Where to eat and drink well in Wisconsin’s fourth largest city
Kenosha in southeastern Wisconsin lies halfway between Chicago and Milwaukee. For many years, my only experience with the city involved driving on Interstate 94, which connects the cities and cuts through Kenosha’s western edge. I would make an occasional stop at roadside diners or cheese shops (Wisconsin is nicknamed American’s Dairyland, after all), but never ventured out east to the center.
It wasn’t until a friend moved to the city that I became aware of what I had been missing. Downtown Kenosha is steps away from Lake Michigan, and thanks to recent revitalization efforts, the area is filled with restaurants serving diverse cuisine.
Whether you are looking for casual Midwestern fare, haute cuisine, or local microbrews, Kenosha has it. Here are my recommended places in and around downtown.
Char’s Café ($)
5537 6th Ave, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 657-3677
A corner diner serving breakfast, lunch (including homemade soups), a large variety of pastries, and ALTERRA™ coffee (Milwaukee-based roaster).
Franks Diner ($)
508 58th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 657-1017
Established in 1926, Franks Diner is the oldest operating lunch car diner in the US and a registered historical landmark. Before you go, arm yourself with patience and smiles: there are often long lines outside (especially on weekends), the service can be sassy, and the inside is crowded, hectic, and loud. But the payoff is a fun, unique dining experience in an old-school setting, plus large portions of freshly-prepared food.
JA’s pick: Franks Garbage Plate (signature dish) with homemade toast; half-portions/vegetarian options available
Twisted Cuisine ($$)
7546 Sheridan Rd, Kenosha, WI 53143
Phone: (262) 564-0220
The cozy restaurant, located about a 4-minute drive from downtown Kenosha, offers creative gourmet food in a relaxed atmosphere. Their menu is seasonal and special dining events (e.g. Wine Dinners) are held periodically. Recommended for a date night.
Kaiser’s Pizza and Pub ($$)
510 57th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 653-5897
A casual, family-friendly spot whose thin crust pizza that has been voted #1 in Kenosha County. Also known for seasoned beer nuggets, pizza dough baked in olive oil and served with marinara sauce.
Public Craft Brewing Co. ($$)
716 58th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
This downtown microbrewery began as a home-based operation and aims to provide “beer for the people.” The brews are available on tap and in growlers, and the taproom features chess, a shuffleboard table, and library of books about beer.
Find out more about Public from my post: Hangout: Public Craft Brewing Co. in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
Rustic Road Brewery ($$)
510 56th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 320-7623
Kenosha’s oldest operating brewery, producing beer in small batches. They have brewing classes, “brew in progress” events (where you can watch how your beer is made), and live music performances on weekends.
Rendez’vous Tiki Lounge ($$)
1700 52nd St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 652-0992
Not a place one might expect in the Midwest! South Pacific tiki atmosphere, specialty cocktails, and more than 40 rums. Some drinks use secret recipes and a homemade liquor mix.
Doll’s Tavern ($)
3014 Roosevelt Rd, Kenosha, WI 53142
Phone: (262) 652-2777
A laid-back neighborhood bar southwest of downtown, in business since 1924. $0.50 pool and darts, free jukebox.
COFFEE & DESSERT
Harborside Common Grounds ($)
5159 6th Ave, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 652-5111
An independent coffee shop with vintage-inspired decor and harbor views. A selection of teas and homemade sandwiches is also available.
Linnea Bakery ($$)
512 56th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 484-4203
Linnea is a Scandinavian bakery downtown, selling baked goods made from scratch daily, Swedish-inspired, custom-blended coffee, and Northern European products. Located next door to Rustic Road Brewery.
Kenosha Harbor Market ($$)
514 56th St, Kenosha, WI 53140
Phone: (262) 914-1252
Open 50 Saturdays a year, this European-style outdoor market near the lakefront is a destination for artisan bakery items, fresh fruit, and other locally-sourced goods. (Note: the market moves indoors in winter.)
Thank you to Kenosha Area CVB and its associates for hosting me in the city. All opinions, as always, are mine.