemble ourselves.

The po'boy was tiny. The Dijon chicken looked big but that was just the bun, the small patty and any flavor got lost in it. Nachos tasted fine. This was our third and last visit here. Expected more from the only vegetarian restaurant in this city. Go to Monty's or one of the food trucks instead. Each visit has included slow service, small portions and uninspiring food.

Pros: Vegetarian restaurant

Cons: Service, Small portions, Better food to be had elsewhere

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Huge selection, all of it delicious. - Edit

The food here is fantastic and there are tons of options. I went with my non-vegan partner and together we tried two entrees, a cocktail, a non-alcoholic specialty drink, and a cake. Everything was delicious. Looking forward to going back soon.

Pros: great flavor, lots of options, excellent drinks

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Best veg•n option for dinner - Edit

I ate at Green Owl Café five times in five days during my recent trip to Madison. (My daily routine, which i highly recommend for veg*n visitors to Madison, was lunch at Ladonia Café at Capitol Square and then dinner at the Green Owl.)

The Green Owl's menu is varied enough that there should be something for just about everyone, ranging from light and flavorful salads to protein-heavy faux-meat dishes, with a lot in between. I particularly enjoyed the raw tacos and devil wings (both starters), the vegan schnitzel, and all of their tasty vegan desserts.

The service is friendly, and the prices are reasonable considering the quality.

Just one request for the management: Please consider adding fresh-pressed veggie and fruit juices.


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Best vegetarian in WI! - Edit

Great selection, quality, and prep of food. Lots of options for GF, vegan, allergy-prone. Nice staff.
We go there every time we're in MadCity and have always been happy.
Update on hours:
(608) 285-5290
1970 Atwood Avenue
Madison, WI 53704
[email protected]
Tues-Sat 11am–9pm
open until 10pm on Friday and Saturday during patio season
Sunday Brunch 10am–3pm
Monday closed

Pros: All healthy vegetarian and vegan food, High quality food and prep, Nice staff

Cons: Only in MadCity!

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Came back for seconds! - Edit

Green Owl is a great choice for vegans. We came back after a great experience our first time during a visit to Madison. The service was very friendly. My only complaint was that they had run out of a few items so we weren't able to order what we wanted. Our favorites were the nachos, raw tacos, and crabby cakes.

Pros: All vegan, Happy servers, Cool atmosphere

Cons: Ran out of menu items

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slow service, food ok - Edit

Went for dinner 8/21/15 8pm. The server told us the kitchen was backed up and our entrees would take at least 45 minutes. I was excited to try it out-love supporting local vegan places whenever possible and am always excited when there are more than one or two vegan options. We thought sandwiches might be quicker, but we were wrong. It was about 50 min for them. At least they were upfront about that. We had the BLT and crabby cake po boy. They were fine, but nothing too memorable. We also had the hummus plate which was good but that's my fallback and I guess I expected more from a vegan joint. Also the beer menu was pretty inaccurate. They were out of almost half of what we tried to order, necessitating a trip to and from the bar each time by the server-made liquid refreshment pretty slow also. The banana brownie almost resuscitated the meal for us-it was great but it's really expecting too much from one square baked good.

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Lots of vegan options - Edit

My husband and I have been here several times now, twice on two different trips to Madison. It's been a tasty experience each time. The decor is fun and very owl-themed. They have a pretty large menu for both food and drinks. Sometimes I forget that this place is not all vegan, since almost everything on the menu is vegan or can be made vegan. I think I enjoy brunch here the best. The breakfast sandwich and hash browns are super delicious. I would not recommend the French toast though; it's basically a small serving of rock hard Italian bread with not much flavor. That's my main complaint about this place - the portions are usually small! We will keep coming back though because the food is really delicious, and we are happy to support the only vegetarian restaurant in Madison. We were a little disappointed with the nachos last time too, as they had very little toppings, almost no vegan cheese, and were almost all just tortilla chips. They also left off the vegan sour cream, which was on there last time. (Thankfully, Tex Tubb's across the street more than made up for this later, as they have a gigantic portion of amazing vegan nachos on their menu for almost the same price.) I'm chalking it up to being short-staffed. They were super busy the last time we were there for lunch. One waitress seemed to be taking care of the whole place. I think they had more help for brunch. Wait time for food is a little long, but I think it's because everything is freshly made.
Updated from previous review on Tuesday July 07, 2015

