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Wisconsin Dells Local Eats for 2017

Can you tell racing season is in full swing because we haven’t updated the blog since May?  Craig and I spent a half a week at the camper a few weeks ago and we got to do a lot of fun Dells activities.  We have been eating some amazing food, and I’d like to highlight some of our local favorites. We are not paid to endorse any businesses on our site, we just like to share our love of amazing local places.

The Cheesy Tomato

What could be better comfort food than homemade tomato soup and a sandwich? If I am having a bad day, The Cheesy Tomato is where I want to go to eat my feelings. It’s easy to find, just up the road from the Dells Boat Tours ticket office. On a recent visit I had The Munion, which has roast beef, grilled mushrooms and onions on marbled rye. The tomato soup, naturally, is the standout here. It’s so fresh and delicious. The Cheesy Tomato also has some crazy doughnut desserts which I haven’t had room to try.

The Munion sandwich and the best tomato soup I've ever had.

The Munion sandwich and the best tomato soup I’ve ever had.



Edytka’s Polish Restaurant

Speaking of comfort food, I swear it was invented by Polish people.  I am a proud American of Polish descent, and I have converted my Scots-Norwegian husband to a lover of Polish food.  Craig and I typically shop Polish delis in the Chicago area and smuggle delicious things back to Wisconsin.  Our underground pierogi ring is no longer necessary now that the Dells has Edytka’s Polish Restaurant.

Edytka’s is on Broadway and parking is easily accessible behind Wizard Quest.  We love the Edith’s Special, which comes with a ton of goodies like Gołąbki, Pierogi, Polish Sausage and more.  Craig and I usually split this giant plate and take food home.  This dish is a great intro to Polish cuisine.

Edith's Special and Pierogi, because you always need a back up plate of Pierogi in life.

Edith’s Special and Pierogi, because you always need a back up plate of Pierogi in life.



Do you see how this menu says “large portions only” on the top? God bless the Polish.

English and Polish menus. I want one of everything!

English and Polish menus. I want one of everything!


High Rock Cafe

When we’re seeking something a little more upscale, the High Rock Cafe is our go-to restaurant.  The food is artfully crafted.  Our favorite appetizer is the Gilly Goat, which is a baked dish of goat cheese, tapanade and other deliciousness.  I do not have a photo because we plow through that thing without speaking to each other.  If we ever get divorced, it will be over who gets the last bite of Gilly Goat.

Everything I’ve had here is delicious.  My favorite is the Cusabi Wrap, with shrimp and a cucumber-wasabi dressing.  Recently Craig had a burger which was bigger than his head.  I also appreciate the options available for sides. Vacation had me feeling a little sluggish and took a chance on the Kale Glow Bowl Salad as my side. I have never been one to like kale. Kale is what food eats. This salad shut me up about kale! It had a bright citrus dressing and sweet candied pecans. Kale and I have come to an understanding thanks to the High Rock Cafe.

The Cusabi Wrap and Kale Glow Bowl Salad. This salad is so good it ended my hatred of kale.

The Cusabi Wrap and Kale Glow Bowl Salad. This salad is so good it ended my hatred of kale.


I think this burger was a special, and Craig picked sweet potato fries as a side.

I think this burger was a special, and Craig picked sweet potato fries as a side.



There you have it! Fresh, fun and local eats in the Dells. We hope you take the time to try some of these great places and support local businesses.

Kristen

Much Ado About Baraboo

Craig and I sat down on our first weekend in the Dells to make a list of things we wanted to do this year. So far we have done none of them! We have taken time to explore Baraboo and have fallen in love with this small town.

Dining

Baraboo has amazing restaurants!

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Now that's a diner!

Broadway Diner
www.BroadwayDinerEats.com
We were first lured to the Broadway Diner by the fact that it’s an authentic 50’s chrome diner! The food is what keeps us coming back. The Broadway Diner has killer breakfasts. Sit at the counter and watch the cooks work for the most authentic experience. Don’t forget to ask about the specials!

The Barn Sign  The Barn Exterior  The Barn Dining Room  The Barn Appetizers  Prime Rib Sandwich
If it has a neon sign, it has to be good!

