Ironworks Cafe, 149 Waubesa St.: The bacon, lettuce, tomato and avocado sandwich is rough but sublime, or "messy, but worth it!" as my date put it. The sandwich is a welcome inversion of a typical BLT: Fresh avocado dominates; the crunch of the bacon just provides support to the tangy tomato and lettuce. "We get our bacon from Fountain Prairie Farm and Pecatonica Valley Farm," general manager Ben Hunter told me. The fresh baguette provides chewy substance, and roasted red bell peppers frame the plate.
- Adam Powell
Fugu, 411 W. Gilman St.: Maybe best of all are the dumplings and pot stickers, which are good enough to qualify as serious dim sum. These come variously stuffed with pork, vegetables and shrimp. If you order the fresh ones off the Sichuan menu (these are handmade to order), you will taste the kind of delicate, elegant dumpling that has no relation to the usual chewy, careless rendition.
- Raphael Kadushin
Ale Asylum's Tripel Nova: Seasonal beer Tripel Nova is a seductive brew that seems light, with a solid if not robust flavor. But don't be deceived by its lightness: With its high ABV, it's definitely a beer to be careful of. When pressed for a favorite Madison beer, this is always at the top of my list, and now that it's available in bottles, it's like Christmas in August!
- Robin Shepard