Whether you're pairing coffee with cupcakes or Cabernet with cheese, this coffee and wine shop's West Washington location is a great place grab a bite without eating up your budget. Its doors stay open until 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, making it a good place to meet before events at the Frequency and Overture Center. Join the Wine of the Month club for a sizable discount on tasting events, and get a Belly loyalty card to earn perks such as free espresso shots.
Eat to the beat at this Wisconsin-centric bar and restaurant on State Street, which doubles as a parlor for local jazz fans. Free events abound, including Tuesday movie nights and performances by guitar dynamo Louka Patenaude's trio on Fridays at 8 p.m.
Ancora Coffee Roasters
There's no better way to welcome beautiful fall weather than a date with a steaming mug of coffee. This King Street java joint just jumped into the events game with a free music series featuring local artists like Paul Otteson and Whitney Mann. Bonus: The shop now features alcoholic coffee drinks brimming with gourmet ingredients.
Crescendo Espresso Bar & Music Cafe
Monroe Street's newest coffee shop has a toasty fireplace and a hot lineup of budgetfriendly events. Owned by Madison musician Cait Shanahan, it has a strong focus on local acts and a low cover charge (often $5 or so). This month includes performances by Eric Doucette, Hannah Luree Ödland and Michael Lynn (Sept. 13, 7 p.m.) and Anna Vogelzang and Rachel Reis (Sept. 22, 6 p.m.) Then the cafe will partner with neighboring bookstore Mystery to Me to welcome local author Florencia Mallon, who'll read from her novel Beyond the Ties of Blood (Sept. 27,7 p.m.).
Redamte Coffee House
Sustainable foods and Just Coffee with a side of awesome music and a humanitarian project in Haiti? Yes, please. The homey cafe that peers over State Street has concerts by local and touring acts, many of which are $7. The events menu also includes free chats about TED Talks and a new lecture series about social entrepreneurship. Inspiring documentaries like Who Cares? (Sept. 20, 7 p.m.) are sometimes accompanied by a group meal (6 p.m., RS VP required).
To top it off, there are local food specials six days a week. Coffee is strong but modestly priced, and visitors can get a medium latte for $2 after 2 p.m. if they bring a receipt from a purchase made earlier in the day.
DANCE, DANCE, DANCE
'80s vs. '90s at Majestic Theatre
Held every month or so, this dance party features vintage music videos by stars from decades past. Each party has a theme, from Madonna to Michael Jackson, and costumed attendees can win prizes. It's about as much fun as you can find for $5 - or free if you're dressed as the evening's featured celeb.