A recent edition of the New York Times travel section profiled Madison. It was a decent article, and while I wasn’t on board with everything the reviewer chose to do in my current hometown, I felt it gave decent insight into what Madison has to offer.
Last Friday my BFF Annette came up for her inaugural visit to Madison. Not to be outdone by the New York Times, I attempted to play tour guide myself and offer up my own idea of 36 fantastic hours in the capital city.
Our weekend started well with a drink at Genna’s
, just off the capitol square. We were able to sit outside and enjoy the crisp July weather (yes, it is the middle of July and the weather was decidedly crisp. I was a bit chilly, to be honest).
After our drink we headed over to the Tornado Room
, a classic ‘Sconnie steakhouse with atmosphere to burn.
Dinner at the Tornado Room.
The place was packed, so we grabbed a table in the old-school bar, which has a very Rat-pack-esque vibe. The booths are black (p)leather, curved and tufted, and the tables are round black Formica with chrome trim. The lights are dim
and the music hearkens back to a day when men wore fedoras and ladies had pointy bras.
A couple of Molly Ringwalds to set the tone for the night.
The strong pink cocktails (Molly Ringwalds) and incredible steak and grilled shrimp kabobs set the tone for the evening, and after dinner (with great service, I have to add) I figured it was time to take things down a notch or two and cruise down the street to the Paradise.
"Why are you taking pictures of signs?", the dude standing outside the bar wanted to know. "Because I'm a signmaker," I replied. True story.
The Paradise is a true symbol of Madison. It’s a filthy tavern, with uncomfortable bar stools and even more uncomfortable wooden mini-booths built along the wall. People from every walk of life congregate at the Paradise, which aside from the jaw-droppingly cheap drinks ($3.25 for a STRONG Jameson’s) offers greasy fried food in pretty much any combination you can imagine. We weren’t there for the food, though, so we settled in for a couple of hours of conversation and cocktails.
After the Paradise, things got a bit hazy.
We walked around the square a bit and admired the view, and somehow ended up at the Local Tavern. The place was pretty empty when we arrived, but it soon filled up with college kids, local scenesters, and the occasional homeless person, one of whom felt it very necessary to invade my personal space.
He busted up our chi, and after finishing our drinks we decided to call it a night.
A sign in the bathroom at the Local Tavern. Things went downhill after we ran into the professional cutie.