May 27 virtual town hall: Essential yet Expendable: Wisconsin Food Workers Amidst Pandemic

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Please join us and the Wisconsin Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival and Wisconsin Faith Voices for Justice next Wednesday, May 27, from 6:30-8pm Central, for "Essential yet Expendable," a virtual event to hear directly from essential food workers about how the pandemic is affecting them and exacerbating an existing crisis.

From seedlings to packaging to retail to dinner tables, food workers are essential to society. However, Wisconsin food workers today—many of whom are immigrants—lack legal protection, living wages, safe workspaces, job security, and healthcare access. And now, COVID-19 has laid bare these contradictions of our essential, and yet expendable, food workforce.

Join us as we listen to John Peck, Director of Family Farm Defenders, and three Wisconsin food industry workers about how this crisis-within-a-crisis is impacting them.

Stay for discussion of how people of conscience can act to build a moral response to the systemic injustices involved in providing us with the very food we eat.

“From farm to table, food connects us; let’s connect on our shared commitment to justice.”

RSVP at tinyurl.com/wifoodworkers or visit Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/events/1360377524161451/

PS dear readers - we hope this finds you well. We’ve been quiet on the blog front long before the current pandemic because, well, life finally got life-y. We’ll be posting some images of meals past in the weeks to come (though we honestly don’t have enough juice for many words about them). Be well, stay safe, care for each other.

Taqueria el Sabor Queretano

In a word: The East Side deserves better.

The specs: #01091  
4512 E Washington Ave #7, Madison, WI 53704
Visited September 1, 2018

Latest Taqueria el Sabor Queretano news and reviews

JM ate the beef torta.
Nichole ate the burrito.
The bill was $23, or $11ish/person, plus tip.
JM gave Taqueria el Sabor Queretano a C+; Nichole gave Taqueria el Sabor Queretano a C- (see our grading rubric).

Torta

Burrito

 

Taqueria Gonzalez

In a word: Pretty good for taq'out.

The specs: #01090  
2606 Allen Blvd., Middleton 53562
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Taqueria Gonzalez news and reviews

JM ate the pork quesadilla.
Nichole ate the shrimp taco plate.
The bill was $20, or $10/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Taqueria Gonzalez a B (see our grading rubric).

Quesadilla

Taco plate

Taqueria El Jalapeño

In a word: Taqu-in' care of business.

The specs: #01089  
1318 S. Midvale Blvd., 53711
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Taqueria El Jalapeño news and reviews

JM ate the chicken burrito.
Nichole ate two tacos and an horchata.
The bill was about $25, or $12ish/person, plus tip.
JM gave Taqueria El Jalapeno an A- ; Nichole gave Taqueria El Jalapeno a B+ (see our grading rubric).

The southwest side of town has pretty good Mexican eats with La Nopalera, Los Atlantes, La Mestiza, Los Gemelos and even Laredo's in a pinch.  But Taqueria El Jalapeno still finds a way to cut through the clutter and be its own thing.  In this case, a place where you can get full at a reasonable price without sacrificing quality.

Chicken burrito

JM had an enormous chicken burrito with came with sour cream and avocado on top (and queso, sweet sweet, queso).  This was entirely filling and yet every single bite had to be consumed because it was so tasty.  Nichole got two tacos, al pastor and steak, which were both delicious. A glassful of their horchata was among the best Nichole's had in town.

Taco plate

This location has been at least to Mexican places (and Donut Delight and Mediterranean Delight before that) but it seems to have settled into its role as a good place for standard fare. We'll be back to try more of the menu fer sher.

Taqueria 3 Amigos

In a word: Nice food but no place to park.

The specs: #01088  
1133 Williamson St., 53703
Details at Yelp

Latest Taqueria 3 Amigos news and reviews

JM ate the carnitas burrito.
Nichole ate the two taco plate with one carne asada and one al pastor.
The bill was $23, or $11ish/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Taqueria 3 Amigos a B (see our grading rubric).

Hard to believe, maybe, but it was "hippie Christmas" when we visited Taqueria 3 Amigos on Williamson Street. Warm biking weather, laid-back vibe, and affordable tasty eats were the impressions we had, after we found the place - in typical A-Z fashion, we went to the wrong address first, and visited the vacant storefront on Henry before pedaling on down to Willy. But we eventually made it!

