Kenosha Food is Fabulous! Places to Eat in Kenosha

A road trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin

Wondering what I’ve been up to lately? A tasty road trip to Kenosha, Wisconsin, that’s what. Kenosha is just south of Milwaukee and north of Chicago, smack dab on lovely Lake Michigan in the far southeastern corner of Wisconsin. I had a fine introduction to Kenosha food, which became a true contender for my favorite eats in Wisconsin!

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food

Kenosha has much to offer foodie travelers, and a great deal to please cultural travelers, too. Once an industrial center, manufacturing everything from AMC automobiles to Simmons mattresses and Jockey shorts, Kenosha has re-invented itself as a cultural destination with a half dozen museums, several historic districts, and Instagrammable vintage streetcars. Natural beauty abounds, with a classic harbor, lighthouse, and lots of public lakefront to appreciate Lake Michigan. The town dates to 1830, and much of the historical architecture has been preserved. And did I mention, there’s a whole lot of good food?

Kenosha Restaurant Week

Each year, the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sponsors Kenosha Restaurant Week, the culinary star of Kenosha events. This is a great time for YOU to sample Kenosha food, so get it on your calendar. This year’s foodie fun will happen February 20–28, 2021. Check back here for updates! More than 40 local, one-of-a-kind restaurants across Kenosha County participate, offering multi-course meals at a fixed price. Whee! This fabulous concept is the perfect opportunity to embark upon a culinary adventure!

During the 9-day celebration of Kenosha’s dining scene, chefs cook up special menus that you’ll only find during Restaurant Week. See the Restaurant Week website for a list of participating restaurants and menus.

What Kenosha eats

Food in Kenosha has something for everyone, from pub food, to classic diner fare, to fine dining in a classy yet casual atmosphere. There’s a castle of cheese, a warehouse of jelly beans, and an incredible Italian deli. You’ll find sensational ice cream, shops dedicated to cake, pie, and popcorn, and much more, all unique to Kenosha!

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Frank’s Diner

I love patronizing local businesses, and you will love eating local here. Kenosha boasts a number of family-owned local restaurants with multiple generations on staff. Many of Kenosha’s unique restaurants are experiences in themselves, such as the historic Frank’s Diner. Guy Fieri visited Frank’s for the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives.” Watch out for sassy service and remember their motto, “be nice or leave!”

Cheese and more cheese

When you come to Wisconsin, bring a bag full of lactose digestion assistance. This state is crazy for cheese and other delightful dairy products, like ice cream. I had both at Jack’s at Jack Andrea.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Brussels Sprout Grilled Cheese at Jack’s

My grilled cheese sandwich was amazing. Shaved Brussels sprouts, caramelized onions, goat cheese, and Havarti. I was a bit full, but my luncheon mates suggested I try a classic soda fountain treat. That’s what Jack’s is famous for. I gave in, graciously, and ordered a hot fudge sundae. (It’s a tough job, people, but someone’s gotta do it.) One of my companions got a slice of chocolate pie for her dessert. Not sure how it tasted because she didn’t share with me. Oh, sigh.

Jack’s started out in a piano crate in 1911, and it’s been in the family ever since. Jack’s recently remodeled the space and the menu. Focused on whole foods, it features homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches. The historic soda fountain with its Italian marble counter reigns supreme. Have a seat and indulge in an old-fashioned ice cream treat.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food

Beer and pub food

Traveling around Kenosha and environs, you can relax and refresh in a number of breweries and pubs. Pub food is some of the best food in Kenosha!

Steps from the Lake Michigan shoreline and Alford Park beach, Waterfront Warehouse features gourmet flatbreads, salads, burgers and sandwiches, as well as signature fish, pasta, and steak entrées. Their loaded waffle fries are on my list to try next time. Enjoy a full bar offering wines, specialty cocktails, draft and bottled beers. Don’t miss their seasonal outdoor seating in the warmer months.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Pesto Italiano flatbread at Waterfront Warehouse

Johnny’z Pour House is a local pub with a full bar, craft beer, and a menu with sandwiches, burgers, and a variety of shrimp, chicken, and fish. Weekend specials include fish fry and barbecue, along with breakfast, served Saturday and Sunday. Not here on the weekend? Try the daily special.

