Bean Sprouts Café's wholesome, vegetarian-friendly menu supplies palates with a nutritious array of fresh smoothies, snacks, salads, sandwiches, wraps, pasta, and entrees in portions to please kids ($5.25 for a main dish), adults ($7.95), and big daddies ($9.50). Gather enough forearm strength to punish burly bullies with the spinach, gruyere, and hummus wrap, or satisfy a Lilliputian appetite with the turkey or veggie-tofu Bunchkin Burger. All main dishes come with a choice of healthy side, such as edamame or freshly harpooned banana octopus. Organic baby bites with clever names such as Pea Diddy and Sam I Yam ($2.50 each) and family meal packs cement Bean Sprouts' familial air like a Scythian blood oath.
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.
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.
Bon Appétit's bright-red façade, alluring green doorway, and smells of fresh cooking coax patrons in to where they can peruse a frequently changing menu. The eatery's dishes are largely prepared with locally produced ingredients, including organic eggs and grass-fed, natural meat. Brunch opens its coat to offer passersby an ever-evolving selection of sandwiches ($7.75), such as the BLT on sourdough, and the Ben Yeddar, in which chopped roasted egg, feta cheese, shredded carrot, onion, roasted cashews, mild green chilies, and a cumin-infused mayonnaise are laid to rest on fresh pita bread. Broaden taste horizons with treats such as panquecas ($7.95), Brazilian crêpes stuffed with fresh banana, topped with honey, and served with a choice of Spanish potato salad, polenta, or fruit. Recent dinner specials include Algerian pan-seared chicken, marinated in a spicy bath infused with roasted anise seed and served with special rice ($15.95).
Though steak, salads, and wines share the spotlight, it's the fondue pot that transforms the dining experience at Melting Pot into an interactive one. Bubbling at the center of the table, steel cauldrons steam with cheese blends such as aged cheddar and lager beer or fontina, butterkäse, and buttermilk blue. Diners spear slices of granny smith apples, artisan breads, and veggies before dipping them into the thick, creamy cheese. Chasing a wine-and-cheese-fondue pairing with salads before the main course of chicken and steak helps turn the experience into an event. Dessert can continue the dipping feast with any of nine velvety chocolate fondues and a dunkable array of strawberries, marshmallows, or chunks of cheesecake.
Egg rolls. Sweet and sour shrimp. Chicken Szechuan. JC's Sunnyside Restaurant has all the staple foods of Chinese cuisine covered. But the chefs also prepare dishes inspired by other countries in Southeast Asia, from Mongolian beef to Thai spring rolls and bubble tea. Tiny globes of tapioca rest at the bottom of the brightly colored beverage, floating there until someone slurps them up with a straw or rescues them by throwing a miniature life preserver.