The Best Foodie Afternoon in Madison, WI

Every now and then, someone asks me what I like about blogging: Is it the pictures? the food? the travel? And I always say the same thing, that while it is, of course, partly those things, it is much more something else. I like blogging for the people.

An image of people walking alongside the a building in the afternoon.

People like Jacqui and Caitlin. The three of us met up in Madison Saturday, because it’s only a 2.5-hour drive from Chicago and because Caitlin finds herself there every other weekend, visiting her fiance.

An image of a woman taking pictures with her camera.

We did important things together — you know, like talk photography, both at brunch and at a local shop with the super nice staff that chatted with us about meeting famous people and calling 1970s cameras vintage and seeing the beauty of film:

An image of a woman's hand holding a vintage camera.

Speaking of brunch, it was at Bluephies, because it’s Caitlin’s favorite, and don’t you love being taken to people’s favorite places?

An image of a plateful of Egg Benedict (with artichoke and crab).

The other girls ordered eggs Benedict (the artichoke and the crab), and I had a Popeye scrambler loaded with tomatoes and spinach and feta, all of us with breakfast potatoes on the side.

An image of a white plate filled with Popeye scrambler loaded with tomatoes and spinach and feta.

Then we nosed around the capitol building, mostly because you just can’t miss that giant dome when you walk downtown, and it’s open and free, so why not?

An image of the Capitol Building from afar.

And went to an adorable cheese shop/deli just across the street, where the air was warm and ripe and almost overpowering when you first step inside but then became pretty nice after a few minutes browsing the shelves:

An image of different artisanal cheeses in a cheese / deli shop.

We walked through busy streets filled with college (and high school?) students, past random signs:

An image of a menu board just outside a pastry shop.

and popular restaurants:

An image of a facade of a popular restaurant.

and places that remind you you’re in Wisconsin:

An image of customers sitting in a bar.

Eventually we settled into a little cafe, way in the back, at two tables pushed together, discussing weddings and Dutch ovens and the science of baking with different flours. Then, just like that, it was past 4 PM and there we were, still chatting, because time flies like that when you’re with people you like.

An image showing the interior of a cafe with customers.

And Jacqui and I got back in her car (thanks again for driving, you sweet girl!) to head home, driving by fields and farms while the sun set, over Wisconsin, over us, over that good day.

Usually when I do posts like these, I give you recommendations, so while I linked to everything in the paragraphs above, here you go:

Bluephies: great breakfast (and you should see the cakes!)
2701 Monroe Street
Madison, WI 53711-1868

Capitol building:
2 East Main Street
Madison, WI 53702
Info on tours, if that’s your thing

12 S. Carroll St.
Madison, WI 53703

the cafe:
I cannot for the life of me remember the name of the coffee shop we sat in. Caitlin? Jacqui? Feel free to help out.

About Shanna Mallon

Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home,, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.

20 thoughts on “The Best Foodie Afternoon in Madison, WI”

  1. That day ended, and all I wanted to do was have it keep going – I had so much fun chatting with you and Jacqui! Thank you so much for driving over and hanging out with me. You’re right, blogging is awesome mostly because of the people 🙂

  2. I have that exact Minolta! I ran across it just a few days ago, deep in a closet I was cleaning, and wondered if I should keep it, sell it, give it away, or try to use it again. I’m not sure I could ever go back to film and developing after the immediate digital feedback I get from my Olympus. (a photographer I am not; I’m a grandma who snaps pix of her grandbabies)

  3. seriously, what a fun day! so glad we got sit down and really chat, and about important things too — light meters, runny egg yolk, pears! i believe that cafe was espresso royale, which is a popular college campus spot. next up: milwaukee, then north carolina! 🙂

  4. Awww … you made me homesick! 🙂 Wish I had known you were going — I would have sent you to Shakespeare’s, a fabulous used book store on the square. Glad you enjoyed your Wisconsin fix!

  5. I remember a few years ago being on a roadtrip and we drove right through Madison without stopping. I was so mad because it looked like a great little city & I loved seeing all these red bikes which I assumed were just left around town free for people to use. Damn, now I’ll have to go back and check it out for real!

  6. So glad you had a good time in Madison! That breakfast looks awesome… and the pictures make me feel like I was right there with you.

    Next time you’re going to be in Wisconsin, let me know!! Kelly is right. Shakespeare’s was always one of my favorite shops! And espresso royale — so fun!

  7. you’ve made me very homesick — but in a good way. madison is only an hour and a half from my hometown, and we spent much time there. i get back every once in a while, but never enough. definitely could live there. it’s so unique and fresh and welcoming. looks like you had a great visit.



  8. For a brief moment, I was transported to that afternoon. I could almost smell the cheese, feel the crisp air…how absolutely wonderful.

  9. Caitlin, Aw, we had a great time, too! Thanks for showing us around and spending the day hanging out! So glad to know you!

    Kim, No way! You should see all the cool pictures Jacqui has taken with hers: There is something really beautiful about film.

    Jacqui, Me too! And hey good call on the cafe – I knew you’d remember!

    Jen, Ha! It has its good points. Like cheese.

    Gemma, Yeah, and it’s such a quick day trip, you know?

    Kelley, Next time, next time!

    Kickpleat, You know, I am so like that, too. I always want to stop at all the sights along the way on trips. 🙂

    Elizabeth, Cool, thanks for the tips!

    Lo, Oh, that breakfast was awesome. And another vote for Shakespeare’s? Ok! I’m sold.

    Heather, We were so blessed that it wasn’t snowing, too… I mean, February in Wisconsin!? So nice. Glad this post brought back good memories for you!

    Kim, Aw, you’re so sweet. Thanks, Kim! wish you could have come too.

  10. i really like the board stating that “no matter who you are…you have the power to change” i really really like that. thanks for sharing your madison day with us!

  11. how pretty. so you are absolutely right; blogging for the people- but that feeling isn’t just blogging, it’s publishing in general. the feeling of someone enjoying your words, holding your words, seeing your photos…..ah i love it. the first time i felt that was when i wrote and photographed for my university newspaper, then blogging gave me that same feeling 🙂

  12. Jessica, No way! If I’d known, I def would have waved for you or said hello to it or something, ha. Great day in your town!

    Susan, Right? It’s so the people.

    Allison, Me too. I am drawn to things that remind me change happens and that we can change and so on. It’s def been on my mind a lot.

    Mallory, Thank you so much! You get exactly what I’m saying. I am so thankful for the blogging community and for kind comments like yours.

  13. Aw, I really loved this. Y’all really need to come visit me here in Georgia! I’ll take you up into the mountains and make you biscuits (I won’t, however, make the biscuits in the mountains. I haven’t mastered baking over a open flame yet, haha!)

  14. What a cool meetup! There is something about those capital domes. The light. The details. I remember the first time I saw one (in Lansing). Sigh. I love film cameras too.

  15. Hannah, I cannot even tell you how much I would love that! Mountains? Georgia? Seeing all the beautiful places you take pictures of? Sign me up!

    TJ, You know, I totally said something similar on Saturday. It’s crazy how those domes/capitol buildings are so similar and fancy and regal… everything seems so important inside.


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