By Michelle Li
You'll likely upgrade your breakfast standard once you've devoured a creamy, custardy plate of eggs at Manna Café and Bakery. Egg cookery is a specialty here, inspired by the great Julia Child and applied daily by owners Barb and Mike Pratzel.
"Breakfast is a big deal here," says Barb, who's spent nearly forty years in Madison using the science of cooking and the love of family to fill local bellies and hearts.
And the eggs are just the beginning.
"People will drive two hours to get the oatmeal pancakes," she says.
You're guaranteed to get a knock-your-socks-off morning meal, but the core of the café centers on the wide array of made-from-scratch Jewish breads—from bialys to challah to the corn tzitzel rye bread made so famously by Mike's family at the iconic Pratzel Bakery in St. Louis.
Manna means "substance" or "bread from heaven." It transcends cultures and certainly takes center stage at the bakery. The Pratzels even help preserve a lost culture with their weekly bialy offerings. The onion-filled roll originated in a Polish town, where the Holocaust drastically reduced the Jewish population.
Gluten-free goodies and a one-of-a-kind matzo ball soup also draw rave reviews.
The Pratzels graduated from UW and owned the Collins House B&B before starting the neighborhood noshery. Born in 2005, Manna is now a bright and busy north-side eatery packed daily with families, hipsters and businessfolk.
"The feel of this place is a community gathering place," says Barb. "It's about us and this spot, and we're going to stay that way."
Manna Café and Bakery
611 N. Sherman Ave.
Find more Madison Magazine stories about local restaurants here.
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