The Barn
www.facebook.com/The-Barn-Restaurant-Bar-159705389946
We discovered The Barn in a Google search for “baraboo restaurants.” Once I saw the neon sign I knew we had to stop here. Hooray for Google! The Barn is just that, a restaurant in a restored barn. Our server, Matt, was delightful. The menu is extensive and we had trouble making decisions. Duck bacon wontons, sweet potato wedges and prime rib sandwiches fed us for the whole day! You know your meal is great when you need a nap afterwards. We have to get back to The Barn to try the bluegill.

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A biscuit from The Log Cabin. It was bigger than a tennis ball!

Log Cabin Restaurant and Bakery
www.LogCabin-Baraboo.com
The Log Cabin is located on what we consider the “outskirts” of Baraboo. On our first trip, we kept wondering if we had passed it. Keep going and look for the packed parking lot! The Log Cabin may be as close as we can get to Southern cooking in the north. Massive portions, home cooked meals and biscuits bigger than a cat’s head are highlights at the Log Cabin. They have homemade pies to die for, if you can save room. Do the four egg Country Omelette if you don’t want to eat for the rest of the day.

Little Village Cafe
www.LittleVillageCafe.com
The interior of the Little Village Cafe will transport you to 1940, and the food will transport you to Napa. The goat cheese appetizer is a must have. My biggest thrill is that the Little Village Cafe has so many fresh fish options! Grilled salmon and tuna pop up across the menu. We love the friendly staff and atmosphere.  Regrettably we have no photos of our food because we chow down before we can take a picture!

Shopping

Baraboo Music Store
www.BarabooMusicStore.com
It’s a day before you have to play and you popped your E string on your fiddle. OK, this never happens to most people. Luckily Baraboo Music Store saved The Days (bad pun for the win!). This delightful local music shop had the string I needed at a bargain price. Shop your local music store! You can’t beat the service and price. It also helps when your cashier has E string sympathy.

The Grainery
www.Grainery.biz
The Grainery was a great find for us. We like to experiment with new cooking ingredients, and it’s hard to find things like nutritional yeast in our tiny hometown. (Before you freak and call us dirty hippies, try it on popcorn sometime.) The Grainery has a great selection of produce and dry goods at prices often lower than Whole Foods. On one visit we sampled pistachio butter… yes, peanut butter made from pistachios. It’s as good as you think it is. I use various immune boosting supplements and essential oils (like eucalyptus to clear my stuffy sinuses) and The Grainery had everything I needed. Stop judging. Check out some recipes from the Thug Kitchen series of cookbooks (caution – swear words) and tell me that food isn’t tasty as heck.

The summer isn’t over and we plan to do more in Baraboo. Watch the blog for more Baraboo fun!

Kristen

Supper Clubbing at The Cove

If you live in Wisconsin, you never know what to expect from the weather.  We were all set for racing on May 14 when the races were suddenly cancelled due to 40° temperatures and awful wind. Good call.

Having a rare free Saturday night in the Dells, Craig and I wandered around until we found The Cove supper club in Briggsville.  It was just a short drive from the Dells.

The Cove sign... we are drawn to neon or blinking lights.

The Cove sign… we are drawn to neon or blinking lights.

The interior of The Cove is rustic and cozy. We were seated by the window with a gorgeous view.

Check out the beautiful sunset.

Saturday nights at supper clubs typically feature prime rib. I chose the queen cut while Craig opted for Jägerschnitzel (breaded pork cutlets with mushroom gravy) with potato pancakes.

The prime rib was outstanding.

The prime rib was outstanding.

Jägerschnitzel does not taste like Jägermeister.

Another highlight at The Cove was a massive fish tank with a turtle in it.  I wanted to get a picture but didn’t want to creep out the couple sitting in front of it.

Overall everything was great and we would definitely come back. The walleye cheeks on the menu were tempting considering I have never eaten the cheeks of any animal.

After we dined at The Cove we found out that they sponsored our friend’s dad’s car at Dells Raceway back in the day.  Clearly The Cove stands the test of time.

An old menu from The Cove.

An old menu from The Cove.  How I wish prime rib was $3.70!

