The restaurant scene in Wisconsin is a wonderful mix of tried and true favorites that have lasted for years and newer places that have garnered a big following. There’s a ton of options to choose from every time you want to dine out, and that can sometimes mean you might not want to go somewhere you know will have a wait. But these 15 restaurants are so good, they’re worth the wait. Plan to belly up to the bar, chat with some friends and know that while you do have to cool your heels a bit, the food makes it all worthwhile.
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life. While we continue to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, please take proper precautions or add them to your bucket list to see at a later date. If you know of a local business that could use some extra support during these times, please nominate them here:
1. Baumgartner's - Monore
You can basically put yourself in a cheese coma just wandering around Monroe, but when it comes to meal time, you have to head here. It's no frills, bu they don't need frills because they're serving you the very best of fresh ingredients and they want them to shine through. Despite all our cheese, you'll not find another spot like this anywhere else in the state. Baumgartner's is an experience, but one worth the wait.
Located at 1023 16th Ave., Monroe, WI 53566.
2. Blue's Egg - Wauwatosa
Simply put, I've never had a bad or even less-than-great dining experience at Blue's (Or any of their sister restaurants). The staff is friendly, funny, efficient and great at their jobs. The food is consistently good and you can taste that they love what they do.
Folks will tell you it's overrated or the line is too long, but those people are liars. The not-so-secret is to stop trying to go here with 7 people at 10 am on a Sunday. I've never waited more than a few minutes for a table when it's just for two. When you get the chance to go mid-week it feels like getting away with something. There's no line and there's always a drink special to lure you in. The flavored champagnes are decadent, as are the spiked coffee options. Get yourself up early, don't try to take your whole extended family, and go hungry. And get your browns with cheese, ham and onion.
Located at 317 N 76th St., Milwaukee, WI 53213.
3. UW Terrace - Madison
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On a warm spring or summer night, you will wait for a table despite the giant patio. But it's so, so worth it. There are a lot of places to eat in Madison, but honestly, I often prefer the terrace. It's chill and relaxed, there's live music and the view cannot be beat. There's literally nothing better in Madison than a sunset on the Terrace. It's cliche and it's popular, but it's also amazing. Grab something from the Rathskeller or try one of the newer food options. Either way, the Terrace is all that is great and good about Wisconsin summers (and spring and fall as well).
Located at 800 Langdon St, Madison, WI 53706.
4. 2510 Restaurant - Wausau
I've done a number of lists about the state where folks have wondered why I left 2510 off. This spot is warm and welcoming and popular and once you've been, you won't be forgetting it.
Located at 2510 Stewart Ave, Wausau, WI 54401.
5. Old Rittenhouse Inn
The gold standard for elegance in the Northwoods, Old Rittenhouse just feels glamorous and ornate. It's quite popular for a nice night out, but plan ahead and you won't regret having to wait for it.
Located at 301 Rittenhouse Ave, Bayfield, WI 54814.
6. The Old Fashioned - Madison
I was just here on a Monday night after graduation with two people and it was still a 20 minute wait. That being said, that's one drink and then you're ready to have some of the best cheese curds in the state.
Located at 23 N Pinckney St, Madison, WI 53703.
7. Pete's Hamburger Stand - Prairie du Chien
This little stand is an institution. Petes has been serving up hamburgers here for 110 years.
Located at 118 W Blackhawk Ave, Prairie du Chien, WI 53821.
8. Delta Diner - Delta
About as iconic as a Wisconsin restaurant can be, Delta Diner is great no matter the season. Folks drive their snowmobiles here in the winter. It's small, so you'll probably have to wait, but you won't be sad you did.
Located at 14385 County Highway H, Delta, WI 54856.
9. Frank's Diner - Kenosha
Frank's is both the most-recommended place in Wisconsin and the one that most lives up to the stories people tell. You think it can't possibly be that good to be worth standing in line no matter how many people tell you so. But it is. It's a small place and you'll see your food being made right there on the griddle. And then you'll gorge yourself and not regret a single spoonful. Space is at a premium and you will wait, so plan ahead.
Located at 508 58th St., Kenosha, WI 53140.
10. Sheeley House - Chippewa Falls
The first building on this spot was built in 1868. Once a private home and then a boarding house, this building is gorgeous and serves up some of the best food in the area. It just doesn't get cooler than this.
Located at 236 W River St, Chippewa Falls, WI 54729.
11. Green Acres - Sauk City
Another historic spot, Green Acres has been around since the 1880s. They serve amazing steaks, and folks in the area flock here on the weekend.
Located at 7470 WI-78 Trunk, Sauk City, WI 53583.
12. Skaliwag's - Algoma
These folks are so popular in the Green Bay area that they have a food truck to take their stuff to the masses. It's not the fanciest place in town, but the food has people lining up for it.
Located at 312 Clark St, Algoma, WI 54201.
13. Al Johnson's
Lots of other restaurants in Door County have come and gone, but Al Johnson's continues to be here serving up amazing food. Sure, it's a bit kitschy but it manages to toe that line well. A trip to Door County really isn't complete until you've seen their goats. It's comfort food, made from scratch and a meal here is chock full of flavor memories.
Located at 10698 N Bay Shore Dr., Sister Bay, WI 54234.
14. Mona Lisa's - Eau Claire
This is a college town for sure, but when you want a nice meal, Mona Lisa's is where you go. Locals say this place delivers "big city" dining in a small-town setting. They love the vibe and consistently amazing food.
Located at 428 Water St., Eau Claire, WI 54703.
15. Blue Heron - Eagle River
You might not see lines out the door, but this place fills up in the summer and on weekends, and for good reason. Everything is fresh and delicious. The chef warns right on the menu that their food is fresh and takes time - meaning not a lot of table turnover. You may have to wait your turn, but the wait will be so, so worth it.
Located at 4443 Chain O Lakes Rd, Eagle River, WI 54521.
What are the popular places that you are willing to wait for? Let us know in the comments!