Once a mining town, today Mineral Point yields a different kind of element: fine art with a side of Cornish flair.

"Well, of course we have figgy hobbin," the waitress says before rattling off pie flavors—but I'm stuck on Figgy Hobbin. Not wanting to look like the tourist I am, I discreetly Google and discover it's a Cornish dessert consisting of raisins and spices wrapped in pastry. The version here at Red Rooster Cafe in Mineral Point adds a flourish of whipped cream and caramel.

It makes sense. Mineral Point, a town of around 2,500 about an hour southwest of Madison, claims to be the most Cornish town in the U.S. The Red Rooster also serves pasties, the meat pies that miners in England's Cornwall region famously packed for their lunches and reheated over candles. (Anyone who has been to Michigan's Upper Peninsula will know them too.) Though the lead and zinc mines that drew English immigrants here in the 1840s have long since closed, Mineral Point has found a new identity in art. An annual festival in September draws thousands, but come any weekend to browse galleries, admire the historic Cornish architecture and wind down with a beer at the pub.

red rooster cafe
Credit: Ojas Gokhale

What to Do

Most of Mineral Point's galleries cluster along High Street and Commerce Street. Longbranch Gallery showcases an eclectic assortment of work, from large-scale mixed media pieces to intricate hand-turned tops. Sleek Wantoot Gallery displays a curated collection of handmade American art in a modern, uncluttered space. Pick up pottery(such as a striking pinecone-shape mug) made by twin sisters at The Globe Clay Center. Just a few minutes from downtown, Shake Rag Alley Center for the Arts hosts workshops and retreats in historic buildings representative of the mining community. Venture out a little farther to Governor Dodge State Park for natural springs, a waterfall, two lakes and wooded hikes in the lush Driftless Area.

Where to Eat

Since 1972, three generations have made pasties daily at Red Rooster Cafe, filling dough with seasoned potatoes, rutabagas, onions and steak. An individual hand pie is traditional, but the cafe also offers "pan-style," baked and sliced like a pie. For a lighter lunch (or breakfast), Cafe 43 serves toasts and sandwiches in a former 1902 hotel with front-porch seating. The owners at Popolo have perfected the art of New York-style pizza with a Neapolitan wood-fired crust. Find special feature pizzas on weekends, like shrimp pesto.

Where to Stay

An 1854 Cornish-style building (characterized by its boxy shape and natural stone) houses Commerce Street Brewery Hotel, a craft brewery with five luxurious suites on the upper floors. Guests can slip down to the European-style pub for a Blonde Betty or Brown Pointer Dog before retreating to large rooms with whirlpool tubs and fireplaces. The brewery also has an extensive food menu and a Friday fish fry.