Written by Lauren Anders. Photographed by Xinyi Li.
Although we have rivalry, good eats will always bring football fans together.
The one word that describes fall to me is football. When I was growing up in the nation’s capital, the months of late August through February were not for pumpkin spice lattes or apple orchards, but instead for buffalo wing sauce or pizza grease dripping down your wrists, tailgating in parking lots listening to Go-Go music, or riding the high of a good Washington Redskins win — what I’ve been raised to know as a “good feelin’.”
I realized early that to be accepted into my family, I needed to bleed burgundy and gold with the same amount of fire and drive the rest of my family has. Needless to say, the first few memories and traditions of being a Redskins fan started young, as I wore my Santana Moss jersey and oversized, autographed Mike Simmons Redskins baseball hat full of pride to FedEx Field; a spirit I will refuse to give up no matter if I’m in Packers country or Redskins territory.
I’d spend Sunday mornings listening to Larry Michael, the voice of the Washington Redskins, and hearing three claps as my dad’s voice yelled “good feelin’, good feelin’!”– as his superstition, excitement, and passion for the game arises and the countdown clock dwindles down. Not to mention my extended family piling up plates of gameday eats, telling me to “get in my assigned seat before kick off.” That’s a good feelin’.
If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably found yourself wondering at least once: where besides home can all of us here in Madison express that same emotion for the game and passion for gameday food? Here is my guide to the best gameday eats and drinks all around Madtown that any Washington or Green Bay fan should huddle towards.
State Street Brats
603 State Street
When you’re going for the iconic Madison gameday experience, State Street Brats is typically the first place that comes to mind. Brats’ $5 appetizers on Sundays make it an especially good spot to make plays at, particularly if, like me, you are an appreciator of what Wisconsin does best: cheese curds. Personally, I think State Street Brats’ curds can’t be beat. You’re also missing out if you don’t take advantages of Brats’ $7 pitchers on Sundays. With a large selection of beers, you can’t go wrong with any of them, especially my go-to — the Potosi Hopsmith Imperial IPA. With a citrus and pine aroma, a bitter taste of hops, and a dry finish, it’s hard not to take advantage of a second round.
The Red Zone
1212 Regent Street
When I think of football, I always think of wings. Particularly, I find myself craving buffalo wings. The Red Zone does their wings just how I like them: extra crispy, served with wing sauce made in house, and with classic celery and carrots right on the side. As for a meal, I gravitate towards their sliders, topped with grilled onions (for that sweetness to balance out the saltiness and savoriness of the burger) and a side of classic fries. Did I mention that on Mondays from 3pm-7pm, The Red Zone takes $1 off any drink? I’ll see you over there.
Great Dane (Downtown location)
123 E. Doty Street
Besides the food and beer, I love coming to the Great Dane in Downtown because of its location. Located in the 140 year old “Fess Hotel” building, this establishment is the perfect walking distance from the capitol building and regularly fills up with locals and students from all around Madison. But as for good eats, I love the crispy Filipino spring rolls. Deep fried wrappers with pork and shrimp filling, this appetizer clears off the plate pretty quick. As for a meal, it’s a necessity to order the Nashville hot chicken sliders that come with slaw, Scotch Ale pickle and chipotle mayo. I am usually one for sharing but I don’t let anyone touch my plate when it comes to these sliders. To wash it down, the Old Glory American Pale Ale. A grassy and citrus aroma, Old Glory has not only one type of hops but two. Needless to say, the Great Dane has good eats and drinks all around.
1313 Regent Street
Whether the massive garage doors are raised for the crisp fall days or closed for chilly winter Sundays, I always warm up with a Bavarian soft pretzel with their craft beer cheese and a few dunks in their homemade honey mustard. As the doughy, salty, soft pretzel is making its rounds amongst the table, it’s only right to order more food for the table to get through each quarter. That being said, the Sriracha BBQ chicken flatbread loaded with bacon and Monterrey Jack cheese and crowned with BBQ sriracha sauce is a must to share amongst fans of the game and of gameday food. Moreover, just like me, Lucky 1313 is about craft brews and being authentic. I would mention one beer as my favorite but with over 20 beers on tap and 5 exclusive brews, you have to see and try it out for yourself; trust me, you won’t be able to decide either.
Gameday tradition isn’t doing the same thing year after year but it’s about the same energy put into every Sunday, every meal, and every play. To “bleed” your team’s colors season after season with the same amount of passion is the tradition football is all about. All hail the Redskins and all hail gameday eats.
That’s what I call a “good feelin’.”