What To Eat in Wisconsin
You know you are in the Dairy State when hamburgers and charcoal-cooked brats (bratwursts) come glistening with butter, and when cheese curds are served in every bar. Cool, smooth custard is another creamy specialty; and cream pies are superlative. Fruit pies – apple, cherry, rhubarb, berry – also are memorable, even if not served a la mode. Friday night is fish fry night in virtually every restaurant; and if you’re up in Door County in the summer, do avail yourself of the pyrotechnical spectacular known as a fish boil. Milwaukee is rich in ethnic foods and is one of America’s top corned beef cities.
Other than butter-sculpture contests at the state fair, there is no better demonstration of Wisconsin's passion for butter than the butter burger, which is so popular that many restaurants where it is served don't even bother to call it that. Order a hamburger and it automatically comes soaked with melted butter. Not margarine, not flavored oil: pure, dairy-rich butter. Words cannot describe the wanton opulence of hoisting one of these big boys from plate to mouth and feeling commingled butter and beef juices running hot rivers down one's chin, fingers, and wrist. Similarly, charcoal-cooked bratwurst served in Wisconsin sandwiches comes glistening not only with its own fat, but with that of a few melting butter pats as well.
Nearly every Milwaukee restaurant has a Friday night fish fry. From the humblest corner tavern to the finest fine-dining restaurants, count on fried fish with all the fixins (preferably potato pancakes).
If you think of custard as the commonly-found franchised soft-serve fare, come to Wisconsin and have a cup of vanilla. It is dense, smooth as alabaster, sweet and simple. Mix-ins and silly flavors exist, but they are peripheral. Purity is what people in Wisconsin demand; and in fact it is rare to find bad ice cream or custard anywhere in the state that likes to call itself America's Dairyland.
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Polish food at its best in Milwaukee: From homey chicken noodle soup to pierogi to elegant crepes, a meal at Polonez is is a memorable experience.
The famous Sheboygan, Wisconsin brat(wurst) is best at the Charcoal Inn, where sandwiches ooze a delectable blend of fire-cooked meat juice & melted butter.
Chili John's, dating back to 1913, is home of a unique Midwestern chili of beans, spaghetti, & meat suffused with spicy oil that cranks up the heat.
Real Chili serves bowls of chili mild, medium, or hot, with spaghetti or beans, or spaghetti AND beans, the full package known as the Marquette Special.
Solly's Grille serves the great butter burger of Milwaukee, literally dripping with butter. Milk shakes are Dairy State-rich. We love the fresh banana malt.
Iron Grate BBQ’s Milwaukee rib is both rib and pork belly: a fatty, melt-in-your mouth experience that should put this spot high on your Wisconsin hit list.
Kroll's West is loved by fans of the Green Bay Packers (whose home field is directly across the street). Signature dish: a deliciously sloppy butter burger.
The Door County, Wisconsin fish boil -- whitefish and red potatoes followed by cherry pie -- is at its best at the White Gull Inn restaurant in Fish Creek.
Well out in the country in north Wisconsin, Basil's II serves some of the most buttery butter burgers in the state. On the side: cheese curds!