The Fox Cities area is a great place to dig into some truly authentic Wisconsin grub. From dining at a restaurant named for a legendary Packers coach to a baker that offers gluten-free treats that could pass for their decadent counterparts, this mini-guide has it covered.
1. Spats Food & Spirits
Spats has been around for quite some time. In fact, the name pays homage to the era when gentlemen wore spatterdashes to protect their shoes. (Think late 1800's and early 1900's.) The restaurant opened in 1922 and has served as an Appleton landmark ever since.
Today, diners enjoy food that has been locally sourced (when available) and prepared by Cutthroat Kitchen Champion Ryan Sherman. He is passionate about the quality of the food that he serves at Spats.
I love horseradish sauce and Spats Sauce is a winner in my book. It's so creamy and delicious with little bits of goodness throughout it's tempting to eat it all by itself.
I recommend the Bourbon Street Shrimp (betcha can't say that three times real fast!). The entree is described as sauteed shrimp, garlic, peppers, onion, and fresh mushrooms served in a Cajun cream sauce over a 6-grain house blend. Yum! Oh, the bread served at Spats is made by Manderfield's Home Bakery in Appleton and it is a great accompaniment.
2. Lamers Dairy
You might be wondering why a dairy is included on my list of where to eat, but Wisconsin is THE place to go for cheese and milk. And Lamers Dairy is one sweet little spot that we stopped at and learned more about the bottling process. The milk at Lamers Dairy is sourced from 7 local farms within a 30-mile radius. Their chocolate milk is so delicious that it took first place in the 2016 World Dairy Expo Championship. (It is smooth, creamy, and chocolaty - like good ice cream.)
Speaking of ice cream - Lamers also serves soft-serve ice cream at the dairy. During Fall, they have Pumpkin Spice Ice Cream to celebrate the season. Delish!
3. Vince Lombardi's Steakhouse
Vince Lombardi, one of the greatest football coaches in history, became the coach of the Green Bay Packers in 1959. Appleton is only about a half-hour away from Green Bay, so naturally, the Fox Cities area is Packer territory. It only makes sense, then, that a great steakhouse with Vince Lombardi's name is located in Appleton.
The cozy, upscale dining environment at Vince Lombardi's Steakhouse showcases mementos from Lombardi's life and career, including the one and only (replica) of the Super Bowl I trophy made by Tiffany & Co.
The Butternut Squash Soup is creamy and seasoned perfectly. It's not on the menu, but I recommend that you ask for it.
4. Stone Cellar Brewpub
Stone Cellar Brewpub is a local spot that will leave you wanting more. Located in the cellar of a building that was originally built in 1858 as a brewery, the Brewpub's environment is cozy and intimate.
The German Style Soft Pretzel is locally made and served with Six Grain Beer Mustard and comes with a side of cheese sauce. Together, they are a heavenly pair.
Stone Cellar Brewpub naturally serves Stone Arch Beer, which is made in the same building. Even non-drinkers will like their nonalcoholic Root Beer which is fantastic.
For dessert, the Chocolate Cheesecake is a winner!
5. Simon's Specialty Cheese
Cheese! Simon's Specialty Cheese knows their stuff. In addition to award-winning cheese, Simon's Specialty Cheese makes take-and-bake pizzas that are so good you might want to eat them all by yourself. Oh - and the chocolate cheese fudge - they make that, too!
6. Happy Bellies Bake Shop
Happy Bellies Bake Shop is AMAZING. The Chocolate Cupcake pictured above was no ordinary chocolate cupcake. It was a handcrafted, natural cupcake that was gluten and dairy-free that could pass for the real thing (gluten- and dairy-full). It was so good.
If you find yourself in Appleton, you need to stop at Happy Bellies. It does not matter if you have food sensitivities or not - their treats are incredible. Plus, you can feel good about eating them. Here is their mission statement:
Our mission is to bake nutritious allergy-free desserts and treats with the most natural (NON-GMO) and healthy ingredients possible to ensure each item is healthful and affordable, without compromising any flavor.
Our vision comes down to four main things; allergy free, all things natural, stewardship and God. We will always produce our products in a dedicated gluten-free facility where we can offer a variety of alternatives to those who are living without, or for those who just plain want to eat a treat without the junk. (Diabetics are in luck as well!) Our vision has been and always will be God as our leader. He opens the doors we walk through and because He is so generous and gracious, we are able to do what we do. Our promise is to be good stewards of this business and what He has provided for us.
7. Wilmar Chocolates
Wilmar Chocolates has been specializing in handcrafted chocolate treats in Appleton since 1956. It's a local favorite candy store and if you go there, you will see why.
Something special that you can partake in is building your own custom candy bar. On Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays between 11 – 5, customers can select up to 4 add-ins as well as optional spices and watch as a chocolatier crafts their unique bar. Options include almonds, cashews, pistachios, toffee chunks, potato chips, goji berries, pineapple, marshmallows, Oreos, Pop Rocks, sprinkles, and espresso.
I enjoyed exploring the dining scene in the Fox Cities. If you find yourself lucky enough to be in the area and want more information, check out the Fox Cities CVB website at www.foxcities.org. I'd like to thank the Fox Cities CVB for hosting me and allowing me to explore their beautiful communities.
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