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Hubbard Avenue Diner

In a word: It's good but you probably knew that.

The specs: #0242
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; architectural profile; mention at Madison Date Night; reviews at Middleton Times-Tribune, Yelp, Madison Fish Fry; official web site; Hubbard Avenue Diner on Urbanspoon

Latest Hubbard Avenue Diner news and reviews

JM ate the chicken and chips with a lemonade.
Nichole ate the french toast Foster with coffee.
The bill was $23, or $11.50/person, plus tip.
JM gave Hubbard Ave. an A-; Nichole gave Hubbard Ave. a B+ (see our grading rubric).

While Hubbard or any of its Food Fight compatriots are definitely a treat, especially when you're new to Madison, sometimes their diner idiom can wear a little thin. This is frequently seen in the service, which, while efficient, is too often cool and detached. We ran into this again today, when the brunch staff pushed folks through expertly but a little too mechanically.

Nichole and JM have had many, many meals at Hubbard in the past.  Most of them have been above average but none has ever struck them as being out-of-the-ball-park good.  This experience seemed to reinforce that, although some friends do recommend their hearty "Meatloaf of the Gods" for a well-rounded weekend breakfast. 

Hubbard Avenue Diner

On to the food: the chicken fingers in JM's chicken and chips were triple-plus good. The crunchy outside nicely played off of the warmed chicken within and it wasn't the faintest bit rubbery (as too many chicken Fingers are).  The fries and coleslaw were about average, though JM prefers a little less juice in the latter. The lemonade was vastly improved with the addition of a packet of sugar per glass, which would seem to him to kind of defeat the purpose.

Chicken and chips

Nichole feels like she has to abstain from judgement a bit on the bananas Foster because a bad cold had her sense of taste out of commission for the whole meal (yet A-Z must go on!). The mouth-feel of the dish hinted at good things, however: the butter-soaked crunch of the crust; the interesting almond slivers and raisins; and the viscous syrup. The bananas were unpleasantly mealy, which was too bad.

French toast Foster

We made the sad mistake of running out of room for pie, which really is quite good at Hubbard et al. Lucky for us, there always seems to be a next time.

Famous for pie


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I've never experienced exceptional service at Hubbard, and I have to say that this "efficiency" thing is foreign to me as well; it's always been slow as molasses.

The pies are delicious but pricy; as with all Food Fight restaurants, you don't *quite* get what you pay for, but the food is good enough that you keep going back.

My wife is the biggest cornbread fan in the world, but she can't stomach Hubbard's, since they flub it and throw a bunch of peppers into the loaf.

I will say, though, that their white chicken chili is phenomenal, and their shakes and malts are out of this world. But lately we've been venturing up to Middleton, pausing on Hubbard Ave., and just driving by.

My favorite burgers come from Hubbard. I also am a giant fan of the butterscotch pie, which they don't have very often, which may be why I like it so much -- absence makes the heart grow fonder, etc.

The husband and I ate there this weekend - I could not stop staring at his chicken and chips, because the chicken looked exactly like his homemade chicken fingers, and tasted almost as good.

I was not as impressed with my biscuits and gravy. The biscuits were great, but the sausage gravy was made with finely diced sausage as opposed to bulk sausage (which I prefer), and it had almost a sweet flavor. I'd definitely get a biscuit with breakfast, but the dish as a whole is probably not something I'd order again.

The pie, however, was great. And the coffee was quite good.

We finally tried Hubbard this weekend and I'm going to have to agree with "Badger Tracker". Our service was terrible. The food was also mediocre for what it cost. We were initially pretty excited to see Anna's black bean burger looked to be actually "homemade", but it was pretty disappointing. My frittata was very tasty, but it didn't make up for the poor service and lack of atmosphere. It's a real shame since Hubbard is so close to our house. I know a lot of people who hold Food Fight up as a great group of restaurants, but we're personally hitting below 50%. Monty's is our favorite restaurant in Madison and we love going to Johnny Delmonico's for special occasions, but the three closest to our house (Hubbard, Bluephies and Firefly) have all been disappointing.

Coffee was quite good. Fries were slightly above average. BLT and catfish sandwich were both exceptional. Service was on the friendly-ish side of perfunctory.

On the other hand, we'll go to Market Street any day of the week, and would even if it weren't just down the road a way. Can't beat Market Street's homemade chips (American chips, not British).

I have to say I'm a little biased when it comes to the service at Hubbarb Ave Diner, because my sister used to work there (not as a server). Now, whenever I go I get fabulous service (if we get one of the handful of waitstaff who we know, that is, which we usually do.) That said, I have on occasion gotten quite slow and ineffectual service from a few people who I don't think work there anymore, so I can see that my overall experience may be imbalanced. There is a hostess who always seems to be rather unhappy, and I truly dislike one of the managers, as she always struck me as being disingenuous, which I later discovered to be true when she made a snide remark behind my back about a comment I left regarding their pies' lack of vegetarian-friendlyness (see below for that.) This after she encouraged me to write the comment in the first place. Honestly, though, as far as the waitstaff goes, I have nearly always found them to be quite friendly and personable.

