Wisconsin might be known for all things cheese, but there’s nothing cheesy about these romantic date night spots.
That’s right: We’ve gathered 10 of the hottest restaurants in Western Wisconsin so you can celebrate Valentine’s Day, your anniversary, or even a first date in style.
But fret not — we know that there’s no single definition for romantic food, so we curated our list with a variety of date night events, food palates, and price ranges in mind.
Without further ado, here are 10 restaurants from Western Wisconsin that will leave you with heart-eyes.
- Mona Lisa’s (Eau Claire)
Address: 428 Water St.
Dreamy dish to try: Tortellini Rockefeller
Eau Claire’s resident Italian hot spot is none other than Mona Lisa’s, and its name alone suggests sensuality. The way the real Mona Lisa painting stares is precisely how enraptured you will look when you see this restaurant’s dishes, which rotate based on the ingredients’ seasonal availability. This means that you can come back for many date nights to come, as you’ll always have something new to try. Plus, Mona Lisa’s offers delicious-looking vegetarian and vegan options, so everyone can get in on the lovin’.
- The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern (La Crosse)
Address: 4328 Front St. S
Dreamy dish to try: Day Boat Scallops
Another seasonal eatery, The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern boasts three unique ways to dine: in its tavern, outdoors on its patio, and in an elegant private dining room. All three options are beautiful, and though this entry is a pricier one — dinner entreés go up to about $50 per person — you can’t beat its riverside ambiance or upscale dishes crafted with masterful techniques and pristine attention to detail. And don’t worry if your anniversary falls on a rainy day — the patio can be covered for foolproof dining day in and day out.
- Red Rooster Cafe (Mineral Point)
Address: 158 High St.
Dreamy dish to try: Wilted Salad
Red Rooster Cafe is beloved by its community; it’s no exaggeration to say it’s cemented itself as an institution in Mineral Point. But this classic, all-American diner can also be quite romantic if you’re the type of person or couple that romanticizes old-school aesthetics. Ever wanted to visit Pop’s Diner from “Riverdale”? Plan a date to Red Rooster Cafe. Oh, and you should know that the wilted salad features a sultry dressing made with bacon. Just keep in mind that this Cornish-pasty serving hot spot closes at 3 p.m. daily, so it’s better for brunch dates.
- Johnny’s Italian Restaurant (Eau Claire)
Address: 4751 Owen Ayres Ct.
Dreamy dish to try: Scallops and Arugula Risotto
Johnny’s Italian Restaurant could sound like a sub shop at first glance, but it’s actually a fine dining spot that aims to deliver perfection to customers every time — so much so that its goal “is for every guest to give us a standing ovation at the end of their dining experience.” And if its menu is anything to go by, it’s well on its way there. Johnny’s sets itself apart by offering a separate gluten-free menu. That’s right: a menu, not one or two gluten-free options. Johnny’s isn’t a big chain, but it does have some locations outside of Wisconsin, so if you love it, it could become a go-to staple for you while traveling, too. Road trip dates, anyone?
- Le Chateau (La Crosse)
Address: 410 Cass St.
Dreamy dish to try: Magret de canard aux parfum d’autumne (“seared duck breast, sweet potato puree, bacon Brussels sprouts, and cranberries”)
This entry gets its name honestly. Le Chateau is a French restaurant situated in a large historical house, and it’s perhaps one of the most visually pleasing eateries in all of Wisconsin. What’s more, every Le Chateau dish has a specific wine pairing designated on the menu, with the restaurant importing fine wines directly from France. For European flair without the expensive plane tickets, look no further than Le Chateau.
- Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ (Dodgeville)
Address: 167 N Iowa St.
Dreamy dish to try: The Bitchwich
Sometimes, fine dining (and its typically smaller portions) is perfectly romantic, but other times, we deserve to dig into hearty food with our partner. Enter Bob’s Bitchin’ BBQ, which has been honing its barbeque sauce recipe for more than three decades. If that’s not love, we don’t know what is. Bob’s has landed in the top 10% of global restaurants on TripAdvisor, and with eight distinct sauce flavors, there’s really something for everyone. Ultimately, taking your date to Bob’s, where you’re bound to get a tad messy, is a simple but serious sign of love.
- The Informalist (Eau Claire)
Address: 205 S. Barstow St.
Dreamy dish to try: Pork Chop
The Informalist is a unique restaurant in that it’s the only one on our list to be housed inside of a hotel, living on the first floor of The Lismore Hotel. While you don’t have to be a guest to eat at The Informalist, its location does have seductive benefits, which could be good for first dates and anniversaries alike. Moreover, the restaurant offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, so anyone can enjoy its menu. Not to mention its pork chop is accompanied by a maple-chili glaze — sweet and spicy, just like you.
- Buzzard Billy’s (La Crosse)
Address: 222 Pearl St.
Dreamy dish to try: Ca C’est Bon
Buzzard Billy’s might not initially sound romantic, but there’s something incredibly charming about Cajun food. It’s warm, it lights you up with its flavors and spices, and it sticks to your ribs. It’s like any good partner, really. Plus, Buzzard Billy’s has a ‘50s-esque cocktail lounge separate from the main dining room that is seductive in its own right. Whether you pop in just for drinks or have dinner before heading upstairs, this is ideal for a first date (just as some of the pricier entries on this list might be better for anniversaries).
- Driftless Café (Viroqua)
Address: 118 W Court St.
Dreamy dish to try: N/A
For a truly special experience, check out Driftless Café, whose menu changes daily based on locally available ingredients. While Driftless’ menu is in constant flux, the team keeps its website updated with the daily menu, making it easy to stay in the loop and plan accordingly. At Driftless, one of the chefs’ goals is to stimulate the local economy (in addition to feeding people fresh food, of course), so you can be super sexy by helping them achieve this with your date — and enjoy scrumptious, one-of-a-kid bites in the process.
- Restore Public House (La Crosse)
Address: 1810 State St.
Dreamy dish to try: Pan Seared Diver Scallops
Restore Public House centers its community in its mission, including procuring a lot of its ingredients locally, which makes it a darling date night spot. After all, it feels extra good to support those around you. Restore’s menu consists of elevated classics. For instance, its Caesar salad contains acorn squash, while its spaghetti contains ‘nduja and Calabrian chilis. These aren’t your mama’s dishes, but that’s what takes them over the edge into enchanting, romantic territory. Plus, you can easily get a reservation online, so it’s charming and hassle-free. A date night win-win.
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