Wisconsin is home to more than 64,000 farms, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. While many of those farms ship their products out across the country, giving the state its well-deserved nickname of America’s Dairyland, plenty of farms also keep their products local. Some even sell them straight to restaurants, which sustains the state’s lively farm-to-table movement.
Restaurants throughout the state have dedicated themselves to highlighting local agriculture through their menus, and farm-to-table restaurants are a flourishing trend in nearly every part of the state. It’s not boring cooking, either—Wisconsin’s farm-to-table restaurants are covering the gamut of cuisine, from innovative New American restaurants to Italian joints serving up the classics, there’s even some pizza places that are serving locally-sourced food.
Here are some of the best farm-to-table restaurants and cafés in the Badger State.
1101 S. 2nd St., Milwaukee
You might not think there’s a lot of opportunities to eat farm-to-table in Milwaukee, the state’s largest city, but Braise proves doubters wrong. The restaurant serves up New American cuisine that’s all locally-sourced. Throughout the summer and fall, the restaurant takes guests to various farms in the area for an onsite farm dinner that includes a three-course dinner with wine pairings. Additionally, Braise offers cooking classes, teaching how to make a variety of the restaurant’s recipes ranging from dim sum to an assortment of tapas.
The Driftless Cafe
118 W. Court St., Viroqua
There are more than 200 certified organic farms in Vernon County, where The Driftless Cafe is located, so it’s not too difficult for the farm-to-table restaurant to get its hands on fresh and delicious ingredients. The restaurant, located in Viroqua, serves a lunch and dinner menu that changes every day based on whatever they’ve received from local farms. On top of their consistently changing menu, The Driftless Cafe also has a set pizza menu that makes great use of locally sourced ingredients.
Field to Fork
511 S. 8th St., Sheboygan
True to its name, Sheboygan’s Field to Fork has been serving up breakfast and lunch with ingredients straight from local farms since 2005. The restaurant’s menus contain items like a mushroom frittata, with fresh-picked mushrooms, asparagus, and spring onion; as well as a bison burger, which is made with a locally-sourced bison patty. The farm-to-table restaurant also has its own bakery, butcher shop, coffee roastery, and fresh-pressed juice bar.
Campo di Bella
10229 Sharp Road, Mt. Horeb
Campo di Bella is an Italian restaurant, but don’t expect the same bruschetta, spaghetti and meatballs, and Margherita pizzas that you’d find elsewhere. The farm-to-table restaurant in Mt. Horeb utilizes local ingredients to come up with unique, multi-course dinners. The restaurant, which is only open on Fridays and Saturdays, typically posts its upcoming menu around two to three weeks in advance. In addition to serving locally sourced cuisine, Campo di Bella also has an onsite winery and offers lodging for guests who want the experience of staying in an Italian agriturismo without the need of a passport.
2300 Pilgrim Square Drive, Brookfield
When Brookfield’s Parkside 23 restaurant needs ingredients for its farm-to-table meals, it doesn’t have to go far. The restaurant grows a lot of its produce at its own onsite gardens, where diners can enjoy their meals al fresco in the same space where a lot of the food they’re consuming is grown. Not only does the restaurant focus on locally sourced food, but its beverage menu also relies on Wisconsin-made products, including the entire beer list and even some wine made from locally-grown grapes.
Slow Food UW
1127 University Ave. in Madison
At most college campuses the food is cheap, quick and not necessarily nutrient-dense. That’s not the case at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Started in 2007, the Slow Food UW organization gives students a chance to participate in the slow food movement by operating a farm-to-table café, which serves a main entree, sides, and dessert to customers every Wednesday. While many farm-to-table restaurants come with a hefty price tag, Slow Food UW offers a pay-it-forward program in which customers can donate a meal for someone who wants to dine at the café but might not be able to afford its prices, as well as a pay-what-you-can model in which guests are encouraged to pay whatever they can afford.
Dancing Yarrow + Farm to Fork Pizza
S193 Co Rd BB, Mondovi
Plenty of farm-to-table restaurants specialize in New American cuisine, and while that’s nice when you’re looking for a unique dining experience, sometimes you just want to grab a pizza. You can do that while still eating farm-to-table at Dancing Yarrow + Farm to Fork Pizza. The farm-to-table joint has pizza nights every Thursday from May through September, using fresh, locally-sourced toppings. Dancing Yarrow offers much more than just its farm-to-table pizza, though. It also specializes in beekeeping and even sells queen bees and bee nucs to aspiring apiarists.
11976 Mink River Road, Ellison Bay
Swedish immigrant Andrew Wickman first purchased the land in Ellison Bay that Wickman House currently sits on in 1872, then lived on it with his family while operating the Ellison Bay Lodge for decades. While it has undergone several transitions since then, including operating as a bed-and-breakfast and a restaurant called T Ashwells, one thing is clear: Current tenant Wickman House seeks to connect its present-day restaurant to its roots. The land surrounding the restaurant was initially used for agriculture, and that’s what the Wickman House team continues to do, as well as sourcing other products from local farms. The restaurant takes advantage of its location right on Green Bay and offers seasonal menu items like fishmonger stew as well as dishes including pork katsu and roasted chicken.
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