Monday, July 4, 2011

best of madison

Tonight, on a walk down to the dock nearby, J and I reminisced on our time in Madison, and came up with a comprehensive list of our favorite restaurants and bars in the area. Originally, we were trying to come up with a "top ten" list, but we quickly realized that we love too many local places. So, without further delay-- our favorite spots in Madison, listed in no particular order:

Best sandwich spot-- H: the West of the Andes at The Weary Traveler (on Williamson St.) A tender steak sandwich with avocado and chipotle mayo... delicious! J: the Cajun Spiced Chicken sandwich at Dotty Dumplings Dowry.
Best sushi-- Takara. I usually (ok, always) get the spicy maki combo, J gets chicken teriyaki, and we usually split a Philadelphia roll before dinner. :) This is my favorite place to head to for special events... it's slightly on the pricey side, but definitely worth the splurge every once in a while.
Best brewpub-- (yes, the designation may be a little vague, but it's the best descriptor) The Great Dane. This place is great for just about anything. Since there's one a little less than a mile from our apartment, we often take any visitors there. They have great food, a great ambiance, and delicious beer. (The location in Fitchburg also has a great outdoor patio.)
Best brunch-- The Old Fashioned. I love the Bagel and Lox, and J usually gets the Daily Scramble. They also have a great selection of sandwiches and burgers.
Best eclectic selection-- Bluephies. This might just be my favorite restaurant in all of Madison (we go there often enough to be known by the hostess... haha). Their crab benedict is the best I've ever had in WI (the best ever was at Cappy's in San Antonio), and their "ooey gooey pasta" is a favorite for dinner. J and I both also enjoy their salmon BLT, though I prefer mine without the apple. They also have a "vodkatorium," which is a fancy way of saying that they have many awesome mixed drinks and a fantastical liquor selection. Top selections include the "purple rain" martini, the "fat boy bloody mary," and the "Monroe Street Mule," which includes vodka, ginger beer, sweetener, and lime juice. I know the last one sounds weird, but it's one of the best drinks ever created. So, in conclusion... Bluephies= best place ever.
Best Indian food-- Taste of India. I love the lamb masala there, but in reality, everything we've ever tried has been amazing. J and I usually share some garlic naan, and J loves the chicken vindaloo. In addition, the service is always impeccable-- they are incredibly welcoming and polite.
Best Loatian and Thai-- Vientiane Palace. J and I first started going here six-ish years ago (thanks Betsy!), and we literally get the same thing every time we go. I get the pad lao with chicken, 1 star (only a little spicy), and J gets the noodles with soy sauce, with chicken, 2-3 stars (very spicy). It doesn't look super impressive from the outside (on Regent or Gorham), but the food is amazing, and we usually pay less than $20 for a ton of food (we nearly always have leftovers to take home). Give it a shot!
Best lounge-- Opus. J and I stumbled upon this gem about three years ago. It has a fantastic ambience, and some great tapas/appetizer-style foods-- the antipasto, crostini, and bread and butter plates are especially delightful. They also have some nicer drinks than most bars in town... it's nice to try 2-3 on a low-key night out.

I'm probably missing some, but I'll post more as we think of them. I can't wait to discover my favorites in Dallas. :)