Everyone gets those cravings for classic comfort foods at some time or another, and Wisconsin restaurants put a unique twist on some of the world’s most sought-after dishes. We’ve created a Wisconsin comfort food tour featuring some of the state’s most unique, farm-to-table and Instagram-worthy dishes foodies will love. Put on your stretchy pants and join us in checking off some comfort food boxes.
Offering a unique spin on your classic meatloaf recipe. Kobe Meatloaf with Ricotta Gnocchi is served with Nueske bacon gravy, fried egg and tobacco onions. In the words of Randy from A Christmas Story, “Meatloaf, smeatloaf, double-beatloaf, I love meatloaf.” That’s how it goes, right?
There are tons of variations of macaroni and cheese out there, and they have some of the best. Their Gouda Mac & Cheese is made with elbow macaroni in smoked Gouda cheese sauce. You may also want to have a taste of their Truffle & Parmesan Steak Fries – beer battered with shaved parmesan and white truffle oil. Yummm.
You’re not hard-pressed to find cheese curds in Wisconsin, but it’s always a treat finding unique spins on the beloved Wisco snack. Find stout beer-battered Goat Cheese Curds here served with sriracha ketchup, not to mention their fresh, local and organic menu changing daily to reflect the season and mood of the chef.
For those with a pasta weakness, offered here is a Pumpkin Ravioli with sage butter sauce, parmesan, toasted pine nuts and roasted red pepper coulis. Delicious and nutritious (at least that’s what I’m telling myself). Sebastian’s has been family owned and operated since 2000, and sits on five acres of rural land, which includes an organic garden.
Mashed potatoes are one of the most universal comfort foods, and Kaminski’s has some of the best Mashed Potatoes Fully Loaded. You may want to grab a friend (or three) to share ‘em with, though…portion sizes are generous, to say the least.
Whether you’re Irish or not, Shepherd’s Pie is a go-to feel-good food. Here. you’ll find delicious Shepherd’s Pie, made with a savory ground beef mixture, topped with mashed potatoes and broiled with Wisconsin provolone. While enjoying your Irish pub grub, take in the building’s tin ceiling, original bricks and rich history.
While you’re on the Shepherd’s Pie kick, head up to Amery for another version of the Irish favorite, made with a braise of local root vegetables, free-range chicken and gravy, topped with organic mashed potatoes and shredded goat cheddar. Northwest Wisconsin is home to the largest concentration of small farms in America, and Farm Table is proud to represent the values of small farms and a rich heritage of great food.
Pop in here for the perfect Wisconsin macaroni and cheese. Try their Red Eye Mac & Cheese Gratin, made with Carr Valley fontina, Sartori Sarvecchio parmesan, sharp cheddar, Nueske’s bacon, Sassy Cow cream, gemelli pasta and herb bread crumbs.
Chili, especially during the winter, is one of the most notorious comfort foods. Offering Field to Fork Chili, this dish is made with locally-raised, grass-fed beef and organic red beans, topped with onions and cheddar cheese.
The Courthouse ironically embraces the building’s history of being a beer hall during prohibition, known as the Court Café. Try their Chicken Marsala, lightly dusted chicken breasts flambéed in Marsala wine and topped with sautéed mushrooms and a rich cream sauce, served with buttered cavatappi pasta.
For a classic meatloaf, visit Hudson for a meatloaf in a mushroom marsala sauce with garlic mashed potatoes and parmesan broccoli. During the warmer months, sit on the patio and look across the St. Croix River to Minnesota.
While in Hudson, add to your agenda a Caribbean twist on meatloaf. This Cuban Meatloaf consists of ground beef, ham, black beans, mixed peppers, smoked sweet corn, onion and Cuban spices, topped with black bean and mushroom cream sauce with Spanish corn and black bean salad with banana mashed potatoes.
While the pizza here is amazing, you’ve got to try their version of Canada’s beloved poutine. Their house-cut French fries are topped with Wisconsin cheese curds and smoked meat and tossed in Shorty’s special gravy. Any place that’s been on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” has got to be good, right?
There’s nothing like a burrito from Nistebox. Their Crockpot Pork Burrito has been their #1 best seller four years in a row and consists of slow roasted pork shoulder, house refried beans, fresh pico de gallo, sour cream and Renard’s pepper jack, wrapped in a 12-inch flour tortilla.
What better way to close out your comfort food tour than with a piece of New York Style Cheesecake? The vineyard setting here is just as delectable as the food – get out your camera, and be sure to share those photos to make your friends jealous!
What’s your go-to comfort food? Do you make it at home or find it at a restaurant? Share with us on social media using #DiscoverWisconsin!
Kristen Finstad is a member of the Discover Wisconsin crew. Growing up in River Falls, attending UW-Stevens Point and now living in Madison, she’s a Wisconsin girl through and through. She enjoys nothing more than catching a Packers, Brewers or Badgers game, indulging in a cheese curd or 12, and traveling from corner to corner of this great state. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)