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Thursday, December 18, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 20.0° F  Overcast
The Daily

DINING

Fugu is the place to experience China's pop cuisine

In the rich and incredibly varied world that's filed in the West under "Chinese food," the cuisine of Sichuan province is my favorite. Because it's not easy to find authentic Sichuan cuisine in the U.S., I've spent years since my time in China learning how to prepare my favorite dishes at home. But since I discovered Fugu -- an unassuming spot on Gilman at State -- I've not attempted Sichuan cooking once. Why should I, when an immersive Sichuan experience is just a few blocks away? >More
 Meltdown is unavoidable with Madison's spiciest dishes

Time was that Madison wasn't so hot. Diners craving spicy foods relied on just a handful of Southeast Asian, Mexican, Caribbean and Cajun spots to deliver lip-burning, endorphin-releasing pleasure. The few fiery menu items available became rites of passage into a small cult of heat seekers. One of the more famous of these was, and still is, the "four star" pad Thai at Vientiane Palace. It has set many a frightened diner's mouth ablaze. >More
 Ways to find the right menu and the right environment in the right part of town

People pick a restaurant to go to for many reasons. Buzz. Proximity. Familiarity. Novelty. Cost. Sheer impulse. Sometimes there are more specific criteria diners have to follow, though. These can be dietary: One or more of the party need vegetarian or vegan dishes, or gluten-free options over and above leaving the bun off a burger. Maybe your beer-geek buddy is coming to town, so you want to show off a Wisconsin tavern with a great tap list. Possibly what you're looking for is something kid-friendly, without descending to the drive-through. >More
 Best bets for a midnight meal when you're not right downtown

Like luck, inspiration and fate, craving is a fickle visitor. It holds to no schedule; it respects no existing meal plans or even a decent hour of the day. Put another way: Sometimes you need -- like, need -- a stack of pancakes at one in the morning. >More
 What visitors to Madison absolutely should not miss

Lately it feels like locals are playing tour guide a lot more in Madison. We have a higher visitor count, thanks to the national attention our food scene is receiving and increasing business traffic. What used to be a town of supper clubs, fish fries and pickled herring is now a city interesting enough to be a draw for curious gourmets from neighboring culinary titans like Chicago. We still rock the steakhouses, burger joints and beer halls, but in 2014 Madison has more than that. >More
 12 months of Madison restaurant meals 2014

Over the last 12 months, our reviewers have grazed all around the city. They've found worthy food and drink in Mexican markets, East Towne Mall and an industrial park off Stoughton Road, in addition to more expected locations downtown, east, west, north and south. Here's a recap, with hat-tips to some of our favorite noshes. >More
 Wisconsin food festivals for 2014

Corn on the cob, fresh from the fields, steamed, buttered and salted. Lefse like MorMor used to make. Cheese and more cheese. A beer and a brat. These you will find in the booths and under the tents in festivals across the state, accompanied by bands, fun runs, art fairs, face-painting and the occasional fishing tournament. Have fun! We dare you not to. We recommend confirming event details before making any long drives. >More
 Secret ingredients: Reflections on food and drink experiences we love

The first time I heard the work "omakase," I had been emailed a secret menu for an "underground dinner party" that enlisted my assistance. The Japanese word means "I'll leave it to you," and diners allow the chef complete control over their dining experience. >More
 50 Mad City food experiences you should not miss

Some food and drink experiences are so spot on, so repeatable, so of their specific locale, that they become iconic. It's not necessarily just the substance and quality of the nosh that makes them so, although that helps. Sometimes it's the whole package, including atmosphere and history. These are experiences we miss when we're away. They're what we like to show visitors. For the newcomer, they constitute part of the initiation into all things Madisonian. In no particular order, here are 50 standout, quintessential Madison sips and bites. >More
 The absolutely true diary of a part-time server

In May 2006, I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. If you'd told me I would be back in Madison over six years later, waiting tables, I would have been utterly incredulous. I'd have been depressed. Yet, here I am. It helps my pride being in grad school, and knowing this is a temporary position. But for now, it's my livelihood. For some, it's a career. >More
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