Hitting up “The Water Park Capital of the World!” this summer? Wisconsin Dells is home to more than 20 water parks, both indoor and out. So, believe us when we tell you that you and your family will need nourishment to keep up with all the slides, pools, and lazy rivers in your near future.
That’s where this list comes in. But it’s not just any list: You’re heading to Sauk County, Wisconsin, for an authentic and unique experience after all. So chowing down on local cheeses, tossing back craft brews, and satisfying the sweet tooth with scratch-made desserts is the only way to wine and dine.
Ahead, you’ll find 12 of the most unexpected, under-the-radar eating and drinking establishments for vacationers traveling to the Dells this season. We’ve covered every meal, from breakfast, lunch, and dinner, to all the snacking in between. Consider it an unforgettable food journey that is sure to make a splash.
Three words: biscuit cinnamon rolls. Not sure there’s a better way to usher in a day of water park fun. Bella Goose also roasts its own coffee, sourcing beans from responsible growers, and it makes its own syrups from scratch. But back to those cinnamon rolls: In addition to savory faves, this spot has the yummiest, stickiest biscuit cinnamon rolls with gooey cream cheese you will ever bite into.
Recently remodeled and reopened, Bella Vita is an adorable two-story Italianate that dates back to the late 19th century. The fare — fluffy quiche, salty frittatas, and made-from-scratch baked goodies — is just as good as the views, with indoor and outdoor seating offered on the patio and decks. Need a pick-me-up? Order yourself some craft coffee, an espresso, or a cold brew.
What was once an industrial park project is now a 6,000-square-foot wine production facility, tasting room, music venue, and driving range. Of course, the varietals and wine cocktails are the obvious draw, but the winery’s food menu is full of its own surprises, from dips and hummus to various flatbreads. Got a little more time? Sign up for the charcuterie class and build your own charcuterie and cheese boards.
Draft City, a self-pour taproom, puts you in charge of your own brew adventure. Just open a tab, hit up the Tap Wall featuring 30 pours at any one time, then bottoms up. As for the eats, there’s plenty on offer to make grumbling bellies happy. From homemade tapas to tasty shareable dishes such as layered nachos, boneless wings, and barbacoa tacos, there’s something for every taste bud.
You can’t do Baraboo without immersing yourself in circus culture. So should you find yourself waterlogged and on the search for an authentic experience you can’t find anywhere else, head to Al. Ringling Brewing Co. and have a beer that’s brewed with actual history. The brewery is located at the 1906 Ringling Mansion, so make time between your pint and empanadas to tour the grounds.
Now enjoying its 70th season, Ishnala fuses fine dining with nature to stellar effect. Not only will you dine lakeside in the middle of Mirror Lake State Park — the setting sun peeking through the Norway pines — you’ll also be chowing down on some of the best seafood and aged meats this side of the Dells. More of an experience than just a meal, a night at the scenic Ishnala will not be forgotten.
A traditional Wisconsin supper club, House of Embers is a family-owned joint with indoor and outdoor dining, live music, and a lounge for taking the load off. Should you need space for a large party, the resto has several specialty rooms for such occasions. The food, prepared by trained chefs, honors local growers; choose from steaks, ribs, oysters, and pastas before ordering all the meringue, brulee, and caramel desserts.
A Baraboo hangout with a neighborhood vibe, Gem City Saloon & Eatery is famous for its deep-dish pizzas smothered in havarti cheese. Loaded with toppings of your choice and finished with a thick and chewy crust that’s crispy on the bottom, these pies, along with the friendly service, will make you feel as if you hit the mother lode. Because you did.
Beer, burgers, and baskets of fries are on the menu every night at Logan’s Heroes, but should you be heading to Loganville on a Friday, you’ll want to pencil in time for its Fish Fry. Every Friday night, Logan’s delights patrons with salty, juicy, flaky white fish battered and fried to perfection. Not into fried fish? The kitchen whips up a winning baked version also.
Narrows Creek Winery is a third-generation family operation that offers more than meets the eye. A lot more. In addition to running a vineyard that focuses production on fruit varietals, Narrows is also a picturesque dairy farm. In fact, this winery is a fantastic spot to soak up a glass of vino while snacking on one of the best grilled-cheese sandwiches ever.
Located outside Plain, Wisconsin, Cedar Grove has been in operation for more than 100 years. The factory is keen on small-scale production and giving back to the environment. After getting a close-up peek at how cheese is made with a tour, head to the store for traditional and specialty wheels, as well as squeaky cheese curds direct from the vat.
A Wisconsin foodie’s haven that houses jams, honeys, syrups, cheeses, sausages, and more goods made with best-in-class ingredients, Block 23 is not just any chip off the old block. They cater, they stock more than 100 cheeses, and they offer grab-and-go lunches and snacks. Don’t leave without rounding out your munchies with craft beverages, Block 23 merch, and local samples.