A FOODIE'S GUIDE TO EAU CLAIRE
Typically when one thinks of food in Wisconsin, cheese and beer come to top of mind. In Eau Claire, you can get just that on your plate plus a whole lot more. We strongly value our state's long-standing agricultural economy and in Eau Claire, it is made known with the farm-to-table food many of our restaurants serve and the unmatchable hospitality you get as soon as you step through their door. Embark on your journey to try all of Eau Claire's tastiest eats with this itinerary that is made for all the "foodies" out there and the people who simply just love to pull up their chair to a table and eat.
Kick off your next few days in Eau Claire with a trip over to ECDC - Eau Claire Downtown Coffee. This hip coffee shop is conveniently joined with the first floor of The Lismore Hotel and has a very contemporary and modern vibe to it. They carry a wide variety of coffees that are all delicious, but best of all, they are both free-trade focused and sustainable. For your order, ask for a Vanilla Latte with a couple of their Macaroons. The macaroons are guaranteed to melt in our mouth while the coffee will send you well on your way to conquer the rest of your time in Eau Claire.
📍 Jay Ray's Deli
Claimed to be without a doubt the best sandwiches in town, Jay Ray's is a must-have once you're in Eau Claire. Their subs are made with high-quality bread and piled high with the freshest veggies and tastiest meats. Be prepared to take your subs to go considering that this is only a drive-through place. Once you're at the window, order The DeNiro Sandwich - made with double pastrami, provolone, pepperoncini, mustard, and roasted garlic aioli. Trust us, the garlic aioli is something to talk about.
📍 Johnny's Italian Steakhouse
What you need to order here is right in its name - steak. Johnny's is considered to be one of the best places in Eau Claire for fine dining. The ambiance is dark and mystical while the food is nothing short of perfect. At the moment you sit down, your experience will begin with their popovers. They are gold and crisp on the outside, light and airy on the inside, and seriously hard to put down. Once they bring your steak, you'll discover that it is cooked just the way you like it and seeping with the utmost of flavor. All the food here is so good that it's a true challenge to put your fork and knife down.
Dessert - arguably the best part of any meal for all the sweet tooth people out there. If you have room after all the great food you've already had today, make a visit to Olson's Ice Cream Parlor. The people at Olson's have been hand-making their ice cream in the Chippewa Valley since 1944. Needless to say, you must fit a scoop of their creamy and rich treats in your stomach. With a wide variety of flavors, they have something for every taste palette.
There are three things you come to SHIFT for: to fix your bike, to grab a cup of coffee, and to try their ridiculously delicious waffles. They aren't your typical "Belgian Waffles" that come to mind when you think about breakfast. The waffles at SHIFT are about the size of your palm but boy are they intense and rich in flavor. The studded clusters of caramelized sugar just might be the secret ingredient in these that make these little gridded pieces of dough a breakfast game-changer. You might as well grab a coffee while you're here too!
Time for a good burger! Girolamo's Court'n House Bar & Grill knows exactly what they are doing when it comes to their burgers. Take your seat and order the Mel Burger - topped with mushrooms, olives, American and Swiss cheese, and bacon. You can't go wrong with that. If you're feeling extra adventurous with your food, pair your burger with a Bloody Mary. After eating here once, Court'n House will be the place you'll want to return to each time you visit Eau Claire.
Gear up for another fine dining experience for dinner at Mona Lisa's. Located in the Water St. District, Mona Lisa's really raises the bar when it comes to culinary arts and gives many other restaurants a run for their money. The interior has a vintage-like design and the food throughout the menu has clear Italian influences. The house favorite here is their Bourbon Sea Scallops - fresh day-boat sea scallops pan-seared to medium rare with sweet bourbon sauce, smoked bacon and scallions served with a basil risotto and steamed pea pods. How delicious!
To dine in Paris - the ultimate foodie's dream. Well, the Nostalgic Bean in Altoona is pretty darn close. They serve authentic French bakery goods that are all made from scratch and with many locally sourced ingredients. It's the perfect place to go when you're craving something sweet to top off a meal. Order a Croissant here - made with chocolate filling, almonds, chocolate chips and sprinkled with powdered sugar. They are guaranteed to be like a pastry you have never tasted before.
Okay, we have to be real with you; The Nucleus is essentially a brunch lover's fantasy put into reality. It's an Eau Claire local favorite, so the line gets long very quickly. But, don't get us wrong... the food here is WELL worth the wait. Start off the brunch with a round of their mimosas - you will not be disappointed. However, the real showstopper here is their Lemon Ricotta Hotcakes. You're going to walk away after brunch just speechless! If brunch is your love language, check out our 6 Delicious Brunches You Should Try While in the Chippewa Valley.
This bar had to make it on this list for its classic Wisconsin dive bar vibe and their incredible roast beef sandwiches. Those hot sandwiches are all Ray's Place customers ever rave about. You cannot forget to try the horseradish mustard here too; it will blow you away. Sometimes the best meals come from places you've least expected to be wowed by. That's why Ray's Place is a true gem to Eau Claire.
Wrap up your time in Eau Claire with dinner at Northern Tap House! Whatever you choose to order here, it is guaranteed to exceed your any of your expectations. Its casual and laid back atmosphere makes it the perfect place to kick back with a glass of beer and share good food and laughs with close family and friends. Speaking of sharing food... when it's time to order an appetizer, order a round of cheese curds for the table. Did you think we'd let you leave Wisconsin without cheese curds?! No way! They are made with cheese from a local cheese factory, Ellsworth Creamery, and are served with sweet chili sauce. The curds and sauce are an unexpected pairing but in the best way possible. Northern Tap House is also well spoken about for its beer (of course), their pizzas, and their wings!
If your stomach is not satisfied, give these bonus stops a shot and get your foodie on!
📍 44 North
44 North, and American Gastropub, is located in River Prairie and is the place to go when you want some good food and some fun! Built with two stories, the second floor is a dedicated dining space while the first floor is an arcade! When you make your way upstairs to eat, you'll love the industrial farmhouse feel and be pleased with what you'll find on the menu. The Southwest Chicken Rolls are widely popular here; they are stuffed with smoked chicken, spinach, peppers, black beans, pepper jack cheese and served with their chipotle ranch. Talk about yum!
Over in Osseo, WI stands a restaurant with one mean wood-fired pizza grill. The pizza you get from Foster's Fireside is just unbelievable. Each pie is handled with so much detail and care because that's how much the people of this small town care about your experience. The pizzas to try here are the Margherita and the That Settles It CBR. The Margherita is made with a cauliflower, parmesan garlic base and topped with fresh mozzarella, freshly diced tomatoes, and basil. If you like anything "garlic", you will LOVE this pizza. On the other hand, the That Settles It CBR is a pizza with cauliflower crust topped with ranch drizzle, Wisconsin cheese, grilled chicken, and bacon crumble. You can't go wrong with either!
The recommended foodie item here landed a spot on Travel Wisconsin's list of "7 of Wisconsin's Most Unique Burgers." You better believe it's good! The Bacon Mac & Cheese Burger from Northwoods Brewpub in Osseo is a simple beef patty topped with cheddar cheese, macaroni & cheese, crispy bacon, and a surprising sriracha bourbon sauce. You'll be glad you tried this one! Pair your burger with one of their refreshing beers since Northwoods Brewpub is also a brewery! Everything here is comfort food done right.