Woman smiling at a restaurant
Career,  Travel

My Favorite Restaurants to Work From In Madison, WI

Hands holding a cup of coffee in a restaurantWoman laughing in a restaurant

(Coat, Top, and Scarf from Vintage from St. Vinny’s, Earrings from Kendra Scott, Watch from Olivia BurtonJeans from J Brand, Boots from Vince)

In my last job I got the option to work from home a few days a week. At first, I was psyched at the chance to skip my commute to work from the comfort of my own desk. But after a few weeks I was losing my mind alone in my house! Let’s just say this only got worse after I was laid off… I was home every day alone for a month! Honestly, my worst nightmare.

So instead of letting myself go totally batshit, I found some amazing places to work from around Madison. I particularly like these spots because they all have free wifi, great atmosphere, are relatively cheap (so you can buy a few treats over the course of several hours), and I never felt rushed to leave. Whether I was studying for the GRE, applying for jobs, or doing my own personal writing these were my favorite places to spread out, hunker down, and get some work done.

Black Locust Cafe – I live on the West side so Black Locust is relatively new to me, but since it’s where we took all the photos for this post I wanted to put it up first! It’s a beautiful space (as you can see) and it’s pretty quiet during the day. I’m not much of a coffee buff, but it’s one of the only places where I’ve actually noticed how good my latte was, too. Lots of natural light and booths to spread out in make this a great place to spend a morning working.

Bassett Street Brunch Club – This is one of my absolute favorite places to work, especially in the evenings. I know a brunch place seems a little weird, but it’s super open at night, they have huge booths (with outlets!), and brunch is totally my comfort food so it’s perfect. It also helps that this place is down the street from my apartment! Whenever I need to work at night and just want to feel like I’m around people, I always get a beer and work here.

Fair Trade Coffee House – If you’re looking for a more laid back student-vibe, Fair Trade is great. It’s my go-to place if I want to grab coffee and breakfast first thing in the morning and knock out some emails because it’s usually pretty empty. Since it’s frequented by students you’ll have your pick of spots before 10 or 11am.


Woman smiling at a cup of coffee in a restaurantClose up of a watch and cup of coffee at a restaurant


Barriques – A Madison classic! I’ve worked from the Barriques on the Square, on State St, and on Park and they’re all solid standby choices to work from. I head to Barriques if I’m looking for a more substantial breakfast than granola and coffee since the food is really good. They do bagels and lox, breakfast burritos, and sandwiches if you’re looking for lunch. It does get pretty busy throughout the day, though, so I would say get there early to avoid the midday rush.

Madison Public Library – I have always loved libraries and the Central Library here in Madison is no exception. If I don’t want to spend any money, but still want to get out of the house I love to work from the library. It’s also a great resource if I ever need anything printed or scanned (just remember to bring change)! I’ve literally been 5 times this week because I’ve needed to fill out a bunch of paperwork – total lifesaver.

Lakeside Street Coffee House – I discovered this cozy spot randomly after a meeting once and totally fell in love. It’s a quirky old house with a coffee shop in the back and lots of local charm and one of those places you feel like has been there forever. It’s a huge place so you’ll always find a spot to work, too. Parking is kind of bitch on that street so you might have to move your car once or twice while you’re there, but besides that it’s such a treat to work there.


Woman smiling with a coffee at a restaurant Woman smiling at a restaurant

Okay, where am I missing?! I’m always on the prowl for new places to set up shop so let me know where you like working, especially if you’re downtown. I’d love to find a chill bar to work from, but they just always seem so busy. I guess that’s Wisconsin for you! Leave any recommendations below!

Check out some other recent posts here: All the good stuff coming to Netflix this month, How I make networking not feel terrible, and My favorite dress from the summer.

Photos by Liz Jirschele (find her here on Instagram and on Facebook)

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