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trillium

Where Would You Live In Madison

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The partner and I are considering moving to Madison for work. We are west coasters who live in Portland, OR right now, but lived in Chicago for 8 years (94 - 02). I've spent enough time in Madison to know you can eat out pretty well ( we enjoyed the Lao, Nepal and Indonesian places we've tried) and the farmers markets are a big, big plus in our book, but what I'm more worried about is buying groceries in the winter and a good SE Asian grocery store for year-round access to things the SE Asian in the house can't live without.

Cooking is a pretty big part of what we do for fun and we're totally spoiled by New Seasons here (a local chain that sells everything from organic Seville oranges to Salumi salami, with basics at prices that are frequently much lower then Whole Paycheck, fair wages to employees, and none of the politics/price setting of Aldi-owned Trader Joes). In addition to our downtown market (equal in size and scope to the one around the capital) we also have a great bi-monthly farmer's market that sells produce throughout the winter.

I know Madison has a Whole Foods, and I checked out a Brennan's that I wasn't too thrilled with (Meyer lemons wrapped in plastic on a Styrofoam tray make me sad) but what other grocery store options are there if you like buying local and organic? On our next visit we plan on checking out the Willy St. Co-op, does anyone have any other suggestions? I figure that with the Hmong population in WI there has to be a few fairly decent Asian grocery stores in Madison but I haven't been able to track them down, so suggestions there would be great too.

Lastly and related to the grocery question, any input on good neighborhoods to live in that are good for people who are mildly obsessed with food and don't like driving everywhere?

many thanks,

trillium

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I'm sure current Madisonians will answer this better than I.

Re: Asian Groceries

When we lived there, I frequented the Asian IGA on Park St.

I still use the Carbon Steel wok I bought there in 1983 or 1984.

I see from a post on another website that it was still there in September of last year, so hopefully, still there this year.

(You didn't ask; but, Star Liquor on Willy St. is a great liquor store! As are both the Steve's Liquors. If you like beer, I can also recommend a micro-brewery I visited last fall, called Ale Asylum. It's on Kinsman, just off East Johnson. Very nice modern American style beer.)

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I'm sure current Madisonians will answer this better than I.

Re: Asian Groceries

When we lived there, I frequented the Asian IGA on Park St.

I still use the Carbon Steel wok I bought there in 1983 or 1984.

I see from a post on another website that it was still there in September of last year, so hopefully, still there this year.

(You didn't ask; but, Star Liquor on Willy St. is a great liquor store!  As are both the Steve's Liquors.  If you like beer, I can also recommend a micro-brewery I visited last fall, called Ale Asylum.  It's on Kinsman, just off East Johnson.  Very nice modern American style beer.)

Thanks, when we go on our scouting trip we'll check out the Asian IGA. I didn't ask, but a good booze store is definately in our plus column as we add things up (and we wouldn't have to drive to Sam's in Chicago). The partner is an avid beer drinker (and homebrewer) so micro-breweries are good to know about too.

As a sidenote, for fun, I had a genuine WI-style brandy old fashioned at a fish fry when I was out there visiting for my interview. I got the "sour" version, and holy smokes it was sweet and strong. I'd hate to drink the sweet version! The grey-haired grandma at the table next to us starting wildly flirting with the barely of legal age waiter after her third....

regards,

trillium

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Willy Street Co-Op is what I think you are looking for, but doesn't have the SE Asian focus. Park Street has a couple of good Asian grocery stores -- one is Midway Foods (don't know if that's the IGA or not). Regent Street has an Italian deli named Fraboni's.

Booze -- I really like Star Liquor for a small shop with a good selection. Steve's is bigger and has more locations. Kelly Gilboy (if she still runs it) has made The Wine Boutique a great place worth the short drive to Middleton (years ago it used to be on Monroe, but she needed more space).

