Ever since 1983, Taste of Madison has been a staple in Madison, Wisconsin. It brings food vendors, restaurants, catering companies, and food trucks up to the capitol and invites students and locals alike to come taste what Madison has to offer.

In addition to the food, there are three stages for musical performances, adding to the special ambience. Taste of Madison annually brings about 250,000 people into the streets on Labor Day Weekend, signifying the end of summer but also the start of fall with students returning.

This year, about 80 restaurants participated, along with 35 musical performances. Check out the alphabetical list of restaurants who brought their best to the square this weekend. I later found out that the event runs smoothly only with the help of about 1,000 volunteers, who help set-up and serve food

The volunteers earn an hourly wage in order to raise money for charity groups and non-profits. Taste's charitable aspect is underrated and often overlooked, yet adds a heartfelt note to the event. Here are a few of our favorite things:

Cheese Curds from Curd Girl

chicken, meat, sauce, vegetable, potato
Avery Allen

Out of all the cheese curd trucks in Madison, it is often hard to detect a difference. Some are greasier than others, and some are crunchier than most. It is honestly impressive to admit that Curd Girl perfectly balances the ratio of grease to crunch.

Chicken Satay from Jakarta Cafe

chicken, salad, lettuce, vegetable, meat
Avery Allen

Jakarta Cafe is an Indonesian haven with a peanut sauce that perfectly complements the chicken satay.

Char-Broiled Chicken from Soho

spinach, salmon, rice
Avery Allen

The char-broiled chicken from Soho was a nice and simple palette-cleansing break from the overwhelming amount of dairy around the capitol.

Grilled Vegetarian Taco from Tex Tubbs Taco Palace

tacos, fish, salsa
Avery Allen
Yes, the tacos from Tex Tubb's look a little different than your average... but the taste is still there and equally as impressive as you are expecting.

BBQ Pork Buns from Hong Kong Cafe

Avery Allen

Imagine biting in a fluffy cloud of dough filled with slightly salty, delicious, pork. That's what you'll get from Hong Kong Cafe.

Pulled Pork Mac n' Cheese from The Rigby

pasta, vegetable, sauce, chicken, seafood, shrimp, meat
Avery Allen

The salty flavor of the pork beautifully contrasted the sweet, melted cheesy macaroni. Try and make your own mac n' cheese in your dorm room here.

Panko Shrimp from Lao Laan-Xang

chicken, meat, seafood, fish, fish fingers
Avery Allen

As far as breadcrumbs go, Panko can go a long way. They add just the right amount of crunch to make a plain little shrimp taste significantly better.

Cheese-Filled Meatballs from Slide

sandwich, sauce
Avery Allen

My friend described the slider as, "the cheese melted into the meat and intertwined to create a gooey, tender, succulent slider." 

Chia Seed Pudding from Native Food Network

oatmeal, rice
Avery Allen

Chia seeds are not for everyone, but they are worth the try. The walnut paste (substitute for frosting) adds a nutty note, complementing the maple syrup hints in the pudding. 

Many of the food trucks at Taste of Madison can also be found on Library Mall during the week! Taste of Madison was the perfect way for freshmen to try a little of what Madison has to offer, but also a great way to welcome back returning students into the land of cheese curds, brats, and Spotted Cow, of course.