I was absolutely satisfied after spending over two hours at the 2013 Isthmus a la carts food event at Olin Park. Although not a bright and sunny day, the cold cloudy day had its silver lining of food carts all lined up along Monona Lake. My goal was to try a dish from every participating food cart (25) … unfortunately, I was not successful. But I will try again next year. Check out the food I did get in my belly.
First stop was Frosted. Who says dessert is the last part of the meal? We made sure we had room for dessert by going to Frosted’s stand and grabbed a red velvet cupcake with cream cheese frosting. It was too easy to pop the entire cupcake in the mouth. I was sad it was gone that fast but was very satisfied.
Wormfarm Institute Roadside Culture Stand had something amazing that I haven’t had – Beer Jelly! Spread onto a small cracker, the beer jelly had a sweetness that surpass all jams and jelly and anything else you can place on a cracker. I did ask how many jelly would it take to feel the alcohol, thank goodness she said an entire jar will probably give you a buzz. I think I would be able to finish a jar by myself.
I loved that this event allows me to explore many of what these carts have to offer for just the price of admission (~$20). A few of my favorite carts are…
Caracas empanads. The empanadas I tried here were stuffed with shredded beef and cheese, and sweet plantain and roasted garlic. The food smelled so good and looked so delicious, I dove right in and forgot to take a photo. But the sweet plantain and roasted garlic empanada was fantastic! I’ll be getting some of this on a regualar basis for sure. Located at Library Mall and Downtown Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.
So juicy and sweet, this steak burger is from one of UW-Madison’s favorite carts, JD’s . Popular with the college kids at 2am are the chicken and fish sandwiches. You used to find a long line at the cart at after bar time. Lucky for the kids, they now have a restaurant location on the corner of University Ave. and Bassett St. No more waiting in line when it’s 20 below.
Fresh Cool Drinks serves more than delicious smoothies, but their avocado spring rolls are to die for. I say peanut sauce is the secret ingredient that makes this taste better than the rest. Cart location: Memorial Library Mall
Ladonia Cafe is a new cart and also a new type of cart – all vegan. This here is a vegan chocolate waffle. The waffle was so fluffly and delicious. And of course the melted chocolate chips added more awesomeness.
Another delicious food cart that I consider pretty new to Madison is Slide. The Buff Chick (slow-cooked chicken marinated in Buffalo sauce topped with bleu cheese and carrots and celery) and the Power Ball (Mozzarella cheese-stuffed meatball with housemade marinare sauce) served with housemade potato chips were great! The size allows you to get all the goodness in one bite. Also the chips were the best homemade chips I ever had, thick and crispy with just the right amount of salt, not burnt or soaked in oil. Yum. Locations are: Library Mall: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 11am-2:30pm and Research Park off of Mineral Point Road: Wednesday 11am-2:30pm.
BJs Kolaches served up these tasty little stuffed pastries. The Philly Cheese Steak was very flavorful and the Spicey Kielbasa was amazing. It had a sweet and savoriness. I would suggest to kick up the spice a notch. The buffalo chicken was a bit too “bleu cheesy” for me. I would like to see more of a balance with the buffalo sauce.
There were so many others carts where I was so excited for the food and devored them before taking photos, so I am sorry I didn’t get to share those with you. But all the more reason you should make sure you experience it for yourself next year!