Eating like a local:
Regional food specialties
- AM Eats in America's Dairyland
I've long been a proponent of the Wisconsin food and drink scene. They have their very own style and it involves lots of not so good for you things. They dont do veggie dogs, they do brats. The salads here are accompanied by 4 or 5 other relish condiments and come with about a cups worth of dressing. Wisconsin does all of the All-American things really well. This includes breakfast. No matter where you are in the state there's always a good breakfast spot nearby. Here's five to try.
The Coffee Pot
The towns of both Kenosha and Racine offer us Chicagoan's some pretty good food options for when we're driving thru. If you ever find yourself going North on 94 and want something to eat in downtown Kenosha than the Coffee Pot is a spot you should check out. It's a great breakfast stop.
Breakfast was at the Coffee Pot which won out over Frank's due to a wait. We were able to snag some seats at the counter and having heard some good (and bad) things
about their Corned Beef Hash I was ready to try that. She went with
half of a "perk-o-lator" which is basically the same thing as a garbage
plate down the street at Frank's. Egg's, sausage, onions, peppers, hash
browns and cheese all thrown together into one. The large which I've had
before is massive, a half order with their top notch made in house
toast will be more than enough.
Perk-o-later Plate (1/2 order)
had the perk plate last time I was here and it's a signature sconnie
style breakfast that will not let you leave hungry. I like it although
I'm not sure it's better than Frank's version aka a "Garbage Plate". A
taste off might have to happen. The CBH was pretty good. I didn't think
it was top notch but the fact that it was homemade makes it comforting
but they could of used a little more corned beef. The beef to potato
ratio was off. But that toasted homemade bread which is given a healthy
dose of butter is really, really good. Breakfast sandwich with that
bread next time. It's so money.
Corned Beef Hash Breakfast
I'd known about Jo's Cafe in the Brew City for some time since it's
featured over on roadfood. But despite countless trips to Milwaukee over
the years I had never been to Jo's until now. I spent a few days up
there doing some things and opted not to stop at the Coffee Pot in
Kenosha while en route choosing instead to start my day at Jo's and see
what was up.
the outside Jo's as you can see is a real no frills type of place. I
got the feeling that everyone in there was a local regular as both the
waitress and the man behind the grill whom I believe was Jo chatted it
up with those coming in to dine and others taking orders to go. Its
small inside with there being a few tables which were taken by local
families and a counter with maybe eight seats right in front of where
all the action takes place. It felt a little like Moon's
up in there.
The view from the counter
is all about the home cooking and watching him work the grill you can
see he's a pro. I was impressed with how he used every last inch of
space both on the griddle and in terms of storing stuff. The fresh baked
buns for burgers and breakfast sandwiches were really tempting me to go
one of those ways as was the daily special spaghetti plate. I usually
wouldn't think I'd be interested in eating spaghetti at 10:30 in the
morn but the plates they were bringing out for others smelled great. I
went with their signature dish the Hoppel Poppel (or is it hoffel
poffel?) which is also a signature breakfast dish of the city served
elsewhere. At Jo's they take big hunks of potato browned with onions,
and add scrambled eggs and chunks of spicy salami with cheese on top if
you want. Very comforting and VERY filling. It's definitely a sconnie
style breakfast no doubt about that. I'd go back.
Hoppel Poppel for Breakfast
I had breakfast at the locally loved Harry's Diner in the Bratwurst Capitol
of the World recently and enjoyed my visit. Upon rolling up you'll
immediately notice the reflecting silver exterior of this 1950's style
inside of the space isn't as charming as the outside but they do serve
beer so this is a popular stop for folks looking for breakfast and
booze. Quite a few people were dining in on this visit and all the
ladies working the tables were running around making sure it was going
smooth as the manager tended to the cash register near the entrance. I
don't think this place has been around since the 50's but they did a
good job of making it feel that way.
a peek inside
is only open until 3p each day (Closed Mondays) so most people are here
for breakfast though they do have a lunch portion to their menu too.
I'd heard good things about their pancakes and in particular the potato
ones so I knew going in I'd be trying those, it was just a matter of
seeing if there was some sort of combo that included some of Sheboygan's
finest encased meat to go with it. Lucky me they had a potato pancake
served with bratwurst and two eggs done your way platter for $8.50. The
pancake comes with your choice of apple sauce or sour cream and I'm a
fan of the latter so I went with that. Excellent recipe. This was a
thicker well minced blend with plenty of diced onion inside. Of course
the split brat to go with it was what you expect from the town that
makes the best.
Potato Pancake, Bratwurst and Eggs for Breakfast
Mickie's Dairy Bar
If you attended the University of Wisconsin you know all about the local icon that is Mickie's. Chances are even if you didn't go there but been to Madison you know about it. The town favorite has been a student hang out since it first opened in 1946. To this day it feels like the 1950's on the inside.
Mickie's gained much if it's cult following with the sheer size of it's meals. It's a place that you can fill up past full and walk out having spent about $10. Thus it's favorite for everyone from newly arrived freshmen to the offensive line on the football team as well as longtime residents of the city. It's most always packed and that's because there's always groups of friends eating inside. The menu boasts all the classics you'd expect to find at a popular breakfast stop as well as the typical lunches.
A Peek Inside (menus old and current)
While everyone has their favorites there are some things that Mickie's will always be remembered for. First and foremost, aside from the size of each plate, is the corn cakes. These massive cousins to the pancake taste just like piping hot cornbread. When smeared with butter they really are delicious. Unless you're starting at right tackle for the Badgers this upcoming season I see no reason you need the regular order of two but at just $1 less for one you may want to bring home breakfast for the next few days. What's great about group dining at Mickie's is you get to eat these and something else.
