There's something about a steaming bowl of jambalaya that instantly warms the soul—the smell alone can transport you to the Big Easy. But you don't have to have New Orleans roots to appreciate this classic Cajun/Creole-style dish (that won't leave your mouth ablaze) at Lousianne's in Middleton. Walk down the steps into this upscale basement restaurant and order this flagship dish, often featuring shrimp and andouille sausage. 7464 Hubbard Ave., Middleton.
Taste of India
Even the ethnic food options in our city have some Wisconsin flair that make a meal feel like home. The paneer tikka honors our cheese-loving state with cheese cubes marinated in yogurt sauce, spices and roasted in tandoor. These savory skewers are a delicious treat, especially for the vegetarian looking for a heartier option. 2623 Monroe St.
Mac ‘n' Cheese
Sugar River Pizza Co.
It might be called Sugar River Pizza Co., but if you look beyond the pies they've got some pretty tasty pastas too—like the creamy, dreamy mac ‘n' cheese. Elbow macaroni noodles are bathed in a rich blend of three cheeses (of which they say is a "proprietary blend") and baked, leaving a slight crust on top. It's just the sort of belly-filling goodness you'd expect from this newish 'za purveyor that boasts using fresh ingredients from local producers like Silver Lewis Cheese Factory in Monticello and Winterfell Acres in Blanchardville. 957 Liberty Drive, Verona; 700 Railroad St., New Glarus.
Melting Pot Burger
Dotty Dumplings Dowry
The Melting Pot burger is Dotty Dumplings Dowry's top-selling burger, and for good reason. One type of cheese wasn't enough to top the Wisconsin-raised lean ground chuck—instead, there's three: cheddar, Swiss and provolone. Jones Dairy Farm smoked bacon and Dotty's signature English garlic sauce complete this melt-in-your-mouth burger that will satisfy the hungriest of guests. 317 N. Frances St.
Nostrano has some of Madison's most recognizable desserts, thanks to Elizabeth Dahl's beautifully plated creations that are as visually stunning as they are delicious. The torta is one such after-dinner treat that will have you cooing with delight. A signature quenelle of olive oil gelato sits alongside the dark chocolate sponge cake decorated with caraibe cremeux, candied kumquats and toasted hazelnuts. 111 S. Hamilton St.