When it comes to the tasty and delicious, Oshkosh is filled with unexpected culinary gems. In this small city on Lake Winnebago and the Fox River, it’s easy to find memorable family dining, lively drinks with friends and unforgettably tasty experiences. Your table is set, now raise a glass for a toast: we’re headed to Oshkosh for some good eats in good company.
Dining in Oshkosh is full of delights and surprises. Dishes from around the world, award-winning chefs and vibes ranging from 50s-throwback to modern-chic with live jazz. Here are a few treasures the locals love:
Walking into TJ’s Highland Steakhouse is like walking into a Scottish dream. Walls covered in genuine tartan fabric milled in Scotland, giant pictures of Scottish castles and gallery displays of history and memorabilia. Sure, the atmosphere’s great, but the food’s even better. Melt-in-your-mouth steak, goat cheese fried curds, local-favorite wedge salad, large wine selection, seasonal cocktails and much more.
- Make a reservation. We aren’t the only ones who love this place — be sure to get your family and friends a table on the night you’re going.
- Have the bartender mix you a Cherry Maple Old Fashioned for a tasty twist on Wisconsin’s iconic cocktail.
Beautifully located on the Fox River inside what was one of the US’ first-ever indoor malls, Becket’s is bringing a sustainable concept to American cuisine in a modern-trendy atmosphere. Toast to Oshkosh adventures and eat easy knowing that your plate’s filled with the freshest local ingredients.
- Ask the host to seat you on the patio for memorable views of the Fox River. The nearby bridge lights up in bright colors at night.
- Savor the Walter Becket cocktail (and the restaurant itself), named after the award-winning architect who designed the original mall. The basil garnish is grown right on the patio!
Right in downtown Oshkosh, you’ll find Manila Resto, an authentic Filipino restaurant. Here, you’ll find Filipino favorites, like their crispy pata (traditional marinated pork fried to a deliciously crispy texture) or their popular bihon noodles. The menu also features a long list of sushi — the Ninoy Roll is a local favorite — and other East Asian staples.
What makes Manila unforgettable?
- Live Jazz. You’ll enjoy Manila’s resident pianist tickling the ivories as well as guest music groups performing live to set a classy, welcoming vibe.
- Boodle Fight. Another Filipino staple that owner Marlo Ambas brought from his own family tradition, the boodle is a long banana leaf platter covered in a variety of deliciousness. It’s a whole experience, and everyone at the table digs in together.
Roller-skating servers, classic American eats and root beer floats — Ardy & Ed’s is the perfect family adventure. Enjoy the food in your car, inside at the small diner-style counter or take a walk into the little Galtz Nature Preserve a block away. Boaters: dock at the public boat ramp just across the road on Lake Winnebago.
What makes Ardy & Ed’s unforgettable?
- This place is the real deal. Since 1948, the drive-in has preserved it’s genuine retro feel. The 50s vibes and the legendary food has gotten it featured in a long list of publications and TV spots.
- Wisconsin-made ice cream! This stuff, from Cedar Crest Ice Cream, is delicious. And have it in one of Ardy & Ed’s iconic root beer floats — two straws for sharing, of course.
Dining isn’t just about the food — it’s about the experience. And it’s the unexpected ones that make the memories you look back on again and again. In Oshkosh, here are some of those unforgettable — and only-in-Oshkosh — culinary experiences.
The main floor of The Howard is a café by day, but on Thursday or Friday nights, hang a right at the entrance, walk down the chandelier-lit stairway, and you’ll find yourself at the Lanes. It’s a 21+ boutique bar and bowling hangout, but the hand-crafted cocktails are the reason we’ve included it here. Check out the menu for their signature cocktails and be sure to ask the bartender what tonight’s “Throwback” and “Special” are before you make your choice. The Blackberry Collins is a sweet local favorite. Whisky lovers (and wannabe whisky lovers): try one of their multiple whiskey flights.
What makes The Howard unforgettable?
- Velvet and leather couches set in up-scale, chic décor — even down on the bowling lanes.
- The bartenders’ floral ties match the instagrammable accent walls.
