The Dandelion Food Cart

Madison, Wisconsin


Image for Ali Seiter

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With a fast-growing line in front, the Dandelion seemed to garner the most attention out of the many food carts: a positive sign! One look at the menu and I fully understood why the bright green truck merited its popularity. Complete with five sandwiches inspired by multiple wordly cuisines (all of which can be served on a whole-wheat pita), two hearty entree-style plates, raw oatmeal and fruit for breakfast, and a chocolate peanut butter cup for dessert, this cart knew what vegans craved.

Cilantro-topped black eyed peas, smoky rich collard greens, and a saute of sweet potatoes, onions, and poblano peppers surrounded three hearty slabs of tofu slathered in a tangy barbeque sauce to form a Southern medley of vegan happiness in my Texas Style BBQ Tofu entree. The tofu offered the only downside to the dish: while the texture skirted the perfect line between chewy and firm, I suspect that the tofu was not fresh, but rather freeze-dried reconstituted tofu that may or may not have been fried. A dash of refined sugar may have also weasled its way into the spicy-sweet sauce, though I sincerely hope (probably in vain), that the Dandelion chef used agave nectar or maple syrup instead. Despite the two soy-based flaws, I wholeheartedly enjoyed my trip down South at the Dandelion.

The Baked Tofu Sandwich came on a ciabatta roll topped with baked tofu, lettuce, tomatoes, red onions, and avocado drizzled with a spicy veganaise aioli served with a side of tortilla chips and pico de gallo. My eating companion rated the sandwich as a definite 10 on the yummy scale.

What could easily constitute an entire meal (especially when adding the optional tofu for a dollar extra), a bed of spinach topped with brown basmati rice, corn, grated carrots, radishes, cucumbers, purple cabbage, pico de gallo, and edamame drizzled with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and sesame oil is much much more than just a side. The vegetable-and-whole-grain rainbow tasted fresh, crunchy, and very wholesome-I may become a regular patron of the Dandelion just for the "side" of vegetables.

Meeting all of my pent-up food cart anticipation, the quality of the Dandelion's food exceeded that of a few non-wheeled restaurants in Madison and was certainly on par with a good many regular sit-down eating establishments. It is a wonderful destination for a fast, cheap, healthy, and simply mouthwatering lunch.

Pictures and more info at my blog:

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The food here is so satisfying! I highly recommend the sweet potato wrap and the bajio's style seitan. My dishes have been served with beans and steamed greens, or chips and fresh salsa on the side. Their "side" of vegetables is quite substantial, and can be considered a light meal to itself!

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I was so excited to see this cart on Library Mall! The food did not disappoint. I got the Bajio's style seitan, which is a vegan option of marinated strips of seitan with black beans, rice, and greens on whole wheat flatbread. It had just the right amount of spice for me. The greens were an excellent addition both for flavor and nutritional value.

The menu says to ask if you are vegan--it looked like most if not all of the menu items could be made vegan but I didn't confirm that.

My only complaint is the prices are just a little higher than I would like. I'll probably be back soon regardless!

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I've managed to get over to this elusive "white whale" of a vegetarian restaurant a number of times and have always been very pleased with the outcome. There's plenty of lovely people watching and such to be done while sitting outside near the capital, so really inclement weather might be the only issue if your place of business isn't nearby.

One of the other reviewers is correct though that it is hard to hit this place at the right time. It's a rare treat when I can check to see if it's there at the right time. I wish they were closer to campus but understand they probably have a good market where they tend to locate now.

The last time I went there I got a barbecue (vegan) sandwich with a sweet potato side and it really made my day. They also have natural sodas (Blue Sky I believe).

Definitely worth seeking out if you are downtown!

Image for conde.kedar

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And so I finally bagged the elusive white whale of the vegetarian world in Madison. I had attempted to eat at Dandelion Food Cart on at least five or six separate occasions over the last year or two, but I was always either too late, or had come on a day that it's not open (it's only open Tuesday-Thursday).

The owner graciously prepared a potato-tofu wrap for me, even though he'd technically already closed for the day (as usual, I was barely late). He also gave me a peanut butter chocolate cup on the house.

The wrap ($6.25) was excellent: super-fresh, filling and flavorful. It was full of tofu, spinach (or was it kale?), a creamy dressing, potatoes, black eyed beans and other vegetables. It also came with a side of tortilla chips. The wrap/burrito was spicy without being overpowering, and felt like comfort food. I can't wait to try another dish from Dandelion.

The chocolate peanut butter cup was also amazing. It had a rich chocolate flavor and the peanut butter inside was some of the creamiest I've ever tasted.

My only gripe is that this being a food cart, you're forced to eat outside (unless you have an office or apartment to go to, which I don't, as I'm always just passing through Madison). There's no shortage of benches and open space where you can sit and eat in downtown Madison, but be prepared to be bothered by a constant stream of buses and more than a few panhandlers.

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Consistently excellent food.
Photos here.


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