A Culinary Adventure, From Gardens and Markets to Restaurants and Home Kitchens
Apr 3, 2012
02:58 PM
Local Flavor

A Delicious Staycation

A Delicious Staycation

This spring break, instead of taking a vacation, I’m enjoying a staycation. I’m going to embark on a culinary tour around the world—without leaving Madison. How, you ask? By eating my way down South Park Street. Lined with Asian and Mexican groceries and ethnic restaurants galore, Park Street is a gem of cultural and culinary diversity. I can start my journey in Japan, then head to China, Peru, India and Mexico—a truly exotic vacation via my taste buds. Sure, I would love to dip my toes in warm sand and sip a margarita while I watch the waves, but look at it this way—I will not have to contend with bad airline food or flight delays, and I get to sleep in my own bed! Where will your next culinary staycation take you?

Edo Japanese
532 S. Park St. (608) 268-0247, edojapaneserestaurant.com
Delicious sushi, as well as bento boxes, hibachi and other Japanese fare. The dragon roll and reef roll are personal favorites. A great spot for date night with a good wine and beer selection.

Ichiban
610 S. Park St. (608) 819-8808
Spicy Sechuan-style food in a more upscale environment. Go for familiar dishes such as the such as Kung Pao chicken or duck with beer sauce. Or why not try something a bit exotic, such as dry braised frog leg in spicy sauce or rice wine and fruit soup?

Inka Heritage
602 S. Park St. (608) 310-4282, inkaheritagerestaurant.com
A finer, but still very affordable, dining establishment, Inka Heritage brings Peru’s diverse cuisine to Madison. The food reflects Peru’s African, Indigenous and Spanish influences. Try ceviche three ways, seafood and rice platters and chicha, a purple corn drink. Top it off with mousse de lucuma, made from a fruit of the Andes.

Mercado Miramar
2102 S. Park St. (608) 260-8924
Grocery shopping on South Park street is an adventure in itself. At Mercado Miramar, you can pick up everything you need to make a Mexican feast: fresh produce and cheeses, canned moles, marinated meats from the butcher counter and fresh corn tortillas. Or you can order tacos, burritos and delicious barbacoa if you prefer to have someone do the cooking for you.

Mi San Juanito Deli and Bakery
1272 S. Park St. (608) 257-1884
Mi San Juanito, a new panaderia (bakery) and grocery store, offers an array of Mexican food to order, including tacos, huaraches, sopes, burritos and delicious Mexican cakes and jelled fruit desserts. Friendly service thrown in for free!

Orient House
626 S. Park St. (608) 250-8880, madisonorienthouse.com
Authentic Chinese food in more modest surroundings. Rave reviews of the eggplant in garlic sauce, the Ma Po Tofu and the steamed dumplings keep customers coming back.

Taj Indian Restaurant
1256 S. Park St. (608) 268-0772, thetajindianrestaurant.com
Sample curries, samosas and the popular vegetable biryani from the extensive lunch buffet. Come back for dinner to savor the creamy lamb korma or the pakora, a mixed vegetable fritter, along with their addictive naan bread.

Taqueria Guadalajara
1033 S. Park St. (608) 250-1824 or (608) 335-5914, lataqueriaguadalajara.com
One of the original taquerias in Madison, Taqueria Guadalajara recently expanded and offers tasty rellenos, tortas and gorditas, which are stuffed corn tortillas. To satisfy a heartier appetite order the mi rancho, a plate of steak, chorizo, beans, nopales, potatoes, onions and peppers.

Inka Heritage photo by Larry Chua.

About This Blog

Writing has always provided an anchor for my passions, which focus deeply on food, dance, environmental conservation and culture. I grew up “helping” my dad cultivate a prolific garden that produced too many radishes and watching my mom make almost all of our food from scratch, including horehound candy. Meanwhile I took my first African dance class in high school, which ignited my continuing quest to travel to West Africa, via Europe and South America, to study dance.

Through my travels, I learned that we are all connected by food, and our basic need to eat. Since moving to Madison in 1998 to pursue degrees in conservation biology and dance, I have developed an appreciation for the richness of our local food community, and a great desire to share it with others. What started as a personal food blog, A World of Flavors, has since grown into a business teaching cooking classes and leading local and international food tours.

I look forward to sharing culinary adventures with you through my Madison Magazine blog Local Flavor and monthly Dining In recipe column.

  – Otehlia Cassidy
Follow Otehlia on Twitter @madisoneats

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