50 Restaurants Worth the Trip | Midwest Living

50 Restaurants Worth the Trip

Looking for a great breakfast, comfort food or fine-dining surprises? Here are some of our favorite Midwest restaurants.
  • A lot of pie -- and more

    What's the best place for pie in the Midwest? For steaks or ice cream? Midwest Living® editors visit hundreds of restaurants each year. Here are our favorite places for some of your favorite types of foods.

    And to read about our five picks for entire towns with great food scenes, click the "Best Midwest Food Towns" link below.

    Pie by the slice Where to head when you've got a craving for pie--and what to order when you get there.

    Das Dutchman Essenhaus, Middlebury, IN: Amish-made raspberry cream.

    Jesperson's, Petoskey, MI: Cherry berry with a perfectly flaky crust.

    A Slice of Pie, Rolla, MO: Light and fluffy coconut meringue.

    Pictured: Cherry berry pie at Jesperson's

    Jesperson's (231/347-3601)

    Das Dutchman Essenhaus

    A Slice of Pie

  • Fine-dining surprises

    When you're in the mood for something special, these restaurants are the place to find it.

    Lincoln Cafe, Mount Vernon, IA: Any of three dazzling weekly entrees, such as pork with baby zucchini and spiced pecans.

    Joseph Decuis, Roanoke, IN: Wasabi-miso sirloin, with the restaurant's own Kobe beef.

    Pirogue Grille, Bismarck, ND: After every meal, a little dish of cardamom-spiced caramel corn.

    Grand Central Grill at the Grand Central Hotel, Cottonwood Falls, KS: Santa Fe Trail Delmonico, a great big ribeye in a teeny Kansas town.

    Harbor View Cafe, Pepin, WI: Sauteed Alaskan halibut in black butter caper sauce.

    Pictured: Pork at Lincoln Cafe

    Lincoln Cafe

    Joseph Decuis

    Pirogue Grille

    Grand Central Grill

    Harbor View Cafe

  • Chic chocolate

    Sweet finds like these raise chocolate to an art form.

    Ghyslain, Union City, IN: A jewel box of hand-painted chocolates, some too pretty (well, almost too pretty) to eat.

    Chocolat by Daniel, Rockford, IL: Potent truffles, plus whimsical gifts, such as a chocolate stiletto decorated with a leopard-print sweet.

    Pictured: Hand-painted chocolates from Ghyslain


    Chocolat by Daniel

  • Coffee companions

    After you order a hot brew, we recommend you try these add-ons.

    Wheatfields, Lawrence, KS: Cinnamon roll (with a mocha).

    Inn at Cedar Crossing, Sturgeon Bay, WI: Raspberry buns (with hot chocolate).

    World's Best Donuts, Grand Marais, MN: Maple swirl pastry (with a cup of joe).

    Grand Central Coffee Station, Storm Lake, IA: White chocolate-apricot cookie (with tea).

    Pictured: Wheatfields' cinnamon roll


    Inn at Cedar Crossing

    World's Best Donuts

    Grand Central Coffee Station

  • Catch of the day

    Try these worth-the-trip spots for fresh fish.

    Rock Harbor Lodge, Isle Royale National Park, MI: On a rugged island a three-hour ferry ride away from Copper Harbor, just about the freshest lake fish you can find.

    Dockside Fish Market, Grand Marais, MN: Lake Superior herring and whitefish, smoked, in burgers or perfectly batter-fried with chips.

    Catfish Charlie's, Dubuque, IA: Cajun cornmeal catfish, overlooking the Mississippi.

    Pictured: Rock Harbor Lodge

    Rock Harbor Lodge

    Dockside Fish Market

    Catfish Charlie's

  • Great breakfasts

    These morning spots will help you start the day right.

    Maggie's Omelette Shoppe, Bay City, MI: Creative omelet fillings like red peppers, basil and Asiago, plus sides of baked potato casserole. Maggie's Omelette Shoppe on Facebook

    Rapid City KOA, Rapid City, SD: Huge pancakes made for campers by a cowboy! Rapid City KOA

    Big Water Coffee Roasters, Bayfield, WI: Kick back with a lavender mocha made with beans roasted on-site. Nibbles include scones, cookies and muffins. bigwatercoffee.com




  • World cuisine

    Celebrate global tastes at these eateries.

    Ristorante Brissago, Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, WI: Italian penne alla amatriciana (sausage pasta, bathed in spicy tomato sauce).

    Krzysiak's House, Bay City, MI: Polish golabki (cabbage rolls, stuffed with pork, veal and rice).

    Stockholm Inn, Rockford, IL: Swedish plattar (lacy pancakes, topped with imported lingonberries).

    New Glarus Hotel Restaurant, New Glarus, WI: Swiss bourguignonne (cubes of prime beef dipped into hot oil, fondue-style).

    Beirut, Toledo, OH: Lebanese fatoosh (lemon-dressed lettuce and pita salad, with an earthy hint of Middle Eastern sumac).