The opening foray of warm chips with salsa was encouraging. For his meal, JM opted for a carnitas burrito, which was rich and fatty as might be expected. A veritable loaf o' food (beans, rice and sausage all in) lay there on a giant red plate, blanketed in a huge flour tortilla.

Burrito

Nichole went with the two taco plate, which added rustic refried beans and corn-studded rice. Of the two classic tacos, the carne asada was her preference - loaded with black pepper that gave it zing. The al pastor, in contrast, was mostly salty. Both tacos came loaded with very fresh cilantro and onions.

Two taco plate

We'd go back!

Tapatios Cocina

In a word: Southside of the border.

The specs: #01087  
2990 Cahill Main, Suite 100, Fitchburg 53711
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Tapatios Cocina news and reviews

JM ate the steak burrito.
Nichole ate the taco sampler.
The bill was $26, or $13/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave Tapatios Cocina a B+ (see our grading rubric).

Taco sampler

Tapatios in Fitchburg really felt quite Fitchburg-y to us. It's in the same Cahill Main strip mall as the Great Dane and seems to be thinking: "What if people at the Great Dane wanted Mexican food?" This is not to say that Tapatios is bad or anything, just that it's more corporate-feeling than average.  For example, the prices. Tapatios is no taco truck or abarrotes spot, with lovingly prepared but ultimately cheap eats. Everything is bright and shiny in Fitchburg... like it's Madison's Tomorrowland ride.

Burrito

What is here, though, is pretty good nosh. Nichole dug the taco sampler (which is a great idea: one of each of the 3 or 4 most popular tacos at any given spot - here being al pastor, steak, beef, chicken and fish), particularly the ample veggies on each 3- or 4-bite taco. She followed it with a delicious guava cream cheese empanada from Caracas Empanadas, also three bites big. JM got his Mexistandard Steak Burrito and found this one tasty but a little light on his favorite parts. The salsa selection was very good.

Ever since Casa de Lara became the Thirsty Goat, southside denizens and workers may need a place other than Laredo's to take the office lunch crowd, and Tapatios definitely fits that bill.

Tano's Pizza

Tano's In a word: The hand-tossed crust of fate.

The specs: #01086  
1910 Main St, Cross Plains 53528
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Tano's Pizza news and reviews

JM and Nichole ate the Hawaiian, the sausage, and some cinnamon sticks.
The bill was $23 plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Tano's a B (see our grading rubric).

Cinnamon sticks

Tano's is right in the heart of Cross Plains.  There's no table to speak of, so if you want a pie from out of town, you'll have to eat in your car or at one of the nearby park shelters. We got Tano's family meal deal with a medium Hawaiian, a large one topping (with sausage) and cinnamon sticks - hence tons of leftovers, but a wider sampling of the menu.

Hawaiian pizzaSausage pizza

The crust was nice and bready, and the sauces herby with a strong top note of oregano.  The toppings were plentiful. Everything was very delicious and warm - we both preferred the Hawaiian to the sausage. We'd sure as heck pick this over some chain 'za and know many Cross Plainers who agree.

That said, if it were up to us, we'd keep the name of our pizzeria as far from the worst movie ever made as possible.

Tanner's Bar and Grill

In a word: This bland is your bland.

The specs: #01085  
1611 Deming Way, Middleton 53562
Details at Yelp, official web site

Latest Tanner's Bar and Grill news and reviews

Chris ate the Wai-Kiki Chiki.
JM ate the Tano booga.
Marissa ate the Southwest Turkey Sandwich.
Nichole ate the ABLT.
We split the jalapeño cheese balls and the buffalo chicken rangoon.
The bill was about $12/person, plus tip.
JM and Chris gave Tanner's a B- ; Marissa gave Tanner's a C ; Nichole gave Tanner's a C+ (see our grading rubric).

We went to Tanners on the 4th of July with some good friends. Therefore we got to try a lot of the different kinds, and different kinds of cutesy names, of things on the menu.  Overall, Tanner's feels like one sports bar too many.  Our friends had visited Monk's with us as well and we all agreed that Tanner's offers a big "so what" in comparison (and it's literally 2 minutes away).

Appetizer

So, what did we get?  We started with the jalapeño cheese balls and the buffalo chicken rangoon.  Probably we were feeling a little spicy.  The fry medium at Tanner's is A-OK.  These all came golden and delicious.  Well, the balls were a little too much breading.  The rangoon came as advertised, though we were mixed on whether we'd get them again.

