By: Jared LeBlanc
Fall: the season where we start yet another semester of school, break out our warm scarves and sweaters, and enjoy delicious pumpkin spice lattes. Along with these seasonal delights, fall also ushers in another highly popular cultural phenomenon: football season. As the leaves drift from the trees and swimsuits are packed away, football fever takes over both our campus and the nation as fanatic sports fans yell at the television and root for their favorite team.
However, football season offers a unique problem for a small sect of fans: vegetarians. Football culture is notoriously focused on the burger, hot dog, and brat, leaving little to no options for non-meat eating football fans other than chips and dip. But don’t fret football-loving vegetarians; this article will present three local restaurants that offer the excitement and tailgating atmosphere of game day, as well as vegetarian food options that will appease even the most difficult-to-please eaters.
Located on West Gorham Street across from the Equinox apartment building and only a block off of State Street, Brickhouse BBQ is a popular local restaurant with both students and Madisonians, and it’s not difficult to see why. Open Sunday-Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Thursday-Saturday 11 a.m. to 1 a.m., this barbeque joint makes all their menu items fresh daily. The building’s exposed brick walls blend seamlessly with the dark finishing of the wood tables and countertops to create a comfortable and relaxed environment, which is furthered by the warm, dimmed lighting produced by hanging lights and personalized candles on many tables. In addition to the restaurant’s snug ambiance, the presence of a rooftop outdoor patio, which is quite popular on football game days, offers customers beautiful views of the city. While marketed as a barbeque eatery that prides itself on its meat products, Brickhouse BBQ also offers vegetarian options in the form of a variety of soups, fresh salads, and its delightful vegetable sandwich, which is served fire roasted with portabella mushrooms, roma tomatoes, smoked gouda cheese and topped with a fresh garlic spread that is sure to please the vegetarian in any group of game day tailgaters.
Chaser’s Bar and Grille
While Chaser’s Bar and Grille is best known as one of the most popular bars in downtown Madison due to its drink specials and famous trivia nights, it is also a fully functioning restaurant that caters to those who enjoy what has become known as classic “bar food.” Serving cheese fries, chicken wings, and Wisconsin-style cheese curds, this bar has a wide variety of food that is appropriate both when watching a football game or when craving a snack during a night out with friends.
Due to Chaser’s convenient downtown location on the intersection of Gorham and Broom, a younger college-aged crowd is most known to frequent this bar. In an effort to cater to this demographic, current hits are often played from its frequently used outside patio and seating area, thus creating an upbeat and youthful atmosphere. I have personally heard Miley Cyrus’s “Party in the U.S.A.” and Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” emitting from the Chaser’s patio on various occasions.
In addition to the menu items I mentioned before, the bar also serves full meals that incorporate vegetarian interests. The Chaser’s Grilled Cheese, which is served on marbled bread with a variety of cheeses, tomatoes, onions, and cream cheese, is the perfect compliment to football viewing parties on the large screen televisions near the inside bar area. A vegetarian word for the wise, however: when ordering the grilled cheese, be sure to ask for no bacon, otherwise one may be in for an unwelcome, although arguably delicious, surprise with an otherwise satisfactory and tailgate-worthy meal.
The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company
A staple of the Madison dining scene, The Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company is a fun and accessible eatery that is sure to satisfy the appetite of any customer. Two young college friends named Eliot Butler and Rob LoBreglio created the Great Dane with the hopes of opening an original brewery unlike any other in the city. The Great Dane should be praised for its use of locally grown agriculture and innovative beer recipes to create a unique dining experience in the familiar genre of the bar and pub restaurant.
With five locations including downtown on the Capitol Square and Hilldale Mall, this lively eatery provides a rambunctious and enjoyably chaotic atmosphere that pairs well with its emphasis on hearty, home-brewed ale and beer beverages. Offering menus printed in a newspaper-like format with a variety of delectable food choices ranging from the classic burger and fries to unorthodox pub items such as a margherita pizza or a portabella sandwich, the brewery is incredibly vegetarian-friendly. My favorite item on the menu, the Capitol Falafel, is a delicious vegetarian falafel wrap served with hummus, organic tomatoes, onions, mixed greens, and a delightful finish of homemade cucumber yogurt sauce.
Open from 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Monday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 2:30 a.m. Friday-Saturday, and 10 a.m. to 2 a.m. on Sundays, The Great Dane Pub & Brewing Company is an excellent choice for any tailgater that is looking to have a good beer and delicious food while watching the football game on a lovely fall day in Wisconsin’s capital city.