Exploring sure can leave us with an appetite. Fortunately, we found that downtown Madison, Wisconsin is filled to the brim with dining options. When lunchtime rolled around, we decided to try our luck at The Canteen. Located in clear view of the capitol building, this place has earned a reputation as Madison’s tempting taqueria, on the square. That’s quite a feat, considering that this area of the city is flush with dining options. We were in heavy-duty research mode, so a delicious lunch was needed to refuel for our afternoon adventures.
We want to thank Destination Madison for hosting our visit. Rest assured all opinions are our own.
Down on the Corner
Our morning had already been filled with activity, including a visit to the Wisconsin Historical Museum. The afternoon would gear up with another museum and a tour of the capital, so our time was limited for lunch. The choice of The Canteen had been made long ago, during our planning phase. Tons of positive reviews had piqued our interest in sampling some South-of-the-Border dishes. We landed on the doorstep just as the staff was unlocking the door for a new day of service. I’m sure we looked anxious, but the truth is, we were!
Sure enough, we were the first customers of the day. Our server led us to a table in the galley-shaped dining room. Bright colors and decorative accents surrounded us from all angles. The use of handwoven bowls adds an extra pop of color, as does the flower-themed wallpaper. Heavy wooden tables and chairs lend a comfortable feeling to the space. Our first surprise came when our server brought out a serving of Duritos instead of the traditional chips & salsa. These crispy wagon wheels of puffed wheat are kicked up with the addition of chili-lime tajin spice. It’s a light and airy snack that quickly became addicting.
We would have loved to linger over our mealtime, but the clock was ticking. I was looking for a filling meal that brought some interesting flavors to the table. The Canteen offers nearly a dozen options of tacos-by-the-twos. (A fun way to call out a pair.) Being just a stone’s throw from Lake Monona, I opted for Fish Tacos. This particular choice can be grilled or Tecate beer-battered, which I preferred. Red cabbage slaw, citrus salsa, cilantro, and Morita crema add their unique flavors and textures to the dish. Each taco is served on a pair of white corn tortillas, which is helpful to hold in all of the flavors. A squeeze of lime and I was ready to devour these twins.
Big ‘Ole Burrito
Crystal had been snacking on some Chips and Queso Dip while perusing the menu. When she selected the Classic Burrito, it was no surprise to me. Packed to bursting with Mexican rice, refried black beans, and savory chicken; it was calling her name. The flavors don’t stop there, as they also toss in avocado, Chihuahua cheese, and creamy poblano sauce. A cup of salsa verde is provided for those wanting to kick it up a notch. This over-plump offering was sure to challenge her appetite.
Madison’s Tempting Taqueria
If only time would have been on our side, we could have swung back by for their Happy Hour. We would have enjoyed sampling one of their signature margaritas, as well as checking out more of the taco variations. Unfortunately, the life of travel bloggers does come with its own burdens to bear. Still, we were thrilled to have this opportunity to enjoy Madison’s tempting taqueria on the square. With lunch under our belts, it was time to return to our explorations. So much to see and do, but so little time. Perhaps you will have a chance to linger and enjoy this downtown destination.