As for the food, however, in general I feel like it's pretty over-rated, including the pies. Being a fish-eating vegetarian who absolutely abhors onions (which they seem to throw into practically everything I could otherwise eat), I really only have a couple of options, but the two I usually pick between (the tuna steak and the black bean burger) are passably good and reasonably priced. I wish the tuna were a little better quality and the cheese on the black bean burger melted more thoroughly, but otherwise not too disappointing for diner fare. (The black bean burger is actually the best "veggie burger" I have ever had... since it tastes like something other than rubbery vegetable protein and mystery flavoring.) My biggest complaint about the food is that, because they pre-mix so much of it, they nearly always tell me they can't make alterations. I tried the Tuna Gyro once and made an attempt to remove the onions myself, and although the flavor was worth the effort I will never go to that much trouble again.

Aside from that, the cheddar on the grilled cheese sandwich is awful. I'm really nit-picky about cheese quality (something my friends find kind of funny), and in my opinion there is no excuse whatsoever for bland, lifeless cheddar when you live in Wisconsin.

As for those pies of theirs...

I actually have had two slices of pie at hubbard, long ago before my sister did her stint there and before I ever thought to consider that pie might not be vegetarian. Both were actually pretty so-so in my opinion. Too sweet by far. As it turned out though, Hubbard uses animal lard to make their pie crusts. All of them. So I can't give them an opportunity to change my mind. I have made a few attempts to suggest having one or two lard-free options now and then for us veggies... but though the staff all agreed with me, the people in charge were uninterested in making any changes. I don't expect to be pandered to, but at least considered might be kind of nice.

To follow up on my earlier comment, the wife and I went to Hubbard for breakfast, and that was a more positive experience than any lunch or dinner visit had been. They provide free coffee while you're waiting, which is a fantastic thing, and the french toast and southwestern omelette were both very good (chorizo in the omelette was a tasty touch).

I had my first trip to Hubbard last week and had a decent fish fry. I was excited to try some of their pie since their wide variety all looked so good. My group ended up with three different slices and I was not impressed by any of them. Average to almost below average for restaurant pie. Quite disappointing.

If you want PIE!!!!!! none can compare to the Norske Nook in Osseo, WI. We stop whenever we can. My favorite--Sour Cream & Raisin made like I have never had it anywhere else. Yum!

well.. my hubby and i went because we had a gift caqrd... my hubby loved his meatloaf and potatos... i loved his mixed veggies... and my dairyland cheddar cheese burger was ok...i chose the homemade hot applesauce over fries or colslaw..
not too bad but not the best.. our waitress didn't even smile, let alone ask us how our food was...
i don't want to go back....i would rather go to mcdonalds... seriously!

My family and I went to Hubbards to try out another local Madison restaurant. Our service left something to desire, the waitress was too inpatient to wait for me to decide which side I wanted with my bean burger. She was later seen massaging the shoulder/neck of another server behind the counter......The food was not anything over exceptional, but we would go back. My mother felt that the french silk pie was orgasmic, and you can't really argue with that!

Hubbard Avenue supplies American Players Theater with a limited, but appealing list of light meals. I remember sharing the picnic basket (chicken salad with grapes ad nuts, marinated chilled salmon, greek pasta salad, greens, fruit, brie, bread, pesto and brownies) on the grounds before a show. at least Nichole took part in this outing...

If I recall it was a generous amount for 9 people, tasty even having been prepared hours before and offering enough options for even the picky among us. The only downside I remember was the fruit was sort of a middle of the road concoction of watermelon and grapes with a few bits of pineapple strawberry to perk it up, and the brownies, while decent in sized, suffered from being in seran wrap that long.

Of course many foods are much improved being eaten outdoors on a gorgeous day in good company.

I can't believe that Hubbard Avenue Diner is on an Honor Roll. Seriously? The same Hubbard Diner where I have always gotten lousy service and mediocre food that I can make better myself at home? That place is on my "don't bother" list.

Hey, you should be happy. Of the Honor Roll Curse, breakfast is the worst meal for which to be recognized.

Yes, seriously. Of the three places in Madison that serve breakfast and have names that start with "H," we thought Hubbard Ave. was the best.

...however, that's just a technicality, as Hunky Dory's Cafe snuck onto the list as a "K."

Terrific pie. I had the biscuits and gravy once, and thought it was edible. It's sooo hard to get good biscuits and gravy in this city! Come to think of it, I can't think of a place in the Midwest that really gets it right.

I've been to Hubbard several times (not my choice) and have not been impressed. The "Meatloaf of the Gods" was good if you like gristle (mmmm.....gristle). We bought an apple pie there recently and only ate half before it got discarded after a week. To do that is almost sacriligeous in my family so it was obviously "meh". The pies at Perkins are better and $3 cheaper.

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