Kristen

Find It

The Cove Supper Club
156 WI-23
Briggsville, WI 53920
Phone:(608) 981-2601

Stuff’s Lives Up to Its Name

Updated Review September 13, 2015

Since posting the original review below we have been to Stuff’s many, many times. My new obsession is the Big Bubba breakfast. A massive dinner roll is sliced open to store sausage, hash browns and eggs. Everything is topped off in country gravy and cheese. Yes, we do have a gym membership and yes, we plan to resume it this winter.

The Big Bubba breakfast... happiness in a giant dinner roll!

The Big Bubba breakfast… happiness in a giant dinner roll!

Original Review July 4, 2015

I joined Craig in the Dells this weekend at my very first race at Dells Raceway Park. Booking lodging late meant we only had one night in the Dells, so we stopped at Stuff’s Restaurant on the way up to have a large lunch. We had no idea what we were getting into! I can’t believe we’ve never been here before.

20150704_stuffs_sign

You can’t miss the Stuff’s sign.

Craig had the homemade vegetarian burger and I had an omelet. Our portions were ridiculous and everything was awesome. It’s rare for two people to eat for $20 in the Dells, but we did it at Stuff’s. We also appreciate that the owner came around to every table to check in and say hello. The waitstaff was friendly and we were never without coffee because we got a pot on the table to pour our own.

20150704_stuffs_veg

Homemade veggie burger and potato salad. That potato salad went home before Craig hurt himself.

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Monster omelet with American Fries.

Of course we went back today for breakfast and had biscuits and gravy.

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Biscuit and gravy. This needs to catch on, Northerners!

While we were at the track Bocephus stayed at Pampered Paws Pet Resort and had a bath. Doesn’t he look handsome?

20150705_bo

I’m so pretty! Don’t tell anyone I peed on the floor as soon as I got home despite several rest stops.

Next weekend we’ll be back in the Dells with Bo. Do you think he’ll stay that clean?

Kristen

Find It

Stuff’s, 4144 North Highway 13, Wisconsin Dells, WI

Pampered Paws, 4107 State Highway 13, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Howie’s Restaurant – More Awesome Breakfasts

It seems like Wisconsin Dells has an extensive selection of local restaurants serving magnificent breakfasts. I realize our blog is getting to be more about biscuits and gravy than racing, but the Chaplain and I have separate priorities!  Not to mention my racing posts would be pretty awful to read.

We’ve been loving breakfast at Howie’s Restaurant lately. It’s a simple, no-frills diner with a straightforward menu. I will confess that we ate at Howie’s a few weekends ago and didn’t take pictures because we were too busy stuffing our faces!

howies-menu

The Howie’s menu… nothing fancy, just good, filling food.

Craig went for the Howie’s Super Breakfast, which comes with 2 eggs, sausage, 3 pancakes, hashbrowns and toast.

howies-platter

The Howie’s Super Breakfast. It sure was!

I went for my favorite, biscuits and gravy, with hashbrowns and 2 eggs.

howies-biscuit

Biscuits and gravy with hashbrowns and eggs.

With coffee our breakfast is about $20, which is a bargain in Wisconsin Dells. We couldn’t make such giant breakfasts this cheap, especially since I have no baking skills to make biscuits!

It’s sad to know that racing season has about a month to go. Soon our breakfasts and nights at the track will be a memory… until next year!

Kristen

Find It

Howie’s Restaurant
230 W Munroe Ave.
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Wisconsin Deer Park

Craig and I had not done anything “Dellsy” in a while, so we visited the Wisconsin Deer Park. It was a hot, humid day but the Deer Park was a good attraction for warm weather. The grounds are shady and there were a lot of benches to rest on. Here is a photo tour.

The Wisconsin Deer Park is a self-guided tour through wooded grounds.  Many deer are tame and will come up to you for food.  There are also goats, lemurs, buffalo and scores of other animals to see.  The park has been around for over 50 years, and it’s a nice, peaceful way to spend the afternoon.

Fiberglass is my favorite artistic medium! Here is a giant buffalo.

Fiberglass is my favorite artistic medium! Here is a giant buffalo.

Craig was not eaten by this bear.

Craig was not eaten by this bear.

