They’re a quintessential Wisconsin specialty: deep-fried cheese curds. And nowhere else in the world does them as deliciously as the Dairy State. But where can you find the best of the best?
In fall 2021, Travel Wisconsin held a cheese curd voting contest: Crown the Curd. Cheese lovers everywhere cast their votes to decide the cheesiest, gooiest, tastiest fried cheese curds in all of Wisconsin — and therefore the world. The contest was so widespread that Crown the Curd's winning locations were served up as an answer on Jeopardy!
Now’s your chance to savor each of these award-winning fried cheese curds for yourself. Gather your fellow curd conquerors and get your grease-fighting napkins ready — we’re diving into Wisconsin’s top cheese curds.
After all, Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers said it best on National Cheese Curd Day (October 15): “It’s a state of mind, that’s for sure.”
Top Cheese Curds with a Single Location
Winner: Monroe Optimist Deep Fried Cheese Curds at Green County Cheese Days
Fried cheese curds in this category can only be found at one place on the planet, and Monroe Optimist’s Deep Fried Cheese Curds won first place.
Folks, these curds are next level. People travel from all over just to taste them, and they’re only available for 3 days each year, at Green County Cheese Days in Monroe. The sweet signature batter is fried to perfection, and the curds of cheese are same-day fresh. And with proceeds supporting a local youth-focused club, these curds couldn’t get any better.
Try them for yourself at this year’s Cheese Days in September!
Seven other one-place-on-earth cheese curds were also hotly contested in the Crown the Curd competition. You’re missing out if you don’t taste these! These were the runners up in the single location category:
- 8th Street Ale Haus in Sheboygan
- Cedar Lake Grill in Mikana
- Ellsworth Cooperative Creamery in Ellsworth
- Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee
- Mullins Cheese Factory in Mosinee
- The Old Fashioned in Madison
- Pioneer Keg in Theresa
Top Cheese Curds with 2-5 Locations
Winner: The Great Dane
These restaurants have 2-5 locations, and they’re still only found in Wisconsin. The winner in this category? The Great Dane.
The batter on these fried curds uses one of the Great Dane’s own brewed beer, their Old Glory American Pale Ale. Served with a side of hatch chili ranch, these curds put you in life-is-good mindset. Find them in Fitchburg, Wasau and at three Madison locations including their flagship pub downtown.
The Great Dane brews a wide variety of beer, including seasonal specials, and their menu features fresh takes on classics from around the world. If you’re looking for more cheese (who isn’t?), try their Wisconsin-style Cheddar Mac and add in the BBQ-brisket.
Savor the gooey goodness of these other top curds that competed in the 2-5 Locations Category:
- Tipsy Cow in Madison and Sun Prairie
- Wild Tomato in Fish Creek and Sister Bay
- Buck and Honey's in Monona, Sun Prairie, Waunakee
- Nitty Gritty in Sun Prairie, Madison and Middleton
- Oscar’s Frozen Custard in Waukesha, Franklin and West Allis
- Vintage Brewing Company in West Madison, East Madison and Sauk Prairie
- Cafe Hollander in Milwaukee, Wauwatosa, Madison, Mequon and Brookfield
Want in on travel inspiration, sweepstakes and voting contests like Crown the Curd?
Top Cheese Curds with 5+ Locations
For those looking for a taste of Wisconsin cheese curds wherever you happen to be, this category crowned a restaurant chain with many locations.
We weren’t surprised that Culver’s cheese curds won this final category. After all, every single Culver’s cheese curd across the nation is made at a family-owned dairy farm in Stanley, Wisconsin. And once you have a taste, you’ll know the level of deliciousness that’s waiting for you on your next trip to Wisconsin.
There’s so much to discover in Wisconsin’s culinary scene. From farm-to-table experiences to craft drinks with artisan meals, explore more of the state’s mouth-watering food and drink.