Breakfast, anyone?

The Daily Dose Café is such a terrific spot for breakfast or lunch, I had both! One day I enjoyed their frittata of the day for breakfast, the next I ordered a chicken salad sandwich for carryout at lunch. Both meals included the best multigrain bread.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food

The café started out as a coffee shop, but evolved quickly to serve breakfast and lunch 5 days a week. Get your daily dose of home cooking with food made from scratch. Vegans: the café recently introduced a totally plant-based menu you will love!

The building is small, so you may have to wait for a table. It’s a bit of a tight squeeze with other happy eaters.

Speaking of tight squeezes, a visit to Kenosha would not be complete without breakfast at Frank’s Diner. Featured on Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives,” Frank’s has been in business since 1926 making BIG breakfasts for Kenoshans. Pancakes the size of your head, giant cinnamon rolls, monstrous slices of homemade bread, and their famous garbage plates are served with sass.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Garbage Plate at Frank’s

The cash-only diner is a registered historical landmark, and happens to be the oldest continuously operating lunch car diner in the U.S.

At both the Daily Dose and Frank’s you can get lunch as well as breakfast.

Fun fine dining

I had some true foodie fun at Twisted Cuisine. This wonderful restaurant offers comfort food classics with a twist. Playful variations of classic dishes, some unusual ingredients, and the occasional wild flavor combination ensure your tastebuds will have a rollicking good time.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food

One of the (many!) refreshing things about this restaurant is they offer small bites suitable for one or two as well as larger appetizers for sharing, and half portions of all their entrees! I love this because it gives you the opportunity to try more menu items. It’s perfect for light eaters, and it’s easier on the pocketbook, too.

To start, the bartender made me a fabulous mocktail. I proceeded to devour four flavorful courses. Potstickers, an exquisite beet salad, the halibut entrée (the half portion, whew!) and the sticky toffee cake for dessert. I know you’re jealous. You yourself can sample their menu during Restaurant Week. Chef Erica Buskirk’s delectable creations are sure to keep this diner coming back for more.

Before you go

Before you roll out of town, be sure to stop at Sandy’s Popper. Her awesome Windy-City-mix popcorn rivals the famous blend I bought in Chicago. They have ice cream, too! And do not miss Tenuta’s Deli for a true Italian deli experience.

Kenosha eats Italian

A Kenosha staple for 70 years, Tenuta’s is an old-fashioned, full-service deli. Homemade prepared foods include lasagna, eggplant parm, mostaccioli, ravioli, and giardiniera. Try the olive salad, one of their best sellers. Another winner is the edible rind merlot cheese. I just might be noshing on it as I write this post.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food

Being sweet-loving me, I focused on the bakery case. I came out loaded with authentic Italian treats: cannoli, Italian wedding cake cookies, fig cookies, amarette, and so forth. Please do not ask how many pounds of cookies I may have purchased. I will not tell you. Unless you twist my arm a really lot.

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Tenuta’s cannolis are made fresh throughout the day

I gawked at their 350-pound provolone, stocked up on house-made ravioli, and chose from the enormous selection of imported dried pastas. Tenuta’s makes hot sandwiches on the premises: brats, sausages, hot dogs and a dozen different panini. Try their special menu during Restaurant Week.

Cake, cookies, and more cheese

I may have popped in to a few more places while I was in town. Ahem. At Robin’s Nest Cakery, you can always get great cupcakes, plus soups, salads, and sandwiches at lunchtime. I stopped at Paeilli’s bakery for some biscotti, and learned about a traditional rusk-type bread called frizzini. And Mars Cheese Castle certainly deserves a royal visit. I had heard good things about Elsie Mae’s Bakery & Cannery, but they were hibernating in January. Next time!

