As early as age 11, Joanne Weeden was baking treats for her mother to bring to patients at the hospital where she worked as a nurse. Years later, Weeden is still at it, making fresh cookies, cupcakes, dessert bars, and breads at Boomerang Bakery (the name is a tribute to her Australian roots). In addition to offering these goodies, Boomerang is dedicated to making a positive impact on the community in large and small ways, whether that means donating to local charities or teaching customers useful magic tricks such as how to make a cupcake disappear.
Founded in 1911, Schubert's Diner & Bakery has spent the last century dishing out traditional Norwegian fare, including hearty breakfasts, homemade dinner plates, and fresh-baked goods. Norwegian meatballs sidle up to Swedish rye bread in a recipe that has been a signature item for the past 45 years ($7.50). Fresh-baked treats are available for purchase with both meal options and include rosettes, an intricate, fried Norwegian pastry coated in sugar for a snack as light and sweet as a hot-air balloon toting a heap of third graders' valentines ($0.85/1 or $3.99/5). Select the breakfast option for all-day access to morning delicacies. The lefse omelet blankets fluffy eggs in a rolled Norwegian potato flatbread before tucking in a tiny teddy-bear garnish ($6.75). Schubert's Diner & Bakery covers tables with blue-and-white-checked tablecloths and lines its soda fountain with old-fashioned white barstools, upon which guests slurp down ice creams and malts.
The family-owned and family-operated pastry palace has been serving up fresh-made delicacies assembled on-site daily since 1982. The raised donuts are a particularly puffy take on the dough-ring classic, and the yeast-filled version at Scott's results in a soft, pillowy wedding ring for giants. Mix and match a rotating selection of flavors, which include everything from classic white and chocolate to embellishments such as maple, turtle, and apple-fritter flavors (premium raised donuts are an additional $0.50). Craft a custom donut collection, which can later be worn around the neck to ward off sugar-fearing dentists.
One of the best BLTs in Madison doesn't have bacon on it. Dubbed the TLT, Jennie Capellaro's meat-free version swaps out the pork for strips of tempeh, a type of cultured soy. The sandwich's smoky flavor won over the critics of 77 Square, claiming Best BLT honors in 2010. PETA named it one of the country's best vegan BLTs in 2012. And in 2013, it was named "Favorite Vegetarian-Friendly Restaurant" by The Daily Page.
Jennie and her team at The Green Owl Cafe strive to similarly surprise their diners by coaxing out unexpected flavors from their vegetarian and vegan dishes. Championing freshness, they prefer to work with local suppliers, such as Blue Skies Berry Farm and Sprouting Acres. They also throw monthly raw nights, treating guests to prix fixe dinners comprised of all raw courses. Jennie matches her menu's celebration of nature with a rustic, wood-paneled interior and an outdoor patio where diners can catch the free vitamin-D capsules regularly tossed down by the sun.
It was a fateful day that Campus Candy founder Mark Tarnofsky dropped his daughter off at Indiana University about four years ago. On a mission to track down a simple candy bar, the dutiful dad found himself roaming far afield until he finally landed at a distant drugstore. Convinced that college kids want candy within constant reach, Tarnofsky started his first store right there, and soon expanded to the schools in Wisconsin, Arizona, and Pennsylvania. Each outlet sells more than 500 different types of candy, all of which may be repurposed as toppings on a rotating menu of frozen yogurt. By slinging bulk candy at a fixed price, Campus Candy stores make it easy for college kids to load up on diverse desserts without filling their schedules with bonbon-making classes.
Owner Lance Ratze named Yola’s Café for his Grandma Yola, a sensational cook who hoped to own a cafe but passed away before realizing her dream. She did come close, though. In addition to filling her kitchen with restaurant equipment, she piled her basement's ping-pong table high with roast beef, waffles, and pies so as to serve as many people as possible.
Today, Yola's aims to recreate its namesake's hospitality by filling stomachs with baked goods. By lunch, artisans dole out sandwiches, salads, and soups to sate midday cravings. As they dine, grownups peruse a rotating selection of local artwork, while kids play with the cafe's toys, board games, and an old tin can.