By Drew Olson Special to Published Jan 21, 2009 at 2:24 PM

It's Madison Week at We sent our editorial staff to check out bars, restaurants, retail outlets and cultural venues in order to uncover some of the best of Wisconsin's second-largest city.

MADISON -- Politicians eat lunch, too. They also go out for coffee, have dinner and grab an occasional cocktail.

In honor of "Madison Week" here at, we asked a handful of elected officials from the Milwaukee area where they like to go for lunch, dinner and cocktails near the Capitol and where they would take a first-time visitor in order to get a feel for Madison.

Here are their responses:

David Cullen, Democratic State Representative, 13th District
Favorite place for lunch:My favorite lunch spot in Madison is my desk at my Capitol office. I have a great view of Lake Mendota and my wife makes me great, nutritious
lunches that I enjoy.

Favorite place for dinner: My favorite dinner spots are Paisan's, 131 W. Wilson St., and Rocky's, 1301 Regent St. (It's) probably a carry over from my undergraduate days at UW.

Favorite place for coffee or cocktails: I don't drink coffee and I don't drink alcohol in Madison because I usually have to drive home to Milwaukee.

Favorite place to take first-time visitors: First time visitors to Madison should see the Capitol, the view from the top of Bascom Hill and stop at Memorial Union to enjoy some
refreshments and time out on the terrace.

Alberta Darling, Republican State Senator, 8th District
Favorite place for lunch -- Brocach, 7 W. Main St. Good food, nice atmosphere and close to Capitol.

Favorite place for dinner -- Blue Marlin, 101 N. Hamilton St.  Wonderful seafood.

Favorite place for coffee or a cocktail -- Madison's, 119 N. King St.

Favorite place to take a first-time visitor -- The State Capitol, of course!

Ted Kanavas, Republican State Senator, 33rd District
Favorite place for lunch -- Brocach, 7 W. Main St. Why? The best burgers in Madison, Irish music and the owners (Cliff and Don) are terrific guys.

Favorite place for dinner -- Plaka Taverna and Ouzeria, 410 E. Wilson St.  Why?  I'm Greek and they make a fantastic Spanakopita.

Favorite place for coffee -- Ancora Coffee Roasters, 112 King St. Strong coffee and better political analysis than you get inside the Capitol.

Favorite place to take a first-time visitor -- Warner Park Duck Pond, 2920 N. Sherman Ave. Go root for the Madison Mallards (baseball team) and you'll get an immediate feel for how crazy Madison can get in a short amount of time

Jim Ott, Republican State Representative, 23rd District
Favorite place for lunch -- Capitol ChopHouse, 9 E. Wilson St. (in the Hilton Hotel). Convenient location, nice atmosphere, good service and good food.

Favorite place for dinner -- Blue Marlin, 101 N. Hamilton St. I took a group there after my first inauguration and we had an excellent meal and very nice evening

Favorite spot for coffee -- Starbucks on the Square, 1 E. Main St. Convenient location, nice outdoor seating area.

Favorite spot to take first-time visitors -- Definitely the Capitol. We have one of the most beautiful capitol buildings in the country and every resident of the state should have the opportunity to take a tour.

Jim Sullivan, Democratic State Senator, 5th District
Favorite place for lunch -- Ian's Pizza, 115 State St. Fast, Close to the Capitol, $2 pizza, and funky flavor combinations like macaroni and cheese pizza and BBQ chicken pizza.

Favorite place for dinner -- I wouldn't really know because I'm fortunate enough to represent a West Side / West Suburban district (near Milwaukee). I come home pretty much every night. I have two grade school-aged boys, so I come home and get the leftovers.

Favorite place for coffee -- My staff puts together a fancy coffee mess to rival anything Starbucks has for coffee, so perhaps people should stop in my office for coffee.

Favorite place for a cocktail -- The best atmosphere is The Paradise Lounge, 119 E. Main St. A Northwoods bar hidden away two blocks from the Capitol. But for after-hours politics, you can't beat the hotel bar at Inn on the Park, 22 S. Carroll St.

Favorite place to take first-time visitors -- You can't beat the University of Wisconsin Memorial Union Terrace, 800 Langdon St., for the "feel" of Madison, although Legislators pretty much never get there. For the other end of State Street, try the many of the patio seating restaurants near the Capitol in the summer.

Lena Taylor, Democratic State Senator, 4th District
Favorite lunch spot: Kipp’s Down Home Cooking, 1614 Monroe St. I love their southern style meals.

Favorite dinner spot: The Tornado Club Steakhouse, 116 S. Hamilton St. The food and service are both excellent.

Favorite spot for a cocktail: Genna's, 105 W. Main St. The atmosphere is fantastic.

Favorite place to take first-time visitors: The Nitty Gritty, 223 N. Frances St. It sums up Madison pretty well, I think.

Leah Vukmir, Republican State Representative, 14th Assembly District

Favorite place for lunch -- Typically I pick up something near the Capitol. Ever since the Continental Café, 108 King St., stopped serving lunch, there really are not any spots worthy of mention.

Favorite place for dinner -- The Capitol ChopHouse and Delaney's, 449 Grand Canyon Dr., on the West Side.

Favorite place for a cocktail -- I honestly don't spend that much time in Madison -- or at least not enough time to have a favorite place for a cocktail, however the Capitol ChopHouse has great martinis and a fantastic wine selection.

Favorite place to take a first-time visitor -- State Street, of course!

Drew Olson Special to

Host of “The Drew Olson Show,” which airs 1-3 p.m. weekdays on The Big 902. Sidekick on “The Mike Heller Show,” airing weekdays on The Big 920 and a statewide network including stations in Madison, Appleton and Wausau. Co-author of Bill Schroeder’s “If These Walls Could Talk: Milwaukee Brewers” on Triumph Books. Co-host of “Big 12 Sports Saturday,” which airs Saturdays during football season on WISN-12. Former senior editor at Former reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.