Dining and Drink

13 places you might be surprised to find out deliver in Madison

Plus most-ordered from places through EatStreet

The wave of new-economy food delivery services has fundamentally transformed the way we think about takeout. Thanks to the explosion of easy-to-use digital app options like the Madison-based EatStreet and others like Grubhub, UberEats and ChowNow, what was once the exclusive province of pizza, chicken wings and Asian food has been expanded to basically anything your food-lovin’ heart desires. In the interest of helping you navigate the curveballs of the Madison delivery jungle, we scoured the city for some of the more “are-you-serious?” options. A few years ago, these cuisine types did not come with a delivered-to-your-door option. So pick up your cellphone and let’s get started. 

Beef Butter BBQ

Given that his booming barbecue business began as a food cart, it makes sense that Patrick Riha’s smoked meat empire would be a natural fit for delivery services. “Barbecue travels well,” says Riha. He’s got that right: Beef Butter’s in-restaurant counter service already deploys compartmentalized (and recyclable and reusable) plastic containers to keep tender and tasty brisket, pulled pork and smoked ribs separate from the smoked apple pie baked beans and the sweet cornbread. But Riha has also got a secret delivery-service weapon: an in-house e-bike delivery service within a 4-mile radius. So far, Riha has found that meals are more popular delivery options than meats by the pound, but don’t let that stop you. He’s more than happy to deliver a pound or two of melt-in-your-mouth brisket to your door. 3001 N. Sherman Ave., 640-5000, EatStreet, Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats

DLUX 
Megan Nolan, the general manager at Food Fight’s off-the-Square hamburger joint, spent a lot of time researching the best containers for keeping DLUX’s burgers, fries and shakes fresh during the delivery process, and the payoff is real: The cup they use to deliver delicious shakes (think flavors like red velvet and toasted marshmallow) can keep them frozen and shake-like for up to four hours. (Side note: If your delivery takes that long, it’s time to complain.) Packaging is also important to preserve the taste of burgers like the crowd-fave DLUX, with its arugula and onion marmalade mix. “We make sure it stays hot but not mushy,” says Nolan. “And fries are one of those things where it’s easy to lose crispness.” It must be working: DLUX has the highest volume of delivery orders among the Food Fight Restaurant Group’s establishments — Nolan says it’s up to a sixth of total sales. 117 Martin Luther King Blvd., 467-3130, EatStreet, ChowNow

Forage Kitchen

When you’re ordering a salad — or a bowl of vegetables and rice — for delivery, there’s really a single, obvious question you need to have answered: Is it going to arrive limp and soggy? Packaging the dressing separately is an obvious step, but as Charlotte Cozine, the general manager of Forage Kitchen’s Monona location, knows, something else matters, too. “It’s about having the right container,” she says. “It has to be sturdy, and not be something that gets jostled around.” Forage uses fiber and compostable bowls with plastic lids that are also compostable. The signature Forbidden Black Rice Bowls are the go-to items here, also the Power Bowl (a guac and green goddess combo), and the Thai bowl (powered by Thai basil pesto and sweet potato curry). The make-your-own salad option is popular, too. 665 State St., 286-1455; 715 Hilldale Way, 819-6223; 800 W. Broadway, Monona, 230-6782, EatStreet

FreshFin Poké

No worries about ordering the delish raw fish that tops the spicy tuna bowl, the delivery-choice champ at FreshFin Poké. Whether you put it on a bed of rice or greens or the mix of edamame, jalapeño, onion, tobiko and cucumber, your dish arrives as perfectly as if you had ordered it at the counter. That’s in part due to recycled and reusable plastic bowls, says owner Andrew Foster. “We considered compostable containers, but [it doesn’t] hold up with our sauces,” Foster says. Build-your-own bowls are also popular among the choice-is-power delivery crowd here. The staff is careful to get all the ingredient details just right. 502 University Ave., 665-3683, EatStreet, Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats

Johnny Delmonico’s Steakhouse  
Yes, it’s true: You can order a perfectly cooked Delmonico’s filet mignon, complete with herbed compound butter and crispy hash browns, and have it delivered straight to your door. It begs the question: Would you want to? The answer is definitely yes. “If you’re working late in your office, studying in your apartment or just want to treat yourself, having the option of having something a little more upscale is nice,” says Adrienne Shriver, Delmonico’s general manager, who also notes that guests in nearby hotels make up a big part of her restaurant’s delivery clientele. French dip sandwiches and 12-ounce New York strips are also big draws here. Delmonico’s cooks its steaks for delivery at a slightly lower temperature, correctly assuming that some additional cooking will occur in transit. The French onion soup, though? That’s always a curveball. “It’s tricky to get the Gruyere melted and browned without setting the paper soup cup on fire,” says Shriver. 130 S. Pinckney St., 257-8325, EatStreet

Longtable Beer Cafe 
You won’t be able to have one of Longtable’s rotating Community Burgers — or the yummy frites, or the salty giant pretzel — delivered to your doorstep Friday nights starting at 4 p.m. and all-day Saturday because the cafe has become too popular to handle delivery on those nights. But the rest of the week is fair game, and you should take advantage. Bar manager Luke Hoppe says his shop takes extra care to make sure that multi-ingredient entrees like the smoked chicken and rice bowl, with its mélange of red chile sauce, crema and pico de gallo, don’t implode during delivery. “We make sure they’re packed well, so the food doesn’t move around in the box too much,” he says. 7545 Hubbard Ave., 841-2337, EatStreet

