The Old Fashioned: Old world Wisconsin
If you're looking for health food, this isn't it. This is traditional food your grandmum and grandpa used to eat when they went out to the 'Supper Club', or what you might find in a Northern Wisconsin bar/restaurant.
Items include German sausages and meats, and cheese plates which include a variety of tasty, hard to find cheeses. Swedish and Norwegian food are plentiful too. Fridays special is of course a fish fry-perch, cod or walleye. This is the very traditional dinner in bars and restaurants in Wisconsin, but is starting to pass on. The high concentration of people who couldn't eat meat on fridays for religious reasons led to it's popularity.
They also have Wisconsin beers that have fallen out of favor in this 'brewpub' world--Schlitz, Blatz, Rhinelander.....and these are all less than $2 a bottle. I recommend 'Old Style'.
Brandy Old-fashioned is the signature drink here, hence the name of the restaurant. A very popular drink wtih Wisconsinites...we drink something like 50% of all brandy produced in the States (for better or worse).
Restaurant is decorated in kitschy old world Wisconsin stuff. Big bar, and about 20 tables, which do fill up fast. Since it's new and trendy now and people in Madison tend to eat out a lot, you'd be better off coming before or after rush hour unless you want to wait at the bar for an hour, although the drink prices are real cheap so it's not so bad.
Grab a menu, find a table. When you know what you want go to the bar, order and pay. Within 5-10 minutes someone will bring it to your table.
Favorite Dish: My friend had a burger topped with bacon, cheese of course & a fried egg. I don't even want to think of the cholesterol in that one. Another friend had a German style bratwurst & kraut. I had a grilled cheese w/roasted red pepper (skipped the bacon) & fries.
Mediterranean Cafe: Middle-eastern food, fast, good and cheap
2 brothers from Algeria started this little restaurant. It has middle-eastern/Mediterranean ish food. hummus, tabouli, chicken roll-ups, greek-style food, .....
You order at the counter, walk to a table, and by the time you sit down, it's there. Real fast. Very inexpensive, and tastes great.
This is my favorite lunch spot. I'm here about once a week.
Favorite Dish: Zidanes Cous Cous - For $4.00 you get a plate of cous cous, with a healthy portion of steamed veggies over it--potatoes, zucchini, chickpeas.
The Tabouli & hummus in a huge roll-up pita is good too.
food carts: Lunch on the UW Library Mall
For 3 seasons of the year the library mall has about 12 different food carts serving lunches for most of the day. They are all ethnic based..chinese, Cuban, Greek, African, Vegetarian, Thai, Jamaican, smoothies...
The dishes for a meal run from $2-$7. In addition there is a well-stocked fruit stand, and other little places that sell jewlery, clothes and things.
This is a favorite place to go in the summer. Nice warm day, grab something here and sit in the grassy library mall on Campus. Watch the students walk by, check out whatever the latest protest is about, listen to a band that might be playing here. Nice relaxing.
Since it's in front of the Memorial Union, you can walk in there and grab a Babcock ice cream afterwards. It's the ice cream made on campus by the dairy science students...molto bene.
These photos were taken in August when school wasn't in session, so there were many less carts than usual.
Favorite Dish: African Food at Buraka
State Street Brats: Wisconsin means Bratwurst, try one here...
If you’re in Wisconsin, you have to have a brat (bratwurst). This is located right on State St. so it’s easy to get to. This, along with the Essen Haus on Wilson St are your best bets for brats. Essen Haus more for German food. Being a vegetarian, I can’t give an accurate portrayal of how they taste, but they usually win 'best of' contests. They also have rather large outdoor patio which allows you to smoke if you need to.
Also a popular place for a beer or two and to watch sporting events on the many tv’s. They even open early when the World Cup is on and televised from Europe so you can go in, have a beer (students do) and watch the football match. Go USA!
For real good bratwurst, go to Milwaukee. But this is ok for Madison.
Favorite Dish: The Red Brats are their signature dish. Try one with a beer.
I haven't been here in a while, but I bet they have deep-fried cheese curds too, try them.
The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Co.: Best downtown brewpub
Best Brewpub downtown. Good hearty food portions and good beer made on site. Situated in an old turn of the century building that used to be a hotel. It has big room with pool tables, and room that passes as a bar, and a room for dining, and a room downstairs for parties. In the summer, there is a patio that has about 12 tables.
Try the Peck's Pilsner. As with all restaurants and bars in Madison, no smoking allowed.
Favorite Dish: Big Ten Burrito is what I usually have. Huge, and tasty.
- Beer Tasting
Buraka: African food in Wisconsin???
A dingy, yellow door leads downstairs to a really great restaurant, one of my favorites here. Someone from Africa moved here and started this as a food cart about 10 years ago. The food cart is still on the library mall on campus, but the portions are better in the restaurant.
Favorite Dish: The last time I was there I had a peanut stew dish. It has other typical African food, and can be ordered spicy or not depending on your tongue.
