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Food Carts, Glorious Food Carts

We decided to try to most popular dishes at some of the most iconic Library Mall food carts — only for research purposes, of course.

Chelsea Rademacher ’13
June 26, 2017

Foodie (noun): a person with a particular interest in food; one who seeks new food experiences as a hobby

If it isn’t already, Madison is quickly becoming one of the foodie capitals of the country. It’s got everything from the classics — Friday-night fish fries and breakfast kringles — to dishes that require more of a … refined palate, such as foie gras mousse at A Pig in a Fur Coat on Willy Street. Madison also has a burgeoning mobile-food scene, particularly on Library Mall.

Madison food carts are nearly as iconic as the Memorial Union Terrace chairs, and it’s been trending that way for a while. According to Warren Hansen, the City of Madison’s street-vending coordinator, the first food cart appeared in 1977 and grew to 20 carts by 1990. Now the total number is getting closer to triple digits.

We at the Wisconsin Alumni Association took it upon ourselves one sunny afternoon to find out (and sample, of course) some of the top-selling dishes from the most popular food carts. (We determined popularity by the longest lines.)

Most popular dish: F-bomb platter: two falafel balls and marinated chicken, served with majadra rice, hummus, chopped salad, and chips

Bulgogi Korean Taco

Most popular dish: chicken Korean taco
 

Most popular dish: shredded beef and cheese empanada

Most popular dish: Sweet Latino Chicken
 

Arroz con pollo

Most popular dish: Arroz con pollo
 

Umami buns and fried won tons.

Most popular dish: Pork belly and barbecued beef buns served with fried wontons
 

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