5 off-the-menu items in Madison

Search all you want—you won't find these items...

Search all you want–you won’t find these items on restaurant menus.

Saturday Bagel Pop-Up, Underground Butcher
Show up to this Willy Street butcher shop pop-up for a Saturday-morning bagel made by shop manager Dan Soukup and Jonny Hunter, head of the Underground Food Collective. Slather some homemade cream cheese on a New York-style bagel, sometimes featuring locally foraged ramps. Make it a sandwich by adding smoked trout. They start at 9 a.m. and go until they sell out, which usually is about 100 bagels later.

Caramel Fondue, Chocolaterian Cafe
This is chocolate fondue’s oft-forgotten, totally unheralded sibling. Which might explain why it’s missing on Chocolaterian’s menu. But if you ask, you’ll get a pot of warm, slightly salty caramel plus pound cake, pretzels, fruit and marshmallows for dipping. It takes a little longer to prep than chocolate fondue, but it’s worth the wait.

Albanian Sausage Sliders, Villa Dolce
You’d know about these sliders only if you were to get a taste of the Albanian sausages offered as a Villa Dolce catering item. If you have a hankering for this lamb and beef sausage for dinner, you can order it as an appetizer or a main dish at the Middleton restaurant. The made-in-house sausage is served with a family-recipe kajmak sauce.

Large Wisconsin Cut, Harvest
While this Capitol Square fine dining restaurant stands out for its vegan and vegetarian variations, Harvest hasn’t forgotten about its hungry carnivorous guests. For those looking for a little more than the small plate experience can provide, don’t forget to ask about the limited amount of large cuts of meat–usually only about 12 offerings a night. Sometimes it’s a Wisconsin bison T-bone, sometimes it’s lamb, beef or rabbit. “It’s sort of a specially focused Wisconsin item. People have this insatiable desire for large cuts of meat,” owner Tami Lax says.

Wednesday Burger, Estrellón
When Tory Miller and executive sous chef Jake Guyette came up with a drool-worthy burger made with fresh-ground brisket, pickles, onions and a special sauce on a sesame seed brioche bun for REAP’s Burgers and Brew event, they felt like they had to find a spot for a burger on the Estrellón menu. Only thing is, burgers didn’t really fit the bill for a Spanish tapas restaurant. So Miller made it a secret item, offered only on Wednesdays upon request. “It’s been a funny and really delicious adventure making an item that’s not on the menu,” says Miller.

5 off-the-menu items in Madison


Chef Jonny Hunter acknowledges good food–even if it’s from a convenience store. No matter that he’s a repeat James Beard nominee and Madison Magazine’s 2015 Chef of the Year, Hunter says these gas stations and markets are great. Here are a few of his favorites.

Mercado Marimar: “I think they have the best tacos in Madison. Plus, they have killer specials on the weekend.”
2102 S. Park St.

Shell Gas Station in Mazomanie: “Amazing egg rolls. I have had a variety of very good food there [including] chicken wings. Super cheap and worth the drive.”
206 W. Commercial St., Mazomanie

Enriques Market: “The tamales they do on Saturdays are very, very good.”
1417 Northport Drive