By Sharyn Alden
Special to TravelWisconsin.com
Once you’re settled in and ready to start your Wisconsin vacation, it’s time to get together with family and friends over a shared meal Wisconsin-style. Sit down, relax, and stay a while at these four restaurants, offering ample space and inviting atmospheres for your next big gathering.
Generations of families have launched their Door County vacation at Al Johnson’s Swedish Restaurant & Butik. It’s a convenient mid-peninsula starting point for many recreational activities. Sister Bay beach is just across the street. Each year the restaurant’s Scandinavian ambiance and menu draws returning fans and new visitors.
Diners love the familiarity of the log cabin atmosphere, blue Swedish glassware, and the wait staff dressed in Swedish attire. On Friday night try the fried fish in the new Stabbur Beer Garden, or order it in the main dining room. “Whatever is fresh that day, perch or whitefish, is what you’ll find on the menu,” says Johnson.
Reservations are not taken but you can call ahead to accommodate a big group. Tables can be placed together so about 20 family and friends can dine together.
It’s not often you can tell your friends to meet you on a lost lake. But the Lost Land Lake Lodge on the edge of the Chequamegon National Forest is a great place to start your Hayward adventure.
Well-known for its all-you-can-eat Friday fish fry, lodge owner Pat Sullivan says, “Many people don’t know we have the same fish fry every night we are open. That’s good for groups who want to avoid Friday night crowds.”
After a day of play in Wisconsin’s Northwoods, the restaurant has many Saturday night fans. Known for its Saturday night prime rib and large house salad laden with bacon and cauliflower, you’ll want to come back year after year.
If there are kids in your group, they’ll have fun exploring the game room downstairs while grownups linger over coffee.
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Start a family tradition by celebrating together at the Motor Bar & Restaurant. Hop on a Harley Davidson motorcycle inside the restaurant, and learn more about the Harley story when you take a tour of museum before or after you eat. If you only have time to dine, no admission is needed for the restaurant.
The Motor’s menu is designed to give you the feel of taking a road trip around the country just like you were on a Harley. Dave Kash, director of operations, says, “This is good old fashioned American comfort food. You’ll find menu items from all over the country like our jambalaya recipe from New Orleans, Bar-B Q pork from Georgia, and ribs from Memphis, Tennessee.”
Wisconsin-made food and beverages are also showcased throughout the restaurant. For example, you’ll find local beer from the New Glarus Brewery, and plenty of Wisconsin cheese and sausage.
“Our cheese curds are not just fresh, they are freshly made,” says Kash. “We get them from the Clock Shadow Creamery right across the street.”
Sometimes, the best time of day to gather around the table with family and friends is in the morning or over lunch. This is true for many Northwoods visitors eager to have a meal together before they hike, bike or fish on the lakes. They often meet up for hearty Boulder Junction fare at the Granary Family Restaurant. This eatery will quickly get you in a northern state of mind. After all, you are in Boulder Junction, known as the “Musky Capital of the World.”
Breakfast lovers should try the “Fisherman’s Special” or eggs Benedicts (four choices). There’s something for everyone at lunchtime, including juicy burgers and spicy chicken breast sandwiches
“Friendliness isn’t just part of our name; that’s who we are,” says the restaurant’s co-owner, Pam Hoffman. “The little kids call me “Grammy Pammy.” When new employees come on board we tell them to treat everyone just like they were in your own living room.”
There’s a large banquet room for big groups, but for cozy dining with friends enjoy a meal together on the screened porch.