Burrito Loco: Best burrito from a food cart
I've been going here for a while now, and this is the best food cart, and best Mexican food cart on the square.
The Capitol Square has about 9 food carts scattered around it, mostly during lunch (and special occasions) and 3 are selling some sort of Mexican food. This one, though not the prettiest food cart, does serve up the best burritos.
$5 for a huge tasty burrito.
Favorite Dish: Bean burrito - $5
All burritos come with lettuce, cheese, tomatoes and rice. The also have chicken and beef--both for $5. And a few other things.
Everything is to-go of course. Take it and walk over to the Capitol lawn and eat, or take it and walk the block and a half to the Monona Terrace Convention Center roof-top and find a table overlooking Lake Monona...shouldn't be hard because this is aways deserted over lunchhour and it's huge. This is what I do once a week, so relaxing and peaceful and quiet. Hard to remember you're in a city.
They're open roughly 11am - 3pm, and not there in Dec - Feb usually.
Lazy Jane's Cafe: Worth the walk
Excellent place for breakfast and above average for dinner & lunches. Inexpensive, and very tasty food. Has bakery associated with it and the cookies, muffins and so on are very good. Has sandwiches, soups and salads and quirky artwork on the walls, but it changes often. A bit crowded on weekend brunches. Service can sometimes be slow though, but it's worth it.
Favorite Dish: Cookiesa rare out of this world. Sandwiches are excellent too. Interesting ingredients, and have a really good condiment-like sauce on most of them.
L'Etoile: Best Fine dining in Madison, with a Capitol View
This is the best fine dining in the city. I’ve never been here unfortunately. Started by Odessa Piper, whose name I’ve seen in many cookbooks, Deborah Madisons among others.
Situated on the Capitol Square, so a window seat at night must be gorgeous. Dinner will run you $30 to start and up. For other fine dining options, try 'Harvest' right next door or "Nadia's" on State St.
State Street Brats: A Madison classic!
My uncle lived in Madison, Wisconsin for many years, so when I found out we were going, I asked him for some advice on places to go. He said that we definitely shouldn't miss State Street Brats. Our hotel was only about a block from State Street, so we took a long walk from the capitol building down State Street until we finally got to the restaurant (not even knowing the address of the place). It's definitely a popular college hangout, and it was very full of people and energy when we got there. The outside is decorated with lights and features statues of cows and a badger that made for some nice pictures.
Favorite Dish: Brats are very typical Wisconsin cuisine, they're what State Street is famous for, and the restaurant has a very large condiment bar, so I definitely recommend you try one! Otherwise I also ordered some delicious cheeseballs, another Wisconsin classic. State Street has plenty of options, and I don't think you can go wrong with any of them!
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Shamrock bar: bar brunch around the Capitol area
A local bar serves Saturday and sunday brunch at a very reasonable price. It's not fancy, not all-u-cant variety but tasty and inexpensive. They have the usual omelettes, bacon, eggs benedict, sandwiches, grilled cheese and burgers for kids.
Mimosas are a specialty, and here it's orange juice, champagne, tequila and vodka--watch out. Only $4 for these, and $3 for Bloody Marys.
The Shamrock is a gay bar, but all are welcome here. Don't worry, if you're straight nothing will happen to you. This is a good choice if you're downtown on the capital square, not crowded and inexpensive. Say hi to Brian behind the counter.
Favorite Dish: Fried 'taters are tasty, rye bread toast was very good, and of course the Mimosas.
Kabul Restaurant: Delicious Afghani Food!
Great atmosphere, relaxing music, friendly staff. Servings were of a good size. Nice menu, good variety. The kabobs were delicious. Beers from the region were available. This restaurant has received much praise as evident from the newspaper clippings and awards displayed on the wall. Recommended.
Marigold Kitchen: Great new restaurant
Real nice little, eclectic, restaurant. Started by a couple guys from SF. Open for lunch and breakfast. Has good sandwiches, soups, and things like that. For brekkie the usual fare, try the French toast. It’s usual food, but the combinations of foods they put together are what make this stand out from any other restaurant. Gets very crowded on ‘Farmers Market Saturdays’.
The owners have now opened up a more upscale restaurant called 'Sardine'. It's located 3 blocks east of the Capitol where Williamson St starts. So if you like Marigold, you'll probably like Sardine.
Favorite Dish: French toast for breakfast is very good.
Prime Quarter Steak House: Take The Challenge
Take the challenge of the BEEFEATER here. It is a larger portion of USDA choice top sirloin. You have to finish a 40oz. steak, salad, a baked potato and two Texas toasts in less than one hour and 15 mins.If you manage to do that they will give you a nifty medallion and take your picture. Then you can use the medallion to redeem a regular meal.
Great Dane Brewing: Great Brewpub
This is a lovely and great brewpub right downtown about a block from the capitol. It has some great beer, especially English-style cask ales, and in our experience excellent food. The salad with steak on it was particularly excellent and large for the price. The place is nice with an old-fashioned pub feel and the location is great.
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