twisted grounds

Restaurant of the Week: Twisted Grounds

Cafés may seem like a dime a dozen. But stepping into Twisted Grounds in Madison will feel like reliving the first time you kicked back with a steaming cup of java in an upscale coffeehouse. That moment when adulting felt more like a privilege than a burden because you could happily linger in a cozy nook until closing time with no one texting you incessantly to be home by dinner.

If that seems like an overstatement, it is not—but rather the intentional guest experience owner Abby Padlock is attempting to cultivate. “Our goal with Twisted Grounds was to be a community hub where everyone felt welcomed. Healthy, yet indulgent options is not typical of a little neighborhood café, so I knew that was what was needed to be popular and successful on the far East Side of Madison,” she says. “We also welcome customizations and substitutions from our customers to ensure everyone is getting exactly what they want.”

Honoring dietary needs without gratuitous surcharges is simply one of the ways Padlock is attempting to establish a loyal customer base. “We recognize that the industry is going to be permanently changed due to COVID-19. Guests have heightened their awareness in terms of cleanliness, service standards and packaging items,” she says. “These are things we will continue to work on and improve moving forward. New menu items will be easily made to-go, cleaning procedures will always be enforced—and health and wellness will continue to be at the forefront of our menu development.” 

Padlock is also conscientious about collaborating with other regional vendors. All of the draft beer is currently from Wisconsin-based breweries; coffee sourced from JBC Coffee Roasters; and Level 5 vegan doughnuts are also regularly available for purchase at the coffee shop. She’s also catering to hearty Wisco appetites with the uber-savory BLT croissant sandwich and a loaded breakfast bowl that is a gluten-friendly feast packed into one dish.

“To be honest, I developed the menu personally. Every item was hand-crafted by me in my kitchen first before making its way to Twisted Grounds. I wanted to make sure there was something for everyone and we covered all the bases,” Padlock says. “I tried to pick entrees that I liked (and typically look for when dining out) then added a unique twist with custom ingredients. Nutritious, local and fresh are the main characteristics, but we also pride ourselves on the idea of representing what is “new and next” in the food and beverage industry.” So don’t be surprised if tempted to visit simply to try one of the inventive latte specials Padlock’s delightful staff share via Instagram weekly. I sure did…and didn’t regret it!

Twisted Grounds is open 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. every day. For more information, visit

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