Many deer at the park roam free and are very open to being petted. This deer had such soft, velvety antlers.

Many deer at the park roam free and are very open to being petted. This deer had such soft, velvety antlers.

This makes me think of Dr. Seuss. "That's the back! The back of a yak. Why just the back? He's having a snack."

This makes me think of Dr. Seuss. “That’s the back! The back of a yak. Why just the back? He’s having a snack.”

When you see a turkey up close they really don't look that delicious.

When you see a turkey up close they really don’t look that delicious.

The signs at the Deer Park crack me up. I love how this puts the responsibility on someone who has the audacity to climb a statue.

The signs at the Deer Park crack me up. I love how this puts the responsibility on someone who has the audacity to climb a statue.

This awesome ride was in the Deer Park gift shop.

This awesome ride was in the Deer Park gift shop.

I love that the sign says "pop" when most people in Wisconsin say "soda."

I love that the sign says “pop” when most people in Wisconsin say “soda.”

This deer had gorgeous, long eyelashes. I should be so lucky!

This deer had gorgeous, long eyelashes. I should be so lucky!

More fun with fiberglass! I had to get a photo on the rooster.

More fun with fiberglass! I had to get a photo on the rooster.

Craig will be back at the track next weekend, but I am home to visit friends and attend my company picnic. We’ll be back next week!

Kristen

Find It

Wisconsin Deer Park
2183 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy
Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

The Cheeze Factory… Yes, I Said Cheeze

One of our favorite restaurants in Wisconsin Dells is The Cheeze Factory. The Cheeze Factory has amazing vegan food. We are not vegan, we just love a good meal. We’ve been eating here for years and are always impressed.

The Cheeze Factory operates in a former cheese factory. It has been transformed into an adorable cafe with Ella Fitzgerald on the jukebox and a soda fountain. I am especially in love with the Chicago World’s Fair murals on the walls.

cf-inside

The Cheeze Factory Restaurant, classic and classy.

 

A World's Fair mural in the ladies room (sorry fellas).

A World’s Fair mural in the ladies room (sorry fellas).

I had the Healthy, Wealthy and Wise dinner, which comes with chickpea chili, veggies, grains, roasted sweet potatoes and a fried banana. I mixed everything together and it was fantastic. The chili has a lovely curry flavor with a hint of citrus.

The Healthy, Wealthy and Wise place. Do I need all three or what?

The Healthy, Wealthy and Wise place. Do I need all three or what?

Craig had the Linguini Primavera which came with loads of roasted veggies and garlic bread.

Oh carbs, how we love thee!

We took a piece of ginger “cheezecake” home for dessert because we were stuffed. If you’ve never had vegan food, The Cheeze Factory makes it an easy transition. You will not miss the meat, and this is coming from a Polish girl who grew up having at least two meats at every holiday!

Kristen

Find It

The Cheeze Factory Restaurant, 521 Wisconsin Dells Pkwy S, Wisconsin Dells, WI 53965

Pewits Nest State Natural Area

Pewits Nest State Natural Area is located in Baraboo, WI, just outside of the Wisconsin Dells. Surrounded by farm fields, it is a wonder that this area has been preserved at all. There is a tiny parking lot that holds about 12 cars, and maybe 14 if people really squeeze tight. The road is clearly marked “NO PARKING” for a mile in either direction of the driveway. I was annoyed at first when I got to the lot and there was nowhere for my car to go, but the entire area is only a few acres, and people file in and out regularly.

Once I got down the trail entrance and got into the area of interest, which is the stream and the trails surrounding it, I was glad for the small parking lot because a big crowd would ruin the ambiance. The area is slightly rugged and there are no markings to be found, so just explore. If you get lost somehow, just listen for the voices of others and walk towards them and you’ll find your way.

On the way in, I was told by an exiting visitor that I should leave my phone behind, but I said to myself, “I’ve got to get pictures for my blog.” I’m glad I got the pictures, but I would like to go back without it, so I can play without worrying about it getting wet. If you want to bring your phone, make sure you have a waterproof case. The best views of the area are from creek which is shallow most of the way. There are a few deep holes though, and I thought my phone was going under in them. After my visit, I looked for a LifeProof case, but they don’t make one for my phone and don’t have plans to. Frowny face.

