Don’t fail like me…get the BBQ at the Thirsty Goat

Thirsty Goat on Cahill Main

So there’s a new barbecue restaurant in Fitchburg and I hate to admit that I didn’t actually get BBQ on my first visit. The good news — everything I got was tasty so I’ll be heading back soon to try the BBQ. The Thirsty Goat on Cahill Main in Fitchburg took over an old Mexican restaurant spot I think. The building is rustic and cozy inside, but the fire pit in the back is what caught my attention. There’s a deck off the back of the building overlooking Fish Hatchery Road, and my friend Nicole and I definitely spotted a fire fit back there…I’m thinking this place will be a regular stop on my patio rotation this summer!

Cheese curds

On to the food…that isn’t BBQ (sorry!) but was still good. I must have forgotten where I was and what type of restaurant I was in when looking at the menu because we ordered broasted chicken and the sausage plate…and no barbecue. But because we work hard and deserve a treat…we started with the cheese curds. The almost overflowing basket came with what were obviously hand-breaded cheese curds. Here’s your clue: If the curds are all the same shape and size…they came out of a freezer box — if they’re random shapes and sizes…they were probably hand-breaded. These were hand-breaded, fried to a perfect golden brown, just salty enough and came with the perfect dipping sauce — housemade ranch! Nothing bad to say about the curds!

img_3837Nicole and I decided to each get an entree and split it. I got the sausage plate with mac and cheese and coleslaw. It also came with corn bread. Their sausage that week was an Italian sausage. It was perfectly grilled with crispy grill marks on the outside and had a good flavor. I appreciated that it wasn’t too greasy and you get enough to feed two! BBQ restaurant mac and cheese is never anything special and the Thirsty Goat’s was right on par with that. The coleslaw wasn’t unique, but it was good. I don’t remember much about the corn bread, but only because I ate it so fast!

img_3836Nicole got the half chicken and it was good…but it was chicken. I have zero complaints about the chicken…except that it wasn’t BBQ brisket!

FOOD NOTES: Good ahead…get the cheese curds at this BBQ restaurant…you won’t be disappointed! Our lunch at the Thirsty Goat was very good, but I do regret not getting BBQ…guess it’s just a good reason to go back again! Oh, and don’t forget about the fire pit for this summer! If it’s a Friday night, you might find me there!

Mac’s is so good it deserves a second post

MACSI reviewed Mac’s in Sun Prairie in March and I loved it. But I’ve been back several times since then and I feel like I need to reiterate how great their mac and cheese is.

MACS mac daddyThe first time I went I got the loaded baked potato mac and cheese…it is rich, creamy and super indulgent. The potatoes, sour cream and bacon added a great layer to the mac and cheese.

MACs trio

Loaded baked potato mac and cheese
Loaded baked potato mac and cheese
Chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese
Chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese

The second time I went I got to try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese and the chicken bacon ranch mac and cheese. I also got a second crack at the loaded baked potato mac and cheese. The loaded baked potato mac and cheese was just as great as the first time, but it was upstaged by the chicken bacon ranch mac. There’s just something this Wisconsin girl loves about ranch dressing drizzled on top of mac and cheese. It was a genius move to put chicken and bacon on fantastic mac and cheese and then drizzle it with ranch dressing.

Buffalo chicken mac and cheese
Buffalo chicken mac and cheese

I also got to try the buffalo chicken mac and cheese, which I didn’t think I’d like but it was surprisingly good. The buffalo chicken wasn’t too spicy, and the tanginess of the sauce cut the heaviness of the mac and cheese perfectly. And the blue cheese (which I normally don’t like) didn’t over power anything. It also comes garnished with celery, which makes it seem healthier…haha!

The third time I went, I got the chicken bacon ranch mac again but made my mom get the Memphis mac (sorry…I forgot to take pics!), which comes topped with pulled pork, BBQ sauce and fried slices of onion. I’ve heard shredded BBQ pork is great with mac and cheese and boy were those people not kidding. The pork was perfectly tender and the sauce was tangy with just the right amount of kick. I loved my chicken bacon ranch mac…but I did go back for seconds, thirds and maybe fourths of my mom’s Memphis mac.

FOOD NOTES: I’ve decided that you could top mac and cheese with pretty much anything and I would eat it. And Mac’s knows what they’re doing. I’ve officially tried four of their versions and would suggest any of them. My favorite has to be the chicken bacon ranch, followed by a two-way tie for second — Memphis mac and loaded baked potato mac. Mac’s is, in my opinion, the best spot to indulge in some great mac and cheese with fantastic toppings. I want to try other flavors, but don’t think I could pass up my favorites…anyone want to go with me so I can try the type you get?!?!

Indulgent mac and cheese totally worth it at Mac’s

When I go off my gluten-free, high-protein, low-calorie meal plan (it’s not a diet!) I like to go all out. I don’t like to diverge from my healthy eating plan for bad fast food or something I don’t love, but I will do it for fantastic food and I will definitely do it regularly for mac and cheese…especially the mac and cheese at Mac’s! Mac’s has two locations — one in the Dells and a second location in Sun Prairie.

Mac's in Sun Prairie
Mac’s in Sun Prairie

The one in Sun Prairie is in the super new development off Highway 51 by the new Woodman’s, Costco and Cabela’s. The small dining room probably has about a dozen tables, which gives it a cozy, welcoming feeling. The menu is pretty simple. They have a dozen different types of mac and cheese (served in cast iron skillets), 6 different types of grilled cheeses and a couple salads.

Mac's loaded baked potato mac and cheese
Mac’s loaded baked potato mac and cheese

All of the mac and cheeses come with bread crumbs on top and some pieces of toasted bread. The bread crumbs were super tasty, but I would skip the toasted bread next time. They seemed very unnecessary. As for the mac and cheese…I got the loaded baked potato, which comes with cheddar cheese, mozzarella cheese, slices of baked potato, bacon, sour cream and chives on top. There are two pretty great facets of the mac and cheese. The actual mac and cheese itself is the best I’ve ever had. It’s creamy and cheesy with a rich, homestyle flavor, but it’s not too heavy. The noodle to cheese sauce ratio is also perfect. Sometimes you get too much or not enough sauce…but not at Mac’s! Every noodle was perfectly coated with the sauce, but there wasn’t an excess at the bottom. As for the toppings…I could definitely see going just for the plain mac and cheese, but I did enjoy my toppings. They added a different level to the dish — other than just eating noodles for lunch. However, most of the other topping combinations (BBQ pulled pork, jalapeno poppers, chicken bacon ranch, taco) seem like a bit too much for me, so I will probably stick to the plain mac and cheese or go with the loaded baked potato one again. I also can’t forget to mention the crispy edges of cheese…the entire dish was rimmed with that perfectly crispy, slightly burnt cheese that you have to crack into to start eating — that, to me, is a telltale sign that my mac and cheese was fresh and made to order!

FOOD NOTES: Mac’s makes the best mac and cheese I’ve ever had, and has a topping option that would probably please everyone! The prices aren’t too bad…mine only came in the bigger size for $10, but I could only eat half and the other half heated up really well for lunch the next day! Now all I need is for Mac’s to open a location in Middleton!