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Good chow on west side of Madison WI?

Hi all. Long-time Chow lurker, first-time poster. I'll be in Madison on March 9-15, 2008, for training at Avid Technology Inc. (6400 Enterprise Lane; east of West Towne Mall), and staying at the Baymont Inn (8102 Excelsior Drive; north-northwest of West Towne Mall). I'm hoping you fine midwestern CHounders can help me find some good food and drink (any price range or type, except sushi) on what appears to be the western edge of Madison. I'd like to avoid the usual national chain slop if at all possible. Past posts were very helpful for places in town, but I'm not always going to have the time or energy to drive into downtown or the campus for dinner or lunch. Many thanks in advance!

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  1. Without going too far (and "far" is relative, since unfortunately you are plop in the middle of chainland), here are some good bets, in order of distance from the Baymont:

    Eno Vino Wine Bar and Bistro - noisy tapas place: http://www.eno-vino.com/

    Asia Express - surprisingly decent cheap Chinese: http://www.madisonatoz.com/2004/06/as... (sorry no official web site, check out the other reviews linked there

    )

    India Darbar - they may even deliver: http://www.indiadarbar.com/

    Capital Brewery - ok, no food, but if you like beer ... : http://www.capital-brewery.com/

    2 Replies
    1. re: jumble

      Thank you, thank you, thank you!
      It's a relief to know that I can at least get tapas (one of my many favorites) "plop in the middle of chainland," as you so eloquently phrased it.
      Anybody else have suggestions? Even good take-out or delivery places?

      1. re: Mark M

        You're very welcome! I only hope the weather will be better for your visit - we've had record snowfall this year.

    2. Why do you have to stay on the west side? There are fun/great places all of 15 - 20 minutes away downtown. I would suggest the Blue Marlin - small and intimate...great curried crab soup! Also the Old Fashioned is a fun hamburger/bar/salad spot. Nearby is what some would say is a top restaurant in the state: L'toile. Sorry - these are all near the square but I think that's more fun!

      1. Barriques has a branch on a fancy strip mall at Middleton. It is a wine store, but they have wine by the glass, decent tea and coffee and sandwich/soup type of fare that is good for a nice lunch or a light dinner.

        http://www.barriquesmarket.com/

        You said no sushi, but if you like cooked Japanese fare, Muramoto might do good with their lunch specials. Again it is on a strip mall, at Hilldale, near west side of the town.

        For more upscale dining, Otto's might be good: http://ottosrestaurant.com/default.aspx
        Enjoy your visit.

        1. We have three favorite restaurants in Madison. Just one of them has a west side location. But Madison is so small, driving to the east side is not that inconvenient.

          New Orleans Take-Out is small, just a counter and stools, but has authentic Creole food. (Don’t say “Cajun” to the owner; he makes a sharp distinction.) The shrimp poorboys are a must. Oyster poorboys are available in season. The Etoufée is very good, but very hot. The original east side location is at 1920 Fordem Ave. There is now a west side location near the stadium, at 1517 Monroe St. http://www.eatmobettah.com/New%20Orle...

          The best barbecue in Wisconsin is found at Smokey Jon’s, 2310 Packers Ave. This is on the far east side, near the entrance to the airport, but well worth the drive. www.smokyjons.com

          We also love the Wah Kee Noodle House at 600 Williamson St. It is the type of authentic Asian noodle house found rarely in the Midwest. Its location is not too far east; it’s close to the Capitol. It is on the northeast corner of where Williamson, Wilson, Blair and John Nolan streets all meet.

          These are all down-scale places. For something upscale, one must dine at the venerable and nationally-known L’Etoile, found on the east side of the Capitol Square, at 25 N. Pinckney St.

          Now we must talk about drinking beer, a Madison essential. The Memorial Union on the UW campus has a wonderful German “Rathskeller” with muraled walls, where the students hang out. (Don’t miss the west wall mural “When Wine and Beer are at War”, written in German.) The Rathskeller leads out to the relaxing lakeside Terrace, a must-see during the summer months. (If you’re not a student, you must buy a one-day pass for a couple of bucks to drink beer there. The pass is not needed for food or non-alcoholic beverage purchases.)

          A fine brewpub, The Great Dane, stands one block to the southeast of the Capitol Square at 123 E. Doty St. (at Doty & King streets). The Essenhaus is an atmospheric German beer hall and restaurant at 514 E. Wilson St., just across from the Wah Kee Noodle House.

          1 Reply
          1. re: carts2

            The Great Dane has an outpost on the West side-- at Hilldale Mall. Mark M, if you're not able to go downtown, Hilldale may not be a bad place to check out-- Great Dane, Sushi Muramoto and a few other (not as terrific) places.

          2. Thank you one and all! I'd love to stay in the heart of town or near campus, but I'll be on the federal government's tab and the per diem is $143 per day for food AND lodging. Also, a rental car is not authorized, which means if I want wheels it comes out of my pocket. I'm staying at the Baymont because it's cheap and only 3 miles from Avid's offices. Also, the hotel has a free shuttle to Avid.
            Again, thanks for all the chow info!

            1 Reply
            1. re: Mark M

              For lunch you should put Sai Bai Tong (Thai), Maharajah (Indian Buffet) and Asian Noodles (Korean) on your list. Also, Granite City Brewery (OK, a small chain) at the West Towne mall is also very good. Try Laredo's for Mexican and JT Whitney's for an Irish pub scene. All of these are within 3 minutes of Avid.

              For dinners, another small chain option is Biaggi's. It is in the same place as Eno Vino for a bout one-third the price (and one-half the quality). I'd second Otto's. It is real close to where you'll be during the day. George's Chop House is within walking distance from the Baymont. Five minutes away by shuttle would be Louisienne's (high-end creole/cajun), Vin Santo (great Italian), Village Pub (greasy cheeseburgers served on wax paper - old school Wisconsin tavern food). Blue Spoon Cafe recently opened as the second location of an upscale offering from the Culver's team.