La Crosse is a waterfront town located in the driftless region of Wisconsin.
If you’ve never explored this area, this is the perfect place for foodies to get great food and experience many local favorites.
After spending a few days in the area, I’m excited to share some of the best restaurants you can find in La Crosse, WI.
This bustling town has a large variety of flavors to offer that you need to add to your bucket list.
Step back into the 1960s and experience fast food the old-fashioned way with the classic drive-in at Rudy’s! Their menu is filled with delicious food and classics such as burgers, onion rings, cheese curds, and milkshakes. As soon as you arrive you pull into a stall and order through the speaker. Servers are on roller skates just as they would have been back in the day. They bring your food on a tray and attach it to your car window or you can sit at one of the picnic tables to enjoy your meal. It has likely been a long time since you have experienced a classic drive-in and this place gets busy on a Friday night so be sure to plan accordingly.
Experience small-town cafe vibes at Hungry Peddler. This long-running restaurant is a community staple and is open 7 days a week so you can get their delicious food any day you visit! Open since 1976, Hungry Peddler is best known for their dinner menu of hamburgers and house beer, Peddler Brau made at Capital Brewery. No matter where you go, you will see that this place has a long history of loyal customers who know each other and the servers well.
Bluebird Bakery & Cafe
Looking for local coffee shops in the area? Grab that perfect cup of coffee or pick up a fresh locally made loaf of bread at Bluebird Bakery & Cafe. This locally owned bakery & cafe makes fresh bread and pastries from scratch every day. In the rare chance they have something left the next day, you may find a loaf for a discount! This cafe is also a nice place for meetings with a conference table in a side room for people to gather, discuss business, or just gather with friends and family.
The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor
Take a step back in time at The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor, located in a historic building in the heart of downtown La Crosse! While The Pearl was opened in 1993, this ice cream parlor brings you back to the old-time soda fountain and confectionery of the 1940s. Their layout and decor resemble the olden time and you can still find the homemade ice cream flavors in the store each day. As soon as you walk into the building you are greeted with the smell of freshly made waffle cones as they hand-make them throughout the day. Be sure to explore the confectionery and coffee shop as well. This is the perfect place to satisfy your sweet tooth, enjoy a cup of coffee, and gather with friends and family.
If you are looking for somewhere with live music, great food, and happy hour specials, Moxie’s is the place to go. This waterfront restaurant is more than just a place to eat, it’s a place to spend the night out and celebrate! In the summer, head to the tiki bar and enjoy live music 7 days a week. Check their Facebook page for local acts and artists performing each night. Bring some friends and play a game of cornhole or sand volleyball on their courts. Having a birthday, family reunion, or other event with a group? Call ahead and book the Tiki Pub pontoon for a day out on the water for your private parties! If you come during the summer, the dining room may not be open so plan for a fun night out on the patio.
La Crosse Distilling Co
Taste world-class craft cocktails at the La Crosse Distilling Co. tasting room. If you are looking to explore the craft beverage trail in the driftless region then this is the best place to start. Here you can find friendly staff, happy hour specials, and even view the on-site distillery through the windows. The most unique part of La Crosse Distilling Co is that they focus on using local ingredients. They source all their water locally as well as work with local farmers to source heirloom ingredients to make their products top-of-the-line.
River View Vineyard & Winery
Continue on the area craft beverage trail with a visit to River View Vineyard & Winery. While this is technically on the Minnesota side of the river, it is a can’t miss stop with scenic views overlooking the Mississippi River. River View Winery offers a wide selection of wines made from cold-climate grapes and named after local areas and landmarks. This is a small family winery so they aren’t able to accommodate large groups but it is a great place for a small gathering.
No matter where you choose to dine on your trip to La Crosse you are sure to find something to please everyone! This area is filled with local restaurants, unique cuisine, and excellent service that will keep you coming back for more.
What food is La Crosse WI known for?
While the town is known for its beer, La Crosse is a great place to enjoy great food. Popular dishes in the area include bratwurst and the Wisconsin classic, cheese curds. These deep-fried curds of cheese are a staple across the state with each place making them a little bit different. Wisconsin takes their cheese curds seriously and the best ones are made with cheese curds made fresh right in the state. Other can’t miss menu items in La Crosse are the classic prime rib at the Hungry Peddler or head to Howie’s for their well-known Bloody Mary bar.
Looking for more foodie destinations? Check out 5 of the Best Eats in Bismarck, North Dakota