So. I've been spending some time in Madison, Wisconsin again. But listen guys, this has not been my usual visit of pleasantries, filled with delicious food and delicious and/or affordable beverage; no, guys, there's actually something else going on here besides deliciousness. I didn't believe it at first either, but when I got here, oh boy. There is, for lack of better words, some shit going down here in the fine city of Madison. Serious shit. And it ain't so delicious.
Hopefully you're slightly or more-than-slightly informed on the happenings in Wisconsin for the last 24 days. I mean, you're alive, so you should be. Short version: a total douche who ran on a false agenda got elected as the new governor and - huge jump - six weeks into his term started attacking public sector workers in a grand attempt to begin eliminating the middle class. Too vague, eh? Read more here. So, needless to say, I've been in Madison, marching and yelling and witnessing some incredible people doing incredible things. If you've never been to this city, get here now and watch this all continue to unfold. It is truly amazing.
Whew! Okay, I got all my feelings out. So sensitive sometimes. Jeez. My point, people, my POINT, is that Madison has some damn good food. I've gone ahead and done all the work for you (what else is new?!) and mapped out some of the places you'll want to hit while protesting. Let's start with breakfast, because it's the first meal of the day, and it's tied for one of my top five favorite meals of the day, so we might as well start here.
Daisy Cafe and Cupcakery - 2827 Atwood Ave.
Oh god, this place is good. Listen, you can get breakfast or brunch or lunch or dinner (on certain nights), whatever you fancy, but then, you can top it all off with a cupcake! These cupcakes are visually impressive, and look, to be honest, I'm not picky about dessert. Most desserts taste good. These cupcakes taste good. Just get one at the end of your meal, alright?
Here's a delicious chorizo omelet with avocado, salsa, and pepperjack cheese. Fruit and potatoes on the side.
Sometimes certain foods are so delicious that you need two pictures. The insides/guts/soul of the omelet:
Huevos rancheros with scrambled eggs. Delish.
A lemon meringue cupcake. Lemon meringue!!! Come on!
Okay, this is...let me think...a banana pecan cupcake with chocolate/peanut butter frosting. Yes, I'm serious! But I bet you're wondering what this cupcake would look like cut down the middle.
There. That's what it would look like cut down the middle. You're welcome.
El Dorado Grill - 744 Williamson St.
Another place you might want to try for brunch is the Eldorado Grill. They only have brunch on Sundays, though, so plan ahead. Plus, you'll be serenaded by a real live cowboy (at least that's what I imagined him to be), Catfish Stevenson. He plays there every other Sunday, so check the schedule.
Yeah, so...I wish I could tell you what this is. But I cannot. Sometimes the eating is more important than the listening and paying attention.
This, though! I can tell you what this is! THIS is a blueberry bacon pancake. Oh god. So delicious. So many tastes. Bacon and blueberries. Ugh. Good ugh, though.
Those look good and all, I know, but you'll probably just want to go ahead and order the Eldorado eggs. Poached eggs atop corn cakes with bacon, tomato, and scallion-lime cream sauce.
And again, a second picture to illustrate the greatness. What you'll want to do is create the Perfect Bite, meaning a bit of corn cake, egg, bacon, tomato, scallion, and some sauce, all at once. Flavor country! Cigarettes! No, wait. Brunch!
La Brioche - 2862 University Ave.
Some of you may be the fancy kind. In that case, you'll want to try La Brioche. Their website has a whole section about the feng shui of the restaurant. You can go ahead and read it. I'll be over here at the bakery counter.
Here's a pastry that's called...well...a brioche. Real creative, guys.
This is another creatively named pastry: Cheese Danish. There are few things in this world I love more than the perfect cheese danish. Look at this one! So much cheese! Good amount of frosting. Pastry is soft but not too soft. Perfect for brunch dessert.
This is a goat cheese, spinach, and roasted tomato omelet with a side of salad, bread, and BACON. I put the BACON is capital letters because of its importance. This BACON is some of the best BACON I've ever had.