Hughes’ seems like a secret — it’s a house tucked in a normal residential neighborhood — but its generations of delicious success have made it a well-known, beloved Oshkosh staple. Monday through Saturday, park on the street and head in the side door off the driveway. A sign will take you down the stairs to the basement, where it’s like a window into Wonka’s factory — the kids will be amazed. All of the 100,000+ pounds of chocolate are made right here each year, and there isn’t an inch of wasted space. Purchase some chocolates right there where the magic happens.
- Hughes’ busiest season is from Thanksgiving through the Holidays. You may need to wait a bit, especially if you’re there on a Saturday.
- Ask any of the staff for their favorite chocolate recommendations. Many have been working there for decades.
Everyone loves a picnic, and Wagner Market is the perfect place to stock up on some grab-and-go dishes. This downtown market has all sorts of things, but for a picnic, you’ll want to check out the display case of freshly-made food, the many Wisconsin-made cheeses and a wide variety of unique beverages.
After your Wagner Market stop, here are a couple picnic-perfect spots in Oshkosh:
- Along Oshkosh’s Riverwalk, you’ll find groomed lawns, park benches and beautiful river views.
- Head out to Asylum Point for Lake Winnebago views and see a small, historic lighthouse while you picnic.
Beer’s big in Wisconsin, and it’s no different in Oshkosh. The city has a deep beer history, but some brewery closings in the mid-1900s brought a dry spell to the scene. Now, local brewers are bringing craft beer, and the good times that go with it, back to life in Oshkosh. With 3 stand-out breweries and a downtown beer hall, Oshkosh is an unforgettable place to enjoy some great brews.
Fox River Brewing Company was the first brewery to jumpstart Oshkosh’s craft beer scene, and it’s been hopping ever since. In the 90s, three brothers-turned-brewery-owners bought a prime expanse of land right on the Fox River, and they’ve continued to add to it. A full kitchen and bar (with wine and cocktails) rounds out their long list of signature beers. Enjoy the laid-back, hometown atmosphere of the Tap Room, sit down for date night or a family meal in the restaurant, or grab a table outside on the river. Depending on the season, check out the outdoor tiki bar and live music series every summer or reserve one of their winter dome experiences when the weather gets cold.
What makes Fox River Brewing Company unforgettable?
- Fox River's top beer is the Blu Bobber. It gets its name from the fresh blueberries that bob up and down in this slightly sweet ale.
- The chicken tenders here are legendary. They use sweet crunchy cereal in the breading, and we love to have them in Fox River’s chicken and waffles.
- For an experience, order an appetizer tower to share with your group. It’s exactly how it sounds — a 4-tier high tower brought to your table, each tier featuring an app off the menu plus 4 beer samples along the base.
In the south side “sawdust district,” you’ll find a community gem perfect for a good time: Fifth Ward Brewing Company. The owners, Zach and Ian, know how to make an impression, and so does Zach’s trusted dog companion, Cooper. Bring the friends out back to sit on the big backyard-style patio, or find a spot inside and strike up some conversation with soon-to-be friends.
Beers to try:
- Haze it or Leave It — it's one of Fifth Ward’s top sellers. This IPA is loved by all (even those that usually steer away from IPAs).
- Sweet Heat — the spicy aftertaste will clear those sinuses right up, and the sweetness will keep you sipping more. If you like things spicy, you’ll love every swallow.
- Layin’ It On Thiccc — yes, 3 “c”s for all the “thiccc”ness. There’s a regular here who only orders this malty brew. The taste means a lot to him, and you’ll know why after you try it.
A little off the beaten path, Bare Bones is a spirited hang out for unique and tasty beers. Make it an adventure by biking to Bare Bones along the Wiouwash Trail, starting in downtown Oshkosh and heading north. You’ll get great views of the Fox River, and be sure to cheer on the local running and biking groups you might see along the way.
- Check their Facebook page for any upcoming events and time your visit for some spirited live music, comedy and more.
The Gibson Social Club, right in downtown Oshkosh, has a German-inspired beer hall that’ll have you and your friends polka dancing and cheers-ing with a “Prost!” The high-vaulted ceiling is an unexpected treasure in the heart of downtown, and the nice variety of beers on tap keeps everyone happy.
- Find spots on the main floor at one of the beautiful dark-wood tables to be close to live music and soon-to-be friends.
- Head upstairs to find a quieter, more intimate spot at a small table on the balcony.