6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

By Salina Heller

October 27, 2023

If you call Western Wisconsin home, here are some independently owned restaurants providing unique local food experiences designed to celebrate our state’s farmers.

Farm fresh eats can’t be beat: It’s a way of life in Wisconsin. While large farms dominate the agricultural landscape, small diverse farms are actually a growing phenomena in the state. Since the early nineties, the number of small farms have actually doubled, according to a study by UW-Stevens Point.

Because farm-to-table restaurants source directly from the farmer, the money spent is going directly to helping farmers grow their business and fuel the local economy.

Many small farm families have launched on-farm dining opportunities that are open to the public in summers. These give guests the chance to take in the farming lifestyle while offering a moment to relax and unwind in the beauty of rural Wisconsin.

Heading into Wisconsin’s colder seasons, there are many indoor spots that prioritize where food is grown. These restaurants are as diverse as your tastebuds. Go casual and grab a pizza or burger at a cafe. Dress up and celebrate an occasion with a mouth-watering steak.

If you call Western Wisconsin home, here are some independently owned restaurants worth checking out soon: They provide unique local food experiences designed to celebrate our state’s farmers while connecting people back to the land.

The Lakely
516 Galloway Street, Eau Claire

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

Brat Poutine is a Midwest take on a classic Canadian dish featuring local cheese curds and hand-cut fries topped with pan-fried sauerkraut, brats, and beef gravy made with Bell’s Octoberfest Beer. Photo courtesy The Lakely

Guests at The Lakely get treated to craft cocktails and midwest modern comfort food. The restaurant sources an overwhelming majority of ingredients from farmers and producers, including wild rice, cranberries, maple syrup, walleye, cheese, and more. There are unique dishes that scream Wisconsin: Wild Rice Porridge and the Norwegian Hangover. The experience is more than terrific food: The Lakely brings a hip, retro, and stylish vibe to our part of the Midwest with karaoke nights, local musicians, trivia challenges, drag brunches, and more.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Restore Public House
1810 State Street, La Crosse

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

Copper River Sockeye Salmon, paired with charred baby bok choy, white wine cream sauce, oyster mushrooms, garlic scapes, and local micro greens. Photo courtesy Restore Public House

“Not a hipster cafe, not quite fine dining.” That’s how Restore Public House describes itself. Chefs craft made-from-scratch dishes with local and seasonal ingredients. The owner is a trained chef who set out to deliver an experience in his own neighborhood. He wants to create an atmosphere where laughing out loud and trying new foods go hand-in-hand. The menu suits all taste buds, from the meat-lover, to the vegetarian, to the seafood enthusiast. One dish that stands out is St. Joe’s Beef Sirloin, coming from St. Joe’s Country Market in La Crosse. Paired with an old fashioned, it’s a perfect way to enjoy a night out.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

The Good Wives
2161 Eastridge Center, Eau Claire

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

The Good Wives grew many of these heirloom tomatoes from seed. In middle of this dish is a warm corncake topped with cheese. Photo courtesy The Good Wives

Eating local food is eating seasonally. The Good Wives specializes in hyper-seasonal food with a menu that changes as the seasons do and celebrates all Wisconsin has to offer. Here you’ll always find some plant-based and/or vegan and vegetarian-friendly options. Pork schnitzel, oat flour crepes, and beet salad are the latest dishes on the menu. Enjoy it all in the midst of a vibe of checkered floors, disco ball, wall mural, and music on vinyl.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Table 65 Gelato and Bistro Cafe
729 N. Knowles Avenue, New Richmond

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

Steak and Pasta showcases beef sourced from Stoney Slopes Farm Ground Beef in Deer Park. Photo courtesy Table 65

Table 65’s website starts out by proclaiming “We love to buy local.” It’s easy to see how they work with independent and all-natural farms. There’s a list. It includes: an aqua garden, a beef farm, distillery, a sugar bush, coffee source, bakery, gelato shop, and a farm with asparagus. Don’t let the chandeliers fool you. They welcome shorts, and think of themselves as upscale casual. Order street tacos, paninis, salads, pizza, burgers, noodle dishes, chicken, and brunch specialties.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

The Driftless Cafe
118 Court Street, Viroqua

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

St. Brigid’s Meadows Beef Brisket features Westby Co-op Creamery butter braised cabbage and Driftless Organics yellow potatos. Photo courtesy The Driftless Cafe

This restaurant, located in Viroqua, showcases the bounty of the Driftless region. It’s aptly named The Driftless Cafe and features an ever-changing menu of local foods. More than just a farm-to-table restaurant, the operation spans into the community and spends 85% of its food budget on ingredients that are sourced within a 100-mile radius of the Cafe. The belief is that the growth of the farming community directly translates to the growth of the general economy, making locally focused restaurants a vehicle for economic development. The more than 200 organic farms in Vernon County are the inspiration. The dinner menu changes nightly.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

The Informalist
205 S Barstow Street, Eau Claire

6 Western Wisconsin farm-to-table restaurants to experience this winter

“Beets by Jeff” dropped at The Informalist! The pizza special is made with a base of house-made beet pesto topped with feta, mozzarella, arugula, and a drizzle of honey. Photo courtesy The Informalist

Expect an array of fresh ingredients from regional farms, sustainable seafood, and delectable wood-fired pizza at The Informalist. inside The Lismore Hotel. The 4,000 square-foot restaurant is much more than a standby for tired travelers. It dishes up midwest-inspired meals made with responsibly sourced ingredients, in a setting that’s designed to have a Scandinavian feel. Wondering just how local ingredients are? Check out the back of the menu for a full list of the farms where it all comes from. In the summer on the patio, you can take a peek at the wall of grapes and herb garden.

Find more information at the restaurant’s website, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

Author

  • Salina Heller

    A former 15-year veteran of reporting local news for western Wisconsin TV and radio stations, Salina Heller also volunteers in community theater, helps organize the Chippewa Valley Air Show, and is kept busy by her daughter’s elementary school PTA meetings. She is a UW-Eau Claire alum.

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