Pros: friendly, many vegan options, interesting variety of food on menu

Cons: long wait for food when crowded, small portions, somewhat pricey

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Better v*gan food to be had in Madison. - Edit

I've been to the Green owl around half a dozen times, and most of those visits are because they always seem to have a Groupon. The food here is fairly average, with nothing on the menu standing out as as a must-eat, and the portions are small for the prices paid. Go at least once to support an all-vegetarian business, but know that there's much better vegetarian food to be had in this city.

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Delicious in a good location - Edit

Good location with lots of easy parking.
Traveling through Madison and found this thanks to HC.

I had the jambalaya and cornbread was a combination of rice, red beans, tempeh, and vegetables soaked in a smoky sauce. They served it with a side of steamed kale. The cornbread had chunks of corn and red peppers cooked inside. I really enjoyed the smoky flavor of my main dish. It was satisfying and filling. The kale was cooked just right as well. The kale wasn’t cut, so the pile shown above was actually do very large pieces. It made it a bit difficult to eat, but I managed. The flavor of the cornbread was nice, but the texture was very dry. I ended up breaking it apart and trying to soak up every last drop of the magical sauce with it. Desserts looked great as well. I will be back.

Pros: cheap, parking, clearly labeled vegan

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Good but not amazing! - Edit

I went for brunch and ordered the TLT with Kale Chips while my husband ordered the Biscuits & Gravy. I thought my meal was underwhelming (could have very easily made it at home) but his was a bit higher-quality. I wish we had experienced it at night to try some of the other options. In hindsight, I should have been more adventurous with my choice, but I was on a huge TLT kick that week. Whenever I happen in town again I would definitely give it another shot.

Pros: brunch, friendly staff, good value

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great food - Edit

We stopped for lunch while passing through town over the holidays. We liked that the menu is not just the same-old options, lots of interesting use of different ingredients and everything tasted great. Also liked that the kids menu is more on the healthy side, not just fried foods and cheese. Not too hard to get to from the interstate, a definite plus on a long drive.

Pros: great food, good kids menu

Cons: none!

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  Contributions +501

Wonderful Vegan Options - Edit

We love to stop at The Green Owl to eat whenever we're near Madison. The staff has always been very friendly and the food is fantastic. They always have at least one type of vegan cheesecake and it's by far one of the best desserts we've ever had. They have a brunch on Sundays that's really good, as well. Really cute decor with owls everywhere and a relaxed atmosphere. A great place! Our only complaint is with about half of the seating in the restaurant. There's one area with tables, which is nice, and during the warm months you can sit outside. However, if you get seated along the front part of the restaurant you'll most likely be sitting right next to other people. It's a bit uncomfortable.

Pros: Delicious Food, Decent Prices, Friendly & Relaxed Atmosphere

Cons: Seating could be much better

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Rescued Us From a Non-Veg Event! - Edit

I thought this place was amazing. My boyfriend and I went to a wedding where shredded carrots and iceberg lettuce were the only things to eat, so we went to the Green Owl to stuff our faces.

It is very cute inside. The service was great.

We started off with delicious carrot dill soup and side salad. Our main courses were the Schnitzel and Jackfruit Quesadilla.

The quesadilla was our favorite! We were still hungry and also ordered the BBq jackfruit sandwich which was also really good. Quesadilla was still the best though.

