Our great state celebrates 170 years of history this year. In order to celebrate, why not head out for a meal at some of the oldest spots in Wisconsin? These restaurants have all been serving customers for more than 100 years. They’re timeless, delicious and chock full of history. Why not plan a trip to one of these iconic spots to find out how they’ve kept customers coming back for more decade after decade?
We’re aware that these uncertain times are limiting many aspects of life as we all practice social and physical distancing. While we’re continuing to feature destinations that make our state wonderful, we don’t expect or encourage you to go check them out immediately. We believe that supporting local attractions is important now more than ever and we hope our articles inspire your future adventures! And on that note, please nominate your favorite local business that could use some love right now:
1. Red Circle Inn - Nashotah
Red Circle Inn is located on what was the old plank road connecting Watertown to Milwaukee. Built in 1848, the year we became a state, this was a popular stop for travelers first on the stagecoach and then on the railroad. Actually named Red Circle Inn by Frederick Pabst, now it's a delicious bistro in Milwaukee's far west lake country. Located at N44W33013 Watertown Plank Rd, Nashotah, WI 53058.
2. Trempealeau Hotel - Trempealeau
This hotel, located just blocks from the Mississippi River, opened in 1871. It's one of the few local buildings that survived a fire a few year later. Nestle up to the bar that's original to the building and enjoy some truly delicious food. Located at 11332 Main St, Trempealeau, WI 54661.
3. Turner Hall - Monroe
Though the current building only dates to 1938, the very first Turner Hall in Monroe dates to 1868. Though there are many Turner Halls of German origin left (including one in downtown Milwaukee) it is believed this is the only Swiss origin Hall that remains. Built as a place to practice gymnastics, it quickly became the center of the Swiss community in the area and a gathering spot. The restaurant serves everything from fondue to a great fish fry and so much more. Located at 1217 17th Ave, Monroe, WI 53566.
4. Jack Pandl's - Whitefish Bay
In the early 1900s, Whitefish Bay was a summer retreat for Milwaukee city-dwellers looking to spend time on the water, where it was cooler. Jack Pandl's opened in 1915 to serve that wealthy summer community. Still owned by the same family that opened it, it's a iconic part of the Milwaukee North Shore.
Located at 1319 E Henry Clay St, Whitefish Bay, WI 53217.
5. Wilmot Stage Stop - Wilmot
Though currently closed, it was announced just this week that new owners were taking over, so it felt necessary to include the Stage Stop on the list. First opened in 1848, this spot was in the same family for seven generations. A new group is taking over to continue the amazing history of this restaurant that was one a stagecoach stop on the road along the Fox River from Illinois. Located at 30646 113th St, Wilmot, WI 53192.
6. Union Hotel - De Pere
This hotel was built in 1883 and is on the National Historic Register. Green Bay was Wisconsin's second city, so it makes sense that this hotel just blocks from the Fox River would have been necessary to serve the population traveling through the area, for business or pleasure. Family-owned for the past century, Union Hotel is part supper club, part steak house and all delicious. Located at 200 N Broadway St, De Pere, WI 54115.
7. BJ Wentekers - Burlington
Bernard J. Wentker built his first restaurant in this spot in 1894. Rebuilt in 1908, the restaurant features cabinets purchased during the 1893 World's Fair in Chicago and gorgeous tin ceilings. Like any good Wisconsin spot, the bar was a prominent draw, so B.J. Wentker's was disguised as an ice cream parlor during Prohibition. Now it's a quaint and welcoming little spot in Burlington. Located at 230 Milwaukee Ave, Burlington, WI 53105.
8. Chances - Rochester
Another spot located just along the Fox River, the building housing Chances was built in 1843. First a hotel and restaurant, now Chances is a spot with tons of history serving delicious food to folks in southeast Wisconsin. Located at 205 W Main St, Rochester, WI 53167.
9. Kurtz's Deli - Two Rivers
This spot was built in 1904 and is in its third generation of family ownership. A simple German pub with hearty sandwiches and of course a great beer selection, Kurtz's is a gem you need to visit in Two Rivers. Located at 1410 Washington St, Two Rivers, WI 54241.
10. Maders - Milwaukee
Charles Mader opened his first small restaurant in 1902 and called it "The Comfort." It served the blue collar workers of downtown Milwaukee, mostly as a bar. Thanks to Prohibition and a need to rework the business model, that establishment eventually became Mader's, a restaurant synonymous with Milwaukee and its German heritage. Located at 1041 N Old World 3rd St, Milwaukee, WI 53203.
11. Monarch Public House - Fountain City
The current owners have put a ton of work and love into restoring this historic spot, which was built along the Great River Road in 1894. The Irish menu is spot on and delicious. Located at 19 N Main St, Fountain City, WI 54629.
12. Ye Olde Hotel Bar and Restaurant - Lyons
Built as a hotel in 1860, it sits along a former rail line. This place embraces its history with a nostalgic cocktail and food menu. Located at 6070 N Railroad St, Lyons, WI 53148.