La Crosse is a technology and medicine hub along the Mississippi River, and it has been rated highly in rankings of health, quality of life, and education. The city is known for its beer and the Wisconsin delicacy of cheese curds, so you can bet it’s a city full of great cuisine. Take a look at the La Crosse’s top 10 restaurants and start planning your next trip now.
Established in 2006, this classy restaurant offers an elegant dining option in La Crosse. The menus are full of modern American cuisine made from seasonal ingredients, USDA Prime beef, and fresh-caught seafood. The Waterfront features a restaurant and a Prohibition-era tavern to visit for cocktails, beers, and wines along with a Tavern menu offering lighter dishes. You can also choose to sit outside on the patio for a view of the Mississippi River. The dinner menu includes options like Alaskan King Crab or pork tenderloin stuffed with pear and pistachio.
This upscale French-inspired establishment offers seasonal dishes along with iconic French specialties like escargot, moules frites, frog legs, foie gras, and more. The restaurant aims to whisk their guests away to France with their authentic cuisine and a beverage list including products only from Europe. Located in the Mons Anderson House, a historic mansion, Le Chateau feels like you’re in another country. Try the filet d’agneau ‘en croûte’ Wellington (lamb Wellington) or the authentic cassoulet au confit de canard (duck cassoulet topped with smoked duck breast), and don’t leave without a creamy crème brûlée and a glass of cognac.
Greengrass Café opened in 2014 to bring fantastic breakfast food to the students, faculty, and neighbors of the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. Typical diner fare is offered, from pancakes and eggs to sandwiches and burgers. Try the Count of Monte Cristo sandwich, with ham, Swiss cheese, jelly, and an option of two eggs. Don’s Hungry Man Platter is for huge appetites only – the massive dish comes with six eggs, two pieces of bacon, two pieces of sausage, hash browns or breakfast potatoes, and toast or an English muffin. Each dish is made with locally sourced ingredients, with as much made from scratch as possible.
This traditional Irish pub and restaurant is the place to find tasty pub food and great drinks while you watch a sports game or live music. When the weather is nice, guests can enjoy the patio area outside and watch the locals pass by; otherwise, the interior is quite atmospheric. The simple dishes present the best of Irish cuisine using fresh ingredients and classic recipes. Try the tender corned beef and cabbage, the savory shepherd’s pie, or the batter-fried fish and chips with an added hint of spice. Sandwiches, soups, and salads are also available. Not to mention, there is a whole list of drinks made with Guinness.
The Mint is a farm-to-table craft bar and restaurant. The kitchen uses locally sourced ingredients to make their tasty dishes and cocktails, and the small menu means the chef values quality over quantity. To use the best seasonal ingredients, the culinary staff is constantly changing the menu. Try dishes like a harvest salad made with watermelon, beets, bleu cheese, and toasted walnuts or a Cubano sandwich made with braised pork and smoked ham and topped with Grand Cru Alpine cheese, served with guajillo mayo and pickled beet relish on a house-made bun. The menu also includes plenty of inventive cocktails and local beers to try.
Buzzard Billy’s brought its excellent cuisine to La Crosse when it opened its second location on Pearl Street. Located in a brick hotel from the 1860s, in the historic downtown, this restaurant also has a 1950’s-style cocktail lounge. The menu offers authentic New Orleans-style cuisine – for a bit of everything, try the Cajun combo, served with a blackened catfish fillet, jambalaya, seafood gumbo, and hushpuppies. The red beans and rice with spicy Andouille and the crawfish étouffée are both popular dishes as well.
The Root Note is an art cafe and music venue that serves Kickapoo coffee, Rishi Tea, and locally made food including delicious crêpes, soups, and salads. Try a savory crêpe, like the Baby Blue, made with red pepper, spinach, green onion, and garlic sautéed with Wisconsin white wine, crumbled bleu cheese, and a fried egg. The many sweet crêpes include banana and Nutella, berries and cream, and honey and lemon.
One of the best places to find steaks in La Crosse is Freighthouse Restaurant. Located in a historic building, the restaurant offers succulent steaks including a 20-ounce engineer’s prime rib, 14-ounce New York pepper steak, and 12-ounce sirloin teriyaki. Every steak is made with high-quality beef and is naturally aged and hand cut every day. The menu also has seafood options, a fresh vegetable salad bar, and daily specials. And if you haven’t indulged too much, try the chocolate Oreo pie or quadruple chocolate mousse pie for a sweet finish to the meal.
Piggy’s Restaurant is on the second floor of a historic building dating back to 1871. The restaurant has an on-site smoker where every prime rib, pork chop, swordfish, and chicken is smoked to perfection. The menu changes seasonally to accommodate the freshest veggies and seafood. Try the peppered swordfish or shrimp and sea scallops. The restaurant has been in this location since 2004, and on the lower level, guests can find a charming Blues Lounge. Every Friday and Saturday a new blues band plays in the lounge, making it a great place for a weekend nightcap.
This restaurant is a landmark in La Crosse. The casual establishment offers gourmet burgers, sandwiches, homemade pizzas, and more. The juicy burgers are some of the most popular menu options. Try the Howie Burger, which is made with two fresh patties topped with Swiss and cheddar cheeses, applewood bacon, and Howie’s Dynamite sauce. Alternatively sink your teeth into the Kansas City Crunch, which is topped with smoked pork, homemade coleslaw, provolone cheese, barbecue sauce, and barbecue kettle chips for a crunchy finish. Fresh versions of simple, American classics are served with no-fuss at Howie’s.