60 Restaurants Worth the Trip | Midwest Living
More
Close

60 Restaurants Worth the Trip

Looking for a great breakfast, comfort food or fine-dining surprises? Here are some of our favorite Midwest restaurants.

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 (815/894-3051)

Gojo Ethiopian Cuisine

Hartland BBQ Omaha

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.

Corn Exchange, Rapid City, SD: A Mediterranean-inspired cheese plate with fruit and olives.

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

Corn Exchange

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

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).

The Lark and Pear, Sawyer, MI: Coconut-plum cake (with a latte).

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

The Lark and Pear (269/426-3710)

Wheatfields

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.

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

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

Meadowlark, Dayton, OH: Shrimp in a tangy tomato sauce over creamy cheddar grits, with sesame-seed toast.

Egg Toss Cafe, Bayfield, WI: The Orchard Platter, with buckwheat cakes, eggs, chicken-apple sausage and a drizzle of real maple syrup.

Mornin' at Maggie's Omelette Shoppe (989/892-3142)

Rapid City KOA

Meadowlark

Egg Toss Cafe Bayfield, WI

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).

Rue Dumaine, Dayton, OH: French huitre (fat oysters in a bacon-y sauce spiked with anise-flavor Pernod).

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

Krzysiak's House

Stockholm Inn

New Glarus Hotel Restaurant

Beirut

Rue Dumaine

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" (402/362-7755)

Hickory Park

The Antlers Restaurant

For herbivores

Dishes so good you won't miss the meat.

Cheese Factory, Wisconsin Dells, WI: Flame-broiled pita with feta, veggies, walnuts and briney olive spread.

McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe, Omaha: The health nut salad, piled with charbroiled peppers and honey-glazed nuts.

Red Avocado, Iowa City, IA: Coconut-corn soup, sweet and slightly exotic, with a dash of hot sauce.

Pictured: Thai Stir Fry at Cheese Factory

Cheese Factory

McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe

Red Avocado

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.

Krekel's Frozen Custard (217/423-1719)
Randy's Frozen Custard (573/348-0711)

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.

The Wheel Inn Drive-In, Sedalia, MO: The Guber Burger, with a schmear of peanut butter.

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.

The Wheel Inn Drive-In (660/826-5177)
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 (815/894-3051)

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.

Lewis and Clark Cafe, Washburn, ND: Chicken noodle soup with herb-flecked broth and thick ribbons of noodles.

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

Pictured: Marie Catrib's

(A version of this story appeared in Midwest Living® May/June 2009. The website version was updated in March 2011.)

Lewis and Clark Cafe (701/462-3668)
Turkey Roost (989/684-5200)

Marie Catrib's

Hell's Kitchen

Add Your Comment