Winona, in the northern state of Minnesota, is a small city found in the beautiful area of protected natural landscape known as the Bluffs. As a result, the area is popular with wildlife fans and those looking for picturesque woodland and lakeside hiking trails. The city itself is historic, with the entire downtown area a protected Historic District. Check out The Culture Trip’s recommendations for Winona’s best restaurants.
For a classic bar atmosphere with American flavors, Bub’s Brewing Company is a great local option. Food includes burgers, breakfasts, sandwiches, and appetizers, and there is also a range of local brews available. Bub’s is popular with locals, including families during weekends, colleagues meeting after work, or an evening bar crowd, making it an excellent spot to take in the welcoming local character of Winona.
Signatures is Winona’s classiest joint, offering enticing dishes such as shellfish and vegetable tempura, pan-seared pheasant, or roasted halibut. The restaurant in located a little out of town within a nearby golf complex, with large windows offering diners views of the stunning, green, surrounding landscape. Ingredients are sourced locally, with changing specials depending on the season. As well as the main restaurant, Signatures also has a less formal Grill restaurant that is well suited for families, and which also includes a bar.
In the historic protected area of downtown Winona is Betty Jo’s, a cozy and welcoming sports bar. Food includes tasty appetizers, including Buffalo wings or nachos, and classic entrées such as burgers and an enticing range of authentic pizzas. The interior embodies historic Winona, with high exposed brick walls, huge front windows, and a traditional bar area. Betty Jo’s is ideal for families looking for tasty options for all tastes however picky, and the vibe is laid back, especially when sports games are on.
Lakeview is the oldest restaurant in the city, having opened in 1938. It is family run, and the food is made from scratch to order, which sets it apart from other fast-food joints. The menu offers an amazing range of burgers, from classic cheeseburgers to more unusual elk burgers. Also available is fried chicken, hot dogs, and a range of old-school appetizers. The service is friendly, with servers coming out to the cars to take orders, as they have been doing since the place first opened. A lovely spot for a nostagic step back in time.
Blue Heron Coffeehouse emphasizes community spirit and great food. The perfect spot for breakfast, lunch, or simply a cup of coffee, this café offers delicious lighter bites, including sandwiches, salads, and soup. It focuses on locally sourced produce and offers local artists and musicians the opportunity to showcase their work. The food changes seasonally, and everything is prepared fresh. The interior is modern and bright and is popular with students from the nearby university.
For the best sandwiches in town, Beno’s Deli offers options such as roast beef, smoked turkey, or pastrami, served in a selection of breads with a variety of cheeses. Beno’s has been open for almost 30 years and is housed in a beautiful historic city hall building, typical of downtown Winona. Although it is only open for lunch, it’s always filled with locals and regular customers, which speaks volumes for its reputation.
Located right by the Mississippi River is The Boat House, a modern restaurant focusing on local ingredients and modern twists on traditional American cuisine. Dishes include BBQ pulled pork, salmon burger, or a special Boat House poutine. The food is presented beautifully, with sumptuous yet elegant portions, while the tables on the outdoor terrace offer fantastic views of the river. There is also a bar area where guests can enjoy a drink while waiting for a table, perhaps a Minnesota brew or a classy cocktail.
For those looking for an alternative to the classic burgers or pizzas, Little Thailand uses fresh ingredients to create authentic Thai dishes. The restaurant makes use of Thai flavors such as coconut milk, lemon grass, and ginger — there is no sign of dishes being watered down to suit Western palates, and the spice level is not for the faint-hearted. The restaurant offers the option of either eating in or taking it to go, and with very few other options in the area with a similar cuisine, Little Thailand is a must-visit.
While not really suitable for a full sit down meal, Bloedow Bakery is hugely popular with locals for its fantastic range of donuts and other pastries and is thought to be the best bakery in the state. There is always a line out the door, with customers waiting to order bakery goods such as donuts with a variety of fillings and toppings, sweet pastries, bread rolls, or cookies. The bakery was founded in 1924, and the interior still retains some of its original charm. Any trip through Winona must include a visit to one of the city’s most popular institutions.
With two locations across Winona (one at each end of town), Rocco’s Pizza is one of the city’s best known pizza joints. It first opened back in 1958 and is still family owned; the dough is homemade, and the sauce is still the original recipe introduced by Rocco himself. The restaurant offers take-out as well as the option to eat in, and diners can create their own pizza from a selection of toppings. A great spot for tasty Chicago-style pizzas.