We would have gotten dessert, but my sweetie picked me up some cake from Sticky Fingers in DC. :)

Pros: Great Service, Lots of Vegan options

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one of my favorite restaurants in Madison - Edit

Great food. Great service. Their specials change everyday, so there's always something new to try. Save room for dessert! They have the best vegan desserts.

Pros: raw options, raw night, dessert

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a must visit when in madison - Edit

i had the pleasure of visiting this awesome establishment two weeks ago on a weekend trip to madison. i started out with the middle eastern platter, the meatball sub as my main dish and for dessert i indulged in the banana cheesecake with chocolate ganache and a berry sauce. everything was outstanding including the folks running the place - super nice people. i highly recommend this place and would definitely go back if i ever end up in madison again.

Pros: great food, great service, good price

Cons: none

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The Green Owl: A Staple - Edit

What to say about The Green Owl? Well for starters, it is a bit expensive. Entrees are 9-11 dollars and the portion sizes to differ from item to item. Like the BBQ JACKFRUIT {probably my favorite} is a just a sandwich and a salad {or kale chips}, whereas the Vegan SCHNITZEL is a much larger portion. Granted one is a sandwich and the other an entree. Both are fantastic.
Also, I would like to point out that when I say "smaller portions" what I really mean is smaller than many chain restaurants, because really, these portions are healthy here.
Now if you have a sweet tooth and like coconut, I HIGHLY recommend the coconut cream pie. Oh, so good!! And any of the cheesecakes are fantastic.

I am VEGAN and GLUTEN FREE and they offer plenty of options, just ask for a separate Gluten-Free menu.

Jennie Capellaro, the Owner is fantastic! She's so sweet and loves talking to everyone. She's always there, usually up in front, so start chattin away!

Pros: Great tasting vegan, gluten-free options, Great Desserts!, Friendly staff

Cons: A little expensive, Smaller portions

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Absolutely Fantastic! - Edit

I have been here twice now and both times were very excellent. The first time I had the vegan French Toast and the second time I had the BBQ Jackfruit sandwich and a Mango Cheesecake. Both times the food was very delicious. The cheesecake was the best one I have ever had.

Pros: excellent food, great value, very friendly staff

Cons: None

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Charming Veg Restaurant and Tasty Food - Edit

My husband and I visited the Green Owl twice while visiting Madison, and I was very pleased both times. I had the vegan schnitzel with porcini mushroom gravy, and then the crabby cake po boy (both super tasty, especially the po boy). What really stood out however, was the Italian beef sandwich that my husband ordered both time, that was made with seitan and giardiniera and really good. If I am ever in the area again, I would probably order that.
We also split a choc. mint vegan cheesecake that was delicious (all of their desserts were vegan), and I tried their house cocktail of locally made kombucha and vodka. They seem to have several kombucha flavors each day; I tried the ginger and the blackberry. Both were very good.
I highly recommend this restaurant if you are a vegetarian and in Madison.

Pros: Large vegetarian menu, Vegan desserts, Very tasty food

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Best veg food in all of Wisconsin! - Edit

I visited the Green Owl twice while in Madison, once by myself I sat at the counter sipping their delicious home made lemonade and eating a fabulous macro bowl and then again when I brought back my entire family after a wedding. There is indoor and outdoor seating and they staff is so accommodating (I couldn't believe how well they handled my nonveg family!) The macro bowl is exactly what I needed and they did it w/o oil specially for me! The decor is modern and spiffy and there are plenty of ceramic owls to go around! Don't pass this up, they serve breakfast, too!!!

Pros: healthy food, lemonade, kind staff

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Awesome! - Edit

I saw this place on Happycow and stopped here on our way back from the Dells to Michigan. How awesome. Madison is lucky. My girlfriend and I split an Italian "beef" sandwich and it was awesome. Spicy. Delicious. Fun place. The wait staff was super nice and we even got to chat with the owner for a few minutes. Very down to earth people. That was my first time in Madison and already want to go back just for another sandwich.

