At Brickhouse BBQ, ranked among Madison Magazine's Best New Restaurants of 2010, executive chef Tim Heinze smokes free-range meats and slathers homemade sauces on their fire-licked exteriors. His menu lists southern-style staples and appetizers such as crispy golden hush puppies, pan-fried catfish, and smoked St. Louis–style ribs, and sides such as cheddar grits, collard greens, and mac 'n' cheese partner up with entrees to do-si-do across palates. Bites are punctuated with 1 of 40 tap beers—which highlight microbreweries of the Midwest—or cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, an in-house infusion of Kentucky bourbon with muddled orange. Inside the restaurant’s two-level dining room, low-lit brick walls, exposed ceiling beams, and a mirage of silk tumbleweeds lend the eatery a chic, rustic vibe that's also showcased through its rooftop patio.
Inside the kitchens of Crystal Lake Rib House, chef David Faccone takes a methodical, multistep approach to making his baby back ribs: he covers them with dry rub, smokes them, and finally chargrills them before brushing over the final product with housemade barbecue sauce. His work has paid off—his tender baby back slabs earned the restaurant a 2012 Best of the Fox Award for Barbecue from Planit Northwest, as well as praise from Pat Bruno of the Chicago Sun-Times, who called them "a gift from the Gods of barbecue." In addition to ribs, the cooks also chargrill half-pound burgers, topping them with lettuce and tomato or a meaty pile of pulled pork and melted cheddar. The kitchen’s old-fashioned attention to smoked flavor is reflected in the building itself, an old house whose wooden front porch is adorned with wagon wheels. Inside, rustic hardwood floors support tables topped with white-and-red-checkered cloths, where patrons dip their spoons into hearty chili and sip domestic and imported brews.
Crystal Lake Rib House also arranges catering services for office gatherings, family reunions, and pool parties near bubbling barbecue-sauce springs. They have even catered for celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Randy Travis, and Illinois governors, according to staff.
Simplicity and quality meet in The Full Slab's choice-cut meats, which absorb the rich flavors of house-made marinades, six barbecue sauces, and hand-blended dry rubs. The aroma of flame-smacked, made-from-scratch pulled pork, brisket, and ribs, as well as seafood and pasta plates, fills the eatery. Diners can also take in a game on one of The Full Slab's big-screen TVs while enjoying a hand-crafted cocktail or cold beer from its well-stocked bar.
Daring and conservatively-palated patrons alike will find enticing eats on a menu that is both eclectic and classically minded. Discover the joy of deep fried pickles ($3.99) before setting your teeth upon a BLT on marble rye ($8.99) or a Southwestern three bean burger ($8.50), served with pico de gallo, guacamole and chipotle sour cream on a ciabatta bun. Dinnertime diners will delight with the Pasta Talula ($14.99), which combines linguine, asiago cheese and herbs relying on select mushroom buoys to stay afloat in a bath of white wine cream sauce. Blackened grill lines create gullet-ready graphs for pre-meal tic-tac-toe on an 8oz honey glazed bone-in pork chop ($15.99), grilled to your preference and served with honey balsamic glaze and mildly spicy mango salsa over a bed of dirty rice. Chicken fingers ($5.95) and mac and cheese ($4.95) are available for generous children treating their parents to a night out. Late-morning Sunday visitors can feast upon classics such steak and eggs ($13.99) with a 6oz grilled steak, two eggs and homefries; or three fluffy buttermilk flapjacks ($6.99) served with bacon or sausage. Recommended wine pairings are provided for pasta and entrée dishes and the bar provides a bountiful selection of mixed drinks, local beers and seasonal microbrews for stimulating thirst satiation.
Mabuhay Philippine Cuisine serves up traditional takes on barbecue, seafood, and fusion fare. Skewers of barbecue satisfy omnivorous cravings, buffets feature bottomless egg rolls and fried fish. In the future, the husband-and-wife duo who own Mabuhay will add music and karaoke.
Jolly Bob’s serves an array of tongue-tickling and flavor-packed Jamaican and Caribbean dishes. BBQ jerk pork, known for its sweet, slow-roasted personality and rudely inaccurate name, supplements its sweet demeanor with banana-guava ketchup ($14.50). Diners with a flair for romance can play matchmaker by picking a pairing for the fresh-fried tortillas—either the guacamole ($6), salsa cruda ($4), or grilled-pineapple salsa ($5). Savory conch fritters arrive unshelled and flanked by a bodyguard duo of key-lime mustard and Bob’s own scotch-bonnet remoulade ($8.50). For those who prefer to dine on greener pastures, the veggie curry provides a bedding of jasmine rice to display the coordinated sheet set of rich and spicy stew ($14.50).
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.