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Recommendations for luunch stop between Chicago and MSP?

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Does anyone have recommendations for a place to stop for lunch on a road trip between Chicago and Minneapolis/St. Paul? Wisconsin Dells is about halfway, but Madison recommendations welcome, too. Thanks!

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  1. I've been driving that route since 1990 - pack a lunch and stop at the wayside at Castle Rock. Don't try to find good food on that route.

    1. I recommend the Cheese Factory in the Dells for great vegetarian lunches & phosphates(I'm a carnivore and I like it.) My true fav is the Norse Nook in just off I-94 in Osseo, WI. It's a Norwegian bakery w/ great sandwiches and some of the top rated pies in the country.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Big D

        Oh, yes, indeed, the Norske Nook would be my choice, too. It's a bit more than an hour north of Madison.

        Or if you want a (mostly) kosher deli, there's Ella's Deli, on East Washington Street in Madison. If you've got small children, Ella's might be the better choice --it's definitely child-friendly, and they should have the carousel operating soon.

        But on the basis of the food, I'd do the Norse Nook.

      2. Mr. Ed's Teepee Room on Superior Street in Tomah. Good supper-club type food, great prices and tons of kitsch.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Sven
          l
          Luanne Neumann

          Mr. Ed's in Tomah is Ed Thompson, brother of former governor and Health and Human Service Secretary Tommy Thompson. Ed is pretty famous in his own right--I believe he had some problems with slot machines in the bar a few years back. This place definitely has "circus".

        2. Stay away from the Norske Nook! It's highly over rated
          artery clogging diner type food, IMO. But if you like gloppy mashed potatoes with gooey gravy...that's the place for you. Each to his own, as they say.

          But do stop in Madison!!!
          So many great restaurants to choose from.
          Imperial Gardens on Univeristy avenue is heavenly and affordable. State Street has many ethic choices.
          Kabul mid eastern is a favorite. If you get to Madison before 2pm-
          Marigolds near the Capitol makes everything fresh & delicious. Saturday at Capitol Square: the day for a fabulous
          farmers market: browse and eat fresh foods.

          1 Reply
          1. re: goodeats

            Couldn't disagree with "goodeats" more about the Norske Nook. The food may not be outstanding - but it is a tiny town diner for goodness sake. Their PIES are outstanding - and that is worth the drive off I-94 (about 20 min one-way AFAIK).

          2. I always stop at the Pine Cone Diner in Johnson Creek, WI - it's a truck stop with great food and lots of local flavor. On the way in you'll encounter a bakery case with apple fritters / pastries the size of your head etc - they are everything a fritter should be (except maybe too large). When I am coming to MSP on my way home for any major holiday, I have to pick up a 12-pack of their billowy white dinner rolls for my grandma - they are like little pillows of bread perfection. Seriously, if you like a dinner roll, these are the ultimate expression of what they can be.

            I almost always order the eggs benedict and my fella enjoys their tuna melt. It's diner food done really well and very friendly folks / quick service if you want to get back on the road this stop won't slow you down much. If I ate meat (I order the benedict sans ham) then I KNOW thier hot sandwiches with gravy would be great - the smell of the hot turkey with gravy the next table over last time I was there nearly flipped me back to the other side.