La Guanajuatence has the best al pastor tacos I've ever had.
Dylan Katz came to our attention right after we launched the Mad Town Lunch series last week. He grew up in New Jersey with plenty of access to a wide range of New York food. His blog Dylan Cooks features the bold tagline "One Jew's quest to become the ultimate mensch in the world of food," and posts range from a love letter to Wisconsin's brandy old fashioned to bread machine challah recipes. Now he's in Madison attending law school. And eating lunch.
Mad Town Lunch: Dylan Katz
Occupation: Law student.
Where do you work? UW campus.
Foods you love: Indian, Thai, Mexican, Ethiopian, sushi.
Foods you prefer to avoid or won't eat: Anything from a chain -- most notably Applebee's and Olive Garden. I think Italian food tends to be pretty bland these days, too. I've also given up on sushi in the Midwest -- the quality of the stuff out here is incomparable to what you can get on either coast.
Favorite places to eat lunch in Madison: La Guanajuatence, Suwanasak, Banzo (food cart), Great Dane (but not their beer), Cafe Porta Alba.
Fallback -"go-to" lunch place: Roast Public House on State Street. Local ingredients, very high quality food. I wish more people knew about them.
Favorite lunch dishes: The brisket with horseradish cream sauce at Roast. It's been cooked perfectly every time I've had it. Also, La Guanajuatence has the best al pastor tacos I've ever had. I would choose them as my final meal if I was on death row.
Now-defunct Madison restaurant(s) you long to eat at again: Asian One. It was a small, dumpy Thai/Hmong restaurant that used to be on Gilman. Their curries were dirt cheap, totally authentic, and absolutely fantastic -- the best Thai food in Madison, by far. Suwanasak on the west side has done a great job replacing them, but it's just not the same.
If you could eat only on one side of town, which would you pick? Ugh, this is a tough question. Probably the east side, just because of the variety. There are a bunch of fantastic restaurants on Willy Street, and if you go even further east you can find some real gems, especially if you dig Mexican food. I've heard rumors of a pupuseria out by the airport, but have yet to make the trek to explore the area.
What's your #1 food desire yet-to-be-fulfilled? I have two, actually. Bialys. The onion rolls that places around here claim are bialys aren't (Gotham Bagels and Manna Cafe), and as someone who's been to the Lower East Side hundreds of times, it's killing me that I can't get them! And, for #2, really good sushi. Takumi on the east side is the closest I've found so far.
Finally... pupusas, or arepas? Pupusas, provided we're talking about Salvadoran food. I've been to D.C. a bunch, and they reign supreme out there -- the cactus or loroco ones are absolutely killer.
Do you have a question to Isthmus readers about food? Where can I go for sushi-grade fish? I have fantasies about buying a hunk and eating it in the parking lot off the trunk of my car. Classy, I know.
Mad Town Lunch is a series devoted to finding out where all kinds of folks like to eat lunch in Madison. Do you eat lunch? Of course you do. If you'd like to be featured as a Mad Town Luncher, contact Linda Falkenstein.