When I first came to Madison for a college tour, my dad, a UW alum, introduced me to Mickies Dairy Bar. We sat at a booth over 50 years old, and ordered burgers, fries and malts. I didn’t finish my meal because Mickie’s portion sizes are gigantic, but lucky for me, this meant I got to leave with a full belly and an abundance of leftovers. Since then, Mickies has been my go-to breakfast and lunch spot while being a student at UW-Madison.
In 1946, Mickey Weidman opened a diner located across the street from Camp Randall Stadium and called it “Mickies Dairy Bar.” Originally, Mickies was divided between a convenience store on one side, selling staple groceries and tobacco, with a diner on the other side. People would come in to buy their eggs and milk and find themselves enjoying cheese curds and a shake at the bar. Over the years, Mickies eliminated the convenience store side and grew the diner by adding more tables, chairs and items to their menu. Ownership of the diner has switched three times since 1946, the most recent being in 1991 when Payow and Janet Thungnuam took over.
Payow immigrated to the United States from Thailand and ended up in the Wisconsin Dells area. Janet grew up in Reedsburg, and as a summer job in her teens, she started working at the same restaurant as Payow. They quickly fell in love, and after getting married and having a few children, they were looking to start a restaurant of their own. One of their children happened to be a UW student at the time, and when Mickies went up for sale, he told his parents it was exactly what they were looking for. The whole family quickly fell in love with the diner. The Thungnuam’s decided to buy it and start their family business.
Because Mickies is by Camp Randall Stadium, game days generate a lot of foot traffic for them. At the busiest times, the diner will have about 100 customers inside, while the line outside will stretch all the way around the block and to the parking lot behind the diner. Oddly enough, the day after games is just as busy, if not busier, because students are hungover and hungry… weird. The most common hangover purchase is “The Scrambler”: a large mound of potatoes, eggs, cheese, gravy and a choice of other toppings. This dish goes great with a homemade shake or malt which are OH SO GOOD. You can actually mix flavors in the malts, too! I was told a coffee-chocolate malt or a blueberry-banana shake is the way to go.
Conveniently, Mickies serves their whole menu all day long. In the morning, if you want a burger instead of an omelet, Mickies will cook you that burger, medium rare and perfectly juicy. The wait staff will deliver it to your table with a smile on their face.
Additionally, Mickies offers seasonal items. Soon, biscuits and gravy, as well as an additional soup, will be added to the menu during these cold winter months. Their coffee cake — a hidden gem according to the manager — also changes with the seasons. This past fall, both pumpkin and zucchini were added to the menu.
After a global pandemic, a small business like Mickies could really use our love and support as students in this community. And who knows, after eating there just one time, you may have found your new go-to breakfast and lunch spot.
Address: 1511 Monroe St, Madison, WI 53711
Hours: Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday 7-2 p.m.; Friday and Saturday 6-2 p.m.