Wausau lies in the middle of north central Wisconsin, an area of phenomenal natural beauty surrounded by woods, lakes and hills. When it comes to dining, the town offers plenty of fantastic options, with all establishments oozing a sense of hospitality associated with the American Midwest. From local community-driven diners and cozy cafes, to more upscale restaurants and fine-dining Asian fusion experiences, Wausau is a real foodie delight waiting to be explored.
Located on a picturesque square right in the center of quaint Wausau, The Mint Cafe has been retaining an unpretentious vibe in the downtown area for years. Comprised of a cozy room of retro booths, for those passing by for a generous breakfast, the standard American fare will set you up right for the day. However, if you’re on the look-out for a local diner to while the lunchtime hours away, the selection of sandwiches, burgers and steaks will satisfy. Keep an eye out for nightly specials on the menu too, such as Fish Fry Friday and Prime Rib Saturday.
Occupying a urban-rustic space with an original tin ceiling dating from 1800, Back When Café serves upscale home-style cuisine in a charming setting. Utilizing sustainable and regional ingredients wherever possible, the large menu suits all tastes and serves classic dishes, often with an inventive twist of Italian and French influences. While there are two dinner menus, offering year-round favorite such as beef tenderloin, walleye, salmon and the delicious meatball pasta, a eye-catching seasonal menu of options such as wild pheasant and Chilean sea bass are also worth a look.
Perhaps one of the most well known places to eat in Wausau, 2510 Restaurant has won a myriad of awards over the years for its original recipes and welcoming hospitality. Whilst the Deli and Bakery gives visitors the opportunity for carry out, you can also enjoy a meal inside or on the pretty outdoor patio area. Choose from hearty breakfast options such as pancakes and eggs for breakfast, and homemade soups, salads and sandwiches for dinner. And before you leave, don’t forget to satisfy your sweet tooth with some of the delectable desserts on offer.
Basil has been pushing the boundaries of Asian fusion cuisine by bringing together Irish and Laotian cuisine to Wisconsin. Run by a dedicated husband and wife duo, the cosy restaurant offers many tantalizing choices, from sandwiches, to more adventurous options such as BBQ jerk, braised beef and catfish. Naturally, traditional Laotian dishes are also offered, with a myriad of curries and fragrant hot soups to cater to slightly more spicy tastes. For those looking to give their taste buds a treat, Basil will certainly do the trick.
From offerings of homemade specialties to daily specials, the Blue Willow Café is an inviting and unpretentious establishment that is definitely worth a visit for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The menu goes on for several pages, and the food portions are very large, so rest assured that you won’t go hungry in this little place, boasting wood plank walls and a traditional diner counter. For those looking to enjoy a meal away from the usual corporate-owned chains, this local family-run restaurant is a delight.
Opened in 2003 by a passionate local couple, this gourmet coffee shop, restaurant and wine boutique is a wonderful little find. Featuring over 600 different wines from around the world, the establishment also runs a growing wine club, as well as regular wine tasting and special events for those in the area. The owners really know their stuff when it comes to the selection, and are a wealth of knowledge. In addition to this, Vino Latte serves made-to-order breakfasts, wraps, panini, salads and soups. For those looking for a meal on-the-go, wifi is also available, as is a meeting room.
With more than 20 years of experience, the extremely friendly owners of Chang Garden offer a fine-dining experience when it comes to Chinese cuisine and a large variety of sushi dishes. Note that whilst the décor isn’t anything special, the quality is fantastic, with the restaurant priding itself on using the freshest ingredients and no MSG in their creations. Highlights on the menu include the flavorful orange chicken, egg foo yung, the crab rangoon and the delectable dumplings selection, all offered a very reasonable price.
City Grill is repeatedly voted by locals as ones of the trendiest restaurants in Wausau. Located right next to the Jefferson Street Inn and within walking distance of many locations downtown, the contemporary bistro specializes in American cuisine and boasts a lavish wine menu. From succulent steaks, to fresh seafood and pasta, to crisp salads and the best fried cheese curds, it is a terrific choice for those looking for upscale dining in the area. Note that with such a high level of service naturally comes a slightly higher price-tag.
Designed with an open kitchen concept, comprised of beautifully hand-crafted wood mosaic bar, Thrive Foodery is a new addition to Wausau that focuses on local, community-minded offerings. Whilst the entrees are a nod to the chef’s Louisiana’s New Orleans roots, a seasonal menu of comfort food with a twist includes tantalizing options such as loaded mac daddy with an abundance of aged Wisconsin cheddar, bacon and crispy fried onions. Alternatively, other favorites include the smoked meatloaf, shrimp creole and the perfectly cooked maple balsamic glaze maple chops. A variety of salads, sandwiches and burgers are also available.
For three generations, Carmelo’s has been proudly serving up authentic Italian fare in a family atmosphere, so much so, that the restaurant actually prides itself for handing down recipes over the decades, many of which date way back to the owner’s great great Italian grandparents. Sample all the traditional Italian staples in this hot spot, indulging a wide range of pizzas, pastas and antipasti. In the warmer months, choose a beer or a wine from the lengthy drinks list and sit out on the al fresco patio seating outdoors. Carmelo’s tends to get quite busy on the weekends so consider reserving a table ahead.