By Mel Grau
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Are you ready for a foodie adventure? Sometimes the best-kept epicurean secrets are outside a big city’s restaurant circle. Explore these sought-after cafes, diners and lounges that excel in all things local: food, flair and fun.
Drive one hour from Madison to Freddy V’s for a taste of history and locally-sourced fare. Located inside a Neo classical-style bank building from 1915, Freddy V’s draws crowds for its crab cakes, famous sweet potato fries and fish and chips. Original bank features like the safe door and teller window add charm, while the open kitchen adds excitement for the discriminating foodie.
A trendy hot spot about one and a half hours’ drive from Madison, Christian’s Bistro offers creative seafood and steak dishes on their changing, seasonal menu. At the bar, you can watch chefs in the open and airy kitchen and enjoy an appetizer of the truffle local potato chips with parmesan. Go next door to O’So Brewing Company for an award-winning local beer after a delicious dinner.
Love the Milwaukee Public Market? Make a trip to Field to Fork in Sheboygan. It’s more slow-paced, farm-to-table focused, and creative. You’ll find a cafe serving hipster classics like quinoa bowls with tofu curls and chorizo breakfast burritos, alongside a juice bar, in-house coffee roastery, bakery and mini grocery store. Field to Fork is most popular for breakfast and lunch, but their Latin-inspired dinner menu is worth checking out, too.
As the only Nepalese restaurant in the Milwaukee area, The Cheel has developed a devoted following, which makes getting a seat in the small restaurant no small feat. The food is authentic and unusual for Milwaukee, with its mixing of Himalayan and Rocky Mountain traditions. You’ll find complex flavors in all meals, including vegan, vegetarian and gluten-free dishes. Perhaps the best part of the meal is the homemade dipping sauces--don’t miss out!
Near the Twin Cities
This local breakfast mecca attracts long lines and even Eau Claire’s famous native, Justin Vernon from Bon Iver. Foodies will appreciate the list of homemade crepes on the menu, though the lemon ricotta hotcakes and the El Presidente hashbrown scrambler draw the biggest fanfare.
This hole-in-the-wall restaurant and bar is famous for its jumbo, all-you-can-eat chicken wings served all week long. At the River Inn Bar, you can challenge your friends to video games while you devour the huge wings, burgers, fish fry and local Leinenkugel’s beer.
Opened in mid-2016, the Local Lounge bills itself as a modern supper club with antique-, art- and history-minded decor. Most food comes from within a 90-mile radius and you’ll find supper club classics like popovers, relish trays and fish fry. But you’ll also find Sunday pizzas and Bloody Mary bars, lawn jenga and a fireplace lounge. It’s old, meets new, meets cool.
The dining destinations are endless. Find whatever you're craving!