Monthly Archives: April 2012


Eric Lynne

Before I begin, I want to make it clear to anyone reading this: I don’t have any qualifications for passing out restaurant awards.  I don’t have an amazing palate, I’m not an expert chef, and I don’t even go out very often.  However, that doesn’t mean I don’t take notice of great customer service.  So, as a thank-you for all of the great service I have received at the restaurants below, here are my picks for down town’s best customer service (and then, as a bonus, my favorite dish at each restaurant).

Apart from being one of the best deals in town, the extremely friendly and efficient staff of Med Cafe make it also one of the most enjoyable restaurant experiences on State Street.  Even if you see the lunch line stretching out into State Street itself, don’t worry!  The line moves quickly, thanks to the staff, which bustles around the cozy establishment with unbelievable coordination, often setting down your plate of food before you even have a chance to seat yourself.  And if that wasn’t enough, the staff is always happy to return a smile and a thank-you.

Favorite Dish: The Akin’s Plate
Choice of lamb or chicken over a bed of rice with other Mediterranean vegetables and seasonings.  Also comes with a built-in side of pita bread.  Easily one of the best bargains in Madison.  Big, delicious,
and cheap — what more could you want?

LUANG PRABANG (and the rest of the food carts on top of State Street) As far as being loyal to their customers, this cute food cart on State Street is the best.  After getting hooked on their delicious Thai food, I quickly became a frequent visitor and have been treated more like a friend than a customer ever since.  One time I was fifty cents short, and they didn’t care.  Another time they gave me extra food because they wanted me to try something new.  If they are out of something, they are quick to let you try something different (and equally delicious).  Now that I’m a “regular” at Luang Prabang, I hardly have time to venture to the other food carts on State Street. However, when I do, I find that great customer service is to be found at each one, and so for that reason I let them share this spot on my list of favorites.

Favorite Dish: Butternut Squash and Chicken Curry
I’ve been mildly successful at creating my own curry dishes, but I can never get close to the stuff they serve here.  This is not a dish for those afraid of spice, but if you like a good spicy curry, you’ll love Luang Prabang.  They also serve green and yellow curries throughout the week.

In my experience, the service at Chipotle, no matter what the location, has always been top notch.  That being said, Madison’s Chipotle on State Street is the best of the best.  They are so quick, it sometimes seems like they are showing off–I have to sprint down the counter just to keep up!  And even when they do occasionally run out of a meat during their rush-hours, within seconds another batch comes flying in from the kitchen.  Chipotle has somehow found a way to do the impossible: speedier than most fast-food restaurants and more delicious than most sit-down places.

Favorite Dish: Burrito (of course!)
However, beware if you haven’t tried their guacamole yet — with just one bite, you’ll find yourself committing $1.80 extra for every burrito you buy at Chipotle.  I can’t have a burrito without that guac.  It’s almost too good.

As far as speed is concerned, Potbelly’s cannot contend with the aforementioned restaurants.  Even so, Potbelly’s deserves a spot on the list for several reasons.  For one, to make a good toasted sandwich, it’s going to take some time.  But no worries!  Even when you are waiting, the Potbelly’s workers make you feel welcome by striking up a conversation about your day, asking about school, and going about their work with positive attitudes.  Secondly, the live music they sponsor adds a nice local feel to this national chain, and helps separate itself from the other sub shops around.  Finally, if you are lucky enough, one of the usually reliable Potbelly’s employees will make a mistake, and you get one of their delicious oatmeal chocolate-chip cookies for free!  Positive attitudes, local music, and great-tasting mistakes?  Count me in!

Favorite Dish: A Wreck on Wheat with Everything
Throw in one of their chocolate malts to cool down those hot peppers, and you’ll have just had your best meal of the week.