WEST COAST OF WISCONSIN FOODIE TRAIL
The 13 Must Stops along Lake Pepin for Extraordinary Foodie Experiences
The Great River Road along Lake Pepin is known for its scenic drives, soaring bluffs and quaint villages. The stretch from Bay City to Pepin is lovingly referred to as “The West Coast of Wisconsin”, with its majestic vistas and charming, almost maritime feel of its villages. There have long been a few well-known dining stops along the beautiful roadway, but it has now become a serious foodie destination with world-class, award-winning spots that make the trip worth a few days of gastronomic exploration. Start at the top of Lake Pepin and work your way down for truly exquisite foodie experiences. The start of the trail is approx. 60 miles from Minneapolis on one of the most beautiful stretches of the Mississippi River along the shores of Lake Pepin.
1. Chef Shack
Tucked off WI Hwy 35 in Bay City you will find Chef Shack. Carrie Summer and Lisa Carlson crafted this delightful “Ranch Rustic Country French” inspired weekend dining spot to entertain guests with exquisite food, influenced by their travels, but always based in extraordinary French based technique. The wine list is top notch, as are the cocktails. And do not miss the desserts, all handcrafted in house by Chef Carrie. Chef Lisa has been a multi-year Semifinalist for the James Beard Award. Chef Shack has been named one of
the 50 best Minneapolis restaurants by Mpls. St Paul Magazine and is a Travel and Leisure favorite.
6379 Main St, Bay City, WI 54723
Bay City, WI
The gateway to Lake Pepin the village of Bay City is a quaint, quiet spot with a stunning location on the Great River with the first trail destination.
2. Sunrise Coffee
Beautifully crafted espresso drinks and locally fresh baked goods. You will also find a nice selection of breakfast and lunch items. Great coffee, seriously nice folks.
W6442 State Road 35, Bay City
Maiden Rock, WI
Down river from Bay city is the Village of Maiden Rock. Barely two streets wide, it clings to the bluffs on the shores of the lake. Best known for its bars and bakery it has become alive with new shops and galleries and the second trail destination.
3. Smiling Pelican Bake Shop
Sandra Thielman’s Smiling Pelican is a small but immensely popular bakery. Their made from scratch treats are crafted with care in small batches, are well known throughout the area. They have a devoted following that you can find lined up at the door, anticipating the delights about to be consumed. Best to check their Facebook page for up-to-date listings of hours.
W3556 WI-35, Maiden Rock, WI 54750
Six miles past Maiden Rock you will find yourself in Stockholm, a tiny village of 78 permanent residents but packs a huge amount into its two streets of shops and eateries and is well known as a famous day trip destination, a Midwest Living “Best of” and named “The coziest small town in America.”
4. Stockholm Pie & General Store
On the main corner of the Great River Road and Spring Street in this extremely popular destination village you will find the famous and deeply loved Stockholm Pie. The shop is known for its made from scratch, just like grandma made food, especially the pie… lots of pie, really good pie. In addition to the pie, the shop is loved for its delicious food – sandwiches, salads, and savory pies. River Travel Magazine named Stockholm Pie and General Store Best Café on the Mississippi River, and Best Piei in the country. USA Today said it is one of the 18 legendary pie shops in the US. RoadFood Guide called it one of the 100 best places to eat in America. Awarded with numerous nods as best pie in Wisconsin and one of the best in the country. Lines can be sizable on weekends but oh so worth the wait. Best to call ahead and pre-order whole pies or if you have your heart set on a particular slice. Beautiful garden seating in addition to inside the classic building. Ask about the Stockholm Opera Hall for group events and check out Wisconsin Foods & Sundries Marketplace for a taste of Wisconsin & Scandinavia with wine, beer and cheese sampling, bookstore and foodie treats galore. Open year around but check Facebook for hours.
N2030 Spring St, Stockholm WI
54769. (715) 442-2266
5. The Palate
The Palate is best known as a charming French inspired kitchen store and cooking school where you will find delectable house baked goodies. They have recently added delightful outdoor seating in the back garden and sidewalk café style seating in the front gardens and are featuring a truly exceptional selection of repast in the form of beautifully curated cheese platters with selections of world class wines from the store. Open into the evening, it is a gentle, lovely way to end your visit to Stockholm. W12102 WI-35, Stockholm, WI 54769 (715) 442-6400. www.thepalate.net.
