When Guy Fieri rolls up in his 1968 red Camaro, you know the place is good!
We check out a few of the local joints featured on “Drive-Ins, Diners, & Dives,” “Good Eats,” and other Food Network shows, and what to order when you’re there.
Al Johnson’s is an authentic Swedish restaurant known as “the place with the goats on its roof.” What’s with the goats? Click here to read about the prank that started it all, but on any given day from May to October, you’ll find 5-7 goats grazing on the sod roof and “posing” for pictures with tourists.
You can even keep an eye on them from your computer at home using the restaurant’s “Goat Cam.”
What to Order: For breakfast, it’s all about the thin, eggy folded Swedish pancakes with tart lingonberries. For lunch or dinner, try the Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes.
What the tiny dive bar lacks in space and menu size, it makes up for in savings and burger size. There are only two things on the menu at the Anchor Bar: burgers and fries.
The restaurant only has one deep fryer, but as Guy Fieri discovered on Diners, Drive-Ins, & Dives, that’s more than enough to do the job! Click here to watch the two-minute clip.
What to Order: The Gally Buster, a one-pound, triple cheeseburger for only $6. And if you like a little heat, try the Jalapeño Cream Cheese Burger with extra bacon.
Open since 1931, Baugartner’s is Wisconsin’s oldest cheese shop. In addition to its popular retail store, it has an adjoining tavern, which serves great food and local brews.
While there’s no bad time to stop by, the joint is especially fun during Cheese Days, a colorful festival held the third weekend of September during even-numbered years. So mark your calendars for 2024!
What to Order: An authentic, although very stinky, Limburger sandwich.
Open since 1938, Bryant’s is Milwaukee’s oldest cocktail lounge. And it’s a miracle it’s still standing, literally. On Saint Patrick’s Day 1971, a fire gutted the entire lounge, even melting the cash register. Click here for pictures. Only the walls were left in tact. Luckily, the owners rebuilt, reopened, and restored Bryant’s to its original glory.
Today, the lounge serves more than 400 specialty drinks. Stop by Sunday to Thursday for Cocktail Hour from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. for $5 Old Fashioneds and $5 Depression-Era Drinks.
While there’s certainly no shortage of lunch options with a half-mile radius of the State Capitol, Casetta has been among the most buzz-worthy since it opened in 2017. Think of it as Subway on steroids: perfectly-seasoned, just-sliced meat between fresh bread, served alongside veggies, sauces, and sides that take it to the next level.
We’re talking: a bubbling cup of Pasta e Fagioli, spicy chickpeas, or Casetta’s signature green sauce, which pairs perfectly with turkey, prosciutto, and more!
What to Order: The Hoboken (a roast beef, fresh mozzarella, hot pepper, roasted garlic aioli combination) or a Make-Your-Own (your choice of bread, two meats, one cheese, and toppings.) For more mouth-watering options, check out Casetta’s Facebook page.
With the playful mantra, “If you want nutrition, eat a carrot,” the Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream company is known for its creamy, “super-premium” scoops made with real cane sugar and Wisconsin milk.
To be considered super-premium, ice cream needs an overrun of less than 50%. Overrun refers to the amount of air pushed into the ice cream while it’s being made. Standard overrun is 100%, or one part air to every one part cream. The Chocolate Shoppe’s ice cream has a 35-40% overrun, or one part air to every three parts cream. A 14% butterfat ratio adds an extra creaminess!
What to Order: Any of the company’s award-winning flavors listed here, like This $@&! Just Got Serious (salted caramel ice cream packed with rich sea salt fudge and salted cashews), Exhausted Parent (bourbon-spiked espresso ice cream swirled with bittersweet chocolate chunks), or the self-explanatory Vanilla Bean (2021’s World Dairy Expo Grand Champ!)
Called “the best place to assemble a cheese plate in all of Wisconsin,” this Capitol Square staple is a one-stop shop for all your cheese needs. Tourists stop by to grab a few blocks to go, while locals pick up made-to-order sandwiches from the shop’s lunch menu. Out-of-towners can get a taste, too, at Fromagination’s online store.
Nestled in a valley of western Wisconsin, the small town of Alma is home to historic homes, great fishing, and a tradition unlike any other. Instead of ordering from a menu, why not spend a day fishing for your own meal?
For $23, you can spend an entire day on the water! The Float’s open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. through October 31. It also offers night fishing to anyone interested in staying overnight in one of the float’s four-person bunk rooms.
What to Order: Back on land, order the “Famous Mess” at Great Alma’s, a scrambled egg dish recommended by Chef Alton Brown. Or bring your own charcoal, fire up one of the Float’s grills, and dine on your own freshly-caught fish after a full day at sea!
When Hmong refugees arrived in Wisconsin after the Vietnam War, they brought their own flavors to the state’s culinary scene. At Hmong’s Golden Egg Rolls, that means fresh, colorful traditional dishes like larb (ground beef and herb salad salad), som tum (spicy vegetable slaw) and spring rolls.
