Dining in Racine, Wisconsin is about more than just Kringles, the Danish pastries that have made this lakeside city famous. With its collection of supper clubs, family-run diners and ethnic restaurants you’ll find options to suit every occasion. Check out our list of Racine’s ten best restaurants.
Decked out with sports memorabilia and massive trophy fish, you really can’t get more ‘classic Wisconsin’ than Cliff’s Boathouse Café. The modest diner has been run by Cliff Wolosek and his family since 1987 and over the years, they’ve become known for their ‘secret recipe’ potato pancakes; locals insist they’re even better than those you’ll find in Europe, where the dish originated. Complete a meal with other hearty Wisconsin favorites such as the lake perch sandwich, the Patty Melt burger with cheese and grilled onions on rye, or if attending on a Friday night, the all-you-can-eat fish fry that includes unlimited beer-battered snow cod.
A lengthy yet straightforward menu, a classy ambience and luxurious décor have helped seal The Corner House’s status as a local hotspot for sophisticated yet affordable nights out since it opened decades ago. The quintessential supper club (a stylish yet reasonably priced dining establishment typically found in rural parts of the Midwest) makes incorporating fresh ingredients in its dishes a top priority. The venue even ages and hand-cuts all of its meats on-site, among them its outstanding prime rib.
In the 1980s, a group of franchisees from the now-extinct Red Barn restaurant chain banded together when the company shut down in order to continue serving the popular home-style menu items. The Farm Restaurant was one of the few restaurants that resulted from that effort. Today, 40 years later, it still serves the same simple, unpretentious, delicious fare it did in its early days, such as the ‘Farmbuster’ sandwich and homemade frozen custard. Now thought to be the last restaurant in the nation remaining from the franchisees’ collaboration, the Farm is truly a piece of food industry history.
With its combination of glamour and down-to-earth, Midwestern affability, The HobNob‘s dining experience is more than equal to one in Milwaukee or Chicago, Illinois, but without the hefty price tag. Find a spot in one of the 1950s supper club’s swanky leather booths to enjoy surf and turf and a cocktail while gazing out the windows; the sweeping view of Lake Michigan is reason enough to pay a visit. Don’t miss the extensive wine list or the playful ice cream drinks in flavors such a Chocolate Grasshopper, Golden Cadillac and Brandy Alexander.
The food of chef Javier Ortega of Javier’s Cuisine is a culinary adventure. Having worked in French, Italian, Asian and Mexican restaurants, the Guanajuanto native is able to skillfully meld the techniques and tastes of each locale’s foods into his own unique genre of cuisine. His repertoire includes creations such as pollo y camarón en chipotle, broiled chicken in a spicy cream sauce topped with shrimp and pico de gallo salsa and baked chicken pasta, made with sautéed chicken, mushrooms and shell pasta topped with creamy tomato sauce and baked with cheese.
With no bright, flashy signs announcing its presence, you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled if you intend to dine at Racine’s best-kept foodie secret, Olde Madrid. The humble and intimate Spanish restaurant’s tapas-style dining is vastly different to any other culinary experience you’ll find in the city. Within the warm, festive interior, you’ll find small plates of beef stew, almond meatballs, roasted chicken and cherries or large portions of paella, saffron rice with meat and/or seafood. Wash down with sangria or your favorite Spanish wine. On Monday nights, you can even partake in a Spanish cooking class with Chef Manny.
Wells Brothers Restaurant’s pizza in Racine is Wisconsin’s answer to Illinois’ deep-dish pies. Founded in 1921 by Italian brothers James and Dominic Wells, the pizzeria has racked up both a dedicated local following and a mass of national awards. Its pie’s paper-thin crust and delicate balance of toppings has earned the restaurant a spot on the ‘Top 10 Best Pizzerias in America’ list among its many accolades.
Step into the intimate Yardarm Bar & Grill, its rustic interior, bedecked with nautical flags and colored glass globes, for traditional European pub fare and some of the area’s best fish fry, from walleye and perch to mahi-mahi and sesame tuna. Other menu options include rack of applewood-smoked baby back pork ribs and garden veggie burger with japaleño mustard. No matter what you decide on, a side of Yardarm’s famous sand-dollar chips is a must. Mark your calendar on Wednesdays and some Saturdays to see local artists perform, since everything pairs well with live music.