Top Madison Dish List of 2018

Madison chefs and food bloggers have spoken
Top Madison Dish List of 2018
Photo by Andrea Behling
Casetta Kitchen and Counter was a popular choice for "top dish" picks among the Madison chefs, bloggers and influencers we reachedo out to. 

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. That time, as the year comes to a close, that we make lists. We rank albums, books, movies and photographs. We list our favorite songs, podcasts and TV shows. Now someone is even making a list of the best lists.

In that spirit, we bring you the “Top Dish List of 2018” as decided by some of Madison’s chefs, bloggers, food influencers and otherwise. They looked back over the year and picked the menu items they thought were the best ones they had at a local establishment in 2018. And yes, we made a rule that it couldn’t be from their own place. (Looking at you, Chad Vogel.)

As answers came in, a couple things became clear — choosing just one dish was difficult for them, and many really, really like Casetta Kitchen and Counter.

What was my favorite dish from 2018, you might ask? I’ve got nothing but love for East Johnson Street. It’s a tie between the mushrooms and tofu at Macha Tea Co. and the potato chips with lovage, cherry tomatoes and blue cheese from Forequarter’s late summer menu. Cheers to 2019, my friends. May the new year be even more delicious.

Alice Choi, aka food blogger Hip Foodie Mom (@hipfoodiemom): “Can I list three? The char siu heritage pork shoulder and tuna with market vegetable slaw, ssamjang and Bibb lettuce from Heritage Tavern, the little neck clams with veno verde broth at The Madison Club (during Sustainable Seafood Week) and the Tuesday pizza special at Casetta Kitchen and Counter.”

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A post shared by Casetta Kitchen and Counter (@casettakitchen) on Nov 20, 2018 at 9:30am PST

Lauren Montelbano, head chef at Surya Cafe: “One of the best dishes I had this year was at RED: Brussels sprout petals with balsamic-soy reduction, almonds, puffed rice, shiso and candied lemon peel. So good.”

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A post shared by RED (@red.madison) on Aug 18, 2018 at 7:45am PDT

Dan Fox, chef and owner of Heritage Tavern: “The Brassacre pizza at Grampa’s Pizzeria. The crust is so good, not to mention that (Fox Heritage Farms) bacon!”

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A post shared by Grampa’s Pizzeria (@grampaspizzeria) on Aug 8, 2018 at 10:15am PDT

Daun Johnston, cook at Grampa’s Pizzeria: “The Wednesday night fish fry at The Old Fashioned. I work Friday nights, but this way I can still get a good fish fry.”

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A post shared by Austin Local Foodie (@austinlocalfoodie) on Nov 19, 2018 at 9:21am PST

Lauren Rudersdorf, food bloggers of The Leek & the Carrot (@theleekandthecarrot): “My favorite bite from 2018 (of which I’ve enjoyed a couple dozen times because I realized EatStreet would deliver it to my office) is the cultured cobb salad from Forage Kitchen. Perfection every single time. You’re not asking, but my favorite sip from 2018 is the maple sea salt latte with oat milk from Cafe Domestique.”

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A post shared by Lauren Rudersdorf (@theleekandthecarrot) on Dec 5, 2018 at 6:31am PST

Pete Baisden, Madison food Instagrammer @maximumexposurewi: “The fish fry at Mint Mark or the latest Parisian gnocchi with leek fonduta at Forequarter.”

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A post shared by Mint Mark (@mintmarkmadison) on Oct 12, 2018 at 2:08pm PDT

Jordan and Mike, food bloggers of Midwest Munchers (@midwestmunchers): “The best meal we had this year was at Octopi Brewing in Waunakee. We loved the perfect fish fry, patty melt and Mexican street corn. Side note: Why aren’t there more places in Madison that sell Mexican street corn? Come on!”

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A post shared by Midwest Munchers (@midwestmunchers) on Dec 5, 2018 at 4:05pm PST

Marla Bergh, owner of Borrowed Bar and creative director at Food Court Agency: “The Hawaii green poke bowl at Poke Poke on Willy Street. They have the best poke in town. The bar food at Lazy Oaf is underrated and the “French Nasty” fries at Tip Top Tavern comes in third.”

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A post shared by mbergh78 (@mbergh78) on Sep 2, 2018 at 5:29pm PDT

Anthony and Rachel Verbrick, co-owners of Macha Tea Co.: “The LS7 at Ha Long Bay and pair it with a little bit of wonton soup … it’s insane. Oh! And the Spicy Green Bean with Mapo Tofu and spicy, crispy chicken at Ichiban on Park Street. If you get the right cook, it is spicy hot.”

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A post shared by Hạ Long Bay (@hlb53703) on Jun 22, 2015 at 1:45pm PDT

Gil Altschul, chef and owner of Grampa’s Pizzeria: “The ‘Chicken Diavola’ from Lombardino’s — it’s chicken from the wood-fired grill served with smashed potatoes, escarole and grilled lemon. I can’t stop thinking about it.”

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A post shared by Ayumu Konasukawa (@ayumu_konasukawa) on Oct 16, 2018 at 7:54pm PDT

Jonny Hunter, Underground Food Collective: “The Tuesday pizza lunch at Casetta Kitchen and Counter.”

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A post shared by Casetta Kitchen and Counter (@casettakitchen) on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:07am PST

David Oliver, chef at Natt Spill: “The spicy Italian sandwich at Alimentari. It is yummy.”

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A post shared by Midwest Munchers (@midwestmunchers) on Oct 19, 2018 at 5:29pm PDT

Sean Pharr, chef and co-owner of Mint Mark: “The Morris Ramen (at Morris Ramen), the Togarashi Waffle Fries with kimchi and beef bulgogi — whoa — at Sujeo and the Italian sandwich at Casetta Kitchen and Counter.”

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A post shared by Sujeo (@sujeomadison) on Oct 10, 2018 at 2:00pm PDT

Kyle Johnson, co-owner Johnson Public House: “The pho at Saigon Noodles and the dumplings at the Dumpling Haus — it’s always delicious and the owner is great. They recognize our kids when we go in and they always give them extra fortune cookies.”

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A post shared by Akihiro Ikeda (@tochanpanda) on Dec 12, 2018 at 6:50pm PST

Chad Vogel, owner of Robin Room and co-owner of Mint Mark and Barmadillo: “I just had the burger for the first time at Brothers Three Bar and Grill. It was immensely satisfying.”

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A post shared by Titus Pullo (@chibbqking) on Sep 14, 2018 at 2:10pm PDT

Laila Borokhim, chef and owner of Noosh and Joon: “I stopped at El Wiscorican when they were parked outside Funk Factory Geuzeria. The ‘Platio del Dia’ with chicken was amazing. I could eat that every day and be transported back to the beaches of Vieques, Puerto Rico.”

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A post shared by El Wiscorican (@elwiscorican) on May 11, 2017 at 8:23am PDT

Foodie Daddy 6, anonymous food blogger (@foodiedaddy6): “This is tuff … I think the pizza from @bahpitiboopiti at Robin Room.”

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A post shared by It’s Good For You (@bahpitiboopiti) on Jun 2, 2018 at 11:43am PDT