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Genetti at Paeilli’s

Where to stay in Kenosha

When staying in Kenosha, consider the Wyndam Garden Harborside. The hotel’s location can’t be beat. I was blissed out to have a harbor-view room where I could watch the sun rise over the water each morning! Conveniently located right downtown, you’ll have easy access everywhere. Several of Kenosha’s top attractions are even within walking distance. The Southport Lighthouse is just across the harbor; walk there in about 5 minutes. The Kenosha History Center and the Civil War Museum are within walking distance as well. And you can easily stroll to a bunch of good places to eat!

Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Sunrise over the harbor at the Wyndam Garden

Coming up: Things to do in Kenosha

Learn about fun things to see and do in Kenosha in my next post! I’ll tell you all about:

  • The Kenosha History Center’s fantastic (and surprising!) collection
  • Fab architecture in the historic districts
  • My private tour of the Durkee Mansion and Kemper Center
  • Hiking to the Kenosha Sand Dunes on the Lake Michigan shoreline
  • Visiting the Southport Lighthouse and maritime museum, and how I hit my head
Kenosha Eats and Treats! Savoring Wisconsin Food
Vintage fire truck at Kenosha History Center

Disclosure: The Kenosha Area Convention and Visitor’s Bureau sponsored my stay in Kenosha, and I’m so glad they did! Except I have to buy new pants, now. For more information about Kenosha, see VisitKenosha.com.

More adventures in Wisconsin

I love Wisconsin food! Join me on a road trip to Madeline Island, where I have some great eats in Bayfield and LaPointe. My Fall Colors Drive on the Wisconsin Great River Road involves some delicious pie. See you there!

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50 Comments

    1. So happy to hear you enjoyed it, Patty! I certainly loved being right on the harbor at the Wyndham. The location couldn’t be nicer. Thanks for leaving a comment, that means a lot coming from a Kenosha native!

  1. What a foodie extravaganza! A castle of cheese? Yes please. You can keep the Brussels Sprouts though, shaved or otherwise. I’m not a fan! I love food festivals and this looks well worth a visit.

    1. Jane I assure you Brussels sprouts can be very nice 😆 Only in Wisconsin could there be a cheese castle. I think perhaps a cheese chateau somewhere as well. Will report back. 😂

  2. Oh. My. Goodness. This post should be labeled with a warning: Eat before reading. I didn’t eat before reading and wanted to book a flight to Kenosha for Restaurant Week! Your photos and description of the dishes and desserts you enjoyed are wonderful.

    1. Thank you, Alecia! Describing them was JUST about as good as eating them. Well, no. But I have my memories, lol. I’ll consider adding a warning label! 🙂

  3. You’ve really made the case for the Kenosha food scene – so many creative and flavourful looking options! Gotta love such vibrant cooks and chefs – and your pics do induce readers into mouth-watering mood!

    1. I’m glad to hear I’ve made a good case for Kenosha food! From chefs passionate about food to folks passionate about eating, the food scene in town is indeed flourishing!

  4. WOW! those photos are making us feel like a road trip to Kenosha. Especially that grilled cheese sandwich.
    Interesting that you love the same accommodation as us, we always pick the harbour view options! Checked out their deals and I noticed they have a brekky buffet too! We’re in!!

    1. That grilled cheese just looks so gooey good, doesn’t it? It tasted every bit as good as it looked. Harbor views are definitely the way to go, and the breakfast buffet and coffee available in the mornings at the hotel were super nice 🙂

  5. Everything looks so delicious! Especially the pesto flatbread and the ice cream… but I wouldn’t mind that grilled cheese either! Would like to visit Kenosha one day!

  6. How long were you there for, 3 weeks? That’s an absurd amount of food. I mean yeah I would probably eat the same.

    It all does look delicious though. The town has a great food scene. Tasty blog.

