« A & W All-American Food | Main | Aldo's Cafe »

"Z" is for Zero to go

On February 3, 2012, after eating at 779 restaurants in 7 years, 8 months and 25 days, we finished eating Isthmus' Eats list.

We're going to take a break from posting for a while. We're still mulling over what to do next. We do need to keep eating and there are lots of places we haven't been to, so there's that... but we'll have to see how it feels not to have to feed the blog 2-3 times per week.

We'll keep up with daily links to food news, though, because there's a lot of good local food writing in Madison. So check back and/or subscribe to our RSS feed to be notified of new posts.

Samba faceAnd now a little data for you:

Z was the best letter we went to, bolstered by the very nice Zuzu Cafe. Zuzu was also JM's 300th A or A-. He now has 300 reasons to not eat a Whopper Jr. add cheese.

Eating in Madison A to Z has written over a quarter of a million words about Madison restaurants (261,802) with an average post length (not counting In a Word and specs) of 336 words. (For comparison, our posts on Crave, Michelangelo's, Murphy's Tavern & Taco Shop are exactly 336.)

The longest post we wrote was Underground Kitchen with 1,404 words. Following that were 43 North (1122), The Icon (1111), Starbucks (1038) and L'Etoile (1015). The restaurant with the shortest write-up was Bennett's Meadowood (just 28 words). This was followed by Hunky-Dory Cafe (38), Cocina Real (40), The Bean and Cafe Zoma (43 each). 

FaceThe shortest "In a word" was just three characters long: the departed Cleveland's Diner ("Go."). The longest was 193 characters: "Where can a young couple, who are having an evening out, not too much money, and they want to have a decent meal, you know, a decent kebab and a nice bit of donut, where can they go and get it?" for People's Bakery & Lebanese Cuisine

Smiles all aroundThe longest letter in its first pass was C (thanks a lot, alphabet) with 53 places, followed by S, M, B (hooray!) and P. The shortest was X (0), followed by Z, Y, U and Q. We went to 496 places on first pass lists and 283 on make-up lists.

The most we ever went to in any month was 18 in November of 2011. Both January and February of 2012 had only 1 each. We went to about 8.3 places a month for 94 months. If you add up restaurant visits across years, the Mays were the months we ate out the most (77 total) and the Julys the least (47), despite March and April having one fewer instance.

There were 36 double As, ten of which are closed. Longest gap between Double As: 88 restaurants between New Glarus Hotel in February 2009 and The Bank in January 2010. Shortest: Santa Fe Trailer followed only two later by Undergroud Kitchen in May 2011. Morels, restaurant #390, was the precise halfway point.

Finally, JM ate 66 ham and cheese sandwiches and drank 332 lemonades (42%) along the way (not counting generic fountain sodas that have been/included lemonade, or the pitcher that has a permanent place in our fridge).

Speaking of stats: are there any places whose names start with A that we haven't visited that we should? This is our attempt at a little crowdsourcing, so please check our list and tell us what is missing.

RawrWe know that with the recent short letters and all of the looking back, this has been like the long Midwestern goodbye. We just want to make sure that we really show gratitude for reaching this point, self-imposed as it may be.

Thanks to Jonathan Broad for sparking our interest in blogging, to the UW School of Library and Information Studies for providing our first platform, to Isthmus for maintaining the List, to the people who ate with us (and put up with us) and the restaurants that put up with us (and fed us), but most of all to our readers. Writing on the internet is such a crazy and novel thing; we could've done this without an audience and yet we wouldn't want to think of it.

Soupy twist!


Our grades:

A 332
B 314
C 115
D 16
F 2

GPA by first letter:

1st PassCumulative
A 3.11 3.32
B 3.15 3.20
C 3.25 3.22
D 3.20 3.23
E 3.03 3.05
F 3.24 3.26
G 3.21 3.27
H 3.16 3.20
I 3.40 3.38
J 3.13 3.09
K 3.08 3.17
L 3.23 3.24
M 3.32 3.19
N 3.15 3.15
O 3.23 3.20
P 3.09 3.12
Q 3.39 3.39
R 3.19 3.23
S 3.14 3.19
T 3.19 3.19
U 3.03 3.08
V 3.48 3.52
W 3.21 3.21
X n/a n/a
Y 3.00 3.00
Z 3.58 n/a


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

So enjoyed witnessing this project, and getting to taste some food and offer my opinion. Hats off to Nichole and JM.

Amazing work! I've been following the blog ever since I moved to Madison 3 years ago and you have been such a great resource for me to get to know all about the wonderful food and culture that's here.

Ding! Congratulations on a magnificent accomplisment. Redefines intestinal fortitude. I still consult your blog regularly; your honor roll has solved many-a date night dilemma. Thanks for inviting us on our two stops and congratulations again. You guys are great.

Just wanted to say congratulations and thanks for sharing this with us. Your reviews are an incredible resource and have helped me out on countless occasions.

If you decide to take on another project, I will be excited to follow your work. Thanks again!

You guys are the reason why I don't just eat at Noodles (or Tutto Pasta for a fancy meal) like I did early in my undergrad years. Your blog was the motivation for me to go try new restaurants in Madison. Now I've tried TONS of new restaurants and love to show others how awesome Madison is for dining. Thank you!

One thing missing from the summary was costs. That would be a fun stat...

Congratulations you guys and thank you for allowing me to participate in a few of your eating adventures! See you soon over I board game, I hope. :)

Congrats, m'colleagues!

Congrats and thanks for sharing your thoughts on where to go for good eats in Madison. I don't think you ever steered us wrong!

As a wise woman once said, "Cheers, and keep up writing in the way that fits right for you." :)

Congratulations on a great job and thanks for all the work and how much fun you made going to this blog every day.

So what were the best ham and cheese sandwiches and lemonades?

Any idea how many places you've eaten at are no longer around?

Are the days of our lunch dates at Library Mall over?

@Nick: I thought about including costs of meals, but the data is sketchy and obscured by coupons and things. In general, a meal costs on average $20 for the pair of us plus tip. We've been to nearly 800 places. You can estimate from there.
@Skip: You can see the list of closed places here: http://www.madisonatoz.com/closed.html (currently at 168). I'm sure that there will be other cart lunches soon. Especially as we don't have otbher places to go now.
@theginn: Magnus' was probably the best lemonade, sadly departed. I think Brasserie V's ham and cheese was my favorite as it was coated in cheese. Yum!
@Gabe K: Thanks for reading and following along, if you'll pardon the pun.

Signing off with A Bit Fry & Laurie...very appropriate!

Excellent work the two of you. Now enjoy your time off.

Congrats! You've contributed so much dedication and great writing over the years!

I've loved reading your reviews and oogling the photos. I can't wait to see what your next endeavor brings! Thanks for all the recommendations over the years.

I had mentioned once before that you guys missed the Villa Tap on Packers Ave. Very good food, especially the fish fry.

Loved your blog, great reference!!

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