Mickie's Famous Corn Cakes
Other popular items include the scrambler which is pretty much a little bit of everything mixed in with what I think was four, maybe five eggs, something ridiculous that only a college kid fresh off a 15 hour library binge followed by bong hits could enjoy. Something commonly on special is the pork chops with eggs. That's what I got on my most recent visit in this past summer. The pork chops have always been cooked until well done but when chopped up into little bits and mixed with the potatoes and eggs this is a very good, and of course filling, breakfast.
Pork Chop and Eggs
I spent some time up in Bayfield
and as always did a little research on
where to eat while en route. Somewhere along the line I came up with a
rec for the Delta Diner which is far, far north. It's about 20 minutes
SW of Ashland which sits on Lake Superior. If there were ever a place I
ate at that sits in the middle of nowhere this would be it to date.
Surrounded by lakes and a few gravel rocked roads with packs of wild
turkeys along them.
off if you look this place up on google, theres like six different
towns they say it's in. My GPS was no help at all as it wanted us to
turn down a narrow snowmobile/ATV path that would of wrecked the bottom
of my car. But if you're lucky enough to have a signal on your cell
phone (I didn't, she did) then google maps will get you there. But
you'll go down unpaved roads for about 10 miles and wonder with each
passing minute whether you're going around in circles en route to
nowhere. In the end though, it's all worth it.
A feel of the East Coast hidden in the Northwoods of Wisconsin
Delta Diner was born in 2004 and if you want the entire story about how
it was born and became about you can check their website HERE
. The owners decided to restore what they were told is an old 1940's Silk City Diner
. They wanted to put the diner in the locally historic site of the old Delta General Store which is written about in "Growing up in a Country Store: Memories and History of Delta and Ino, Wisconsin
" According to that book the town and the general store came about at the same time in 1924.
Views from the counter
urge all to read the link from their website about the story of how
this diner came about and the history of the land it stands on. To try
and sum it up in a few quotes though. "Having an authentic diner was
very important to us"
"In early 2003 we contracted for a
“frame-up” restoration of a 1940 Silk City Diner, due for completion in
the fall of that year"
"The Delta Diner was about 90% complete
in the middle of October of 2003. Living in far Northern Wisconsin we
were facing a dilemma...The restorer agreed to ship the diner for
completion on site so that we could complete excavation and concrete
work prior to the ground freezing. In the end we cut it close, but got
it done! It was quite a sight seeing the Delta Diner coming down
Bayfield County Highway H in one piece on a semi-trailer"
expected that our chapter to the story of the “Delta Diner” would take
many years to develop. Many ingredients contribute to the story of a
diner. The building, its location and possible past locations, the
characters that make up its customer base, the owner or owners, and its
eclectic staff all paint the picture of a diner. It can take many years
to have an intriguing story unfold. Without knowing it, our diner may
have come prepackaged with intrigue"
"Where did the Delta Diner
come from? Where did it operate prior to being abandoned “in a field
somewhere in New York?” What can the identification tag on the original
frame (if still on the frame) tell us about our diner? What did it look
like when it was removed from the field? These are questions that can
only be answered by our restorer. While we were provided a brief verbal
version of our diner’s history, the promised written and photographic
record has not been delivered. We have a contract that states we
purchased a “restored 1940 Silk City Diner”. However, despite our
efforts to obtain verification, we have yet to receive it."
A peek inside from the front/back
to this day they dont know the exact history of what's supposed to be
an old real deal restored Silk City Diner adding to the intrigue of this
place. I'm not a diner expert but if this is indeed a rebuild of an
original it's a damn fine copycat job. They try to make the experience
as authentic as possible so this includes no menus. Everything available
is on display and when your waitress comes to take your order she'll
explain what EVERYTHING on it is. Her description of the Norwegian
pancakes was like that of a big money making saleswoman so she had me
sold on those which came recommended cooked with chopped jalapenos
Norwegian Pancakes with chopped Jalapenos
ala Norwegian are a larger more thin and airy type of pancake, similar
to crepes. These were served with bacon from a local butcher in Ashland
that was really thick and full of porky flavor along with a sprinkling
of powered sugar and lemons. The chopped jalapenos inside worked really
well. Our waitress was dead on with that one. The item I had read people
praising was their PBLT which is a BLT with a piece of fried yellow
lake perch on top. This too was very good. Served on locally sourced
bread from the Ashland Baking Company
with fresh in season tomatoes and that same great bacon, it made for a really tasty brunch paired with the pancakes.
thought the food was great and even though they may not have much
history as of today, you can see/feel that they're well on their way.
Whether or not the restored diner was a real one or a restoration of a
restoration it had that charm both from the atmosphere and the staff and
also great food. One thing that caught my eye was Monday is "burger
day" and that's all they serve as it's only time they're on the menu. Beef is ground fresh in house and I
imagine buns come from the same baking company. I bet it's really good. The piece of homemade coconut
cream pie to finish it all off sure was. Dude in the red Camaro should
have rolled thru here by now.
I hope to make it back one day soon...see y'all next time
The Coffee Pot
4914 7th Avenue
Kenosha, WI 53140
3519 West Silver Spring Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53209
2504 Calumet Dr
Sheboygan, WI 53083
Mickey's Dairy Bar
1511 Monroe St
Madison, WI 53711
14385 County Highway H
Mason, WI 54856