Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >
Nov 6, 2008 07:44 PM

Where to take Parents in Madison, WI

My parents are coming to visit me at college in a few weeks and want me to pick a place for them to take me out to dinner. I want to show them a nice place in Madison that still has a casual atmosphere and fits on a college student's budget. They are pub fans but really are willing to go anywhere. We will be going to dinner after a football game on a Saturday so will be in casual dress and just looking for a good family dinner. Anything is going to be better than dorm food for be but I want them to get a good taste of Madison. I've browsed a few websites and The Great Dane is looking good and that is around the price range I'm looking for. I know Madison has some great upscale restaurants but it wouldn't be appropriate for this occassion. As well, I don't anything too greasy or high in calories because I am an athelete and can only splurge on food so much. HELP!!

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. First, run a search on the board and see what recs are out there already, or have you done that? It's not clear in your post.

    Second, maybe the Old Fashioned?

    1 Reply
    1. re: mike_d

      mike_d, I will admit to being a newcomer to the Madison scene, but as such, I'd love to see more posts about Madison restaurants, rather than only have it discussed during the occasional obligatory, "my parents are visiting from out of town" message. You seem like you know what's up in Madison, why not post more?

    2. I started a similar topic, about where parents could take a college student to eat! It was originally about a Sunday brunch, but expanded quite a bit beyond that, to dinner and other suggestions. You'll find recommendations of all sorts in it, from upscale to downscale, ethnic to whatever the opposite of ethnic is, etc. The first post in that topic also has links to a couple other comprehensive discussions of restaurants in Madison. You'll find it at

      Oh, and if they're taking you out for dinner, I'm not sure why it has to fit into a college student's budget!

      3 Replies
      1. re: nsxtasy

        I thought that the list that came from your original post was a good one. I too was confused about who was buying.

        DanaB, I get to Madison pretty regularly, but. there's lots of places I haven't gotten to (Sardine, I long for you!! ) for a number of reasons. I try to just stay with what I know.

        And I know I wish, on what's going to be a cold day, that I was having lunch at Marigold Kitchen, having the mussels :)

        1. re: mike_d

          It seems like a lot of places around town have good mussels -- I find it interesting because seafood was one area where I was worried about in the Midwest. Le Chardonnay has "mussels and frites" specials on Tuesdays and Thursday, and both Sardine and Marigold Kitchen have good mussel dishes, as does Monroe St. Bistro. They all import Prince Edward Island mussels -- the little ones -- and they are fresh-tasting and flavorful. My college roommate and her husband have lived in Madison for 15 years, so they kind of gave me a leg-up on places to try . . .

          1. re: DanaB

            The more I hear about Monroe St Bistro, the more I need to go. Being a native Midwesterner, I knew nothing of good seafood till I went to San Fran. Still as you say, things are different. Mussels are widely available, in not always well prepared (my fix for those in Milw. burned down/out .) Shaw's in Chicago among other places has good stuff. But, in some ways, I'd rather have the carbon footprint be me to San Fran, than the fish to me! Thanks for the rec on Monroe St.

      2. The thread posted above has a lot of good suggestions and it would be worth looking through for what might strike your fancy. I like the branch of Great Dane in downtown for the setting, but I think you could do better in terms of food. My suggestion would be Monroe St. Bistro, where I've really enjoyed the food -- they focus on foods produced in and around Wisconsin, and have a full bar and a nice beer list, so while not a pub, it definitely should please. It might be a bit more expensive than the Great Dane, but not much more (Great Dane's entrees are $11.50-17.50, Monroe St. Bistro's are $12-20 with a couple higher than that), and it's close to the stadium.

        1 Reply
        1. re: DanaB

          Both my wife and I had bad first meals at Monroe Street Bistro and aren't likely to go back -- too bad, because we like the _idea_ of a neighborhood slightly-French bistro with an emphasis on local ingredients. I've had significantly better meals at Brasserie V, which your parents might like (though I understand it's a mob scene on Saturday nights.) I think mike_d started this thread out right -- the Old Fashioned is the obvious choice. Very pubby, even self-consciously so, with better food than you'd expect (i.e., better food than the Great Dane.)