A zinc-topped bar snakes along one side of The Continental Fitchburg's dining room, its shimmering metallic surface cool to the touch. Imported from Germany in pieces and retro-fitted by a local metal fabricator, the bar is reminiscent of the traditional zinc bars of the early-20th-century European cafés and bistros that The Continental strives to emulate. Drawing on family recipes, the chefs prepare each dish with fresh and local ingredients, many of which are grown in their onsite garden. Soft lights dangle from the ceiling of the Wi-Fi-saturated dining room, illuminating martini and cocktail glasses alongside plates of upscale Italian fare. A private party room and large outdoor patio host groups of up to 125 people, roughly the same amount that attended the first Tupperware party thrown by Gertrude Stein.
Carefully balancing starter platters stacked with housemade cornbread and frozen margaritas, the servers at Casa del Sol wind their way through the tables on the outdoor deck overlooking the water. As diners dig into burritos, the flavors of chicken or carnitas meld with garnishes of mango and pineapple or with ingredients from one of four other unique burritos. Meat dishes span many styles, from pork-loin medallions with garlic-adobo sauce to enchiladas verdes with a choice of meat or cheese filling. The inside dining area's bright yellow and purple walls adorned with paintings of whirling dancers complement the bright flavors of the dishes, often delicately evoked by cilantro, poblano chili pepper, or guacamole.
Originally opened as the Top Hat Drive-In in 1953, Sonic has grown into a burger-franchise mecca that today operates out of 3,500 locations across the country, making it the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants. Sonic specializes in made-to-order American classics—including burgers, hot dogs, milk shakes, and marshmallow Ford Thunderbolts—which customers order and receive without ever having to leave their cars. Unique menu items include toaster sandwiches stacked on thick slices of texas toast, as well as the brand’s signature tots and fresh limeades.
Sonic’s numerous awards include a 2011 Zagat survey ranking it among the top five fast-food restaurants in three categories: Best Value Menu, Best Milk Shake, and Best Drive-Thru. The benevolent eatery has also donated more than $2 million to public schools throughout the country through their program Limeades for Learning, which helps to fund educational projects and retirement plans for classroom guinea pigs.
A basket of warm housemade bread greets eaters at Tutto Pasta Trattoria, where a homey vibe welcomes diners at dinner and lunch. The menu is a geometry book of pasta shapes, which guests can peruse to prepare for quizzes on spaghetti, angel hair, rigatoni, penne, spaghetti, and housemade tortellini. The noodles share kitchen space with chicken, veal, and seafood dishes, as well as thin-crust pizzas baked in a wood-burning oven rather than a space-rocket launch pad.
At night, shadows blanket the eatery's warmly toned walls, arched-booth alcoves, countryside murals, and outdoor seating area. Amid this dim lighting, bartenders mix martinis and serve wine from their expansive selection, which is displayed on overhead wine racks.
Rookies Food & Spirits sports a menu brimming with hearty, all-American fare in a family-friendly, sports-themed atmosphere. Right off the bat, begin with a whole pound of home-run hot wings slathered in Rookies' signature sauce ($7.29), or pinch-hit a half-pound of Wisconsin white-cheddar cheese curds ($5.79). Rookies' homemade soups ($2.49+) provide an appetizing accompaniment to the quarter-pound bullpen bratwurst ($3.99) from Stoddard's Country Grove Market. Step up to the plate with the Major Leaguer, a half-pound patty of charbroiled, USDA Choice beef pinstriped with delicate seasonings ($5.29). Patrons harboring home-run-sized hunger can dine on broiled cod ($12.99) or a 10-ounce rib-eye ($12.99). Seafood lovers can feast on a Friday fish fry, and Guinness World Records sticklers can bring stopwatches to time Rookies' hops-filled happy hours, which they claim to be the longest in Dane County.