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Having lived in Madison for nine years while attending the University of Wisconsin, I know my way around 'Mad City' very well. We last lived in Graduate Student married housing in Eagle Heights which really a part of Shorewood. Our daughter went to the Shorewood School System and we found the area very wholesome. With the short commute times, I would not base where I lived on anything other than an area that met my budget and my living space requirements. Certainly living near the Campus is cosmopolitan but can be seedy. Most of the people I know, live outside the City now.-Dick

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Willy Street Co-Op is what I think you are looking for, but doesn't have the SE Asian focus.  Park Street has a couple of good Asian grocery stores -- one is Midway Foods (don't know if that's the IGA or not).  Regent Street has an Italian deli named Fraboni's.

[...]

I think the place I was thinking of is Midway Foods. For some reason I always just called it the "Asian IGA". My memory of the street grid is a little foggy; but, Park and West Johnson, maybe?

We lived on Spaight Street in Madison. I always really liked that neighborhood. Shopped at Willy St Coop, could walk to the square and the Majestic Theater (still there?). A few decent restaurants and bars near by. When we lived there, it wasn't student central, like some of the neighborhoods closer to campus. More semi-permanent slackers, older-hippies, and the like.

It seems like the neighborhood would be even better now, with quite a few decent restaurants and bars within walking distance. It is also pretty easy to get from there to the Beltline, via John Nolan Drive.

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Thanks for all the tips so far. We'd like to avoid having to drive everywhere if we can, it's nice to be able to walk or bike for shopping (or to work). We consider a mile or less to be a reasonable walk to a grocery store, longer for bike rides. We'd also like to avoid student-heavy areas just because we're kinda past that point in life and enjoy a little peace and quiet on the weekends.

regards,

trillium

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Two of your requirements may be at odds. Living on Campus and off-campus from Gilman Street to Washington Av, a vehicle is not required but there are students. Remember Madison is situated on an ismus between two lakes, Monona and Mendota. One can go West of the Campus, and South. To go East you have to go to the other side of Monona. The campus is now huge, extending from about Gilman Street now to Eagle Heights. Shorewood presents an interesting area because one could easily walk to the Campus Bus and be at the Union in about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the time of day. If I was to live in Madison again. I would live in Shorewood. Shorewood is an older community with a high tax base and the streets are like a rabbits warren. The tax base and housing cost effectively precludes students. Good luck.-Dick

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Two of your requirements may be at odds. Living on Campus and off-campus from Gilman Street to Washington Av, a vehicle is not required but there are students. Remember Madison is situated on an ismus between two lakes, Monona and Mendota. One can go West of the Campus, and South. To go East you have to go to the other side of Monona. The campus is now huge, extending from about Gilman Street now to Eagle Heights. Shorewood presents an interesting area because one could easily walk to the Campus Bus and be at the Union in about 10 to 15 minutes depending on the time of day. If I was to live in Madison again. I would live in Shorewood. Shorewood is an older community with a high tax base and the streets are like a rabbits warren. The tax base and housing cost effectively precludes students. Good luck.-Dick

We live just south of University Ave. and the Shorewood Hills community. Many houses in Shorewood are expensive (for Madison), but moving from the West Coast you may not be in sticker shock at all, unless you're persuing the lakefront homes. Shorewood is within minutes of the Whole Foods, Sentry (locally owned grocery), and the Hilldale farmers markets.

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Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback.

Liam, do you shop at Sentry? I'll have to check it out on the scouting trip, I haven't heard of it until now. I have a funny feeling Shorewood might be out of our range, and lakefront for sure! I have a friend who says you can figure out where you should live based on whether you mow your own lawn or have it done. We always mow our own...

regards,

trillium

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Thanks again, everyone. I really appreciate the feedback.

Liam, do you shop at Sentry? I'll have to check it out on the scouting trip, I haven't heard of it until now. I have a funny feeling Shorewood might be out of our range, and lakefront for sure! I have a friend who says you can figure out where you should live based on whether you mow your own lawn or have it done. We always mow our own...

regards,

trillium

We shop at Sentry, Trader Joe's, and to a lesser degree, Whole Foods. And we shop at the farmers markets during the warm seasons for produce as well as meats. Within the next year or so, the Whole Foods will relocate a few blocks down University Ave. to the Hilldale shopping mall complex, tripling in size.

We definitely live in a lawn mowing neighborhood. Can't speak to Shorewood on that account, but Madison definitely tends to be a do-it-yourself community.

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