You’ve made the trip to Madison for a day of Badger football, and the only bigger question than “Can we pull out a win?” is, “Where should we eat around here?” Here are five suggestions for places to eat while you’re in town that will make your visit victorious regardless of the outcome on the field.
Elevated Comfort Food from Jacs Dining and Taphouse
Kind of like grind-it-out Big Ten football, Jacs isn’t trying to wow you with flash. In a homey space down the road from Camp Randall they’re just trying to create winning dishes that fill you up and together create a menu that’s greater than the sum of its parts. A recent menu refresh includes an absolutely killer Brussels sprouts salad with fried sprouts, greens, apple, and a warm bacon vinaigrette, a root beer braised short rib, and a pork belly sandwich that goes just as well with football as any spread of cheese and bratwurst ever could. And for dessert, a pretzel bread pudding that comes with hot caramel drizzle, chocolate sauce, and a fight over who gets to eat the last bite.
The Mac + Cheese Burger from Rockhound Brewing Company
Rockhound Brewing gets its name from the slang term for a geologist. The owner went to school to be one before eventually discovering his love - and talent - for brewing beer. In addition to a wide range of well-balanced craft beers, Rockhound delivers a serious menu. If you’re there for dinner, get the Mac + Cheese Burger with a spicy and creamy elbow mac. If you’re there for brunch, you HAVE to get the Donut Burger. An incredibly tender pork-and-beef burger topped with a fried egg and served on a glazed donut from nearby legendary donut stand Greenbush Bakery. They only make two dozen of these every Sunday. Get yours!
BBQ Beef Brisket on Spicy Cheese Bread at Next Door Brewing Company
You’ve heard about the hot-and-spicy cheese bread from Stella’s Bakery at the Dane County Farmer’s Market, but if you missed the market, this is the next best thing. At Next Door Brewing, they use mini versions of these legendary loaves to create a beer BBQ brisket sandwich that will make the entire trip to Madison - win or lose - worth it. Bonus: they serve beer pie for dessert.
Deep Dish Pizza from Lucille
Besides the fact that Lucille is one of the most gorgeous restaurants in Madison, with a stunning bar and two-story location on the corner of the Capitol Square, it’s also the only place in town to get Detroit-style, square-pan, deep-dish pizza. Try the Weekender, with house-milled tomato sauce, shredded mozzarella, house-made sausage, pepperoni, cremini mushroom, red onion, banana pepper, and black olives. More deliciously, it features a rim of cheese baked onto the crust, and regulars know to ask for an extra dish of sauce to use for dipping. Great craft cocktails here, too.
Giant Slices from Ian’s Pizza
Oh, look! More foods with mac and cheese on them! Hey, this is Wisconsin after all, and the famous Mac n’ Cheese Pizza from Ian’s Pizza is probably one of the most universally-loved foods on the University of Wisconsin campus. Since part of the football gameday experience is reliving those college years, it’s only fitting to order a few giant slices for yourself and enjoy them like you still had the metabolism of your youth.
Surprisingly, though, Ian’s also spins excellent salads with a 10-foot salad bar stocked with locally-sourced ingredients. You can’t go wrong pairing your Mac n’ Cheese pizza with a Wisco Salad.