Monday, September 24, 2012

Eating BIG in Sheboygan

Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties

-German Taverns, Butchers & Bakeries in The Brat Capitol of the World

Somehow this terrific little town always gets overlooked when talking fun spots to visit in Wisconsin. Its the damn name I tell ye, must of been pissed at the parents as a kid. Well anyway it's that time of the year for Oktoberfests and Sheboygan's gotta good one. So I thought now would be the time to share here.
Locals favorite

We stopped in at Al & Al's last year when riding the lake up north towards where WI meets MI. My friend wanted to say hello to Paul, the owner over at Al & Al's which he had met on the BBQ circuit. We stopped in around lunchtime and sat at the bar to say hi. His wife was working two large parties, one was the local alderman trying to convince her wife to run for city mayor. The current ones been in the news of late. But as we could see, she's busy enough running the restaurant. The other large group was a woman's golf outing. We sat at the bar but there's a full dinner menu here and a couple large dining rooms. We eventually got a hold of Paul and he remembered Phil immediately and was happy to see us. We were just stopping in to say hello but that turned into a few beers and a sandwich, or two.

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Nice early afternoon at Al & Al's

Their schnitzel was amazing and one of the best sammy's I had that summer. Perfectly fried tender pieces placed inside one of Sheboygan's famous hard rolls and topped with crisped up extra buttered diced onions and some brown mustard. So good we ordered another for the road. We also enjoyed Spaten's Optimator, seen in pic above, it's a great tasting beer that's very similar to root beer except with the alcohol. Al & Al's hosts an Oktoberfest every year (Oct. 5th and 6th 2012) in which the entire area around the restaurant shuts down and the streets are crowded and flooded with beer booths and food from Al & Al's. Paul puts the whole thing on with his wife and locals help for 1,000's of visitors. One of Wisconsin's best fests or so I was told. I'm going to try and go.

Schnitzel sandwich

We managed to wander around and take in the town while sneaking in a few more food stops before we made our way to Green Bay. Some great brat burgers in the land of bratwurst can be seen HERE.

Any of the old time readers that used to play with Garton Toys? Old factory turned lofts...

I'll bet this place is rocking on St. Patty's Day

The famous City Bakery

Also of note Sheboygan has an abundance of great bakeries. I look forward to trying the lesser known ones on my return trip. This time around I finally got to stop in at City and it was awesome. Living up to the hype, their baked sweets were as good as any I have had. Along with Bleodow's in Winona, MN this is my favorite bakery to date. The hard rolls I brought back were outstanding and their signature peanut crumble I thought was great. Everything was actually really good and I got alot spending around $12, which can be hard to do shopping for one, prices are great.

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Cinnamon raisin concoction (I think) and a cranberry fritter

Aside from brat's and bakeries Sheboygan is also known for their steak sandwiches. They serve them at all the local fast food spots and taverns just like they do brats. Although they're a little different and  are a signature of Miesfeld's, the great butcher shop in town. More similar to a hamburger than steak patty theres something about these "restaurant steaks" as they're called. They make really good tavern food and so some locals will say, "Gosse's gots the best." It's a tavern located in whats also a historical landmark. The building was built in 1927 to accommodate railroad workers offering them a nice place to sleep, get clean and eat while waiting to move on to Chicago via the Northwestern Railroad.

Gosse's Wisconsin Tavern located in a historical building along the railroad tracks

I only had time for a quick brew as I waited for my sandwich and although daytime hasn't prevented bars in Wisconsin from being packed, it was quiet on my visit. Gosse's started out as a drive thru in a tiny building popular for their broaster chicken, brats and steak sandwiches. The place was lost in the "Great flood of Sheboygan" in 1998. After taking a little time off the husband and wife team couldn't live without being in the restaurant biz and opened the tavern in the old hotel in town. Nice place inside and I could see this being my usual Friday night dinner and drinks stop if I lived in Sheboygan. The cheesesteak sandwich is a restaurant steak with some WI cheddar served on a hard roll with lots of butter.

Cheesesteak sandwich from Gosse's

Looks pretty plain and usual from the outside but those restaurant steaks are great as are the local cheddar and hard rolls. Like everything else they go heavy on the butter but they use raw onions which worked well with pickles, mustard and patty. Next time I'll give some other stuff a try including another local specialty, torte's, Gosse's are homemade by the owners mom and they offer up to 20 flavors, I forgot to try one this time around.

The insides

Of course no trip to Sheboygan is complete without a stop at Miesfeld's. Your going to want to bring a cooler and when you do remember your going to want a big one, not a small. There's so much selection at this wonderland of wurst.

Legendary meat mega mall

What to write about Miesfeld's? A place with so much good going on. Famous for their grand champion brats but they offer a whole lot more including their famous restaurant steaks and brat patties too. They supply many restaurants around the area as well as houses. I'd be here every week if it was near me. I still need to do a head to head taste off until I decide who's brats are best but I love theirs here. Also I'm not sure I personally will ever find a hot dog I like better than Vienna Beef natural casing ala the greats (Demon Dogs, Gene & Jude's, 35th Street, Jimmy's etc) but Miesfeld's as noted makes great wieners too, just don't take a twitpic of theirs and then send it out for all to see.
Homemade Brats

Restaurant Steaks and Spencer Steaks (with suet)

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So much more in-store...

Grilled brats from my backyard I brought back

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More of my bounty brought back home: Restaurant Steak & minimalist dog, 'sconnie style

Al & Al's Stenhaus
1502 South 12th Street
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 452-5530

City Bakery
1102 Michigan Avenue
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 457-4493

Gosse's at the Northwestern House
1909 Union Ave
Sheboygan, WI 53081
(920) 457-8696

Miesfeld's Meat Market
4811 Venture Drive
Sheboygan, WI 53083
(920) 565-6328


El Muchacho said...

I know I'm a year late, but I just came across your blog today. Being a native Sheboyganite, I felt pride as well as gratefulness that someone as yourself not only brings recognition to the local cuisine, but also seems to share our passion for it.

However, if you liked the steak sandwich at Gosse's (and it IS very good) well, I have one little, and mostly-hidden, gem to offer you.

South-west of the roundabout just south of the 8th Street bridge, sits the Four-of-a-Kind Bar and Grill, 811 Indiana Avenue. They've been serving a steak sandwich there that's been so good for so long, it's known by legions of local fans simply by it's name: "The Mr. T," as in the guy from the original TV show "The A-Team."

As you sink your teeth into your medium-rare steak sandwich with the works and the melting butter mingles with the juice from that tender steak and begins to drip down on the wax paper in which the sandwich was served, you'll pity the fool who ain't you!

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