authentic local/ethnic food in Green Bay, WI area
- George Karlyn
I'm moving to De Pere, Wisconsin (a cute suburb of Green Bay, Wisconsin) and want to explore great local specialities.
I read other posts, some suggested Chilli Johns and the Titletown Brewing Company and that's helpful, but some, if I may be frank, are so *anti-Midwest* and well, snobby. I don't want to start up a whole set of posts again on this issue, but I found the tone of many posts about Wisconsin food really condescending to people who go to "Crapplebees," bad Asian restaurants and the like. Sure, not great food, though they provide real choices to people who don't have the luxury to think about rare (and often expensive food items) because they have to spend their time *working*. So, now that I'm off my soap box, I was hoping to focus on German, Polish, Norwegian specialities like bratwurst, fish frys, fish boils, etc--indigenous ethnic food (there are also many Indian reservations as well). Or new ethnic communities like the Hmong Asian food shops or Latino taquerias springing up? Or Wisconsin specific locales like supper clubs, custard haunts, cheese shops, breweries?
Anything like this within the Green Bay or 1 hourish vicinity (Appleton, Oshkosh, Sheboygan, Door County) would be greatly appreciated.
Sorry, I don't know of any indigenous specialties in the area except for prime rib and fish fry. For more ethnicized considerations, try Victoria's (I've only had experience with their Appleton branch, and I understand they have another in Green Bay--never been there.) They have pretty good mainly southern-style Italian food and quite cheap, tons of the stuff, especially at lunch time. Good variety: Veal, chicken, pasta, salads, minestrone, other soups, appetizers, desserts. Even some seafood dishes, but be cautious here as they use fake-o crab in some of the stuff, but other items have more genuine mussels, clams, etc. Interestingly, I've heard that this Italian place is actually run by a Mexican guy or family. There are some concessions made, perhaps because of this: some of the menu descriptions note spicy red sauce (putanesca?) made with jalepenoes(!)
Also in Appleton: Champagne Charlie's, for Cajun--but you might want to save this for special occasion--a bit expensive, but pretty good. Also on north end of Appleton (Richland Ave? Richmond Ave?): Indian restaurant in strip mall--don't recall exact name--Sari Rama? Sri Rama? Anyway, excellent food and passably cheap sunday brunch, not at all ruined by the steam tables which are scrupulously attended to and replenished regularly.
Going south, to Sheboygan: Fancy Italian place on main drag, Trattoria Stefanos, again quite excellent but save for special occasion, or go to cheaper (but terrific)place just across the street, Il Ritrovo: many different varieties of wood fired pizzas, excellent salads, excellent mussel appetizer. Not too expensive. Also in Sheboygan: Stay away from Jalisco's, a WI Mexican chain, I think, and not a very good one--mediocre food and pretty terrible buffet. However, down the street (north?) try Amelia's for pretty damn good Mexican--cheap too. There's an interesting place in town called Hoffbrau, German, but although I've stopped at the bar and perused the menu, I've never really stayed for a big German meal, so I can't vouch.
Lastly, I would urge some caution about some of the "authentic" local ethnic food around northern Wisconsin; a friend of mine had more than a passing involvement with some of this food (home-made, to be sure), and while I consider myself rather adventurous and not particularly ethnocentric, it is nothing that I would care to eat. This is a mild caveat, compared to other stories I have heard (which I will not repeat here--you can email me if you want gory details)--but you will note that there are frozen chickens for sale in the stores around here with the entrails unremoved.
Hope this has been helpful.
Okay, here goes. I lived in Green Bay for 10 years having moved there from Evanston. I'll list my family's favorites.
Storheims' - several locations around town, great family-owned frozen custard spot a la Milwaukee's Kopps
Farr's Grove - our favorite for Friday fish frys, lightly battered perch, nothing fancy
Seroogy's - in DePere, a great candy store
Maplewood Meats - DePere is southeast, this is northwest of GB on Hwy 29. A great old fashioned meat market of outstanding quality. great smoked polish sausage and good brats, too.
Al's Hamburger- in downtown GB, if it is still in business. a counter and a few booths, great hamburgers.
Sueann's Bagels - great bagels
Victoria's - as mentionned in another message is on the NE side of Green Bay. They do give you a lot of food, it's ok. Green Bay is a great family-oriented town. The Y programs are great. There are lots of parks. Hope you enjoy it
Behold, debate about ethnic food in Green Bay, WI. After living in Green Bay for 18 years, I left it 10 years ago because there was so little appreciation for culture -- any culture that wasn't German/Polish.
Slowly as the WI economy has changed and diverse populations have moved into the area, locals have been forced to accept both the challenges and the blessings that different ethnic groups bring to the Fox Valley.
Having vistited Green Bay a few weeks ago, and I'm returning again this week, I can see glimers of change -- small cafes with interesting menus, hispanic grocery in East Green Bay, - chineese restaunt in DePere, a Thai place near the old Boston Store... etc.
The bagels in Green Bay still suck, nor is there much understanding of where the Middle East is or what Middle Eastern food is. One afternoon, I saw a street peddler selling ribs, on a street corner!
Overall, Green Bay is changing, but it will never be a boomtown for diversity or culinary adventures.
The only other "positive" that I noticed recently is that the Weider theater is booming with canned Broadway hits brought in by Clear Channel Entertainment..this will give the Packers a run for their money! Usually theatre and restauraunts go hand-in-hand... so maybe there's hope.
Seroogy's and a few small cheese factories are about the only places I deliberately support when I'm there.
Storheims ice cream is always memorable, but the essential reason I go to Green Bay is to see my family!
If I really want a good meal ,I go to my family's kitchen - at a suburban home where we all cook, and eat to our hearts desire!
The Green Bay area has many good restaurants...don't let people tell you otherwise. I live in SF now, and even though SF has many, many terrific restaurants, there are still a number of places I miss in GB.
As you mentioned, Chili John's is a place you have to go. Truly an institution in GB. Kroll's has terrific burgers, complete with a big hunk of butter on top of them; but the real reason to go is for the malts...one of the things I miss most about GB. Jake's Pizza and Sammy's Pizza are both worth a trip. If you want fishfry, go to the Rite Place (may be called the Rite View now) in Bellevue, corner of Allouez Ave and Bellevue St. For steak, try River's Bend in Howard.
You won't find Norwegian food unless you go to Minnesota. For some really authentic German food, better to head south to Milwaukee. I've been told of a great Serbian restaurant down there, can't think of the name though.....
Best of luck in DePere.
There's a little hole in the wall restaurant called Nukeo Thai on Main Street on the East Side. Its not bad and it also has the Vietnamese specialty Pho (beef soup with noodles and other goodies). De Pere has a lot of cute little places. Bilotti's is good for pizza and Nicky's Lionhead Tavern has great sandwiches. For Tex-Mex, Caliente's is not bad.
For families, Mackinaw's has a cool log-cabin atmosphere with good food and service. Nakashima's is good for hibachi and sushi. Lorelei is about the only German restaurant around; never eaten there but have heard good things about it. If you love wings, Wing Zone has the best variety around.
If you are adventurous, Taste of India has great food, and an inexpensive lunch buffet where you can try a bunch of their specialities for $6.99 (even on Saturdays). The kitchen is spotless and the service is good. El Serape and Maria's are good for authentic Mex food.
The locals love Kroll's and Eve's Supper Club although they aren't to my liking. The food scene here in GB is getting better, but I believe Appleton still has a better selection. If you want to try Latin food, Casablanca in Appleton is good; its a bit more upscale but they have selections from all over (Brasil, Mexico, Peru, etc.).