Mornings are not my thing. If given the choice, I would sleep until roughly 11 a.m. each day, living my life in complete blissful ignorance about what happens in the hours between, say, 3 a.m. and noon. Unfortunately, my classes and the occasional urge to be a contributing member of society don’t actually allow for this type of behavior, and I’m usually forced to arise from my heavenly slumber well before the lunchtime bell.
However, being the eternal optimist that I am, and given my obsession with seeking out all things Tasty, I’ve tried earnestly to find the virtue in waking up at what feels like the crack of dawn. I can’t seem to understand why morning people are the way they are, but eating at a great breakfast cafe certainly makes life a little more bearable in the a.m., and I suppose this simple act is one of those so-called ‘merits of morning life’ that all you early birds like to brag about or whatever.
Madison has its fair share of breakfast joints, and after four years of stumbling around on groggy-eyed mornings, I’ve found that these are the spots even I can wake up for voluntarily.
Lazy Jane’s Caf? and Bakery
This Williamson Street mainstay often has a line out the door, and for several good reasons. Classic breakfast fare – think scramblers, frittatas, and potatoes – is served with seasonal twists and inventive ingredient combinations and comes in heaping portions that are perfect for sharing. Lazy Jane’s baked goods shine especially brightly in the early morning hours. Their legendary scones (try the lemon cr?me) are difficult to resist, but I highly recommend the morning bun. This masterpiece alone is worth waking up for: the perfectly caramelized, flaky, and buttery dough nearly melts in your mouth and pairs wonderfully with a cup of their famously good coffee. Don’t be surprised if you find yourself sitting in Lazy Jane’s one weekday morning after having ‘accidentally’ wandered there instead of going to that 9:55 lecture…
Bradbury’s is a sunny little corner caf? on N. Hamilton whose noteworthy coffee and espresso offerings are completely upstaged by their impressive food. Serving a constantly changing, seasonally inspired menu of both sweet and savory crepes, (with a few staples like Nutella-Banana-Almond always on the menu), Bradbury’s keeps it fresh – literally. An intimate connection with farms (most of them local) from which Bradbury’s sources much of their produce characterizes the menu, and the exceptional quality of the ingredients Bradbury’s uses becomes apparent upon first bite. The flawlessly delicate crepes are filled and topped with such creative flavor combinations as meaty oyster mushrooms with sun gold tomatoes, kale, and yogurt cheese, or seasonal berries with a homemade cr?me anglaise that’s not overly sweet and complements the berry-to-crepe ratio perfectly.
Sophia’s Bakery & Caf?
This little-known gem on E. Johnson is only open on Saturday and Sunday mornings, so to sacrifice a weekend sleeping in session is a pretty big deal – but Sophia’s doesn’t disappoint. Another quaint little caf? with ever-changing menu offerings, Sophia’s serves savory omelettes, breakfast burritos, pancakes, pastries and the fluffiest French toast and waffles you’ve ever tried in a space about the size of your grandmother’s kitchen. In fact, it feels like you’re just visiting somebody’s house for breakfast when you sit at one of the family-style tables, probably with people you’ve never met. The atmosphere of Sophia’s makes for a memorable experience, and the exceptional food makes any awkwardness that might ensue from being visibly hung over on a Saturday morning completely worth it.
Mickies Dairy Bar
Mickies is a true Madison icon. With its premium location on Monroe Street right across from Camp Randall, Mickies emanates Wisconsin pride and embodies so much of why Madison is so awesome. You will have failed as a Badger if you manage to graduate from this university without having eaten at least once at this wonderfully old school greasy spoon diner. Not only is the perpetually crowded interior charming with its straight out of the ’50s d?cor, the food at Mickies actually tastes pretty good. And it’s cheap. Gigantic chocolate chip-banana pancakes could feed an entire family, and the enormous, deliciously hearty scramblers are practically guaranteed to cure a hangover (that, or make you throw up from eating too much – choose your own adventure). Mickies is the perfect place to rehash the previous night’s events with friends, fuel up (with breakfast and Wisconsin pride) on a game day, or catch a solid breakfast before a big exam. Seriously, people. Experience this.
If you’re not always bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the mornings, take heart. When you’re forced out of bed at an ungodly hour, and when you’re stuck waiting in line around a bunch of annoyingly chipper morning-persons, remember that happiness in the form of good food can make even the earliest of mornings a little more Tasty.
Elin Amundson is a senior majoring in history and philosophy. Comments, suggestions and recipes can be sent to [email protected]