W12102 WI-35, Stockholm, WI 54769
6. Hop, Dish and Vine & Little Lark Bakery
Tucked in a beautiful courtyard garden. The menu is a lighthearted fun seasonal menu. Adjacent is the Little Lark Bakery. All this in a chill gastro beer garden vibe including regional beer, fine wines, and live music.
N2047 Spring St. Stockholm, WI.
Six more miles downriver is the Village of Pepin. Pepin is the largest of the four villages on the lake with almost 900 folks! Known for its beautiful marina, and as the birthplace of Laura Ingalls Wilder, it is even better known now for its foodie destinations.
7. Harbor View Café
The Harbor View is the grand dame of the foodie destinations along the trail. It has long set the standard in the Midwest for destination dining. The café sources locally and has a highly regarded wine cellar. As suggested by the name, the café sits on the beautiful marina in Pepin. The café does not take reservations and the wait can be substantial on busy summer weekends, but get a glass of wine, sit outside, listen to music and watch the Great River meander by.
314 1st St, Pepin, WI 54759
8. Villa Bellezza
Villa Bellezza is best known for its award-winning wines and its breathtaking Italian village like campus – it really does feel like you have escaped to Italy without the flight. Even the chef is a true Italian original. Antonio Cecconi leads the kitchen at the winery’s Country Italian restaurant, Il Forno. Wood fired pizza, pasta and panini make up the menu. Their cheese and meat plates are heavenly and pair so beautifully from the large range of truly exquisite wines from their own cellars. All of this is best experienced on “La Piazza Bellezza”, it’s like a small Italian town. It is a great place to watch people while enjoying your wine and food. In summer al fresco dining lasts into the evening under café lights above. In winter, al fresco dining is under heated porticos with chairs covered in furs to help stay warm. Quite the delicious experience. You may also want to explore their cooking school La Scuola, a participation cooking school taught by chef Antonio Cecconi. This year you will be able to experience their new outdoor kitchens for the school and dining. Open year around, check Facebook for hours.
1420 3rd St, Pepin, WI 54759
The village of Nelson lies at the crossroads of Wisconsin and Minnesota. Take a left, and you keep going down the Wisconsin Great River Road. Keep going forward and you find yourself in Minnesota.
9. J&J Barbeque
Classic, delicious, and fun describe J&J BBQ. This family-owned joint smokes up some of the best ribs, chicken, and brisket you will find anywhere on the Mississippi. Their bar is famous for the Bloody Mary, and you will find live entertainment at times also. Its worth the wait for the amazing food!
208 N Main St, Nelson, WI
10. Nelson Cheese
An area favorite. Once a cheese factory now a delightful gourmet & wine shop featuring tasty sandwiches and pizza along with ice cream cones from a top-notch regional ice cream company. Don’t miss the fireside wine tasting room and outdoor, dog friendly patio.
S237 State Road 35 S, Nelson,WI.
11. Stone Barn Pizza
Farm Pizza is a big deal, particularly in our area, where it all kind of started with A to Z farms many years ago. Stone barn crafts amazing cracker thin crust pizzas with farm fresh ingredients. Find them on Facebook for hours.
S685 Co Rd KK, Nelson, WI
Worth the Trip:
12. Barn Again Lodge: It is about a half hour drive to get to Barn Again in Mondovi WI, but it’s special enough to warrant the drive. Only open for pizza on Wed in the summer, this beautiful lodge and event center knows what they are doing with the pizza. Creative combinations abound and you will find great appetizers and other foods for the non-pizza folk among us.
S683 Lovely Rd, Mondovi.
You can get more info at www.facebook.com/BarnAgainLodgeWI
or call them at (715) 946-3443. Enjoy the stunning drive and the great pizza.
Kingfisher is the lovechild of chef Rebecca Boulger, a Harborview alum. They have taken an old bar and restaurant and breathed new life into it with an almost supper clubby kind of feel but with big city new American food. The bar, with its creative craft cocktails, upon entering is a step back in time and the dining room is unpretentious but with beautiful views of the Chippewa River. The small, carefully crafted menu is what makes it worth the trip. The Honey Chili Brussels put that veggie in a whole new category… do not miss …but all of the items are delectable and don’t skip dessert. Seasonal.
214 w Main Street Durand, WI