Restaurant dishes

Best Restaurant Foods, Recipes & Drinks of 2017 in Wisconsin

WISCONSIN – All right kids, come together. It’s time for some leftovers – uh, a second serving of the best bites and sips I’ve had this year.

I’ll be completely honest: this list was put together in a totally unscientific way. The foods and drinks on this list are the ones I recalled from my brain … or scrolling through my social media posts. Hey, if I can’t remember a food that I ate or tagged it #calorieworthy, it might be good, but not better.

Foods and drinks that took the form of a story include links, the rest can be found in my Instagram feed and Facebook page.


Drunken mushrooms from Pier 465 will be among dishes featured on Saturday at Wisconsin Food & Wine Experience

Drunken mushrooms, Pier 465 (Ashwaubenon): I am a fan of mushrooms. And butter. This has loads of both. Read the story.

Celebrate National Potato Month in Wisconsin, which, by the way, is one of the top potato-producing states in the United States.

Duck fat fries, Dairyland Brewery (Appleton): I brought my duck food expert to check the quality of these duck fries a few months ago. The other day, I heard him raving about it again from a colleague. Read the story.

Fried smoked wings, Parker John’s BBQ & Pizza (Menasha): Smoke. Fried. Jumped up. It’s perfect. Read the story.

Large-plate sandwiches

Bourbon BBQ Brisket Macaroni Grilled Cheese at WOW in Wausau

Bourbon BBQ Brisket Macaroni Grilled Cheese, WOW (Wausau): They had a delicious barbecue meal and had it sandwiched between two slices of bread and toast. Read the story.

Pork belly slider, The Fireside Restaurant (Ellison Bay): One of the Wisconsin Food & Wine Experience’s many delicious bites, it’s the equivalent of a bacon sandwich made with about 100 pieces of bacon topped with a lemongrass coleslaw salad. Learn more about the Wisconsin food and wine experience.

Snaps Wraps

Snaps Wraps (Appleton): A healthy dose of vegetables packaged carefully enough that you can eat on the go. In fact, this wrapping store in a converted Joe To Go, only has one drive-thru option. You can get a wrap at the same time as you would a fast food burger or taco. Read the story.

Steak Tacos, El Tequila (Manitowoc): Speaking of tacos, I have two words for you: carne asada. Order it now. Thank me later. Read the story.

Cooking at home

Kathleen Joy, from Peshtigo, is the winner of the USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin BBQ Rib Recipe Contest, brought to you by Festival Foods.

Rubbing winner of the barbecue contest: We were asking for rib rub in this year’s contest. When the winner, Kathleen Joy, Peshtigo, said she used it on steaks, I was intrigued. Taste the friction before it applies to the meat and the cayenne pepper provides plenty of heat. Enough that I thought it would ruin a top quality cut of steak. I was wrong. I tried it on strip loin steaks (later cut for tailgating sandwiches) and the heat turned out to be a great balance with the fat. Read the recipe here.

Bloody Mary Hot Dog: Taking inspiration from minor league baseball teams and food stalls at UW sporting events serving Cher-Make hot dogs, this recipe developed with ZoZo’s Kitchen chef / owner Bob Stahl includes a Bloody Mary ketchup and a spicy pickle relish. Read the recipe here.

Green & Gold Bomb Cupcake

Green and golden cupcake bomb: I adapted a car bomb Irish cupcake recipe that uses Kohler chocolate brandy and Hinterland Luna Stout to make a Packers themed version. I then convinced Nicolas Blouin, executive pastry chef of Destination Kohler, to make the recipe while I was filming it. Read the recipe here.

The red bratwurst: After hearing more than one brewer say that amber is the way to go with your bratwurst beer bath, our videographer WisBrewView took it upon himself to test an amber beer (and a stout) versus the crappy more traditional beer. that you can find. After good small-scale feedback, we used our colleagues as test subjects in a blind tasting. Our highly unscientific results proved that amber is superior. Recipe and results here.


Casper the friendly café au lait, Zest Bakery (Stevens Point): As if I was going to pass up the opportunity to try a Ghost Pepper Latte. It is not a gadget. Good heat without overwhelming the coffee. I look forward to his return next fall.

Mark Patel, co-owner of Luna Coffee Roasters at De Pere, pours a glass of cold brew nitro coffee on August 2, 2017. Sarah Kloepping / USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

Cold Brew Nitro Coffee (Multiple Locations): Smooth. It is coffee without bitterness. Additionally, you can reheat your cold brew at ACOCA Coffee, Appleton, if you don’t want cold coffee in the winter. Read the story here.

Porter aged in cask from Stillmank Brewing (Green Bay): No coffee or cocoa nibs or other additives, just barrel aging that proves simple things are best.

The Wolf, imperial stout aged in cask, 3 Moutons Brewing

Le Loup, Brasserie des 3 Moutons (Sheboygan): Once again, getting back to the basics of a well crafted Imperial Stout meeting the art of barrel aging.


Cake pops, The Cupcake couture (De Pere): Dense. Humid. Soft. I felt full after just one, but wanted to eat the whole stack at the Wisconsin Food & Wine Experience. Learn more about the Wisconsin food and wine experience.

Donuts, Baby Bakery (Madison): Currently occupies number one spot in my unofficial donut grading system. Somehow sweet and light yet tasty. I’m now looking for excuses to travel to Madison – just for donuts.

Cravings Bakery's Dutch Apple Pie in Whitelaw can be found on the menus at Family Restaurant Two Rivers (Two Rivers), Restaurant Fork & Knife (Manitowoc), and Dali's Cafe (Manitowoc).

Dutch Apple Pie, Cravings (Manitowoc and Two Rivers): It’s a family recipe cooked to perfection with apple and cinnamon. Read the full story here.

Tres leches cake El Jefe Tacos Y Tequila at Stevens Point.

Tres Leches Cake, Tacos Y Tequila from El Jefe (Stevens Point): I was stuffed with tacos, crisps, pineapple salsa and a tequila barrel aged stout from Central Waters Brewing, by the time I got down to this dessert and struggled to m ‘prevent licking the plate. (I did the most socially acceptable thing and wiped off the sticky caramel sauce with my fingers instead.)

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