Mad Seafood Boiler
When the Boiler first started delivery, it served its flavorful mix of seafood — including everything from crab and shrimp to crawfish and lobster tail — in a massive plastic bag, doused in lemon, garlic or Cajun butters (or, if you preferred, all three). Some customers were confused, so manager Nikki Yuan and her team switched to a more traditional table presentation. But if you order delivery from any of the three services the restaurant partners with, you’ll get your food the old-school way, plastic bag and all. Another great idea is to take advantage of Mad Seafood’s extensive weekly sushi specials — the entire menu is available at your door. 201 W. Gorham St., 819-6168, EatStreet, Grubhub, DoorDash

Mirch Masala
From the Department of Hard to Believe: Mirch Masala assistant manager Franklin Carnes says the popular Nepali-Indian restaurant routinely gets EatStreet orders … from people living right across the street. Call it millennial laziness or what it more likely is: smart consumers opting for some of the city’s best traditional curry and biryani dishes. The butter chicken (tender tandoori pieces served in a smooth-yet-spicy curry sauce) is one of the best delivery options. But if you order your food on Saturday or Sunday, you can score some goat curry, one of the restaurant’s most underrated dishes. 449 State St., 665-3667, EatStreet, DoorDash, Delivery.com

Pancake Café  
You’d think that pancakes would be on the top of the list of things people would ask to have delivered from a restaurant that specializes in preparing them. But you’d be only partially right: Pancakes come as a side dish with the cafe’s five-egg omelet breakfast, the most frequently ordered delivery item here. “The pancakes are a big portion of the meal; they’re just not the headliner,” says manager Era Ukmata. If you opt for one of Pancake Café’s famous baked specialties — the sugar-dusted apple and German pancakes that take 20 minutes to oven-bake — some shrinkage may occur. “It may not look exactly like it does in the restaurant, but we guarantee it’ll taste just as good.” 724 Gammon Road, 819-6865, EatStreet, Grubhub, DoorDash, UberEats, PostMates

Porta Bella
When Ed Shinnick, the co-owner of Porta Bella, first began offering EatStreet delivery at his cozy Italian restaurant, he expected his crispy pizzas and pepper-licious Garibaldi sandwiches to fly out the door. And they do — at Paisan’s, Porta Bella’s sister restaurant. At Porta Bella, it’s all about the pasta dishes, like the beef and portabella mushrooms in Gorgonzola sauce and the shrimp scampi. Not everything on the main menu is available for delivery — Shinnick insists on a 20-minute delivery window and some things don’t travel well — but the baked dishes travel well and stay hot in Porta’s sturdy aluminum, Styrofoam or plastic containers. 425 N. Frances St., 256-3186, EatStreet

Salvatore’s Tomato Pies (Madison location)
Up until a few years ago, you weren’t able to get Sal’s tomato pies delivered to your door like you would other pizza. So it’s not hard to see why Sal’s and EatStreet now enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The former, with its bustling, parking-challenged location on Johnson Street, would struggle to find working room for a fleet of its own delivery drivers. The latter would miss out on the legion of rabid fans of Sal’s incomparable classic pinwheel tomato pies. That classic tomato pie and the Forza — a true masterpiece of Gouda, pepperoni and Calabrese chili peppers — are the delivery go-tos here, says general managers Nathan Westbrook and Bri Patterson. 912 E. Johnson St., 238-6040, EatStreet

Steenbock’s on Orchard

Unless you work at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, you probably don’t give much thought to Steenbock’s — the cozy yet upscale restaurant on the first floor of the Discovery Building. But you’re missing out on having a transcendent grilled cheese sandwich, complete with Roth Kase Gruyere, smoked mozzarella and Gouda delivered to your lunch or dinner table — not to mention the tasty shrimp salad with mint and Thai chili dressing. Take a hint and learn from employees in the building itself, who know that ordering Steenbock’s through a delivery service is a great way to dodge the reservation line. General manager Michael Stapleton says it won’t be long before your delivery options also include the offerings at Aldo’s Café, Steenbock’s Discovery Building roommate. 330 N. Orchard St., 204-2733, EatStreet, ChowNow

Umami Ramen & Dumpling Bar  
One does not simply order a single item off the delivery menu at Umami. “People love to pair things,” says general manager Leslie Rasmussen. That typically means marrying an order of the flavorful hoisin-sauced pork belly buns, Umami’s signature item, with a bowl of Tonkotsu ramen, delivered with reheating instructions in a sturdy plastic bowl that won’t require you to transfer (or, if you’re like us, spill) anything. Or maybe pair the ramen with pork-and-chive dumplings, punched up with a hint of ginger. Rasmussen says the delivery crowd feels empowered to modify ingredients, though in-house eaters will as well. “When they’re actually in the restaurant, they’re focused on other things,” she says. Makes sense to us. Modify away on your delivery order. 923 Williamson St., 819-6319, EatStreet, DoorDash, ChowNow

Most Ordered-From Madison Restaurants on EatStreet 
There are hundreds of locations that deliver or offer takeout through EatStreet, the Madison-based food delivery company. On average, there are 15,074 weekly orders through the service in the Madison area. These are the top restaurants in terms of all-time orders as of August 2019.

1. Sushi Express, 610 University Ave., 467-9688
2. Wings Over Madison, 2739 University Ave., 467-3300
3. Asian Kitchen, 449 State St., 255-0571
4. Burrito Drive, 310 S. Brearly St., 260-8586
5. Cheba Hut, 453 W. Gilman St., 819-8485
6. Ian’s Pizza, 100 State St., 257-9248
7. Forage Kitchen, 665 State St., 286-1455
8. A8 China, 608 University Ave., 250-8888
9. Mad Seafood Boiler, 201 W. Gorham St., 819-6168
10. Glass Nickel Pizza Co. – East, 2916 Atwood Ave., 245-0880

Aaron R. Conklin covers food and theater for Madison Magazine.


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