In the creek, I met Ben, Breanne, and Alyssa, from Ohio, New York, and Michigan respectively – a nice group of young folks who have Saturdays off from their work at the Easter Seals of Wisconsin Respite Camp.

Taking a break from Easter Seals camp.

Taking a break from Easter Seals camp.

They helped me to get pictures and were a wonderful example of the type of people that seemed to visit the area in general. There are always some to spoil things, but a man and his son were busy picking up trash as they traversed the creek. They brought a garbage bag specifically to do so!

A view of the waterfall.

A view of the waterfall.

Standing in the waterfall. It was refreshing.

Standing in the waterfall. It was refreshing.

Some words of advice: bring water shoes, leave your non-waterproof phone behind, and if you can swim, you should definitely walk the creek!

Craig

About Days in the Dells

I am excited to start sharing information on the restaurants and places we visit in Wisconsin Dells on the Days in the Dells section of our blog, but let’s set a few guidelines. I will likely review a lot of restaurants, but you need to know a little bit about what we look for in a dining experience.

Paul Bunyan's Lumberjack Meals is a Dells staple.

Paul Bunyan’s Lumberjack Meals is a Dells staple. I’m a sucker for tin cups.

  • We like snooty food, but don’t eat it often. I’ll admit to having truffle oil in our kitchen. I’ll also admit to putting it on toaster hashbrown patties.
  • Craig could live on trail mix. Seriously. He could shake a bird feeder and have himself a good meal. I, on the other hand, like a nice steak and Old Fashioned just as much as anyone in Wisconsin.
  • I was brought up learning that if you don’t get leftovers, it wasn’t worth it. You should also snag some sugar packets on the way out (one tradition I do not carry on).
  • The cameras on our phones are lousy so there won’t be any artsy photos here.
  • Marilyn Hagerty, author of The Eatbeat, is my food blog icon. Check out her now famous Olive Garden review.
  • If you read “Fried Green Tomatoes” and always wanted to eat at the Whistle Stop Cafe, you’ll know what I like in my restaurant experiences.
  • If you want to learn about great, local places to eat in the Dells, you have found the right blog.
dells-shopping

Souvenirs from Parson’s Indian Trading Post. Yes, that is an ash tray.

As for tourist attractions, here’s a few criteria we look for.

  • Kitschy! If it’s tacky or old, we will visit and take pictures.
  • If it claims to be the “world’s largest” anything we’re there!
  • Museums, especially ones that involve a lot of reading and quiet? Sign us up! Bonus points for costumed interpreters.
  • Has it been a local staple since 1960 or before? Have the employees been working there since 1960? Oh yes!
  • Can Craig climb things, be loud or get dirty while I read in the car?
  • Is the gift shop a little behind the times? (Ashtrays, for instance?) Get that in my bag!

Your tacky tourist,

Kristen

Why We Love the Dells

Wisconsin Dells is a special place for Craig and I. We spent most of our honeymoon in 2003 moving to a new apartment, but we still took two days to visit the Dells. I will be updating this part of the blog with info on our favorite Dells haunts.

If you’re not from Wisconsin, Wisconsin Dells is a beautiful area on the Wisconsin river. Its sandstone cliffs create unique rock formations that have become local legends. I’ve heard the Dells compared to Niagra Falls, or called a “tourist trap,” and there are many ways to spend a buck in the Dells. Craig and I love the “old” Dells and we prefer to stay and eat local when we visit. We want to help you do the same.

dells-parsons

In the tee pee at Parson’s Indian Trading Post

Today Wisconsin Dells is known as “the water park capitol of the world.” Indoor and outdoor water parks abound. The Dells is a great place for families year round. You can rent luxury condos and dine like a king, or you can enjoy friendship and s’mores at a local campground. Camping is definitely our style.

Check out these sites to learn more about this special place:

Wisconsin Dells Official Site – all the tourism information you need

H.H. Bennett Studio – meet the man that made the Dells famous

I’m looking forward to bringing you the nerdy, tacky, historic and weird Wisconsin Dells that I love!

Kristen