The south tends to have a reputation for having amazing restaurants in unexpected and unusual places, but they don’t have a monopoly on it. Here in Wisconsin we love a good small-town airport restaurant and we’ve got some amazing food hiding in gas stations and strip malls. You have to be a bit adventurous – or maybe have a friend who is that’ll test things out before reporting back and recommending spots.
Lucky for you, we’ve got amazing readers always looking to suggest new places and turn us on to their favorite hidden gems. Here are 15 great places across the state that you probably would have overlooked, but definitely should make a point to visit …
1. The Launching Pad - Shawano
The last time we did a piece similar to this, I had more than a dozen comments recommending the Launching Pad. Folks love their burgers, so I think we all need to check it out. Located at 221 Airport Rd
Shawano, WI 54166.
2. Z's Fork Horners - Gleason
There's not a lot of options in this area, but that's not what keeps people coming back to Z's. They love the atmosphere as much as they love the food. Located at N4291 Co Rd X, Gleason, WI 54435.
3. Hometown Grill - Shiocton
Huge portion sizes, low prices and a super staff keep locals flocking to Hometown Grill. Located at W7711 WI-54 Trunk, Shiocton, WI 54170.
4. Tasty Treats and Eats - Appleton
You think this is just a bakery in a strip mall, but you'd be wrong. The lunch and breakfast menus are fantastic and then you can go ahead and take some bakery to go. Best of both worlds. Located at 2171 W Wisconsin Ave, Appleton, WI 54914.
5. Wayne's Pizza - Genoa City
Pizza in a gas station has never tasted so good. Order a pie or just nab a slice. They've nailed both deep dish and thin crust. Located at 100 Elizabeth Ln, Genoa City, WI 53128.
6. Oink's - Neenah
Oink's feels like it's from another era, with locals lining the tables who all know each other and a sassy waitstaff who teases and loves everyone. The food is elevated greasy spoon and you'll never leave hungry.
Located at 8386 WI-76, Neenah, WI 54956.
7. Garden of Eatin' - Galesville
Don't head here expecting a salad - this is a retro little dinner with big portions, delicious meals and an awesome music-themed decor. It's small-town diner at it's finest. Located at 19847 E Gale Ave, Galesville, WI 54630.
8. Kate's on State - LaCrosse
This is high-class, white tablecloth-caliber Northern Italian food served in a casual space. The pastas are flavorful and unique, but the atmosphere is relaxed. It's a perfect place, honestly. Located at 333 Main St., La Crosse, WI 54601
9. Landreman's Family Restaurant - Kaukana
Everything you remember about a big family restaurant but with small-town charm and an awesome staff.
Located at 2300 E. Main St
Kaukauna, WI 54130.
10. Chicken Palace - Menasha
Yes, the Chicken Palace serves Mexican food. No, I don't understand either. But yes, you should definitely go. Eating here feels like getting to dine in someone's grandma's kitchen in the very best way. Located at 1550 Appleton Rd., Menasha, WI 54952.
11. Butch's Pizza - Kimberly
They've absolutely nailed Wisconsin cracker-thin pizza. Perfect snap on the crust and no soggy bits under the toppings.
Located at 510 W Kimberly Ave., Kimberly, WI 54136.
12. Pat O'Malley's Jet Room - Madison
I have no idea why Wisconsin seems to have a proliferation of great food at small airports, but here we are. The Eggs Benedict are the star here, but watching kids see the planes take off and land is good pre-meal entertainment. Located at 3606 Corben Ct., Madison, WI 53704.
13. Cafe Porta Alba - Madison
Located at Hilldale Mall, this place is defying all the mall-food stereotypes you might have had. College kids love to come in small groups so they can order a few different pies to share. Make sure you save room for the dessert pizza. Located at 558 N Midvale Blvd., Madison, WI 53705
12. Eagle Waters Resort - Eagle River
This gorgeous resort's restaurant is open to the public and has one of the most amazing outdoor areas I've ever seen. The perfect place for a relaxing Northwoods meal.
Located at 3958 Eagle Waters Rd., Eagle River, WI 54521
15. Imperial Garden - Middleton
Plan to take a big group of friends, then sit at one of the huge tables with a lazy susan built in so you can order half the menu and keep on sharing. Totally worth the small trek outside of Madison. Located at 2039 Allen Blvd., Middleton, WI 53562.