6 Wisconsin Waterfront Restaurants to Visit if You Want to Dine With a View

waterfront restaurant in WisconsinDonny's Glidden Lodge

Photo courtesy of Donny’s Glidden Lodge

By Jessica Lee
October 5, 2022

There are dozens of waterfront restaurants in Wisconsin with breathtaking views. Here are a few of the ones you need to visit.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, our lovely state has about 15,000 lakes. That’s more than our neighbor Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes. Wisconsin is also home to 12,600 rivers and streams that meander through the landscape. When you add more than 800 miles of shoreline on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior, you cannot throw a rock without hitting a waterfront restaurant. 

Spring, summer, winter, or fall, we love the water. And there is no better place to enjoy a cocktail, have a beer, eat some fantastic food, and take in breathtaking views of the water than on a patio or in a large dining room with massive picture windows. You’ll find dozens of fantastic waterfront restaurants throughout the state, so picking the best few to visit isn’t easy. 

Here are some waterfront restaurants that you need to visit when you get the chance. Each of them has something a little special that sets them apart—whether it’s their location, the type of food they offer, or their atmosphere. 

Saffron, Milwaukee

223 N. Water St. Suite 100

Open Tues. through Sun. for lunch (11:30 a.m.) and dinner (5 p.m.) services

<em>Photos courtesy of Saffron<em>

If you like Indian food from a little takeout joint in a nearby strip mall, you’ll love Saffron, located along the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee’s historic Third Ward. You can find exciting, modern, and elevated Indian cuisine on their menu, like truffle naan, lobster and scallop moilee, and goat mirch masala. You can also find traditional favorites, like tandoori lamb and chicken, chicken korma, and lamb biryani. 

Blue Bayou Inn, Manitowish Waters

5547 U.S. Highway 51

Open Mon. through Sat. at 5 p.m. for dinner service

<em>Photos courtesy of Blue Bayou Inn<em>

Once you leave Louisiana, finding authentic and tasty food from the bayou can be difficult. Who would think you could find amazing etouffee, blackened fish, alligator bites, and jambalaya way up north in Wisconsin? Blue Bayou Inn’s menu will satisfy your craving for all your favorite Cajun and Creole favorites. However, you need to head to this little gem on Lake Manitowish from May through October, because they only stay open during tourist season. 

The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern, LaCrosse

328 Front St. S

Patio and tavern are open Wed. through Sun., 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Restaurant dinner service at 5 p.m.

<em>Photo courtesy of The Waterfront Restaurant Tavern<em>

The Waterfront Restaurant & Tavern in LaCrosse has a gorgeous dining room that offers views of the Mississippi River. If you want the full experience of enjoying the scenery, you need to head out to the patio, along the banks of the Mississippi. The heated space is only closed during the winter, so you can enjoy a full dining experience most of the year while relaxing on the riverfront. The menu is seafood-heavy and offers sushi, but you can also find delicious beef, chicken, and pork dishes.  

Old Post Office Restaurant, Ephraim

10040 Water St., Hwy. 42

Open for breakfast 7:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m., Mon. through Sat. and Sun. 7:30 a.m. to 12 p.m.

Fish boils in spring, summer, and fall at 5 p.m., 6:30 p.m., and 7:45 p.m. Reservations are required and reduced seatings in spring and fall.

<em>Photos courtesy of Old Post Office Restaurant<em>

When you are exploring Door County, you need to visit the Old Post Office Restaurant, overlooking Eagle Harbor in Ephraim. You will find satisfying breakfast options like omelets, pancakes, and Belgian waffles, but the real treat is dinner. The Old Post Office Restaurant does one thing for dinner, and they do it well: a fish boil. The waterfront restaurant offers a traditional Scandinavian fish boil that includes fresh whitefish, small red potatoes, white onions, homemade lemon, pumpkin, and rye bread, and a freshly baked Door County cherry pie.

Sardine, Madison

617 Williamson St. 

Open daily for dinner, Sun. through Thurs. from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., Fri. and Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. 

Open Sat. and Sun. for brunch 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. 

<em>Photos courtesy of Sardine<em>

A visit to Madison is incomplete without enjoying a meal on the shores of Lake Mendota or Lake Monona. Next time you are in our capital city, check out Sardine. The self-described bistro offers panoramic views of Lake Monona and an amazing French-inspired menu that highlights fresh and seasonal ingredients from the area. Try small plates of figs and octopus and entrees that include whitefish, salmon, steak, and pork chops. 

Donny’s Glidden Lodge, Sturgeon Bay

4670 Glidden Dr. 

Open Mon. through Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., also Sun. from Memorial Day to Labor Day

<em>Photos courtesy of Donnys Glidden Lodge<em>

Enjoy stunning sunsets over Lake Michigan with exceptional Midwestern food when you dine at Donny’s Glidden Lodge in Sturgeon Bay. The restaurant offers whitefish, catch of the day, and choice cuts of Black Angus for prime rib on Thursdays and Saturdays. If you have a hankering for some German food, head to Donny’s Glidden Lodge on Wednesdays when their menu features German entrees based on available local ingredients. 


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