It's a phrase often uttered begrudgingly at the end of a long work day when there's little time – or motivation – to cook. But add an exclamation point and suddenly it takes on a new meaning.
Let's Eat Out! is a summer series of rotating food cart dinners at more than a dozen outdoor locations in the Madison area. People can stop by various parks from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays, weather-permitting, until Aug. 3 to grab a bite to eat from nearly 30 local vendors.
"Let's Eat Out! promotes and advocates for the success of local mobile food entrepreneurs while bringing neighborhoods together and expanding access to local food," according to its Facebook page.
Even though many meals are made quickly, you don't just have to grab the food and go home. People are encouraged to hang out and get to know each other. And just like each food cart has its own flair, so does each location – from Sun Prairie to Verona.
In late June at Nakoma Park, people shared seats on picnic tables and other families brought along their blankets to relax on the grass. And in July at Meadowood Park, kids worked up an appetite on the playground and with activities provided by the Madison School and Community Recreation mobile FIT2GO van that was parked near the food carts. Sometimes groups also coordinate live music to play during the dinners.
With options like tacos and ice cream and just about everything in between, there's something to satisfy everyone's tastebuds.