Street Vending & Sidewalk Cafés

The City of Madison has a robust and well established street vending culture. There is an array of opportunities for street vending in Madison. To learn more about opportunities, please follow through the vending process based on what type of vending category you would like to pursue.

Madison embraces our vendors. They are an important element to the Madison cultural scene. With over 60 food vendors, over 60 arts & crafts vendors, and over 80 sidewalk cafes, there is something for everyone.

If you are in Downtown Madison and want to find out where your favorite food cart is this year, or you want to do some shopping of local arts & crafts vendors, check out the site map.  This will identify where vending sites are located. 

Fresh Cool Drinks

Fall Food Cart Review Applications LIVE - Due August 1, 2019

All applicants for Mall/Concourse Food Vendor licenses, including returning Mall/Concourse food vendors, are required to participate in this annual Fall Food Cart Vending Review prior to applying for a Mall/Concourse Food Vending license and being assigned a site within the Mall/Concourse.  Click on the link below to review the application for more details on the process and please share widely.



The review is conducted every year over a four-week period, beginning on the first Monday after Labor Day and running for 4 weeks. 

The 2019 review will take place September 9, 2019 - October 5, 2019

Between 9/9/19-10/5/19, reviewing hours will be:

  • Monday through Friday from 11a-2p
  • Saturdays from 9a-1p

Food Cart Review Eligibility:

  • The Fall Food Cart Vending Review shall be open to all new applicants and currently licensed food vendors who have obtained all necessary food and drink inspections and a hold active:
    • "Base Food and Drink" license AND "Mobile Food and Drink" license required by Public Health Madison-Dane County (PHMDC) OR
    • "Base Food and Drink" license from PHMDC or your home county health department AND a State "Mobile Restaurant License" through the Department of Agriculture Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)
  • All health department licenses must be secured no later than 5 business days prior to the first day of the review. The applicant is responsible for arranging all necessary inspections with PHMDC or DATCP. 
  • The applicant will have no significant health violations.  A "significant health violation" shall mean any violation of safe food storage and handling ordinances or regulations.
  • Food carts must be 56 square feet in size or a pop-up tent that is a maximum 10x10.
  • Generators must be rated at 60 decibels or less.
  • The applicant will have received not more than 2 vending citations or complaints within the period of September 1- August 31 immediately preceding the review.
To apply for your street vending, sidewalk café or merchant vending license go to City of Madison Licenses & Permits portal.  Online Application Assistance or 608-261-4293

Sift and Winnow

Dreaming of warmer days on the Square.  Vendor Linda Winther of Sift and Winnow.  Photo credit Meghan Blake-Horst.

Last Updated: 07/10/2019