« Nifty 50's | Main | Table of contents: N »

Nitty Gritty

In a word: You should eat here at least once a year.

The specs: #0419
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; Madison Originals profile; stories at WiSJ, Madison Magazine; menu at Menupix; pictures at Taylor Takes a Taste; reviews at Classic Wisconsin, Outside.in, Decider, Badger Herald, Making it in Madison, Madison Fish Fry: downtown, Middleton; official web site, Marsh Shapiro's Nitty Gritty on Urbanspoon

Latest Nitty Gritty news and reviews

JM ate the chicken strips and lemonade.
John R. ate the chicken sandwich.
John S. ate the Monte Cristo.
Nichole ate the Monte Cristo and a bloody Mary.
Rose ate the Reuben.
Sue ate the salmon burger.
Tom ate the feta burger.
We split the nachos.
The bill was ??? - happy birthday, Mom!
John S. and Tom gave the Nitty Gritty an A; JM and Nichole gave the Nitty Gritty an A-; Rose gave the Nitty Gritty a B (see our grading rubric).

What can we say about the Nitty that hasn't been said in its storied Madison history? It's the place for birthdays in this town, and generally lives up to its reputation. We've seen it packed to the gills with revelers, but on this occasion, early for dinner on a Sunday at the less-traveled Middleton location, we had the back room virtually to ourselves.

Our party of seven took on a huge plate of loaded nachos and almost didn't win.

Nitty nachos

Monte CristoThere was great rejoicing when Nichole and John S. found the Monte Cristo. (This sandwich, ubiquitous just 90 miles east, is hard to find on Madison menus.) This interpretation used moist, thin cold cuts of ham and melted Swiss on a none-too-eggy bread, syrup on the side. This being John's first, he was impressed; he called it "a breakfast sandwich with legitimacy."

Pita sandwichRose, Sue and Tom each chose something to try the Nitty's beyond-basic-bar fare. Rose's Reuben was good, though she was disappointed that for some reason the pasta salad wasn't offered as a side option for her. Sue's salmon burger was excellent, and Tom's feta burger, served in a pita, featured excellent meat and gyro-style toppings.

Burger basket

Back on the more standard side of the menu, JM's chicken tenders were good and hot; JM was just a little full from lunch and couldn't finish them. This was OK, because the tenders and even the fried reheated pretty well. John R.'s burger must have been good because he was so busy eating it that he didn't leave comments. Both showed off the vaunted "Gritty sauce," a secret recipe with a sour cream base.

Throughout dinner we got great service - nary a glass was seen empty - and for dessert the birthday guest (Rose didn't want us to make a big deal of it then, so we won't mention her now) received a free "world's tiniest sundae" complete with candle.

Tiniest sundae in the world

When you're wishing for a place where most everybody can find something, the Nitty may just be a place for your wish to come true.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

My mouth is watering just thinking about the gritty burger!

Those nachos look just sick, and not really in a good way.

It's a classic, but has only been average the times I have been there. Perhaps the rep built it up to much for me, but I would rather eat a burger at any number of places in town

I've lived in Madison 11 years and only just went there a couple of months ago to celebrate a co-worker's birthday. Those sundaes really are tiny! My burger was decent, the service was okay, but because of some of the opinions Marsh Shapiro has made public during my time in Madison, I don't know that I would willingly go back.

Yeah the food here is overall not great, not bad. This place is really just about underage drinking near campus. The bathrooms and tables are filthy and the service is mediocre to bad. With Dotty's right next door and having substantially better food, if you're over 21 I don't see a lot of reason to come here.

I completely agree with Timmy. Dotty's is much better in terms of food.

Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear on this weblog until the author has approved them.

If you have a TypeKey or TypePad account, please Sign In.


Listen to The Corner Table podcast "Remembering Restaurants," aired December 24, 2020, where Chris and Lindsay talk with us "about the menus and memories left behind when restaurants go away."

Madison Food coverInfo about our book Madison Food: A History of Capital Cuisine is here, or read it for free thanks to the library - print & ebook.



About Follow madisonatoz on Twitter Contact
Blogroll Ad 
Free Blog
Read our book and food tour
Dish du jour Creative Commons License subscribe to RSS Subscribe
Memo to restaurants Bloggers' Rights at EFF Quizzes
Reflections BlogWithIntegrity.com Tip jar
Banner image by Kayla Morelli, Red Wheelbarrow Design