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Jun 7, 2012 11:26 AM

Rochester, Harmony, MN area and going north along the Mississippi River

We will be traveling from the Twin Cities through Rochester into Harmony (with a quick jaunt into Iowa) and then north along the Mississippi River (either the MN or WI side, have not decided yet - will probably depent on food recs) and ending up in NW WI.
But I would like to specifically request recs for the Harmony and along the good 'ol Miss River portion of our travels. Any and all types of food and ethnicities welcome! Also, bonus points for any food festivals (or festivals that will have food along the way or even a little out of the way). Travel dates 6/20-24. Any and all info appreciated! Thank you in advance!

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  1. In Harmony - QUARTER/quarter restaurant-wine bar.

    1 Reply
    1. re: Maggie19

      Thank you! Menu looks delish! ;-)

    2. If you are getting near Spring Grove, you could stop and get a case or two of Spring Grove Soda, and it's cool to buy it right at the bottling plant, and actually cheaper too. They are billed as the state's "only soft drink maker" and it's old style good soda, bottled the old way. A case of assorted varieties would be a great gift!

      Where are you coming over to the Mississippi, near La Crosse or Winona? And then it all depends on timing and schedule -- there are a lot of places to eat in La Crosse, depending on what you're after.

      Winona? Sammy's pizza is the only place you want to consider. Google them, they have a nice website. Great pizza, I mean great pizza, Chicago style square-cut, thin crust, old style and definitely an institution in Winona. Insider's tip: get the 'beef and onion', it's a whole different flavor.

      From there it depends on which side of the river you are going up. There are possibilities on both sides, but the Wisconsin side might (will) offer more options.

      But, important, you want to consider the views along the river. There are better views on one side or the other as you go along. And they are all magnificent!

      Good luck! Come here and enjoy the area. We like your money....and you too!

      10 Replies
      1. re: rudybaga

        Oh, wow! We are definitely stopping in Spring Grove now! Both to get some pure cane soda and to get a picture of my brother with the viking statue! Did not know that it was the first Norwegian settlement in MN (I know my handle says WildSwede, but I am equal parts Norskie and Swede - 50/50, so all things Scandinavian are of interest to me).

        Not sure where we are going to cross. What would you suggest? The scenery is gorgeous. I have driven down the river several times (mostly on the MN side), so maybe we will spend more time on the WI side this time.

        We like pizza and he has never been to Winona, so we will probably be making a stop there. Thanks for the tip!

        I love coming to the midwest (I live in Los Angeles and my brother lives in Hayward, WI) and I will definitely spend a lot of $$! ;-)

        Thank you so much for your recs!

        1. re: WildSwede

          Scandahoovian, hey? Why, some of my best friends are....

          This is a great area for good looking blond folks -- you could google Westby WI (Wilkommen! Google them, there's a Viking statue too) or Decorah IA and find plenty of countrymen, and there are various festivities at various times.

          Hayward is a great place -- I was there a year ago this month, happened to be the weekend of the Muskie Festival. Wish I had a brother that lived there.

          As far as up the river, by working in the Twin Cities, I've done them both a jillion times, and while there is some real good stuff on the Minnesota side, I really think you'll have better views and dining options on the Wisconsin side.

          (As a side note on the Minnesota side, have you ever come across the book on Hwy 61 by Cathy Wurzer, called Tales of the Road, Highway 61? It actually covers the whole length of the highway, but has a section on Minnesota.)

          OK, Wisconsin side, assuming you're crossing at Winona (you can google most of these places):

          Fountain City, The Golden Frog, right on the main drag, Hwy 35. Old style supper club, been there forever, great food, and good for a sandwich at noon or full-blown at night.

          And then here's a must stop for the Scandahoovies -- immediately across Hwy 35 from the Frog is a lefse shop. They make it right there, you could not get any fresher. I just can't remember the name of the place, but it's right across the street.

          Alma WI, Kate & Gracies Restaurant, very interesting and different.

          Pepin WI, The Harbor View, a very nice place that borders on gourmet, very well reviewed.

          Stockholm WI -- Bogus Creek Cafe -- I haven't been here, but again it gets great reviews.

          Stockholm again -- You like pizza? Are you bringing kids? Here's an off chance for something you just don't get to see too often, but you would have to hit it just right with your schedule.