Pros: wonderful food, wonderful staff

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Great Place to Eat in Madison - Edit

The food at the Green Owl is always great, and most of it is, or can be made, vegan. If you eat there, try one of their desserts, they are absolutely heavenly, and they are almost always all vegan. I have been there with omnivores who loved the food as well, especially the Schnitzel. The Green Owl is always worth a visit!

Pros: Excellent Food, Atmosphere, Friendly Staff

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Awesome Find - Edit

As vegetarians who can't eat gluten or dairy, finding restaurants with tasty options is always a challenge. Green Owl has been a god-send in that way. While the options that meet our needs are a bit limited, what they do have isn't an anemic compromise of an item already on their menu. For example, the gluten free sandwiches are not just the fillings served on lettuce instead of bread! (Sleezey trick used by many restaurants to claim gluten-free options). Green Owl has become a regular for us.

Pros: Excellent Food, Friendly Staff, Great portion sizes

Cons: Need more menu options for gluten free

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Great food, great atmosphere - Edit

I'm in town for business and drove across town to try this place which came recommended by a few locals. I was not disappointed! I had the vegan schnitzel with mushroom gravy, broccoli and roasted potatoes, with an appetizer of kale chips, and creamy broccoli soup. The chocolate lava cake was fantastic. My colleague had never eaten vegan food and agreed to come as an adventures. She had the "chicken" parmesan, and loved it-- we may have a convert on our hands! The service was great, the place had a nice, quiet, casual but classy ambience. I would recommend reservations though, it was pretty full when we arrived at 6:30pm. Kudos to The Green Owl Cafe!

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Worth Supporting! - Edit

We recently ate at Green Owl for the first time and really enjoyed it. I had a Crabby Cake Po'Boy which was quite tasty. My two fellow diners both had a grilled cheese with apple (sandwich of the day), which they both gave rave reviews on for flavor. Kale crisps on the side were light and tasty, not over-seasoned, and a bottle of local beer hit the spot as well. The soy cheesecake for dessert was amazing - good fruit flavor complementing the soy cheese and cream layers (I've sometimes had soy cheesecake that has a strong chalky taste, but this did not - very good end to a fine meal. I'm generally put off when the menu features what appears to be meat substitutes, but Green Owl makes their selections stand on their own, and we all agreed we really enjoyed our meal.

Pros: Tasty food across the board, Friendly waitstaff, Dynamite dessert

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The Green Owl Cafe - Edit

Green Owl Café appeared to be THE place to go to in Madison, and that it is. The space is cozy and adorable; the staff was very pleasant too. Our waitress recommended both the vegan wiener schnitzel and the crab cake po' boy sandwich, so that's what we went with. The food was presented nicely and looked tasty. The schnitzel came with vegan broccoli cheddar soup that I didn't care for, as it had a strange taste; it also came with roasted potatoes and broccoli, both items were really good. The schnitzel was made of the same soy product used in most fake chicken dishes - had I known this I would not have ordered this dish, as I don't care for the stringy fake chicken, but many people like it. Overall I'd give the schnitzel and average rating, as the sauce atop of it was uninspiring as well. The sandwich was great and warrants 4 cows alone - I only had a few bites of it so I can't comment on it fully. I'd definitely try Green Owl again.

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AMA-ZING!!! - Edit

I drive across the country several times a year for work and found this place on happycow...it was AMAZING! For a vegan gal like me they had anything you could ever dream of and more! I shared a crab-cake, friend had the non-chicken Parmesan and I had enpanadas, they were both the stuff dreams are made of...not to mention the coconut cream pie! ALL Vegan! The ambiance was great and so were the people...really can't say enough good things!

