Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Dining outside your comfort zone

When thinking about where to dine, many of you undoubtedly default to the numerous restaurants lining State Street, maybe expanding to the Capitol Square when you’re feeling adventurous. It’s easy to frequent the same restaurants when, for example, your parents come to town or you’re trying to wine & dine that cutie from your sociology discussion, but falling into a rut of this kind will surely become stale at some point. Why not expand your horizons?

There is a myth that Madison has more restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States, and most of these restaurants are far away from State Street. It can be difficult to find some of them without a car, but Monroe Street is one neighborhood, wonderfully close to campus, that has a thriving restaurant scene.

Located near Camp Randall, Monroe Street is walkable and definitely reachable by bus, and this hotbed of independent restaurants and tasty eats is definitely worth the trip. This week I’ll highlight a few of Monroe Street’s most popular spots:


Pizza Brutta

Pizza Brutta is one of the two places that I know of in Madison where you can get authentic Neapolitan pizza. The personal-sized pizzas are baked in a wood-fired brick oven, creating a deliciously rustic flavor that is unique to this type of pizza. And Pizza Brutta makes a conscious effort to source top-quality ingredients that will best contribute to the authentic flavors of their pies.

Many ingredients are locally grown or raised, and they even make their mozzarella cheese in-house. If you’ve ever eaten pizza in Italy and have been craving that type of perfection since, Pizza Brutta is worth checking out.


Barriques is a true Madison staple. There are several locations throughout Madison, but Monroe Street hosts the original. This coffee shop/wine cave’s easygoing vibe is conducive to everything from reading, studying or dating to hanging out with friends over coffee, and their espresso bar offerings are wider than many typical cafes.

If you’re over 21, Barriques is especially exciting, with wine tastings every Friday and Saturday night from their wall, fully-stocked with wines from around the world. Their food is admittedly only slightly better than your typical cafe’s sandwich-soup-salad fare, but even if their food doesn’t shine, Barriques is a fun spot to grab a quick bite.

Brasserie V

This cozy little restaurant has surprised me several times with their food. Drawing inspiration from French cuisine, Brasserie V has menu listings ranging from Caprese sandwiches to Moules et Frites – mussels in a white wine broth served with possibly the best frites (a fancier word for french fries that attempts to conceal their identity) you can find in Madison. Truly. The frites are crisped to perfection and still potato-ey, and seasoned with just the right amounts of salt and cracked pepper.

If you try menu items that veer away from the safer types of sandwiches and burgers offered, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with flavors that can be salty, savory and earthy in one bite. Recently I tried the rabbit stew – with a thick base, rabbit meat, carrots and other vegetables mixed in, it was creamy, savory and absolutely perfect for a chilly fall night.


Pasqual’s is located further down Monroe Street and serves “Madison’s favorite Southwestern cuisine.” As with any good ‘Southwestern’ restaurant, you get house made chips and salsa, but Pasqual’s salsa and chips seem especially addicting.

Their large menu consists of a number of enchiladas, burritos, tostadas and other items typical of a Mexican restaurant, but they also offer sandwiches, burgers and fries that must be the ‘Southwestern’ element to their menu. The flavors do not disappoint, and portion sizes are worth every penny. The quirky interior and tasty food make for an entertaining experience that would certainly be enhanced with Pasqual’s Monday and Tuesday night half-priced margaritas.


Many of my friends rant and rave about Bluephies brunch on weekend mornings. They’re always eager to get there and wait absurdly long in line for what seems to be pretty standard-quality restaurant fare to me. There must be something that I’m missing, though, because Bluephies is consistently packed on weekend mornings.

They have a nice selection of oddities on their brunch menu, like breakfast jambalaya, beignets and cream-cheese stuffed french toast, a theme that continues similarly throughout their lunch and dinner offerings (Peruvian blue potato puree, anyone?).

Although Bluephies deserves a nod for their impressively large (seriously, it’s big), and distinct menu, and a large list of “lil’ bites” that can be eaten like tapas, the amount of quirkiness that has been put into their menu and general atmosphere comes off as trying just a little too hard. They’re almost forceful about having fun.

On the other hand, where else will you be able to eat cookie dough egg rolls or Wisconsin Sushi Sliders?

Monroe Street is but one of the many bustling culinary communities that exist in this town. Madison has unlimited treasures to discover in terms of dining delights, so take a look beyond the immediate campus area next time you’re planning a night out.
Elin Amundson is a senior majoring in history and philosophy. Comments, suggestions and recipes can be sent to [email protected].

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