As a UW-Oshkosh alumna (Go Titans!), Oshkosh holds a very special place in my heart. It’s well-regarded as Wisconsin’s Event City—thanks to big-ticket happenings such as Country USA, Miss Wisconsin Scholarship Pageant and EAA AirVenture. It’s also well-known for its location on the state’s largest inland lake, Lake Winnebago, and a subsequent abundance of year-round recreational opportunities.
But perhaps one of the city’s most impressive, yet underrated, assets is (drumroll, please) its restaurant scene! Below are eight of my favorite Oshkosh eateries. Bon appétit!
Named after the building’s architect, Welton Becket, becket’s is a modern American restaurant on downtown Oshkosh’s waterfront. becket’s is all about leveraging local resources and making their delicious meals from scratch.
If you’re a cocktail connoisseur, try their signature drink, ‘The Welton Becket,’ a citrus vodka martini made with muddled basil and topped with cracked black pepper. Delightful!
I haven’t met a style of food I don’t like, but I do confess: Italian is my absolute favorite. And that probably explains why I’ve visited almost all seven Benvenuto’s locations in Wisconsin.
Benvenuto’s Italian Grill in Oshkosh is the perfect locale for date night or a get-together with friends for appetizers and drinks by the fireplace. The prices are awesome (hellooooo, yummy complimentary bread!), and the food is out of this world, especially the Shrimp Tetrazzini—it’s to die for!
I exude a real sense of loyalty for an establishment that can craft a well-made martini. I also have a penchant for bars and restaurants that have mastered that hard-to-achieve “step back in time” feel. This would explain why the Brooklyn Grill on south Main has charmed me twice over.
Housed in an 1800s building, this Oshkosh hot spot offers a unique atmosphere set in Brooklyn back in the ’40s. Just as interesting as the atmosphere is the Brooklyn Grill's menu, which boasts tempting burgers, wraps, sandwiches and “a martini list as long as the Brooklyn Bridge.” Sold!
If you have an intense sweet tooth like yours truly, a trip to Caramel Crisp & Café is in order. As I ponder a fitting portrayal, the phrase “dessert heaven” comes to mind. I admit I spent a solid 25 minutes deciding between the caramel crisp popcorn and World’s Best Cookie. (Word to the wise: Just get them both).
But don’t let their name fool you—Caramel Crisp is so much more than popcorn, cookies, pies and ice cream. There’s a full breakfast and lunch menu featuring everything from deli-style salads to old-fashioned sandwiches.
Gardina’s is a full-service restaurant well-known for its varied and unique selections of by-the-glass wine, craft beer and whiskey.
But you’re going to want a hearty meal with your beverage, so consider trying one of Gardina’s most popular dinner specials: the pan-seared U10 sea scallops served over beet fritters and finished with orange supreme and a citrus vinaigrette.
After a 15-month, $16 million dollar renovation, the Ground Round and the BEST WESTERN PREMIER Waterfront Hotel features beautiful waterfront dining and a seasonal outdoor patio, bar and fire pit.
The panoramic views of the Fox River are gorgeous, but let’s shift our focus to nourishment: Enjoy some pub-style grub like boom boom shrimp, triple fajita or the bruschetta burger. Keep Ground Round at River’s Edge in mind for your next after-work spot, as it was voted “Best Happy Hour” in the 2015 Winnebago County Readers’ Choice awards.
Me encanta la comida Mexicana! La Cabana’s menu features Mexican staples like tacos, enchiladas, burritos, fajitas, quesadillas and more. If you’re looking for something a bit more unique, I recommend the sopes dish (made with corn masa layered with beans and your choice of meat) or carne asada (house-marinated grilled rib eye steak served with a chicken enchilada and other sides).
Wash ‘er down with a good ol’ house margarita—a homemade blend of citrus including orange, lemon and lime, with a splash of cherry for a golden color.
When you walk into Manila Resto in downtown Oshkosh, you’ll notice two things: its gorgeous, contemporary interior and the aroma of authentic Filipino fine dining. The first of its kind in the Fox Valley, Manila offers a creative fusion of Filipino, Asian and American inspirations.
Tantalize your taste buds with the taste of rich sauces, savory meats and fresh sushi. Save room for dessert, too—the turon is absolutely wonderful.
Got a favorite Oshkosh restaurant of your own? Share your recommendations with me in the comments below or on social media using #DiscoverWisconsin.
Mariah Haberman is the host of Discover Wisconsin, the nation's longest-running travel TV show. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Tweet her: @MariahHaberman