You can also get lunchie items here (as well as dinner, but we're talking about earlier meals right now, okay?) like this beat salad with french onion soup. Meh, looks delicious. But I remember all that BACON I ate and I'm happy with my choice.
Old Fashioned - 23 N. Pinckney St.
Okay, so we've got breakfast covered - you gotta get your energy up for the long day of marching, right? Well, you'll also probably need a snack at some point in your day. Here are a bunch of places that are all either right on the square or about a block off it.
You can always head over to the Old Fashioned - good for any meal of the day, and their kitchen stays open relatively late. Oh, plus, they have SO many things to eat and drink. So many.
This...is a beer. That is all.
This is a cider. Sort of looks like a beer, but does not sort of taste like a beer. Be careful.
Listen, if you go to the Old Fashioned, you should really get their cheese curds. Yes, they're greasy and filling and will give you gas - dude, they're deep fried lumps of cheese. What do you expect? Even it out with a nice salad.
Then get a cheese plate. The Old Fashioned has a deal where you can get a serving of Hook's 15-Year Cheddar on any cheese plate for just $4. Pricey, you say? Nope. A pound of this incredible cheese can cost over $60. This cheese was literally aged for 15 years and was just released (from its slumber) last year. Get this cheese. You won't regret it.
You'll also want to try out one of the Lazy Susan's. This one had two kinds of salami, braunschwiger, deviled eggs, cole slaw, bread and butter pickles, and plenty of crackers and bread.
Oh, the combinations you can make when you put this all together! The genius, the creativity, the delicious flavors! Yes, it's hard work, but it's worth it.
Graze - 1 S. Pinckney St.
Another place on the square, probably for you fancies again, is Graze.
Look at this giant pretzel with various dipping mustards. Look at it! Then eat it.
Oh whoops, more cheese curds! These ones are giant and come with a rich dipping sauce. You probably only need 3 or 4 of these. Try and share them.
Well...then you had to go and order the mac and cheese. Well done, smarty. Because you're probably lactose intolerant and forgot your Lactaid pills! Jeez. Well, you'll pay for it later, but you'll also proclaim that "it was worth it." So, I have much respect for you. Good work.
A boozey coffee drink. Could there be a better drink? Some orange flavored stuff and some coffee and one more booze made this drink delectable, and obviously, very memorable.
The Paradise - 119 W. Main St.
Not so fancy, eh? Go to The Paradise. Have a bloody mary. Eat something greasy. Make friends with some punks. You'll be fine.
The Plaza - 319 N. Henry St.
Sometimes people like things so much that they order two of them. Like plaza cheeseburgers. They have this sauce on them - Place Sauce, naturally - that's made of sour cream and green things and maybe some ranch-like dressing. Oh lord, they're good.
Aaaaannd...some more cheese curds. With a side of plaza sauce. Don't hate.
Muramoto - 225 King St.
Muramoto, eh? Sushi, eh? MADISON, EH? If you want sushi, go here. I mean, whatever, go to any sushi places. I just like this one a lot.
This was a bunch of vegetarian rolls.
And this was a bunch of non-vegetarian rolls. It's pretty simple, guys. Get what you want.
Okay, let's move on over to the east side of Madison. If you ask anybody what the east side is like, they'll probably say something about damn hippies. They're probably right. But, wah wah, hippies know how to eat, apparently!
Mildred's - 827 E. Johnson St.
For a quick sandwich, head on over to Mildred's on E. Johnson. This one has roast beef, turkey, lettuce, cucumbers, some kinds of cheese, some dressing, all on a whole wheat pita. I think I sampled this one whilst on my worldwide sandwich quest. It did well.
Ha Long Bay - 1353 Williamson St.
So. Do you like Vietnamese food? How about Thai food? How about Laotion food? How about all of it and a ten-page menu? Yeah. You like that.
