Willy Street Co-op Deli

All locations have grass-fed roast beef and pastured ham among the sliced deli meat options, and the Middleton store even has grass-fed hamburgers. Any sandwich can be customized, and lettuce-wrapped on request. Produce is often local and/or organic when possible. Great salad bar & hot bar. Check web site for daily specials: The grain-free chicken curry is excellent, as is the grain-free jambalaya. The seasoned meats on Taco Tuesday are good on lettuce, but even better on the roasted sweet potatoes. Breakfast is served in the morning, featuring local pastured meats and eggs. House-made bone broth from the meat case is occasionally found in the hot soup well. Paleo Mama desserts are available. Full service juice and coffee bar stocks house-made almond milk. As long as you’re there, check out the 90% organic produce dept, mostly local meat dept, and good selection of paleo staples. Indoor and outdoor seating.  Paleo catering available.

visit web site

1221 Williamson Street, Madison

(608) 251-6776

6825 University Ave, Middleton

(608) 284-7800

2817 N Sherman Ave.

(608) 709-5445

send email button

Hu Hot Mongolian Grill

Hu Hot Mongolian Grill is a different sort of dining experience. There is a menu, but more popular is the make-your-own stir-fry, prepared with spatula gymnastics on a giant flat-top grill that looks like something from a medieval dungeon. Fill a bowl with any combination of meats, vegetables, noodles, fruits, and sauces – then watch as they cook it with flair and return it on a plate. This allows for pleasing a variety of patrons, including picky kids and yes: paleo/primal eaters. I picked beef, pork, broccoli, carrots, bok choy, bamboo shoots, mushrooms, & cilantro, with Kung Pao sauce – one of the gluten-free options. While unable to gurantee no cross contamination, telling them of a gluten allergy initiates an impressive ritual of supercleaning an area of the grill and sequestering your food, even as other workers continue to circle, mixing and chopping the rest with spatulas flying. I suggest an extra tip for this special care. I doubt anything is organic or grass-fed, but the food is tasty and you choose exactly what ingredients are used. For a chain restaurant with wide appeal, Hu Hot is surprisingly paleo friendly.

Update (7/12/2014): I’ve since made additional trips to Hu-Hot in various cities and continue to be impressed. Just tried the one in Kenosha, and they’ve upgraded handling of “allergens” another notch. You no longer need to tell the cooks when you get up there – instead the server gives you a special color bowl to alert them, and the process is the same regardless of what kind of allergy or sensitivity you have. (The person ahead of me got the same treatment for an onion allergy.) I’m not sure if this change is chain-wide, but I think it should be.

visit web site

610 Junction Rd #101, Madison

(608) 827-7110


Menu features wild and grass-fed options, many local and organic, and inspired side options. Try a flight of house pickles or roasted bone marrow (omit bread). I really want to try the Graze burger, but feel weird about omitting the bun on something costing $21. Rainbow trout may be best piece of fish I’ve ever had, lacinato kale was fantastic but wished there was a bit more. Lots of “gluten free” (vs. paleo) options. Would like to see a true paleo dish (no grain, dairy, legumes, seed oils, sugar) on the menu, and a breadless option for sandwiches – perhaps a bed of greens.

visit web site

1 S Pinckney St #107, Madison

(608) 251-2700

send email


From a paleo perspective my expectations for an Italian restaurant are low, especially one that clearly specializes in pizza and pasta. Accordingly, I can’t really recommend Papino’s to fellow grain/dairy-free eaters. They do offer gluten-free pizza and pasta choices. While I found nothing fully paleo on the menu (opportunity calling, Papino’s!) I was quite happy with my Italian Salad (minus cheese & croutons) and side order of sausage. On-menu confirmation that the sausage and meatballs are gluten free (assuming they are) would be appreciated.

visit web site

6601 Traveler Trail, Windsor
(608) 846-9090

send email


Considering that it’s basically a burrito place, Chipotle gets major props for trying to do things right! To start with, the web site lists paleo options by name. They use mostly simple, natural ingredients that you would expect, many of them natural and organic. Most locations offer grass-fed beef. They enforce minimum standards for animals and prominently disclose any exceptions. They cook mostly with rice bran oil and sunflower oil – not perfectly paleo, but in my opinion much better than the soy and canola found elsewhere. They’re very close to completely eliminating GMO ingredients too.