According to the restaurant’s owners, “Hmong” refers to people from a specific tribe in Southeast Asia, which includes Laos, Vietnam, and Thailand.
What to Order: The signature Hmong fried egg roll, of course! It’s filled with noodles, vegetables, and meat, and served with a fiery chile sauce.
Multiple Locations, including Madison & Milwaukee
Wisconsin’s best take on New York-style pizza, Ian’s hand-tossed pies are topped with some of the most insane combinations of meats, vegetables, fruits, and carbs. Customers can order whole pies or individual slices of 20+ varieties on any given day.
Signature options include: the Maui-Wowie (marinara, mozzarella, ham, pineapple, & jalapeños), Buff Chicken (creme sauce, mozzarella, dry-rubbed chicken, buffalo sauce, and bleu cheese), and the Drunken Ravioli (Vodka marinara, mozzarella, cheese ravioli, butter, & asiago.)
What to Order: Ian’s all-time best-seller, the Mac n’ Cheese Pizza. Owner Ian Garfield starts with a medium-thin crust and adds a layer of creme fraiche, mozzarella, and cooked macaroni before topping it with a sprinkle of Wisconsin cheddar.
Multiple Locations in the Milwaukee Metro
The local landmark has been dishing out creamy scoops since 1950. The company claims it’s the first custard stand to offer two unique “Flavors of the Day,” in addition to chocolate and vanilla. The featured flavors are often tied to holidays, events, and seasons.
What to Order: Kopp’s Special Sundae, which is vanilla custard layered with hot fudge, raspberries, banana slices, and pecans. And if you’re really hungry, make it a meal! Kopp’s is also known for its jumbo burgers.
This family-owned business is known for its firsts. It created the first beer made entirely from in-state ingredients, with the barley, wheat, hops, and yeast strain all made in Wisconsin. It’s also the first organic-certified brewery in America, and it produced the first gluten-free beer (New Grist.)
Lakefront also offers a first-of-a-kind “drink as you go” tour of its factory, instead of making visitors wait until the end for a taste! Click here for more.
Le Reve’s wide-ranging menu brings a taste of France to the Milwaukee metro. From crepes to the Filet de Boeuf sandwich (beef tenderloin with Cambozola cheese), the café serves brunch, lunch, and dinner. But don’t leave without dessert!
It was the restaurant’s patisserie that led to a visit from Food Network host Jeff Mauro. How could the Sandwich King pass up giant macarons?
What to Order: A savory crepe from Le Rêve’s lunch menu, and an assortment of French macarons for dessert. The patisserie offers its baked almond meringue, cream-filled cookies in raspberry, vanilla, lemon, hazelnut, and a rotating flavor of the day.
Keeping track of all the awards this Norwegian bakery/restaurant has won for its pies would be a full-time job! Norske Nook’s National Pie Championship blue-ribbon winners include its Lemon Cream Cheese, Pecan Fudge, Butterfinger, and Banana Toffee.
While the company’s original shop is in Osseo, the Norske Nook also has locations in DeForest and Rice Lake. All three offer full-size pies for pickup, as well as individual slices and a full breakfast/lunch menu inside!
What to Order: A slice of any award-winning pie, especially the mile-high Sour Cream Raisin Meringue.
Found 37 miles northwest of Green Bay in the friendly town of Gillett, the bakers at OJ’s are always hard at work dreaming up new varieties of cream pie. Banana. Coconut. Peanut Butter. Sour Cream Raisin. Chocolate. Nothing is off-limits at OJ’s.
Every pie starts with a nut or cookie crust, before it’s layered with cream cheese, topped with meringue, pudding, or fruit, smothered in whipped cream, and sprinkled with crushed cookies or candy.
What to Order: Any slice of cream pie. And if you’re visiting during the month of October, grab an apple dumpling to-go! OJ’s goal is to sell 3,000 this year.
It’s no surprise that America’s Dairyland produces some of the country’s best cheesecakes. So when baker Suzy Strothmann started making them for her husband’s restaurant in the 1980s, she only used Wisconsin cream cheese. That tradition has stuck, and even as Suzy’s grew from a single storefront to a nationwide shipping operation, Strothmann still creates every cake with local ingredients.
What to Order: Suzy’s signature variety assortment, which is a cheesecake divided into quarters with slices of New York Style, Chocolate Caramel Pecan, Chocolate Amaretto, and Black Forest Cherry.
Now let’s be clear: this isn’t a fish fry, but a fish boil. Considered the defining culinary experience of Door County, a boil is the divine combo of fresh whitefish and red potatoes cooked over a roaring fire in salty water, drizzled with hot butter, and served with rye bread and coleslaw.
At the White Full Inn, fish boils are served Wednesdays, Fridays, and weekends from May through October and on Friday nights the rest of the year. Reservations are recommended! Here’s a video of what to expect.
What to Order: The Inn’s traditional fish boil. (Baked chicken is available for non-fish eaters.)
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