In any great food city, you'll find them - those streets that seem to be an authentic, walkable, neighborhood equivalent of a food court. So many dining options and so much variety, that you could practically eat every meal along a few blocks for a month and never have the same thing twice.
In Madison, one of those concentrated dining districts is found along Monroe Street, and from Gates & Brovi to Pizza Brutta, we're highlighting some of our favorite ways to "eat the street".
Bloom Bake Shop
1851 Monroe St.
Bloom Bake Shop is a small-batch local, organic, fair-trade bakery that started with cupcakes and blondies in downtown Middleton before expanding to a second location on Monroe St. Here, you'll find the same desserts with the addition of biscuit sandwiches that are made from scratch and made to order every day.
One of our favorites is the Wisconsin Biscuit, a scratch-made buttermilk biscuit with bacon, egg, mild cheddar, and stone ground mustard.
Jacs Dining and Taphouse
2611 Monroe St.
Jacs offers cuisine influence by rustic European flavors, in a lively casual setting.
We like starting off a meal at Jacs with an order of Cheese Curds. They’re crispy, gooey, and generously-portioned - everything we look for in a good cheese curd. Jacs gives their diners the option to add a twist to their curds with a sauce trio, which includes cranberry, sage and hot aioli. As self-titled curd connoisseurs, we recommend trying the sauce trio because everything is better with aioli.
1923 Monroe St.
Brasserie V is home to one of Madison's most extensive and exotic beer lists, as well as a casual, European-inspired neighborhood brasserie borne out of a passion for the French Joie de Vivre, or Joy of Living.
You'll understand where Joie de Vivre comes into play when you taste their signature burger, the V Burger, with Highland Springs Farm Scottish Highland beef, muenster cheese, beer battered onion straws, spinach, tomato and classic aioli. It's served uniquely on toasted Madison Sourdough bread (though a brioche bun is available by request).
Double S BBQ
1835 Monroe St.
In three years, Double S BBQ owners Shon and Sarah have made their mark on the Madison barbeque scene. As a testament to their hard work and talent, the two have received many awards (which you can find adorning the restaurant walls) honoring their prized recipes, including the title of “Best Barbeque in Wisconsin”.
If you’re looking for a taste of Texas, Double S BBQ will give you a proper introduction. We fancy the "two meat" plate with two sides: 1/3 pound of smoked brisket, half-link of Texas pork sausage, Alsum's locally-grown and processed sweet corn, and house-made cole slaw.
1825 Monroe St.
The Barriques that started it all! Well, kinda. The first of 8 Barriques locations opened on Monroe Street in November 1998 before moving down the street a few doors to a larger space in the past few years. As always, they're a retail outpost with a wide variety of wine, spirits and beer, as well as a full coffee and espresso bar.
Over time, their menu has expanded and now provides a number of really tasty options for quick-service, quality meals. On a hot summer day, the Salmon Salad stands out, topped with Alaskan salmon fillet with capers, red onions, tomato, and feta, on a bed of mixed trees and lemon garlic dressing.
The Roman Candle Pizza
2623 Monroe St.
The Roman Candle believes in the real deal - meaning pizza that's handcrafted and freshly made to order by the bare-knuckled pizza maker schooled in the art of quality and craft. You understand once you taste their 'zza.
We like the Animal Lovers Pizza, with original sauce, house blend cheese, broccoli, spinach, onion, roasted red peppers, and fresh basil. Wash it down with a craft beverage (New Glarus to be exact) and you'll be in heaven.
Gates & Brovi
3502 Monroe St.
An East coast fish house meets Midwest supper club. Not something you encounter every day! Featuring great beer, shiplap that would make Chip and Joanna swoon, and of course great seafood.
The Pan Fried Bluegill Sandwich is a buttery and filling standout. Bacon, lettuce, tomato, pimento cheese spread, and tartar sauce on toasted Italian bread means you'll want a few extra napkins. They also have an Oyster Happy Hour, from Tuesday, through Friday, 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., which includes $1.25 oysters and $1 off all beer and wine.
1805 Monroe St.
Pizza Brutta serves authentic wood-fired Neapolitan pizza that many feel tops any other pizzeria in town. The combination of house-made fresh mozzarella made from Wisconsin curd, their sauce, made with tomatoes grown in the volcanic soils of Mt. Visuvio just outside of Naples in Italy's Campania region, and the crust, which is crispy, and perfectly bubbly, makes for an unforgettable Neapolitan pizza.
The Nostrano Pizza is a hankr staff favorite, with basil, sausage, and roasted red peppers.
2701 Monroe St.
Everly's full-service outdoor seating area and California-inspired cuisine makes this new Monroe Street spot another unique, worthwhile stop.
It's a vegetable-forward menu, though we like the section designated to "things on toast". Try highlights like a Smoked Whitefish Toast, with gribiche, pickled vegetables, radishes, and lemon, and a Seasonal Mushroom Toast, with sautéed mushrooms, marrow butter, garlic, herbs, and mushroom jus.
The Laurel Tavern
2505 Monroe St.
The Laurel Tavern has been a fixture of Monroe Street since the end of the prohibition. You can expect the tavern to be as bustling as it was then, and every possible pretense is always left at the door.
Stop in on Fridays for a traditional Friday Night Fish Fry, on Saturday night for their Saturday Night Prime Rib, or anytime for a burger before you head next door to Michael's Frozen Custard for dessert. Which brings us to...
Michael’s Frozen Custard
2532 Monroe St.
Michael's Frozen Custard serves up the Wisconsin summer staple, custard, flawlessly. One spoonful or lick and you'll realize why customers line up everyday to treat themselves. We highly recommend the Turtle Sundae. It is often imitated, never duplicated, always filled to the brim.
(Fun fact: hankr co-founder, John Kuehl, once ate 34 Michael's Turtle Sundaes in one summer. True story. He almost didn't live through it but it was still pretty awesome.)
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