Want an intimate look at some of Madison’s surrounding neighborhoods? Dying to get a taste of Madison’s famous food trucks (which earned Madison a spot in USA Today’s recent article “Ten best cities for food trucks this summer”)? From April until October, you can satisfy both cravings at once with a visit to one of Madison’s neighborhood food truck nights. It’s basically the definition of ‘local flavor.’
On Mondays through Thursdays from 5 p.m. until 7:30 p.m., some of Madison’s favorite food trucks leave their usual spots in the Library Mall and Capitol Square and converge in neighborhood parks all over town. Each night has two locations, for a total of eight in Madison and the surrounding areas.
The events are hosted by Let’s Eat Out Madison, a loose group of area food truck operators. So far the food carts have gone to the same locations each week, but the group is working on alternating locations for more variety. It’s a great way to sample not just the fantastic food, but the neighborhood vibe, too. Share your blanket or picnic table with a friendly stranger and strike up a conversation or a sand volleyball game. For those who live in the neighborhood, it’s like a weekly block party they don’t have to clean up. Who wouldn’t be in a good mood?
Find out which trucks will be where and get weather-related news on the Let’s Eat Out Madison Facebook page.
Two lovely east-side spots, in Monona and Maple Bluff, are definitely worth a visit. If the following descriptions don’t tempt you, perhaps this will: both have public restrooms! Huzzah!
Monday nights in Monona
Winnequah Park in Monona is 45 acres of beauty right in the center of community life, across from the pool and library. There is plenty of open green space to lay down your blanket, and a gazebo and large shelter provide covered seating options. While you eat, gaze at the lagoon that winds its way through the park. Afterwards, challenge a few Monona residents to a game of sand volleyball. If you have kids, let them loose in the awesome Dream Park, a huge playground that looks like a castle and has its own resident wizard and waterdragon. Yep, you read that right.
Tuesday nights in Maple Bluff
The village of Maple Bluff is less than one square mile tucked up against Lake Mendota’s eastern shore. Most Madison residents are familiar with two of its better-known spots: the Governor’s Mansion and Vic Pierce Liquor, a.k.a. the closest place where it’s legal to buy alcohol between 9 p.m. and midnight.
But Maple Bluff has another spot that should be on your radar: Maple Bluff beach, right on Lake Mendota. The park is small, but there’s a lot there: a nice-sized playground for the kids, a fire pit, lots of picnic tables and beach chairs, even a small beach house with ping-pong and air hockey tables (and the all-important restrooms). Of course, there is also a small sandy beach and a pier that are perfect for enjoying the water.
If you go, look for some of these fantastic food trucks:
- Slide (gourmet sliders)
- Bubbles’ Doubles (Trinidad cuisine)
- Soho (dumplings, salads, soups)
- Taqueria Sabor Queretano (Mexican cuisine)
- Curd Girl (curds battered to order)
- Fried & Fabulous (Po’Boys and fried sweets)
- Porktropolis (BBQ)
- Banzo (falafel)
For a good review of all the food carts in the Madison area, check out Madison Street Eats.