When it comes to dining out, I tend to get a little bored of the same ol', same ol'. A great meal is a must but the atmosphere (or lack thereof) is what separates a mediocre establishment from an unforgettable one. And to me? The weirder, quirkier, more eccentric, the better! Here are nine top spots for Wisconsin's most unique dining experiences:
- The Safe House (Milwaukee)
If you like your night out full of intrigue and surprise, then you're going to love exploring the twists and turns of Milwaukee's Safe House. This spy-themed restaurant is operated by an entity known only as Control. (See? Mysterious...) Obviously, you're going to need a password to get in this place. Once you're in though, enjoy sweet entertainment a la magicians plus familiar bar eats and more.
- 1919 Kitchen & Tap (Green Bay)
A top-notch restaurant inside the world's most iconic football stadium is a restaurant worth visiting. Located on the ground floor of Lambeau Field, 1919 Kitchen & Tap is classy, chic and peppered with unique Green Bay Packers details sure to impress any Titletown maven. I had the pleasure of sampling a few things off 1919's menu recently including the apple salad, mushroom crusted burger and peanut butter bread pudding. The verdict? Yes, yes and yes.
- Campo di Bella (Mount Horeb)
Farm-to-table dining experiences are all the rage now and my hunch is that it's more than just a trend. The #DWcrew is currently shooting an entire episode about farm-to-table dinners in Wisconsin. One that I love? Campo di Bella in gorgeous southwestern Wisconsin. The Bellazini family puts their Italian roots on full display on their family farm for about 25 attendees every other Saturday. My dinner there was one of the best I've ever had.
- Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant & Butik (Sister Bay)
Confession time: I have a severe weakness for super funny-slash-adorable goat GIFs. So, as you can imagine, I kinda freak out (in a good way) every time I pass Al Johnson's Swedish Restaurant in Sister Bay. Why? Because there are goats on the roof. (Proof: Goat Cam.) Once you've determined there are indeed real live goats traipsing the sod roof, step inside the restaurant and you'll see uniqueness perseveres at Al Johnsons's with staff decked out in head-to-toe Scandinavian duds dishing out limpa bread and Swedish meatballs. This place has more than earned its notoriety as a Door County icon. Team Al Johnson's for life!
- Georgie Porgie's Treefort Restaurant (Oak Creek/Mt. Pleasant)
I haven't actually made it to Georgie Porgie's yet but it's at the top of my list because my kid self was obsessed with tree forts. Heck, my adult self is obsessed with tree forts. I hear this place boasts Hershey Syrup can lights, tables with old-fashioned toys inside them, outhouse-style restrooms, a go-kart hanging from the wall and a tree in the middle of the restaurant. Um, can I maybe just...move in?
- Horseradish Alley Cafe (Princeton)
Anyone who knows me knows I love Green Lake Country, especially the oh-so-charming, blink-and-you'll-miss-it town of Princeton. On the west end of Water Street is an equally charming food truck called Horseradish, where you'll find simple recipes served casually and street-side. After (or before) you enjoy a locally-sourced meal at Horseradish, be sure to mosey in and out of Princeton's many eclectic shops right there on Water Street.
- Fresco (Madison)
Fresco is great because it's situated on the rooftop of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. It's an upscale restaurant with a nice panoramic view of downtown Madison so make it a point to stroll the museum first before heading up a couple levels for an elegant meal in Wisconsin's capital city. If you're shameless, take a selfie or two from the rooftop. I won't judge ya for it 😉
- Musical Murder Mystery at the Maxwell Mansion (Lake Geneva)
I have always wanted to partake in a murder mystery dinner. So, when our producers told me I'd get to attend one for a Discover Wisconsin shoot, I was practically on the ceiling. And then I heard it was a musical murder mystery, and I all but erupted with operatic glee! And let me tell you, Musical Murder Mystery at the Maxwell Mansion in Lake Geneva did not disappoint with their three-course dinner, cocktails at the Apothecary Bar and hilariously entertaining characters, who lead all the dinner guests on a suspenseful whodunnit adventure.
- 42 Lounge (Milwaukee)
This self-proclaimed "nerd bar" specializes in all things geek. Now that I've caught your attention, gamers, you'll be happy to know there are playable gaming consoles, tournaments, barcraft, cosplay events, wifi for handheld play, and a selection of gaming themed cocktails - all this in a swanky nightclub in downtown Milwaukee. I'm already planning to throw my video game-obsessed brother a birthday bash here for his 21st. He's only 12 now but what can I say, I'm a planner.
Which spots should I consider adding to this list? Comment below!
Mariah Haberman hosts the nation’s longest-running tourism TV show, Discover Wisconsin. She hails from Evansville, where she was brought up in a family of seven in a small farmhouse outside of town. Some of her favorite memories include Lake Michigan fishing trips with her Dad, showing sheep at the Rock County Fair and buzzing around the farm on an ATV with her little brother. Watch Discover Wisconsin Saturdays at 10 a.m. on FSN Wisconsin’s outdoor block. (Twitter: @DiscoverWI)