You can design your own naked burrito bowl (or salad), and unlike some competitors most of the options contain only the ingredients you’d expect. Meat choices include steak, chicken, carnitas, and barbacoa. See menu on web site for more details. Catering available. Some locations deliver.

visit web site

4628 E Washington Ave, Madison
(608) 242-7334
658 State St, Madison
(608) 250-4613
4000 University Ave, Madison
(608) 233-4305
8422 Old Sauk Rd, Middleton
(608) 826-0919


send email


Most menu items are based around corn or wheat tortillas and/or rice. You can order meat and veggie items as a bowl or a naked tortilla, but be aware that there are a lot of unexpected ingredients. For example, all the meats contain various combinations of cornstarch, corn syrup, whey, and/or soybean oil. The fajita vegetables contain soy oil. Therefore, essentially nothing is pure paleo, but you could check ingredient lists for personally acceptable cheats here.

Even most of the salsas contain cornstarch and/or gums. Pico de gallo is one clean exception. The guacamole should also be fine. Of course, there’s always a possibility of gluten cross-contamination.

visit web site

4718 E Towne Blvd, Madison
(608) 819-8910

548 State St, Madison
(608) 280-8720

2 N Park St, Madison
(608) 251-0238

101 W Broadway, Monona
(608) 286-1416

6650 Mineral Point Rd, Madison
(608) 827-7720

2741 University Ave, Madison
(608) 218-9670

5401 Caddis Bend, Madison
(608) 442-9400

send email


Nitty Gritty

They will do a naked or lettuce-wrapped burger on request. Choices include local grass-fed beef, and sometimes bison. Optional toppings include bacon, egg, and guacamole. Other sandwiches can be made gluten-free also. Steamed veggies available as a side. Most salads ok with omissions. Known as “the birthday bar.”

visit web site

223 N. Frances Street, Madison

1021 N. Gammon Road, Middleton

315 E. Linnerud Drive, Sun Prairie

send email

Red Robin

This was one of the first places to actually offer lettuce-wrapped burgers right on the menu, and they do it well – using a cut stack of iceberg on each side so it’s easy to pick up and eat. (They also offer a gluten free bun choice.) Otherwise, not much to attract paleo customers unless you have wiggle room on gluten, which most do not. They do offer sweet potato fries, but they’re cooked in a shared fryer. Watch out for possible gluten in the grill seasoning. Salads would be another option.

visit web site

2440 East Springs Drive, Madison

6522 Monona Drive, Monona
(608) 223-1390

send email



Chain offers full menu of appetizers, entrees, salads, burgers, sandwiches , etc. and full bar. Some dishes can be tweaked to paleo or close. For example, try a steak or grilled salmon and replace rice/potatoes with garden salad. Available sides and extras include steamed broccoli, seared shrimp, avocado slices, and bacon. Salads and bunless burgers too.

visit web site

4344 E. Towne Blvd, Madison
(608) 242-9300

7301 Mineral Point Road, Madison
(608) 833-8851

send email


Aranda’s Mexican Restaurant

Good food, but as with most Mexican places, eating paleo takes some effort here. The vast majority of dishes feature some combination of tortillas, rice, beans, cheese, and sauces which could contain anything. There are some salads (remember to omit cheese and croutons), steaks (watch out for sauces) and a few specialty dishes (Jarocha and Cancun Special are tasty) that might pass if you skip the rice (and sometimes cheese/sour cream. They do make a good tequila & soda, and one guy even knew about the Norcal Margarita. I’d be happy to eat there much more often if they put a simple meat & veggies dish on the menu with no grains/dairy/beans/gluten.

visit web site

142 Market Street, DeForest


bb Jack’s

We’ve been there several times and I can’t recommend at this time. Pretty much everything on the menu involves bread/grains of some kind. I ordered the grilled chicken salad without croutons. Each time it came with croutons anyway, except once it came with a dinner roll instead! Paleo customers should (and celiacs must) go elsewhere.


visit web site

300 E. Holum Street, Deforest

send email


Best paleo options are the simple steaks.  I usually get the New York Strip with double broccoli instead of the usual sides.  Some other dishes are possibilities with minor adjustments.  This is, however, one of those places that can’t/won’t offer any assurances about gluten.  If not concerned about dairy or trace gluten, there are a number of interesting primal-friendly dishes with minimal junk in them.  Preparation of food is generally better than you’d expect.

visit web site

660 S. Whitney Way, Madison

(608) 271-5450

4710 E Towne Blvd
(608) 244-1470