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Jerry Minnich

Less than a decade ago, this expansive space was filled with long lines of steamers and boilers and automated machines that separated sweet corn from its cobs, peas from their pods. Enormous steaming kettles prepared these and other vegetables for packing into the cans of Stokely USA, destined to line the pantries of countless American kitchens. This was the Oconomowoc Canning Company, which, for a hundred years, anchored downtown Sun Prairie. more

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I never visit Chicago without a dinner at one of the Greek restaurants on South Halsted Street. Athena. Greek Islands. Pegasus. You can count on any of them for great comfort food at very modest prices. A flaming saganaki cheese served with a hearty "Oompah!" Avgolemono, that beautiful egg-lemon chicken cream soup. And my absolute favorite - succulent braised lamb with roast potatoes and green beans simmered in tomato sauce. Memories of these meals still haunt me at odd moments. more

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I passed it dozens of times -- maybe hundreds -- and somehow never noticed it. And now I'm sorry about all the good meals I've missed at the little Mexican taquería on Cottage Grove Road. more

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Madison is not barbecue country. Kansas City is barbecue country. With a population only double that of Madison, KC hosts more than 90 barbecue joints. You can count Madison's on the fingers of one hand. And two of them don't serve beer. It's a crying shame. more

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In case you hadn't noticed, summer is quickly slipping away. The afternoon sky has that golden August haze. Thousands of isthmus apartments have new tenants and old furniture. Sports fans must juggle the Badgers, Packers and Brewers all at once (not to mention the Cubs). more

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Mexicali Rose lasted only 15 months in its east-side location, nestled against the on-ramp to Highway 51 from Cottage Grove Road. Now the space is occupied by Talula's. It's still a lot of fun, and now the food is somewhat better. more

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Where there once was McDonald's, there is now Sucre. There is no better metaphor for the evolution of downtown Madison -- from fast-food restaurant to Euro-chic patisserie, from Quarter Pounders and fries to cold poached shrimp and Sachertorte, from Coke to cosmos. more

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It was a lovely spring evening. As we were sitting at a back table, nursing a beer and looking out the open front door of Alchemy, a companion -- who lives in Nakoma -- said, "This is really nice. People walking their dogs, pushing baby strollers, all kinds of people -- it's really a neighborhood." And that about sums up the magic of Alchemy, of Schenk's Corner, of the Atwood neighborhood. more

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Liliana's, in the amorphous suburb of Fitchburg, is the area's latest attempt at re-creating a New Orleans-style restaurant here in the northland. It is the creation of David and Tiffany Heide, who named the place after their baby daughter, and it is well worth a trip to the south (of Madison) to sample the jambalaya, gumbo, étouffée and other Creole-Cajun specialties, as well as some dishes reflecting broader French and Italian expressions of the Crescent City heritage. more

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ou gotta love a place where you can get a good, honest plate of spaghetti and meatballs for $6.75. And that's with toasted garlic bread. more

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First of all, how do you pronounce "feijoada"? You pronounce it fahge-WAH-da. At least according to our server at the Cabana Room. And she seemed pretty sure of herself. more

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By now, Pasqual's qualifies as a Madison icon. Founded by Tim and Libby Guilfoil on Monroe Street as a funky little Southwestern salsaria, it has in its 23 years gone through several expansions, contractions, and incarnations. In 1994, a new Pasqual's opened in Parkwood Plaza, Middleton. Four years later came another Pasqual's, on Atwood Avenue next to the Barrymore. These two folded. more

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One of the benefits of the growing Latino presence in Madison is the proliferation of good and varied - and especially Mexican - restaurants. In the past year we enjoyed Taquería Guadalajara, the tiny diner on South Park Street, and then along came El Pescador, the wonderful Mexican seafood place on East Washington. more

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Wouldn't you know it? As soon as the weather turned chilly, the chili left State Street. We were sad to see Real Chili close its doors recently. But that just spurred us on to find a decent bowl o' red in Madison. more

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The fresh pasta was so good, and so popular, that Peter Robertson couldn't resist opening a little trattoria when he moved his RP's Pasta Company from Willy Street to larger quarters last July. And now, sitting by the bike path on a lightly traveled stretch of East Wilson Street, the Fork & Spoon Cafe slowly builds its customer base with good, honest, Northern Italian pasta dishes at moderate prices. Bologna is known as the culinary capital of Italy. If you want to eat pasta the way the Bolognese eat pasta, this is the place to go. more

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If you love crab, and you don't have a lot of money, the Mad City Crab House is the place for you. more

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What can I say? This is the best Mexican restaurant to hit Madison -- well, maybe, ever. And it's easily this year's most exciting new restaurant of any kind. Seldom do I get this enthused but -- let's put it this way -- if people aren't soon lined up around the block to enjoy this food, then the terrorists have won. more

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When the world's great cuisines are considered, Afghanistan rarely comes to mind. Nevertheless, Madisonians have been enjoying Afghani specialties since 1990, when Ghafoor Zafari opened Kabul in the 500 block of State Street. more

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As the only restaurant in the commons to date, Cloud 9 seems to have something for everyone, from burgers and Miller Lite downstairs in the sports bar, to filet mignon and Dom Perignon upstairs in the formal Sunset Room. Some of it's good, some other things need a little attention. more

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One of the benefits of having a growing Hispanic community is a concomitant increase in Mexican restaurants, especially the small, family-run places, each with its own twist on the popular cuisine. more

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