    Rosita's, Scottsbluff, NE: Mexican corn chips (puffy, freshly fried tortillas that have never seen the inside of a bag).

    Pictured: Dining at Ristorante Brissago

    Rosita's (308) 632-2429

    Ristorante Brissago

    Stockholm Inn

    New Glarus Hotel Restaurant



  • Only here

    Some dishes just seem synonymous with the great Midwest.

    Lund's Landing Lodge, Ray, ND: North Dakota Juneberry pie, made daily at a family-owned hunting, fishing and golf resort.

    Jaarsma Bakery, Pella, IA: Dutch letters, flaky, S-shape pastry curls filled with sweet almond paste.

    Randall's Bakery, Wakefield, MI: Pasties, hearty pastry pillows stuffed with steak, potatoes and vegetables.

    G&R Tavern, Waldo, OH: Fried bologna sandwich, with sliced pickles, onion and a thick slab of flavorful beef and pork bologna.

    Italian Bakery, Virginia, MN: Potica, a dense, loaf-shape spiral of yeast dough and sweet walnut filling.

    Pictured: Juneberry pie at Lunds Landing

    Randall's Bakery (906/224-5401)

    Lund's Landing Lodge

    Jaarsma Bakery

    Italian Bakery

    G&R Tavern

  • For carnivores

    Don't miss the meaty favorites at these joints.

    Hickory Park, Ames, IA: Meat, meat and more meat, heaped on big metal trays, with side dishes clearly an afterthought.

    Chances "R," York, NE: For the meat-and-potatoes traveler, an all-you-can-eat prime-rib buffet (if you get a spot in line!)

    The Antlers Restaurant, Sault Ste. Marie, MI: North Country steaks and burgers, eaten under the gazes of 200-plus taxidermic critters.

    Pictured: Hickory Park in Ames, Iowa

    Chances "R" 

    Hickory Park

    The Antlers Restaurant

  • Ice cream delights

    Try these spots for surprising frozen treats.

    Ivanhoe's, Upland, IN: 100 shakes, 100 sundaes and pork tenderloin, should your sweet tooth take a day off.

    Toft's Dairy, Sandusky, OH: A real hometown dairy (cottage cheese, too!), with fun flavors like raspberry-swirled "Wedding Cake."

    Krekel's Frozen Custard, Decatur, IL: Lemon frozen custard--and a car with a huge rooster head on top.

    Uncle Ray's Dairyland, Fenton, MI: Made-to-order frozen yogurt ("Strawberry-blueberry, extra blueberries").

    Nichole's Fine Pastry, Fargo, ND: Different gelatos every week, from vanilla to surprises such as ginger or rhubarb.

    Randy's Frozen Custard, Osage Beach, MO: Real raspberries blended in the frozen custard, or whole pecans on the Ozark Turtle Sundae.

    Randy's Frozen Custard (573) 348-0711

    rekel's Frozen Custard 

    Ivanhoe's Upland

    Toft's Dairy Sandusky

    Uncle Ray's Dairyland

    Nichole's Fine Pastry

  • For greasy-good burgers

    There's nothing boring about these classic burgers.

    Cozy Inn, Salina, KS: 85-cent sliders, loaded with pickles and onions.

    Nick's Hamburgers, Brookings, SD: The classic, in a too-cute diner with red vinyl stools. Cozy Inn, Salina, KS: 85-cent sliders, loaded with pickles and onions.

    Booche's Billiard Hall, Columbia, MO: A just plain good burger, served on waxed paper in a beloved student hangout.

    Kewpee Hamburgers, Lima, OH: The original (or so they say) olive-topped burger.

    Booche's Billiard Hall (573) 874-9519

    The Cozy Inn

    Nick's Hamburgers

    Kewpee Hamburgers

  • Finger food

    Don't let flatware get in the way of enjoying these dishes.

    Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine, Grand Rapids, MI: Spongy injerra flatbread, for scooping up spiced meats and veggies.

    Hartland BBQ, Omaha: Succulent smoked pulled chicken, with a side of apple-flavor baked beans.

    Rip's Tavern, Ladd, IL: Darn good fried chicken, with fries and white bread, on a paper plate.

    Pictured: The family platter at Gojo

    Rip's Tavern 

    Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine

    Hartland BBQ Omaha

  • Comfort food

    Feel the love at these eateries.

    Marie Catrib's, Grand Rapids, MI: Fudgy chocolate pudding, extra-rich thanks to duck eggs.

    Hell's Kitchen, Minneapolis: Mahnomin porridge, a creamy, wild rice concoction laden with nuts and fruits, the definition of stick-to-your-ribs.

    Turkey Roost, Kawkawlin, MI: Year-round Thanksgiving-style turkey dinners, complete with stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberries.

    Pictured: Marie Catrib's

    Turkey Roost 

    Marie Catrib's

    Hell's Kitchen

    (A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2009. The website version has been periodically updated. Please check restaurant status and hours before you plan a trip.)


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