Pros: Tasty food, versitile, desserts

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Absolutely Wonderful! - Edit

This is a GREAT restaurant! We ordered the Crabby Cake Po'Boy with the Roasted Baby Red Potatoes, the Vegetarian Jambalaya, and the Lemon Poppy Seed Cheesecake. Everything was absolutely wonderful and full of flavor. The Po'Boy was excellent and the chipotle remoulade added the perfect touch of spiciness. The marinated baked tempeh in the Jambalaya was the best tempeh we have ever eaten. The dinner was topped off with the best vegan cheesecake we have ever eaten. This restaurant is definitely worth a visit!

Pros: Absolutely excellent food, Service was great, Clean, asthetically pleasing decor

Cons: Not located in Minneapolis!

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Fabulous Find! - Edit

Things that I didn't expect to be great like the kale crisps, the green beans and the cabbage coleslaw were OUTSTANDING. At the same time, things I thought would be great like my fish sandwich, we're just so-so. Nothing wrong with the fish fillet itself, it needed a good tartar sauce and better bun.

The vegan schnitzel lived up the the hype. Yumilicious!

Drink selection is oustanding. Try the kombucha. Homemade flavors. When I was there they had lavender-dandelion-red clover kombucha and it was fabulous.

One waitress working hard and three others hardly working. Not sure if we came in during a shift change, but it seemed odd. All staff was delightful to us. I wished I lived in Madison so I could go here all the time.

Pros: free Street parking right in front, great owl decorations

Cons: none!

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jackfruit sammie was awesome! - Edit

The jackfruit sandwich was truly amazing. This sandwich blew my mind. Part of why I eat veggie/vegan so often is how tasty the food is. Prices are reasonable also and it seems to be in a hip 'hood!

Pros: inviting space, good menu selections, reasonably priced

Cons: close early on sundays

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Green Owl has our hoots! - Edit

We ate at Green Owl yesterday, 3/5/2011 for the first time and were pleased with the food, menu, ambiance, and price. The Jackfruit BBQ was real hit but the chili, corn bread, no-meatball sandwich and kale crisps were good as well. Nice to find a pure vegetarian "island" in the island of Madison. Not fans of booze being available, regardless of it being WI or not.

Pros: healthy food, good value, tasty and interesting food

Cons: booze sold

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Great food. - Edit

I enjoyed the selection and the daily specials. It was great to be able to choose among vegan desserts as well. Pretty easy to find on our way back to Milw. from the Capitol, being off of Hwy 151. We were even able to sit outside.

Pros: good choices, friendly service, great food

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Green Owl - Edit

The Green Owl is doing vegetarian food that has never been done before. The food is awsome, prices are reasonable, the service? Some times they don't see me sitting at the bar. But they do and it is a nice bar. I highly reccomend the Green Owl. Some of these negetive comments are from people who don't want a vegetarian restaraunt to succeed!

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Disappointing food, bad service - Edit

The food we tried at the Green Owl was ok and the service we received was bad. My dinnermate and I split two items and also shared a soup The best part of the meal was the Cauliflower Curry soup. We also got the epanadas and the meatball sub. The sub was decent, spicy and saucy, but nothing special for $9. The empanadas are overpriced ($13)for the small portion of food you receive. They tasted like nothing as did the beans and rice that came with it. The sauce on the rice was the only part that had flavor. Also was not served the side of sour cream and never had a chance to ask for it because of the bad service. We waiting a long time to be greeted and to order. After our waitress brought out our meal and did not come back again until we were completely finished eating. She did check on a table near our several times, and each time she had to pass our table but did not say anything. After she brought our check it also took a long time for her to come back and get it so we could get our change. I would not return the Green Owl. It was a waste of money to leave unsatisfied. I would much rather go to Monty's for better food and service.

Cons: Service, Portions/value

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good, but I hope it gets better - Edit

I read two complaints in the local media about the Green Owl.

One was that they used weird, processed foods (I don't remember the exact wording), referring to the wheat gluten "meat" that comes in many dishes. This is just an uninformed person making an uninformed comment. There's nothing wrong with seitan (or meat analogues made from gluten) and it has been delicious in all the dishes that I've had at the Owl.

