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Aug 15, 2011 10:08 AM

Road trip from St. Paul to Madison, WI on 94- would love foodie sidetrack suggestions! [Moved from Minneapolis-St. Paul Board]

I'm heading up North in a few days and after visiting in White Bear Lake, we're heading down to Madison. We are foodie geeks and love great food that is fun and interesting. Any suggestions for stops along the way? (Think the movie Michael's world's largest ball of twine- but for food!) Well, actually any other interesting stops along the way would be appreciated too!

If you're ever in Raleigh, happy to return the favor with great suggestions! ;-)

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  1. I'd love to say there are some great stops along this route, but you're really limited to cheese shops and the like. I want to say we had some sort of I-94/Wisconsin cheese guide, but I can't seem to find it.

    Truthfully, I normally wait until I get to Madison...LOTS of good chow there. It's really an underrated food scene, actually.

    I know I wasn't too helpful, but coincidentally, I'll be flying into Raleigh on Wednesday. We're spending a week at the beach, but part/most of two days in the Raleigh area. Last year, we had drinks at Raleigh Times and dinner at Poole's. Any other recommendations would be welcome :) What CH board does Raleigh fit under, in case I feel like exploring a bit?

    6 Replies
    1. re: BigE

      Hi! Too funny, I'm flying up on Thursday AM;-) Raleigh is so awesome for food- some of my favs are:

      Rockford (the best sandwiches and yummy food!) LOVE this place especially the cozy couch w/a nice glass of wine.
      Dos Taquitos downtown- the most amazing lamb dish ever, plus good guac, and cool atmosphere.
      Busy Bees for beer and loaded tots- yum!
      Raleigh Times & Pooles are also favs ;-)
      Jibarra- incredible "happy hour" specials mid week- really good food!
      Remedy Diner- fun, lots of vegan but also other options- worth checking out
      Big Eds in city market for awesome country breakfast
      Farmer's Market Restaurant for great breakfast as well and fun to walk around- lots of free samples, and a few weeks ago bought some great sunflowers!
      Benelux Cafe in City Market for good coffee- and yoga that I teach there 2x/week ;-)
      ... to get you started!

      Thanks for the input, we're meeting friends in Madison, so I'm sure we'll find some fun places, but if you have any to add, I'd appreciate.

      Have fun in Raleigh!

      1. re: prgalnc

        Thanks for the Raleigh ideas!

        As far as Madison goes, if you are meeting residents there, they'll probably have better recs than mine, but I'll give it a shot.

        For reference, I stay on the capitol square and walk everywhere, so my range isn't too large. My last trip's itinerary included:

        1) Breakfast at Marigold Kitchen or Cafe Soleil (closed?)
        2) Lunch at Amy's Cafe, Ian's, or the Old Fashioned
        3) Dinner at Graze (beautiful new space right on the capitol square), Muramoto, and Underground Kitchen, which had closed after a fire, last I heard :(

        Enjoy your time in is absolutely gorgeous this time of year!

        Marigold Kitchen
        118 S Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

        Cafe Soleil
        25 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703

        1. re: BigE

          Thanks BigE... loved your lunch options before we head out after our quick trip (as we are staying at a B&B- otherwise Marigolds looked fantastic!)


          1. re: prgalnc

            No problem :)

            Graze also serves lunch, if you feel so inclined.

        1. re: planojim

          Thank you! Heading out this AM, so this was really helpful!! ;-)

      2. There's a mustard museum in Middleton, WI (close to Madison).

        My favorite food stop on I-94 is the Carr Valley Cheese stand in Mauston. They have the requisite giant mouse outside, but inside is a vast selection of fabulous cheese. My current fave is Casa Bolo Mellage, a small round cheese that is made from sheep, goat and cow milk.

        I'm sure others will mention the Wisconsin Dells...

        1 Reply
        1. re: AnneInMpls

          Thank you!!! 2 of my favorite things- mustard and cheese. I'll make sure and try the Casa Bolo Mellage- sounds fantastic.


        2. If you need a sweet stop, try Norske Nook in Osseo. Famous for their pies, and a good spot on the trip to stop for a bit.

          4 Replies
          1. re: atcpa

            I've never been to the Norske Nook, but reports indicate that their pies may have gone into a slump.


            Instead, I would hold out for pie at the Cheese Factory Restaurant in Lake Delton (at the Wisconsin Dells). When I was there a few years ago, the pie was quite tasty, as was all of our food.


            1. re: AnneInMpls

              I second the Cheese Factory, Mustard Museum, and Carr Valley suggestions - you might also like to check into Fromagination on Madison's capitol square. Lots of cheese and local/not so local complements (Potter's crackers, Q&A jams, etc.)

              I carry a torch for Norske Nook's pies (full disclosure: my family is from Osseo and we've tried all 50+ kinds: ); Heavy Table's comparison is admirably thorough but, if I'm reading their article correctly, the Nook's rating suffered from the methodology employed.

              That said, there are some bad pies there. Steer clear of anything with whipped topping. But if you have time to stop and enjoy a fresh slice with meringue (lemon, sour cream raisin, or coconut cream), and it's not a deflatingly humid summer day, you will probably not regret it.

              Cheese Factory Restaurant
              521 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy S, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

              12 S Carroll St, Madison, WI

              Norske Nook
              10436 State Road 27, Hayward, WI 54843

              1. re: jumble

                Love your flickr set! :) Glad someone who's tried as many as you have could chime in here!

                I'm going to have to try Fromagination...I wonder when I can sneak over to Madison without telling my family who lives there.

                1. re: jumble

                  Thank you! Great info and it's on our list!

            2. We really enjoyed a nice lunch at the Nucleus Cafe in Eau Claire, WI. I had a blue crab sandwich that was divine!


              1. If you are just looking for a good burger, Monk's in Wisconsin Dells downtown should meet your requirements. Any trip between St. Paul and Madison by a first timer should take in the experience of the Dells if nothing more than a walk around the downtown area.