The street food scene in Madison, Wisconsin is booming thanks to a plethora of food carts. Serving everything from inventive international cuisine to comfort food, the carts have added a new dimension to the city’s already stellar dining scene. Seek out these ten food carts for great food on the go.
Look for a bright, lime-green cart covered with white, pop art-like garbanzo bean designs when you’re in the mood for Madison’s finest Middle Eastern food. Banzo, the cart in question, makes Israeli-style falafel, hummus and more, fresh every day. Crispy and warm, the falafel, or deep-fried balls of spiced, mashed chickpeas, can be ordered numerous ways. You’ll find Banzo on the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Library Mall and around the Capitol Square at lunchtime. Follow them on Facebook and Twitter for the cart’s daily locations.
Blowin’ Smoke Barbeque brings BBQ to Madison. Missouri-style slow-smoking cooking techniques, homemade dry rubs and three kinds of ketchup-based sauces enhance the quality beef brisket, pork, ham, chicken, turkey and pastrami used in its dishes. You can find Blowin’ Smoke around the Capitol Square at lunchtime; stay updated on the cart’s exact location and find out about weekly specials such as discounted sandwiches and free desserts on Facebook.
Bulgogi Korean Taco was the first food cart to introduce the concept of the Korean taco to Madison. The cart’s lineup of Asian fusion cuisine highlights steak, chicken or tofu prepared in the traditional bulgogi style. Find the cart on Twitter to get regular updates on its daily location.
Caracas Empanadas brought Madison its first authentic Venezuelan food cart. The empanada, a filled pastry, is a staple in Latin America, but also makes for the ideal street food as it’s easy to eat on the go. Check out Caracas Empanadas on Library Mall during lunchtime or on the Capitol Square on Saturday mornings when the Dane County Farmers Market is open. Check Facebook and Twitter for daily specials and updates on the cart’s location.
Wisconsin is known for having perfected the art of cheesemaking, and no other food cart in Madison has embraced this legacy of cheesy goodness more than Curd Girl. Its hot, beer-battered cheese curds are crispy on the outside and gooey on the inside, and are made using cheese from Maple Leaf Cheese in the nearby city of Monroe, Wisconsin. You’ll find Curd Girl at the Dane County Farmers Market around the Capitol Square every Saturday morning; follow the cart on Facebook and Twitter for information about its location throughout the week.
For a food cart with such a well-known connection to Illinois; arguably Wisconsin’s biggest rival (especially when it comes to sports) the Chicago-style food of FIB’s Madison are beloved by Madison foodies. Keep an eye out for delivery service, too. In the meantime, find out when FIB’s is serving lunch on the Capitol Square and on Library Mall by checking out its Facebook page.
Good Food‘s name is straightforward and simple, just like the cuisine it serves every day at lunchtime on the Capitol Square. That’s not to say that the cart’s delicious and filling food is boring, though. The five-year-old Good Food is different from most other street food vendors in Madison in that wholesome, healthy food is its priority. Follow the cart on Facebook and Twitter for daily locations and deals.
Gourmet grilled cheese is unofficially the latest, hottest street food trend, and MELTED has led the charge that brought it to Madison. During the farmers’ market around the Capitol Square on Saturdays, stop by MELTED for unique interpretations of the classic American comfort food. Find MELTED on Facebook and Twitter for daily locations and specials.
Slide offers gourmet sliders, or small hamburgers, that compensate for their size with larger-than-average flavors. Never fear, vegetarians, for there are options for you, too. Look for Slide on the Capitol Square, and be sure to check its Facebook and Twitter pages regularly for updates.
Peruvian fare is a gastronomical genre that’s unfamiliar to most Madisonians, but Surco Peruvian has taken on the challenge of getting the city acquainted with the cuisine. Head to Library Mall at lunchtime to try Surco’s traditional recipes such as the lomo saltado (a tenderloin sandwich with aji amarillo mayonnaise, avocado and aji amarillo cheese sauce), arroz con pollo (chicken and rice), and ahi de gallina (shredded chicken with aji peppers in a creamy sauce). If you’re on the south side of the city, you can also stop at Surco’s brick-and-mortar restaurant for an extended menu with dinner options, brunch fare and a wine list. Follow Surco on Facebook for the latest on the food cart’s location.