A University of Wisconsin institution, freshly renovated Wando’s tantalizes taste buds with a menu of meaty burgers and savory sandwiches. In between bites, draft beers, cocktails, and the watering hole's signature fishbowls wet whistles, and PBR table-toppers make refilling glasses as convenient as hiding behind the keg. The sports-centric bar solidifies its allegiance to the University of Wisconsin with red-and-white décor and by showering UW students with free bacon and unlimited oxygen on Tuesday nights.
Behind State Street Brats' charming Old-World half-timbered façade, a convivial bar-and-grill atmosphere welcomes visitors to lively feastings of pub fare. With a special focus on sausages and cheesy meals, the menu celebrates the best-loved staples of Midwestern cuisine. Chefs serve up brats two traditional ways, with the Sheboygan-style white brat soaked in beer and red brats split open and grilled for a smoky flavor. Patrons can customize their orders at the condiment bar by slathering on a wide selection of toppings, such as tomatoes and sauerkraut, and picking the best flavor from a spread of local mustards, including Koops, Silver Spring, and Mustard Girl.
A two-time finalist for Madison Magazine’s Best Sports Bar, with a gold in 2011 and silver in 2012, State Street Brats relishes the company of happy regulars and avid sports fans there to catch games on the bar’s 25 TVs. Extensive cable and digital subscriptions keep crowds entertained with professional football and baseball or collegiate action. Four evenings a week, the second floor comes to life with a live DJ and a packed dance floor. Bartenders also keep fans on their toes with themed specials, such as Flip Night Tuesday, where patrons can flip a coin to determine how much their drinks cost.
Voted one of Madison Magazine's Best New Restaurants of 2010, this down-home eatery delivers a menu loaded with barbecue-style southern savories and a deluge of draft and bottled beers. Customers will have to discard their dog’s squeaky toys at the door to keep mum about the menu's hush-puppies appetizer, a stack of southern-fried cornmeal fritters served with spicy mayo ($6.99). Diners can also dive into a legume-laden vegetable sandwich, packed with grilled portabella mushrooms, broccoli-forest-fire-roasted roma tomatoes, smoked gouda, and herb-infused garlic spread ($7.99), or beckon a rack of Brickhouse ribs, slow cooked in the St. Louis style and smothered in a signature spice blend ($19.99). The brisket sandwich sports Texas-style meat smoked in-house under a mound of melted pepper-jack cheese and onion strings ($8.99), while the southern catfish appeases anglers with a blackened or cornmeal-dusted, pan-fried filet coupled with corn-poblano relish and spicy mayo ($11.99).
The Capitol Pedaler was designed and built by a Dutchman in bicycle-happy Amsterdam before arriving in Madison to whisk travelers around town in eco-friendly style. Lovingly referred to as ?The Big Red Bike?, it adopted its signature hue state-side in honor of the Wisconsin Badgers, and frequently takes breaks from escorting pub-crawlers and wedding parties to ferry fans on game day. Capable of accommodating up to 14 passengers, with the recommended group size of at least six?eight pedalers the vehicle typically cruises at 5?7 miles per hour?the perfect speed for drag racing local steamrollers.
Prechosen routes include excursions to the zoo or the Old Sugar Distillery, making up to three preselected stops en route at local bars, public parks, and coffee shops. While alcoholic drinks aren?t allowed on the foot-powered party bus, passengers are welcome to bring their own snacks and nonalcoholic drinks to enjoy between stops, and can blast premade playlists of party songs or favorite commercial jingles courtesy of an on-board stereo with iPod and mp3-player connections.
Formerly Moe’s Tavern, Diego’s Mexican Bistro updated its multilevel downtown location with a new chef and a new menu of traditional Mexican favorites that focuses on simple, fresh, flavorful ingredients and combinations. The meat, for example, avoids standard preparations: Guests can choose to pack smothered chimichangas or cornmeal-dough huaraches with chipotle roast chicken, Michoacán-style roast pork, or housemade mexican chorizo. The chef’s recipes also include mole—a gluten-free poblano sauce used to douse a vegetarian or chicken dish or a stumped game-show contestant, and customers can wash it all down with a bloody mary.
These changes are the result of giving the people what they want. “We’ve received a lot of feedback from customers who want quality Mexican food downtown," Mohammed Barketallah, owner of Diego’s and the former Frida Mexican Grill, told Madison.com. "So we’re bringing the most popular dishes from Frida’s while enhancing the entire menu.” Along with the menu updates, the decor also underwent some touchups. Frida’s iconic murals were unpacked along Diego’s sprawling, castle-esque space of exposed brick and skinny dining balconies. Flat-screen TVs and a pool table keep the restaurant lively during sports action, and an outdoor patio is tucked under the towering trees and lampposts that line State Street.
At Naples 15, chef Salvatore Di Scala shares the experience of his travels with guests?not through photos, or souvenirs, but through his food. A native of Naples, Italy, Chef Di Scala has built his menu around true Neapolitan cuisine. It includes pizzas named after beloved Italian songs, as well as dishes recommended by Chef Di Scala himself, such as the aragosta alla don Salvatore: fresh lobster tail baked in a wood oven and served with cherry tomatoes, garlic, and parsley.