The second gripe was the surprising dearth of fresh vegetables. I think this critique actually holds some weight. It's not like there are NO vegetables served here. There are. Just not as many as I had hoped, and many of them are not "fresh" i.e. raw or recently cut and cooked. I haven't been there this spring/summer yet, so maybe they're doing more of a local thing and they've been waiting for local produce. I certainly hope so, because that would be a touch that would make this good restaurant great.

My personal gripe is that a lot of the dishes are fairly expensive. I realize that vegetarianism and veganism are largely thought of as being a middle to upper middle class phenomenon (and there is some truth to it), but when you look at what is in some of these entrees, it's hard to understand why they need to cost $13. They're the ones figuring out the right price points, so I don't really like to second-guess them on that, but all I'm saying is that they would get easily twice as much business from this vegan if their prices were even 20% lower. It shouldn't have to cost $40-$45 for two people to each get an entrée and split an appetizer and a dessert between them.

I did really appreciate that they have a lot of vegan options and that they're clearly marked as vegan. That scores them big points from me. The vegans win and the waitstaff wins.

Overall, a great place to eat. Serve more vegetables and knock a bit off the price and I'll definitely come back much more often.

Oh, and lot of the waitresses are pretty cute. That never hurts.

Pros: clearly-labeled vegan options, good waitstaff

Cons: too expensive, not enough vegetables

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Yummy! - Edit

I went to The Green Owl on Friday night. I was not the least bit hungry, but since I was in a town that had a veggie restaurant I *had* to try it. It was a little awkward to eat alone there because the tables are so close to each other that you can't help feel like you are invading on somebody else's space...and when you dine alone it's hard not to eavesdrop when the other patrons are so close. However, that it quite mild and not really an irritation at all. Don't let that comment stop you from going to this amazing establishment!

I could not decide what to order. I had my choices narrowed down to the vegan schnitzel ($13) and the vegan Jackfruit BBQ sandwich ($8). I asked the server what she thought. She told me that if I felt adventurous I should try the sandwich & so I did. It was amazing!!! I ordered it with the red potatoes (you get your choice of side) which were also tasty. This food was delicious. And even though I wasn't the least bit hungry (I felt full when I arrived, actually), I scarfed down my entire meal. YUMMY!!

The staff was very polite. The restaurant was very clean and fresh looking. I can't wait for my next stop in Madison!!

Pros: Delicious, Good portions, Inexpensive

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Great Find in Madison - Edit

I regularly travel for business to Madison from the Seattle Area. I was lucky enough to try this place on my last trip. I had the Vegan Schnitzel, Pate and Vegan Hot Lava Cake. YUMMY! I will be back there this week to dine again. Great Atmosphere and busy environment. Compares to the best vegeterian resturaunts in the big cities.

Pros: Excellent, Vegan Hot Lava Cake

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Great Addition to Madison - Edit

Madison is a great town (I was born here but live in upstate NY now), but has had trouble supporting vegetarian restaurants. This one seems like it has a real chance to survive. The food is very, very good ... the atmosphere is pleasant and they even have our favorite waitress from Monty's. Like our other favorite veggie places, the people here have a real passion for vegetarian, especially vegan food. I hope they are here for a long time.

Pros: Many good vegan options, Alcohol, Nice people

Cons: Confusing address

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Down to the very last morsel - Edit

What a delectable atmosphere to be in. The background music was at a delightful level, the overall aesthetics were hip and pristine, the service was wonderful and the food was out of this world!

This is a splendid place to bring family ands friends from out of town who have dietary needs and gives virtually dreamland to choose from, but still very enjoyable to those who want a spectacular place to dine. They even a a small kids menu and offer for those able a beer, wine and cocktail menu.

It is a bit pricey, but totally worth every penny down to the very last morsel.

Pros: delectable cuisine, enjoyable service, splendid atmosphere

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