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Quaker Steak and Lube

In a word: Quirky car chain proves unremarkable save the wings.

The specs: #0532  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Self-Loathing Pop Culture Fanatic, listing at Eat Drink Madison, talk at TDPF; official web site; Quaker Steak & Lube on Urbanspoon

Latest Quaker Steak and Lube news and reviews at del.icio.us

Aine ate the wings with Thai-r-Cracker sauce and pretzels.
Angela Y. ate the wings and pretzels.
Bill ate the Steak Sandwich with homemade chips, wings with Louisiana Lickers sauce, and root beer.
CJ had the kids' meal.
Chris I. ate the GTO ring burger and Arizona ranch breaded boneless wings.
JM ate the Teriyaki wings.
Jennifer ate the boneless wings with a beer.
Jesse ate the wings and ribs platter.
John ate the chicken breast salad.
Jordan ate the classic wings.
Maddie ate the wings.
Nichole ate the boneless wings with a beer, too.
Rose ate the chicken breast salad.
Ryan R. ate the Flatbed Flatbread Southwest BBQ chicken.
Skippy ate the hot wings with fries.
The bill was a thing of mystery.
Aine gave Quaker Steak and Lube an A-; JM and CJ gave Quaker Steak and Lube a B+; Jennifer and Nichole gave Quaker Steak and Lube a B; Ryan, Angela, Chris, and Skip gave Quaker Steak and Lube a B-; Jesse gave Quaker Steak and Lube a C+ (see our grading rubric).

Judging by the crowded parking lot, we expected Quaker Steak and Lube would be packed. As it turns out, it was just a classic car show with admirers milling around outside; inside, the place was fairly empty, which was a relief to our large group. The ambiance is definitely for people who are into motors.

(By the way, we'd like to make profound apologies to the young woman leading another Fellowship of the Ring-sized party who Nichole so rudely asserted our table in front of. That wasn't very cool, and Nichole is sorry. Despite that bad karma and the fact that we were 13+ eating on Maundy Thursday, things went remarkably well; turns out Quaker Steak's menu is largely suitable for Passover, too. That said, some of the facts of this massive meal are lost to the lube of memory, so we beg our companions' pardon if we've missed or misrepresented anything about our last supper.)

Anyway, the bottom line is that Quaker Steak and Lube is a reliable place for wings, but if you like it hot, go big or go home - the "magma" level of heat (the one that requires a signed release form) might be the only way to get a Scoville out of these sauces. Plus, the kids' meals are a very good deal at $3.99, including drink and dessert. That our youngest reviewer proclaimed "the popsicle was the yummiest dessert I ever had in the world!" just seals the deal.

Root beerKids' mealBeer list

Let's begin with the bebidas. Bill's house-label root beer was flavorful and not too sweet; he had two bottles and found it worth the $3 each. On first glance, the beer list was unremarkable, but Lake Louie Kiss the Lips, Central Waters Mud Puppy Porter, and a couple other goodies were hiding in there.

Flatbed flatbreadPretzels and wingsSaladBurger

Our tour around the table began here - left to right:

  • Flatbed Flatbread Southwest BBQ chicken: was good.
  • Hot wings and pretzels: good Guiness/cheese sauce.
  • Chicken breast salad: very nice blueberry dressing.
  • GTO ring burger and Arizona ranch breaded boneless wings: delicious.

Wings

The classic wings with bleu cheese dressing, as ordered by Jordan, were a satisfying combo of hot, salty, greasy, and creamy. Again, ordering it "mild" if you like heat was a mistake - they don't come out very buffalo-ey.

SaladBurgerWingsWings and friesRibs and wings

On the other side of the table, left to right:

  • A second chicken breast salad was serviceable.
  • The steak sandwich was fine. the accompanying horseradish sauce was watered down, so much so that two entire tablespoons' worth on Bill's sandwich failed to even register as spicy. The homemade chips were thinner cut than he had hoped, but these were tasty, with the perfect amount of salt. A serving snafu brought baked beans instead of chips; the beans were good - sweet and rich with a thick sauce that might have included molasses.
  • The boneless wings were flavorful but - wait for it - not very spicy.
  • The magma fries were a bit undercooked, i.e. soggy. Again, the hot wings were about as spicy as lutefisk - completely Norwegian-safe, according to Skip.
  • The Louisiana Lickers wings were smoky with a kick , and garnered a favorable comparison to Deb's Barbecued Shrimp from New Orleans Take-Out. The half rack of ribs was dry and the BBQ sauce was mediocre, however.

Wings and carrots

Going to a loud restaurant with a large party made most of our conversations hyperlocal. People discussed everything and anything with their neighbors, sharing a laugh, which is what a place like Quaker Steak is about. The food may just be an excuse to get together with friends and we're blessed to have so many.

Maddie summed it all up quite well with the sentiment that she'd be surprised to wake in the night craving lube puns and lukewarm baby carrots. Still, a good time was had - we hope - by all.

Hot wipe and Twizzler

Comments

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I'm so disappointed that this chain is coming to State St.

I'm a little disapointed that no one in your group gave the Atomic sauce a try. How can you resist a food that you have to sign a waiver for? I couldn't. It was impressivly hot, my lips were burning for a while after I ate one.

Michael: Seriously? On State St? That's awful; where is it going in?

Ah, nevermind, found a thread @ thedailypage.com. I suppose if they must move in, the old Uno's spot is better than most. That's a pretty easily-ignorable spot, and not actually RIGHT on State, anyway.

I enjoy Quaker Steak & Lube. I prefer their wings to Buffalo Wild Wings and the service is 100x better then Buffalo Wild Wings.

I have had their 2nd hottest wings. The hottest ones you do not sign a waiver for and they were spicy but gross. You can tell they use capsaicin extract instead of real peppers to achieve the heat. The result is a terrible flavor. I cannot imagine how terrible the atomic ones taste.

My fiance and enjoy Quaker Steak. He likes that their wings come with soft pretzels and I actually really like their Chipoltle Chicken Salad!

Quaker Steak is a fun, always loud, place to go. This can mean a lot of things to a lot of people, but to us it means our loud kids won't bother other diners. Combine that with twisty straws (you did not mention), cool cars, and twizzlers, and you have a kid favorite that adults can stand going to. Plus many people don't know it is a chain so you can take out-of-town guests there!

The bendy straws were pretty cool. And of COURSE, we should have gotten the atomic hot wings - what a wasted opportunity!

What a depressing circus this place is.
How hard is it to do chicken wings well?
They open a bag of Baraboo-Sysco wings and cook em up in some sauce.
Not worth enduring the assault of deafening noise and obnoxious "decor".
But if you're trolling for paunchy single men over 40 then bike night is definitely a draw.

I just want to make it clear that the CJ in comments above is not my CJ. My CJ will be very happy that there's going to be a Quaker Steak and Lube on State Street.

@CJ - I just drove through the area today. It's going in where Pizzeria Uno was - I saw a big sign in the window. Just what State St needs - another chain place. Although I suppose with the high rents, they may be the only kinds of places that can afford it anymore. :-(

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