An iced coffee. Look at those colors!
This is what I like to call a double decker taco spring roll. You see, this looks like just a regular spring roll, but inside lays a fried Vietnamese egg roll. Double decker!!! Don't be stupid; order this.
Cucumber salad. It's delicious. Even this picture is delicious.
Tofu pad see-eew. Just a bunch of wide rice noodles and tofu and egg and vegetables all in this incredibly delicious sauce on a plate onto a fork into your mouth. No big deal.
This is a yellow curry or something. Look, I lose track after awhile. It was delicious, duh.
This thing. I don't know what it was. But what I do know is that the noodles are crispy and when you get the plate in front of you, you start to push the noodles into the sauce and they begin to soften and it's just wonderful.
Now check out this meal. It's called Bun, and although it's more of a summer dish, I encourage you to order it whenever the hell you feel like it. It's basically the ingredients from that double decker taco spring roll but all in a bowl! Rice noodles, lettuce, bean sprouts, mint, cucumber, cilantro, and chopped up egg rolls, all covered by a delicious sauce and diced peanuts. Double decker taco spring roll in a bowl. Like a KFC famous bowl, but good and not disgusting.
Sardine - 617 Williamson St.
One more for you fancies: Sardine. Don't be put off by the name - their menu is much more extensive than their title. For example: some kind of cakes. Crab? Croquette? I have no idea. But, delicious.
Again, no idea. Some kind of white fish? Sorry, I must've been all protested out at this point and just concerned with eating. You know. Like usual.
Glass Nickel Pizza - 2916 Atwood Ave.
So there have been several local businesses that have been donating food and drink (among other things) to the protestors here. I can't list all of them - that's how many there are - but I'll highlight this one: Glass Nickel Pizza. Glass Nickel is a Madison staple and serves, besides pizza, salads, sandwiches, chicken, wings, fish, appetizers, and um...booze.
Here we have a nice double decker set up with a ranch pizza on the bottom and some other pizza on the top. Let me just tell you this: the ranch pizza has ranch dressing instead of marinara. Yep. Sounds so disgusting, tastes so delicious. Well, for like 1-2 slices only. Topped with chicken, bacon, red onion, and tomato.
Okay, let's wind down now with some desserty items:
Weary Traveler - 1201 Williamson St.
The Weary Traveler is another great anytime place to eat. They have a diverse menu and their kitchen is open on the later end. We snagged a dessert here: cinnamon apple cheesecake? I think? It was SO GOOD. In the past, I've been reluctant to profess my love for cheesecake at the risk of inevitable and offensive comparisons to Cathy, but eff it. I love it too much to hide it.
Macha Tea House - 1934 Monroe St.
I'm not much of a tea drinker, usually. I prefer my beverages to have a bit more personality. Personality meaning, of course, sugar or booze or caffeine. But after all the action here in Madison, I needed some time to chill the hell out. So I went to Macha and enjoyed a cherry-flavored tea with, yes, another cupcake. Very peaceful. Very different for me. I'll probably only do something like this once a decade. Nevertheless, well done, Macha!
DB Infusions - 550 N. Midvale Ave.
Do you like chocolate? Do you like art? No? Well, still go here. Each chocolate is a work of art, visually, and...what's the word? Taste-ish-ly? Treat yourself here, specifically with this one on the right. It's called Exotic Caramel and is infused with mango and passionfruit puree. On the top 10 list of best foods I've ever had. Ever.
Another option - take it to go! They're pricey little numbers, but if you like chocolate, it's worth it. You'll later thank me for this encouragement.
One last thing: I know some of you may be critical of my kind demeanor and helpful attitude throughout this blog. Well, what can I say? Democracy is delicious. It makes me a little gentler, a littler more peaceful, a little less...of a jerk, I guess. But man, if this ever ends, watch out. I'll go back to being a total knob no matter what the outcome. Worry not - you'll once again be berated and bossed around. Someday...