Sitting in a cubicle farm surrounded by grumbly co-workers and suffering through the stale air conditioned environment that one calls “work” will make anyone long for a respite away from it all. Since you can’t afford a vacation right now, consider taking an off-site lunch instead, just to keep your sanity.
There are plenty of places in Madison that can accommodate your needs — and we’re not talking about fast food drive-thrus. Here are five spots that offer a fast meal and will make your day much more enjoyable, guaranteed.
Anointed One — Junction Road
On the far west side, the Anointed One, a soul food restaurant, has done an admirable job delivering food quickly. When I ordered two appetizers, chicken wings and onion rings (ordering only apps may give you a better chance of getting food faster!), my server told me the food would be up in 15 to 20 minutes, and she didn’t lie. Presumably, items like the shrimp po’boy and catfish dinner might take the full 20 minutes, but the wait would be worth it. I definitely intend to become a repeat customer.
Ian’s Pizza — State Street, Frances Street
A Madison staple, Ian’s offers delicious and unique takes on pizza. The most trusted slice is, of course, the mac and cheese, made with better ingredients than what Kraft can offer you. Other options abound, and I suggest smokey the bandit with barbecue sauce, mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, barbecue chicken, bacon and ranch.
The lines in Ian’s are typically long, but the system they’ve devised is remarkably efficient. And even if you’re last in line with 20 people ahead of you, it isn’t unheard of to get your food in as little as 5 to 10 minutes after you walk through the door.
David’s Jamaican Cuisine — Monona
If you need something fast, it’s hard to beat a buffet, and David’s Jamaican Cuisine has one of the best in the area. Just tell them you’re there for the buffet and you’re good to go. You can typically get a full plate (and a full belly) in under 10 minutes, though I’ll admit I took a little bit more time to eat on my last visit because I made several trips back to get more servings. There’s usually dishes like jerk meatballs, barbecue pork, breaded catfish, salad bar and an assortment of sides.
Dumpling Haus — Hilldale
There are plenty of leisurely dining options at Hilldale, but if you want to get a fast meal the Dumpling Haus is the place to go. As you enter, you’ll see a menu on a board above the counter (they have paper copies available too). Make your order there, and they’ll hand you a number to put down at your table.
I arrived at noon during a weekday, and even with the restaurant full of patrons, my meal was served in under 15 minutes. Though I didn’t order a huge meal (I got the pork shaomai), it was definitely filling, with the right blend of spices.
Buffalo Wild Wings — East Towne, Fitchburg, Monona, Campus
This probably isn’t the first place you’d think of to eat real quick, but the restaurant recently started a weekday promotion known as the “Fast Break Lunch.” Order an entree and side from the special menu and they’ll be delivered in 15 minutes or less. There’s even a hokey timer on the table if you want to be the jerk that demands it free because it was five seconds late. (Don’t be that guy.)
The lunch menu includes the usual wings, salads, wraps, and a few sandwiches so the kitchen can keep up. Every time I’ve tried it, the kitchen and servers have beaten the timer, sometimes with time to spare.