Burger

For sandwiches, there was the Wai-Kiki Chiki, which came with nice tots.  It was tasty, but a little one-note on account of the whole bottle of teriyaki sauce spilled onto it.  The Southwest Turkey Sandwich was OK, if a little underwhelming, and its accompanying sweet potato fries were a third generation of facsimile of the version that made people want them.

Southwest turkey sandwichBLTSandwich

The Tano booga was cooked well, though JM has an impossibly hard time calling a "burger" a "booga". The cheese was almost melted to sauce level and the fries were fine.  Nichole's ABLT was not great but not bad, how's that for equivocating. The cole slaw was also completely bland and lacking in interest.  Many of us felt that our dishes were merely copies of better ideas other people had and brought to the menu because of customer expectation.  Not a lot of innovation, just grudging acceptance, which is why we'd likely meet up elsewheres.

That said, the Diet Coke on a hot July day was indeed delicious.

Tandoori House

In a word: Savor the flavors.

The specs: #01084  
6713 Odana Rd., 53719
Details at Yelp

Latest Tandoori House news and reviews

JM ate the mixed grill.
Nichole ate the lamb korma.
We split some cheesy naan.
The bill was $44, or $22/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole gave Tandoori House an A- (see our grading rubric).

Tandoori House, per secret Madison food ordinance, serves a lunch buffet and order-off-the-menu dinner. We went for dinner. The decor is a little spare (compared to the previous tenant, Maharaja, which with its darker decor and lower light felt a little homier than this) but the service was attentive and forgiving.

We started with cheesy garlic naan, which was truly above and beyond expectations. It was as good as any Neapolitan pizza, as far as super-hot-oven baked cheesy bready comestibles go.  (We also ate the free basic naan, of course, which was just fine.) Nichole got the lamb korma which was delightful and saucy in the way that good Indian dishes need to be to afford a use for that rice.  It was very tender and delicious.

Goat korma

JM's mixed grill was the find of the trip, however. Four delicious meats like this, garnished with onions, would make any carnivore sing. There were two kinds of chicken (roast and tandoori) as well as shrimp and sausage.  No two bites ever got same-y and while Indian restaurant meats tend to be a little dry, in JM's experience, these where especially pert and flavorful, especially the sausage.

Mixed grill

The west side does not want for good Indian cuisine with Dhaba, Swagat, Haveli and Minerva, so it is hard to know how well Tandoori House will hold up in the crowd.  But the flavors are tasty and the location convenient to the mall (and most people may be auto-pilotting Maharaja anyways).  We wish them the best.

Taiwan Little Eats

Sausage on a stickIn a word: Perfect for the Taipei personality in your life.

The specs: #01083 
320 State St., 53703
Details at Yelp, Facebook

Latest Taiwan Little Eats news and reviews

JM ate the coffin toast.
Nichole ate the cold sesame noodles.
We split a sausage.
The bill was $24, or $12/person, plus tip.
JM and Nichole both gave a Taiwan Little Eats an A (see our grading rubric).

If we ever forget why we do this, a meal like the one we had at Taiwan Little Eats is the perfect antidote to that amnesia. See, what good came from the former Mad City Frites place, trying to offer southeast Asian small plates in competition with established rivals like the excellent Rising Sons Deli? What good, indeed!

The menu is eccentric and delightfully all over the map. We ordered some sausage on a stick and scooped out some of the house brown mustard. These sausages were among the best we've had (really, only Sofra had better ones that sprang to mind, especially since RIP OSS). These were plump and filled with rich anise flavor but not in a way that drew comparisons to licorice. Each bite was a delight.

Nichole pulled up a bowl of cold sesame noodles which were worth losing your head for. These had great texture balance betwixt sticky and slippery. It came with a d6 of tofu, a neatly slice hardboiled egg (yum!) and a veg garnish that should be replicated often (nori, carrots, cukes and green onion). 

Cold noodles

JM beat Nichole to the punch, however, by claiming dibs on coffin toast before we even arrived at the restaurant. This dish bills itself as an Asian chicken pot pie, and in truth, this is a good comparison. If anything, that  understates its awesomeness.  The toast (as opposed to a pie crust) was buttery and perfectly browned. Removing the "lid" of airy bread reveals a creamy chicken filling loaded with savory veggies. The toast was amply buttered, as was the filling. Flesh eater, get yourself one of these stat!

Coffin toast

In terms of ambience, it's twee and pretty. A display of postcards and love letters from customers stands witness to many happy bellies. 

NEWS

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.


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