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Sep 21, 2011 09:14 AM

Madison: house hunting trip eats...

My husband and I are on a house hunting trip to Madison this weekend. Can you recommend places for us to eat. We are looking for:
- vegetarian friendly- but also more interesting than the ubiquitous mushroom risotto for vegetarians
- use of great, local produce and let it shine
- excellent local craft beer
- low key, unprententious

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  1. Our go-to is Lombardino's. They are very dedicated to the "locivore" concept and change their menu about four times a year to ensure that they are in step with the season.

    "Low key" and "unpretentious", from my vantage point, defines them.


    Welcome to Madison...you are going to love living here...we do!

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

    1. Welcome! First a note about getting around - special event "Ride the Drive" will close some major downtown-ish roads on Sunday 9/25/11. Here's the route:


      Second, I second Monch on Lombardino's. Some ideas of varying degrees of keyed-upness but all very local and veg-friendly, with at least decent (for WI; "excellent" most other places) beer:

      Graze http://grazemadison.com/
      Greenbush Bar http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/214/10737...
      Osteria Papavero http://www.osteriapapavero.com/
      Quivey's Grove http://www.quiveysgrove.com/
      Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar http://www.umamiramen.blogspot.com/
      Weary Traveler http://www.wearytravelerfreehouse.com/

      For breakfast/lunch:
      Bradbury's http://www.bradburyscoffee.com/
      Ironworks Cafe http://www.goodmancenter.org/resource...
      Lazy Jane's Cafe http://www.urbanspoon.com/r/214/10738...

      And if you trade a little veg-friendliness (not much) for more beer/selection:
      Ale Asylum http://www.aleasylum.com/
      Brasserie V http://www.brasseriev.com/
      Old Fashioned http://www.theoldfashioned.com/
      Vintage Brewing Co. http://www.vintagemadison.com/

      Good luck house hunting and check back!

      Quivey's Grove
      6261 Nesbitt Rd, Fitchburg, WI 53719

      Greenbush Bar
      914 Regent St, Madison, WI 53715

      Osteria Papavero
      128 E Wilson St, Madison, WI 53703

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

      Weary Traveler
      1201 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

      Ale Asylum
      3698 Kinsman Blvd, Madison, WI 53704

      Brasserie V
      1923 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711

      3 Replies
      1. re: jumble

        Not sure about veg-friendly, big-time carnivore here, but I'd also offer up:

        Tipsy Cow

        In my humble opinion, steer clear of "Food Fight" restaurants. Was on the fence about them but when on our FIRST visit to Avenue Bar for fish fry (Avenue is an absolute fish fry icon here) there were issues with almost everything offered....I tossed them into the "Never Again" pile.


        Back to positives:
        Completely agree about Greenbush and Old-Fashioned.
        I have little experience as Asian is not my wife's bag, but there have been CH posts about some well-regarded Asian restaurants in Madison...a search would be the ticket.

        Again, welcome and good chowing.

        Greenbush Bar
        914 Regent St, Madison, WI 53715

        1. re: Monch

          Beats me what people see in Avenue Bar. There are so many better restaurants in Madison.

          Another vote here for Lombardino's.

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

          1. re: Fowler

            I guess I agree, Fowler.

            For me, Avenue is nostalgic. Coming from Central Wisconsin Friday meant hitting supper clubs for decent, economical fish frys with a couple of drinks.

            Avenue was the best fish fry on this side of town...in my opinion and in my experience.

            But the real draw was the "feel" of the place...supper clubby.

      2. Check out Nostrano for some inventive dishes. It's a nicer place (but it's low-key, not pretentious), but the food is reasonably priced considering the quality. (Update: After posting this, I checked their current menu and I'm not seeing much by way of vegetarian options for dinner, but there are some for lunch. Hmmm...)

        You may also want to check out the menu at The Great Dane Brewery. It's one of our favorite places for beer, but I know they also have some veg. options on the menu and while not foodie paradise, I have always enjoyed eating there.

        If you want to try beers from various brewers around the state, I would definitely spend some time at the previous mentioned Old Fashioned.

        1 Reply
        1. re: bte576

          Nostrano's a good call. They might be busy - try a reservation. (When we went service turned from warm to icy between dessert and check. Hopefully that was an isolated incident.)

        2. Wow, Jumble listed quite a few. But I would definitely add Bandung--one of the only Indonesian restaurants in the Midwest and with great food--including house-made tempeh. The Green Owl is all vegetarian/vegan with a rotating menu. Himal Chuli on State Street is an institution--Nepali cuisine. If it's full (it's tiny) go down the street to it's sister restaurant Chautara, which has a wider ranging menu. If you are here Saturday morning, you have to see our amazing farmers' market around the capitol square--lots of treats to try! Enjoy.

          Himal Chuli
          318 State St, Madison, WI 53703

          Chautara Restaurant
          334 State St, Madison, WI 53703

          1. The trip was very successful.

            We ate at:

            Old Fashioned: beer list made my husband giddy. Fried cheese curds were delicious, but not really the kind of food I can eat more than an handful of once a year. We shared the vegetarian platter which had some real gems: dilly beans, and cheese spreads, but we thought that the potato salad and slaw needed more salt.

            Ironworks Cafe: really cute community center cafe. I'm glad we got lost in that neighborhood. The service was teenage at times, but that is what we signed up for. I had a scramble with goat cheese, mushrooms and spinach. My husband had the veggie egg bennedict. Lettuce was a bit sad, but eggs were fab.

            Umami: We shared a sixpack before heading here so I was quite tipsy. I had the pork buns, and tuna ceviche, both which I enjoyed a great deal. My husband inhaled his veggie ramen. I think we will be come locals.

            Bradbury's Coffee: Holy smokes this place was great. I think the last time I had yogurt that great was in the Alps. Our crepes were spectacular.

            Ale Asylum: beer was stellar. Chips had very good salsa. Our pizzas were meh. I can't see myself driving out here for this often.

            Ha Long Bay Vietnamese and Thai Bistro: tofu and green bean lunch special was v satisfying. Cucumber salad was very simple but stellar combo of large chunks of crisp cucumber, ground peanuts and fish saucy dressing.

            Cannot wait to try the rest of your suggestions upon moving!

            Thai Bistro
            45620 Ford Rd, Canton, MI 48187

            Ale Asylum
            3698 Kinsman Blvd, Madison, WI 53704

            Ha Long Bay
            1353 Williamson St, Madison, WI 53703

            5 Replies
            1. re: relizabeth

              That does sound successful. We are incredibly lucky, food-wise in Madison. We look forward to welcoming you!

              1. re: relizabeth

                Thanks for the excellent report relizabeth! I have not tried Umami but will hopefully eat there soon.

                Did you end up finding a house?

                1. re: Fowler

                  We found a delightful apartment near Willy St and will be very happy there. Walking distance to both the co-op and the farmers' market. This is probably a post for a separate thread, but when do we sign up for CSAs? And how do we select?

                  1. re: relizabeth

                    Congrats! Madison Area CSA Coalition is a good place to start: http://www.csacoalition.org - they usually have an "open house" in spring, which is a good time for new sign-ups.

                    There was a thread not too long ago about CSAs on the local Reddit: http://www.reddit.com/r/madisonwi/com...

                    1. re: relizabeth


                      Harmony Valley Farms was our CSA of choice and their drop-off point was just over on Jenifer Street...something to consider.