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Feb 26, 2013 03:50 PM

Can't miss near Madison, WI

Going back to Madison in a couple of weeks for another round of Epic training - any place reasonably close to Verona that shouldn't be missed? Already had the amazing Home Grown burger at Vintage Brewing Company on the last trip, and will definitely be back for a second round. Any place else that won't kill me in cab fare to get foodie type cuisine? The other nights of dinner were relatively forgettable, and as long as training classes are, I need something to look forward to!
Thanks in advance!

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  1. Verona's only 11 miles from the Capitol and even closer to much of town, so just about anything in Madison is pretty darn close. If cab fare is an issue, rides on Metro Transit are $2; for info see

    My two go-to places for dinner when I visit Madison are Fresco, on the roof of the Museum of Contemporary Art, for an upscale dinner with terrific contemporary American cuisine, and Eno Vino, on the west side, for small plates in a more casual atmosphere. For a special occasion, L'Etoile is a destination. For breakfast, Marigold Kitchen is right off the square, and the Original Pancake House has two locations, one south of town off US-12/18, and another on University west of campus. For lunch, the Old Fashioned on the square is a classic. And for Sunday brunch, I like Sardine, on the shore of Lake Monona.

    5 Replies
    1. re: nsxtasy

      Great recommendations - I'll have to check out the Metro - we're on expense report, but without rental cars, and a taxi ride anywhere seems to be at least $20! And while we drove by Camp Randall on the way to the airport, I'd love to explore the downtown a little more, if it isn't freezing cold next week! Is the Old Fashioned worth a visit for dinner? We're stuck at Epic for lunch, so don't have a chance to get off campus until dinner time.

      Most of my coworkers are more casual eaters, but I just want a place where I can get a good glass of wine and straightforward but good food. I appreciate the options!!

      1. re: berthagator

        >> I'll have to check out the Metro - we're on expense report, but without rental cars, and a taxi ride anywhere seems to be at least $20!

        Buses are an option, but if you're going out with co-workers, keep in mind that your cab fare gets split however many ways, but each of you must pay his own $2 fare on the bus. I'd take the bus if I were solo, but cab it if I were part of a group of three or more. And if I were you, I'd strongly consider Eno Vino; not only is it much closer to Verona than the square (see below), but the food is great and you mention good wine, which is one of the attractions there (as you may have guessed from the name).

        The #55 bus route runs from the Epic campus in Verona (much of the way non-stop) to the West Transfer Point (in front of Copps) where all the bus routes turn around. Several routes go from there to the square. Don't forget to ask for a transfer when you first board the #55. Transfers are free and are good for two hours.

        The #55 only runs in rush hour, so you can use it at the end of the afternoon to go to dinner, but you'll need to take a cab back afterwards. There's a schedule on the Metro website, or you can use Google Maps (which I've found quite convenient for public transit routes and schedules).

        If you're interested in going to Eno Vino, you can also take the #55 bus; at the West Transfer Point, then transfer to the #73 bus which stops just south of the strip mall on Junction Road where Eno Vino is. The stop is called "City Center".

        A cab back to Epic from Eno Vino should cost less than one from the square, since it's only 6 miles, about half the distance from Epic to the square. Eno Vino is a very popular place, so you may want to make a reservation in advance.

        >> Is the Old Fashioned worth a visit for dinner?

        Sure, depending on whether that's what you want for dinner. The Old Fashioned serves lighter fare, mostly sandwiches and salads, and they add a few entrees after 4 pm. It's a lot like the classic Wisconsin "supper clubs", if you're familiar with that concept. Check out the menu on their website.

      2. re: nsxtasy

        Thanks for the recs! Had a quick getaway to Madison and tried Eno-Vino and Marigold. Loved the ambience of Eno-Vino and the food was great, too. Although I was surprised at the lack of knowledge/guidance on wines from our waiter. (Maybe he was new?)

        LOVED Marigold. Have been going to Madison for years yet had never heard of it. We shared the traditional eggs and hash browns and devoured the french toast. Delicious - not overwhelmingly sweet.

        And since no trip to Wisconsin is complete without Friday fish fry, we stopped at my favorite fish fry in all of Madison. Quivey's grove serves Friday (and Wednesday) fish fry in their stone house and stable grill. I prefer eating in the stable - a much more unique atmosphere. Beware - there will be a wait. We went at 5:30 to try to beat the rush and still had to wait 45 minutes. Luckily, there is plenty of seating in the bar area. And the food is well worth the wait!

        1. re: nsxtasy

          Nsxtasy, like suesterx, I thank you for the Marigold rec.
          I have been reading you for years and am never less than amazed at your extensive restaurant experience and knowledge! You do get around and I've eaten some delicious food because of it. :)

          Marigold was a great find. Delicious brioche french toast with silky pastry cream and fresh blackberries, strawberries, raspberries and slivered almonds was a treat.
          Not too sweet, as sue mentioned, just right. I even skipped the syrup because I just wanted to enjoy the bread, cream, and fruit. Very nice with a cup of their good coffee.

          They were busy on a Thursday morning but service was fast.
          Will definitely be back.
          Thank you for all the time you take to help your fellow hounds!

          1. re: NicoletteT

            Thanks for the kind words! :blush:

        2. Jordandal Cookhouse (carryout) recently opened in Verona and is for sure can't miss.

          1. I was shocked to see a bunch of James Beard nominations come out of Madison...names I hadn't heard while searching this board before my xmas trip. What's up Madison Hounds? Forequarter? Nostrano? A Pig in a fur coat?

            2 Replies
            1. re: danna

              Forequarter is interesting. Run by the Underground Kitchen gang. VERY tiny space.

              Pig is on the list of places to visit, as is Nostrano....if we can just break free of our Lombardino's addiction!!!

              Really nice, as you say, to read "Madison" a couple of times in the JBF noms.

              1. re: danna

                Heritage Tavern. Really exceptional farm-to-table; the chef, Dan Fox, raises his own pigs (!). The deviled egg platter is jaw-droppingly good, as are the charcuterie and cheese platters. Tremendous service, too. You should go.