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Birthday dinner for 10 in Madison, WI

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Hello Chowhound,
Frequent lurker, lazy poster, retired badger (now living in Canada) here. I will be celebrating my birthday in Madison, WI with 9 of my friends during a conference. I originally thought of The Old Fashioned, but unfortunately they don't take reservations; being this a Saturday, I don't want my guests to become impatient.

My favorite restaurants in town (after living 7 years) are Lombardinos and Lao Laan Xang. Unfortunately, we don't have transportation to go either; my folks would not be patient enough to walk more than 500 ms. We'll be in the campus area, and will need a festive, fun, not too stuffy place to hang out. Where shall we go?

Merci!

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Lao Laan Xang Restaurant
2098 Atwood Ave, Madison, WI 53704

Lombardino's Restaurant
2500 University Ave, Madison, WI 53705

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  1. Garmon,

    Welcome back.

    Given everything you're saying (and Lombo's is our absolute favorite), maybe you should try Porta Bella. Just off State Street on Frances. It's more traditional American/Italian...red sauce, etc, but it's a fun place. Each separate dining room is done in it's own kitchshy theme.

    Good food...nice bar.

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    State Street Restaurant
    1118 S State St, Lockport, IL 60441

    Porta Bella
    425 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703

    1. You could try the new Brickhouse BBQ on Gorham just before it turns onto University Ave. Or Nick's on State - totally old school but prepared for large parties. But Porta Bella would probably be great for your needs - fun, not stuffy at all.

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      Porta Bella
      425 N Frances St, Madison, WI 53703

      1 Reply
      1. re: bzdchris

        How IS the Brickhouse? I'm skeptical about how thin, ALL things considered, ownership is spreading themselves with the store, Samba, and this.

        If it's good Cue, for Madison, I'm game.

      2. Thanks for the suggestions. We found wheels and ended up in Sardine, and had a lovely dinner with very reasonably priced wines. The skatewing and the pasta with lamb were fantastic and the service was gracious. We also tried Cooper's Tavern for a second birthday dinner next day, and lucked out for a table at the "snug". 10 of us, it was a little snuggy but oh well. My mac and cheese with pork belly is still stuck to my thighs :) Must run tomorrow. And what a beer list!