          The place is a local farm, that sells only their own product, but they have a unique event here -- on Tuesday nights only, during the summer only, 430 - 800 pm only, local families from miles around park in the farmyard, find a place to spread the blanket (this is all outside, there is no inside) and then they order their pizza. Yep, pizza. That's all they will have, and that's fine by everybody. If the weather is right (it is BEAUTIFUL right now!) there will be a few hundred people sitting on their blankets of lawn chairs, enjoying family and jawing with their neighbors.

          But they're all really there for the pizza!

          If you want local color, this is it! I think there may be a connection here to the Bogus Creek Bakery, but not sure.

          It's A to Z Produce and Bakery, or google A to Z Pizza, or The Pizza Farm. They are at N2956 Anker Lane, Stockholm.

          Will you be staying in the area? Google Hawk's Nest in Fountain City for a unique place high up on the bluffs.

          And lately, we have been getting several wineries in the region too.

          OK, dat's about dat. All I can think of right now.

          1. re: rudybaga

            WOW! WOW! WOW! Thank you so much for all the information. I told my brother that he should expect another sibling and he is cool with it! Welcome to the family! ;-)
            Yes, I purposely booked my visit during this time to hit the Musky Festival and the Spooner Rodeo. Unfortunately, no kids this time.
            I am going to print this and reasearch everything. Thank you for taking so much time to get me this information!
            We are very familiar with Decorah! My most favorite barn in the world is there and I always make a point of stopping and taking pics (it is the HUGE red barn outside of town) and with the Vesterheim Museum. Very interesting!
            Have my brother looking in to the book - thanks! Definitely will stop in at the Lefse place, too!
            So many choices - thank you so much, again! ;-)

          2. re: WildSwede

            Oh, "Lanesboro food cart" and there is a story not even a week old, about a new dining option in that quaint little town.

            1. re: WildSwede

              Aw Gee. I just noticed that you say you're making a quick jaunt into Iowa. Will you be getting near to Prairie du Chien WI/ If so, you've got to go to Pete's Hamburgers! They have a little website you can check. Over one hundred years,family business, in the same location since startup, and all they serve is one thing -- a hamburger, a different and unique hamburger...they don't even have cheese, just the burger. But there is always a line, always a line, because it is so good.

              It's a sixty mile drive for us, and we always take along a tupperware containers to bring four extra home besides what we eat there.

              Just one bummer -- they're only open Friday, Saturday, Sunday.

              Locals tip: Get both cooked and raw onions, make a different taste and texture.

              1. re: rudybaga

                Later...I see I made a mistake. The cottages in Fountain City is Hawk's VIEW, not Hawk's Nest.

                And at Pete's Hamburgers is a very pretty riverside park two blocks away where we always go to eat the burgers.

                And when I said sixty miles from Prairie du Chien to La Crosse where I live, that is one way.

                And, last, what, pizza again? Going up that side will take you right past the Great River Roadhouse, where the really do have great pizza. But you want to be hungry, because they are big and they are loaded.

                1. re: rudybaga

                  In Iowa, we will be going to Burr Oak (already done the tour of the museum) for the Laura Ingalls Wilder Festival on Saturday. My brother does not know too much about this stop, but I figure treating him to sushi in the cities will cancel it out (sort of at least!). Maybe we will go into Prairie du Chien... this really is a free-form trip so we can do whatever we want since he does not need to be back to work until Monday and he gets his daughters back that same afternoon. That Tuesday, we will be heading to 3 nights/4 days at the Four Seasons Island Resort in Pembine, WI (went last year on a Groupon special and it was fantastic). However, it has new owners and the prices have been raised, but the cabin we are renting comes in around $120/night (or something like that). Check it out if you have not heard about it.

              2. re: rudybaga

                And the river drive from PdC to La Crosse is one of the prettiest that we have.

                But that means you're coming into La Crosse, oh boy, that's a big subject.

                But Rudy's Drive-in has old style color and carhops on roller blades.

                Train Station Barbecue is excellent, Carolina Style, they are a drive through, but Riverside Park nearby is a very nice place to enjoy oy.

                The Pizza Doctor was included on one of the foodie TV shows, Diners, Drive-in and Drives? Can't recall.

                1. re: rudybaga

                  Allright, so I CAN'T seem to attach a reply to the proper message, so what? It's Saturday, I'm off duty. Have fun in our area. A follow-up report later would be interesting to read.

                  1. re: rudybaga

                    Will definitely report back - thank you again for all your effort!! Best, Lisa