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Mar 11, 2006 05:14 PM

Madison, Wisconsin

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My son just decided to attend grad school in Madison. Any suggestions for eating there over the next few years?

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  1. I just got accepted to grad school in Madison! If I decide to go there (I have not heard from all the schools I've applied to), we can share houndly tips. :-)

    That said, when I visited, we had a wonderful meal at a Nepalese restaurant called Chautara. It was excellent, and almost enough to convince me that Madison is not the food wasteland I had feared. I've linked to someone else's review -- you'll get the idea. Also, I heard very good things about the sushi at Wasabi.

    Congrats to your son! :-)


    1. Congrats to your son! I came for grad school 10 years ago and never left. ;)

      Does he have any particular favorite cuisines?

      Here's some of my favorites--they skew toward the Westside because that's where I live.

      Cheap(er) Eats
      Saigon Noodle--6754 Odana Ave.
      Taqueria El Pastor--2010 South Park St.
      New Seoul Korean Restaurant--2507 University Ave.
      La Concha--3054 Fish Hatchery Rd.
      Lulu's (Middle Eastern)--2524 University
      Thai Orchid--6714 Raymond Rd.
      New Orleans Take Out--1517 Monroe St.
      Yirgalem (Ethiopan)--2623 Monroe St.
      Food carts on Library Mall
      Marigold Kitchen--118 S. Pinckney
      Lazy Jane's--1358 Williamson St.
      Manna Cafe--611 N. Sherman Ave.

      More expensive but don't have to be limited to parent visits
      Cocoliquot (small plates, French bistro inspired)--225 King St.
      Restaurant Muramoto (small plates, asian-inspired)--106 King St.
      Lombardinos--2500 University Ave.
      Harvest--21 N. Pinckney

      5 Replies
      1. re: kmendelsohn

        All fine choices, but dont forget the Plaza, home of the world famous Plazaburger!


        1. re: kmendelsohn
          Susan Waksman

          Do you know any place with decent New York Bagels or deli?

          1. re: Susan Waksman

            The one local bagel factory, Bagels Forever (2947 University on the near West side), makes a denser, chewier bagel (as opposed to Einsteins/Noah's). My dad who's from Brooklyn says they're more authentic and likes them.

            The closest thing to a New York deli is Ella's (2902 E. Washington on the East side) which is Kosher style but not officially kosher. And the decor is a blast.

            Manna Cafe makes bialys on Sundays and matzoh ball soup on Fridays.

            We actually tend to get cold cuts/sausage from the Bavarian Sausage Kitchen (6317 Nesbitt Rd) and make our own sandwiches. Love the German Bologna and garlic salami.

            Hope this helps!


            1. re: kmendelsohn
              susan waksman

              Thanks so much I printed Ella's menu, too.

              1. re: kmendelsohn

                Interestingly, The Chocolate Shop on State Street (the ice cream place next to Subway) serves H&H Bagels. They're frozen, but what you gonna do?

                I also really like Bruegger's Bagels (on University Ave.), FWIW.

          2. Madison has a (very) decent restaurant scene for a city of its size, but IMHO, there's a bit of a dearth of deli/bagel places - which is somewhat surprising, now that I think about it, given the fact there are so many former East Coasters (including my husband) who live here. Might be a good opportunity for any entrepreneurs out there...

            1. Lived in Madison for half my life, the other half in NJ. I can tell you the bagels do not compare here (its the water here), but Bagels Forever puts out a good product. Ella's is far from east coast good, but offers an adequate alternative. The corned beef reubon at the Nitty Gritty is good- some of the best corned beef I have tasted anywhere in the USA (and I have tasted some of the best in NYC and NJ).

              Agree with the earlier recommendation for Lombardinos, Chautara and New Orleans Take-Out. Also, just love Le Cocoliquot (sp?)- french style tapas, solid wine list (small), plus they also make their own chocolates which are to die for. Could not find a website but here is a local review (Incidentally The Daily Page offers great insights into local dining scene).

              Additional recommendations, here goes:
              Nitty Gritty- burgers and salads (also free beer on your birthday), located downtown on Frances and Johnson- http://www.nittygrittybirthdayplace.c...

              Thai- Sa Bai Thong- great Pad Ka-Ree- on University Avenue a mile or so west of campus-

              L'Etoile- best restaurant in Madison, but pricey ($100 per diner with wine). Originally owned and operated by Odessa Piper, a protege of Alice Waters from Berkeley who had started the whole eat local movement in the USA- all ingredients are seasonal and native to WI/IL. I recommend their special cooking classes (not hands on, but a good chance to interact with Chef Tory and learn about local ingredients)-

              Wah Kee Noodle Shop- great Chinese, especially noodle dishes, inexpensive.

              Takara- Japanese- both west side and downtown. Good sushi.

              Firefly- unique Asian fusion restaurant, nice decor, slow service but great food. Good noodle dishes and fabulous brunch menu.
              Incidentally, foodfight runs a few different restuarants in town, all of which are exceptional. Johnny Delmonicos is an upscale steakhouse and Monty's BluePlate Diner delivers some of the best breakfast in town (great malts too).

              Madison is a much better place to eat today than when I was in grad school. Enjoy!

              1. This kid is going to go to Ella's and run back east! Don't try to get "great" bagels, deli, or lox here. You'll only find stuff that is barely edible at best. Embrace what the midwest has that is locally "grown"...beers, sausages, local restos like lombardino's, marigold kitchen, delaney's, cocoliquot, tornado, et al.
                Stay away from foodfight resto's except for tex tubs tacos which is actually fairly tasty and fun (sit at the bar though)
                Visit the madison originals website for other great local spots then vist surrounding towns that have decent food like Monona, New Glarus, Milwaukee...