  7. So many people make fun of me for liking Brussels sprouts but the sprouts grilled cheese sounds awesome. As does the restaurant week. We have a similar thing where I am in Vancouver. Such a great opportunity to try new places and looks like you have some hits here

    1. I love Brussels sprouts. Who woulda thought of putting them in a grilled cheese, it was inspired! I agree, restaurant week is a wonderful opportunity to try new places –and new dishes.

  8. Wow, all the food in the post looks so good! Food is one of the things I love about small towns. Sometimes, there are a lot of places to try and you can keep visiting without getting bored.

      1. Next visit check out The Coffee Pot for a great breakfast or lunch also located downtown, and stay at The Coffee Pot Inn upstairs, you will not be disappointed 😎

  9. The way to my heart is through my stomach, and I fell in love with the Italian deli as soon as I saw those olives! And I’m so glad you took one for the team and ordered the Hot Fudge Sundae at Jack’s. That’s definitely what I would have chosen as well.

    1. What other kind of sundae is there, other than hot fudge? 😆 I fell in love with Tenuta’s, too. I cant wait to get back there for more cookies!

  10. Yum! Everything looks so delicious. I would never have guessed Kenosha had so many great food choices! Those olives look incredible. I would eat far, far too many. All the sweets look incredible as well. I imagine I would gain a few pounds when I was there, but I wouldn’t regret it one bit.

  11. What a tasty visit! You know we love Kenosha but you’ve uncovered a few we’ve never tried. We love that! Wisconsin food rocks. Glad you got to experience it.

  12. I keep seeing the Kenosha food mentioned in tweets. I can now understand why! A castle of cheese would definitely draw me in. Good thing I am not lactose intolerant! That sundae would be mine – not to share! I love the variety of breakfast spots you highlighted. I love to go out for a leisurely breakfast and find some variety in the offerings. Good to know I can get windy city popcorn there. I have not found it as good anywhere but in Chicago. I was glad to know there is some hiking. As I would need to burn off all the good food I ate!

    1. I didn’t have much time to spend at the cheese castle, so I need to go back. They have a whole tasting room! The windy city mix popcorn is really as good as that one with the G. I was just in Chicago about 6 weeks ago so I think I can speak to it accurately. If anything there’s more cheese on the cheese corn and more caramel on the caramel corn. DANGEROUS!

  13. oohhh!! Not only does one need lactose-intolerance meds (hello me!!) but all the diabetes tablets. Whooeee! Just reading, seeing and imagining the taste of all the pics has me running to the kitchen for some good ol’ lemon water lmao. But seriously, that sundae is da bomb and even though I don’t eat cow cheese anymore, I can handle goat cheese for some reason. No complaints there lol. Now, I’m hungry at 3.35 am. Sigh.

    1. HeeHee yes a bag full of pharmaceuticals is needed. Goat cheese was unexpected but really good in the grilled sandwich. Why are you UP at 3:35 am? Just to read my wonderful prose, l suppose 🙂 That sundae with the hot fudge just dripping off it was incredible!

  14. These all sound wonderful! I love it when cities do restaurant weeks, it’s the perfect time to try something new.

    1. Firstly, I think we all need dining companions who encourage us to order dessert! Secondly, I could eat my body weight (and probably more) in cannolis, so Tenuta’s would be disastrous for me to visit. This sounds like a dream trip, and now I’m absolutely starving. Gotta go!

      1. That is true. I know you always encourage dessert. I didn’t realize you were such a big cannoli fan. I’m always seeking them out, as I’ve only had them a couple places. You’ll have to tell me the best places to eat them in NYC. I loved that Tenuta’s had mini ones so I could try more flavors!

  15. Excellent post! Now I want to visit Kenosha this very minute! The food looks so yummy, and the town is gorgeous. Thanks for sharing, Cynthia!

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