Quivey's Duck Wilcox memorializes Westport poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox.
Menus will tend to host many of the same dishes. Of course not even a grilled cheese sandwich is "the same" from place to place. But some eateries will highlight a standard by bestowing on it a local name. It's a fun way to do a little more eating local.
You can't get much more standard than a cup of java, in small, medium or large. Starbucks attempted to evoke Italy with its grande and venti sizes, but Regent Street's Indie Coffee sticks to Madison with its three sizes of joe, named after our lakes: Wingra (for the small, of course), Monona, and the whopping Mendota. Of course, if you can't remember which lake is which, you may get a lot more coffee than you bargained for.
At Quivey's Grove Stone House, the entrees are named after historic Madison notables. Over the years, diners have dived into Lamb Doty, for James Doty, who bought the land that later became known as Madison's isthmus, and finagled to have the state capital moved here; Veal Vilas, after an early Madison mayor; Beef Lathrop, in honor of the first chancellor of the University of Wisconsin; and even Duck Wilcox, memorializing Westport poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox. Wilcox is best known for having penned the memorable line "Laugh and the world laughs with you; cry and you cry alone." We're willing to bet this is the only duck dish in the world - maybe a dish of any sort - named after Ella Wheeler Wilcox. You can learn a lot more local history from perusing the menu at Quivey's - this is just the intro-level class.
At Quivey's Stable Tap, the sandwiches are named after Dane County cities and towns. The list is topped by the inevitable Fitchburger, not to be outdone by the Riley Reuben, Marxville Chicken and Monona Meatloaf. So you leave with a major in history and a minor in geography.
At the Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company, patrons can start with an order of Nakoma Nachos, named after the venerable west-side golf "suburb" that is now thought of as part of the near west side. The combo section of the menu is all local, with the James Madison signifying soup and a sandwich; the Dunn's Marsh marking salad and a sandwich; and the Shorewood Hills denoting soup and salad. The Great Dane also commemorates Madison's first settler with its signature beer, Peck's Pilsner, after Rosaline and Eben Peck, who operated a tavern near where the downtown Great Dane stands today.
And of course, don't forget a side of the Great Dane's Kohl slaw. It's not clear whether the slaw commemorates Wisconsin's senior senator, Herb Kohl; the UW sports center named after him; the department store, ditto; or all of the above.
Zuzu Cafe, located on Drake Street at Randall, near the zoo, names its sandwiches after the zoo neighborhood streets - the Drake, the Randall, the Henry, the Vilas, the Wingra, the Jefferson, the Campbell and the Spooner.
The Roxbury Tavern features an Egg McRoxbury and a Roxbury Reuben. It's not clear if these items are named after the town of Roxbury or the tavern itself - although, like the Kohl slaw conundrum, it probably doesn't matter.