Schubert’s has been a Mount Horeb staple for 107 years

A visit feels like a blast from the past

The backstory: When I told Jerry Schubert the magazine was turning 40 years old this month, he responded, “Piece of cake.” That’s because Schubert’s Downtown Restaurant, the eatery he bought in 1980, has a history dating back to 1911. Owned by five different families since then, the restaurant is now a bakery and diner serving up classic breakfast dishes, Norwegian staples and Swedish rye bread. And there’s still much about the diner that mirrors the framed black-and-white picture (circa 1914) of its very first iteration as Olson’s Restaurant – a photo from that era still hangs on the wall.

The vibe: The building’s original 1905 tin ceilings and 1916 wooden booths remain in the restaurant. Schubert’s survived a fire in 2002. “People told me, ‘Well you have to remodel now, Jerry.’ And I said, ‘No, I like my wrinkled walls,” says Schubert.

The menu: Everything is made from scratch here, like it always has been, says Antonio Estrada, who used to cook at La Brioche and also ran his own restaurant for a while in Portage, just 40 miles north of Madison. Estrada now runs Schubert’s with his family, and he takes much pride in managing the historic eatery. “I don’t want to change the menu. I just want to do the best food,” he says. Classic diner offerings include breakfast veggie hashes, a lefse burrito and biscuits and gravy. Open until 2 p.m., Schubert’s also offers lunch, including Cornish pasties, grilled cheese and other traditional sandwiches. Schubert’s has been a Mount Horeb staple for 107 years

The must-try: Schubert’s is known for its Swedish rye bread, Norwegian meatballs, malts, shakes, old-fashioned phosphate sodas and crispy rosettes, which are deep-fried Scandinavian pastries. Traditionally served as a Christmas cookie, the rosette is offered year-round at the diner, Schubert says. “I don’t know of another place that makes these in the area,” he says.

The bottom line: As I walk out of the diner, Schubert stops me to point at the sign on the door. It reads: “In a time when things keep changing every day, it sure is nice to have one place that stays the same.” Thanks for staying the same, Schubert’s.

128 E. Main St., 608-437-3393

Andrea Behling is managing editor of Madison Magazine.

Schubert’s has been a Mount Horeb staple for 107 years