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7 Best Restaurants and Places to Get a Bite to Eat Near Janesville Wi
I had never even heard of Janesville, Wisconsin a few weeks ago. After a quick visit exploring the Janesville area and a few surrounding towns, I am convinced that I need to get back there again, even if it’s just to eat! ‘Cuz Janesville has great food! No question about that! Here are 7 of the best places where I ate while I was in town. And here’s a hint – none of them are on Milton Ave! It pays to get off the beaten path and look deeper at local downtown areas.
1 – Lark Janesville
Lark Restaurant is as delicious as it is gorgeous! You will find this fine dining establishment in downtown Janesville across from Courthouse Park. We sat outside in the grassy yard and enjoyed the beautiful mural on the side of the building while we dined. We were also treated to a live performance from Music at the Marv, a free concert series in the park in the Marvin W. Roth Community Pavilion.
Hip Grandma Tip:
If you want to skip the sit-down meal, you can get dinner from a food truck while listening to the Music at the Marv. The choices looked really good!
The menu was inventive, featured fresh approaches to quality food, and I had difficulty choosing what to order. We began our dinner with a cocktail and a toast while we studied the menu. Lark also offers a nice selection of craft beer if mixed drinks aren’t your style.
Because I was with a group of friends, we all ordered differently and shared a taste of each others’ dishes. But before the entrée, we tried some fried green tomatoes, a first for me. I am not a tomato fan, and green tomatoes really didn’t appeal, but I’m always up to try something new, so I gave it a whirl. Who knew I would be swayed? I am now a fan of the fried green tomato and would surely eat these again if everyone prepared them the way Lark does.
The Main Dish, Yum!
I chose the Artisinal Cheese Board for my main entrée. This girl loves a good plate of cheese, and this plate did not disappoint. Yum! My dining companions ordered steak and a mac-n-cheese dish with chicken. Now is an excellent time for a shoutout to the good service we received at Lark! Serving a table of eight can’t be easy, and we had many questions about the menu and the food. A great atmosphere begins with reliable customer service, and Lark provides both!
I was a bit stuffed already, but I couldn’t resist trying the intriguing Mock Apple Pie for dessert. The flavor was perfect, but I had difficulty getting past the Ritz-style crackers filling the pie instead of apples. My friend chose the blueberry cobbler, and it was amazing! A good reminder for me to be a little less adventurous in my ordering. Sometimes it’s best to stick with the classic favorite!
2 – Bodacious Shops
No trip to Janesville is complete without a stop at the Bodacious Shops! Bodacious consists of three interconnected shops: Bodacious Brew, Bodacious Olive, and SoChopped Salad Bistro and Cafe. Man, I wish we could’ve eaten everything, but my stomach is just not big enough! I did my best to test all of the options, though.
I am an adventurous eater, especially when traveling. After all, why eat the same thing I can have at home? When I’m in a local restaurant, I do my best to step out of my comfort zone and try some excellent food items served regionally or in a restaurant favored by locals.
First, I indulged in a delightful Chai Tea Latte from Bodacious Brew and then had a Harvest Grain Bowl from the café. This Harvest Bowl was new and unique for me and so, so good! The only drawback to adventurous eating away from home is that I often cannot get these delicious foods again unless I find my way back to that place again. My Harvest bowl was so unique and delicious. I’m sad that I can’t eat this at home. I may have to try to re-create it on my own. Or plan another road trip to Bodacious!
We enjoyed our lunch on the outside patio seating, which offers plenty of shade and various seating options, from comfy rockers to tables to benches. The patio overlooks the Rock River and offers a lovely view while you dine. Good prices, good views, and good food make this traveler happy! For the locals, the Bodacious Shops also offer curbside pickup as part of their excellent service!
3 – Sugar Exchange
Once you finish lunch, treat yourself to a delicious dessert at the Sugar Exchange, which sits next to Bodacious. You can find any number of sweet treats here, everything packed with sugar, so the Sugar Exchange is the perfect name for this place!
Our group collectively ordered a giant bowl of ice cream nachos and a S’mores charcuterie board. Soooo good! It took no time to chow through those nachos and finish up with our huge pile of S’more yummies. There are many good things about Janesville, but there’s no competing with a giant bowl of ice cream and a S’more!
The Sugar Exchange would also make an ideal location for special occasions, especially considering their outdoor seating. They share the beautiful deck and patio with the Bodacious Shops.
4 – Fredricks Supper Club
The Fredricks Supper Club is a mini trip back in time to the days when we dressed up and enjoyed dinner as an experience rather than just another meal. Fredricks is just a few minutes from Janesville in nearby Milton, not far from the Milton House Historic Site and Museum.
What is a Supper Club, Anyway?
Tucked into a little strip mall, Fredricks has a lovely atmosphere with rich colors and low lighting for ambiance. As a Michigander, I was unfamiliar with this Supper Club Experience. Lucky for you, I’ve done the research, so if you’re like me and don’t know what makes a supper club stand out from your typical restaurant, here are the basics:
Supper clubs usually exist in rural areas or small towns. They are generally independently owned and provide a limited menu, including surf-and-turf-style dishes. These dishes are almost always homemade; no mass-produced, processed dishes here! Don’t expect to be seated as soon as you arrive at the supper club. You’ll usually begin at the nearby bar area, where you’ll sip a cocktail, interact with others at the bar, and generally relax and consider what you’ll have for dinner.
When you’re ready, you can move to the dining room, where you’ll begin your meal with an appetizer, salad, or bread. When you finish your entrée, you may head back to the bar to enjoy an after-dinner cocktail or dessert. The overall feeling of a supper club is less about getting a bite to eat and more about enjoying a slow-paced dining experience in a leisurely community setting.
Fredricks is An amazing Supper Club
Fredricks is a perfect representation of the traditional Wisconsin Supper Club! Although we skipped the schmoozing at the bar, everything else fit the description. My dinner began with some Wisconsin cheese curds. The batter was light and crispy. Next up was a savory bowl of French Onion soup. My main dish was a giant Ribeye Steak, cooked to perfection and flanked with an individually baked bowl of Au Gratin potatoes. My only critique is that my stomach wasn’t big enough to hold all of it! Everything was delicious!
After dinner, I ordered a turtle cheesecake, and the server was most happy to wrap it up for me to take to go since I couldn’t eat another bite. I did enjoy it later that evening in my hotel room, and Y.U.M. When you want to skip the fast food and need a night out instead of calling in a takeout order, Fredricks is the place to go!
5 – Northleaf Winery
The Northleaf Winery is located in Milton and is just a skip down the road from the Milton House Museum on South Janesville Street. Northleaf is the perfect place for wine and chocolate tasting before or after a trip through the museum. May I suggest after like we did? A stop after gives you and your companion some time to discuss your experience in Wisconsin’s last certified underground railroad station.
When you step into this quaint winery, your eye is immediately drawn to the display of wine bottles on display above, showing their many awards. The building that the winery occupies is rich in history, and that history is on the back of the menu. Owners John and Gail Nordlof are frequently at the winery and love to tell their story of how the winery came to be. Daughter Jaimie hosts the tasting room and is an expert on all things Northleaf. Be sure and ask her about the hand-painted wine glasses on display.
When we stopped for our tasting, we were given a mini menu with two flavor choices to go with each piece of chocolate provided. The chocolates are made in-house, and the winemakers enjoy creating the chocolates and choosing a couple of wine selections that pair well with them.
I am a sweet sort of girl, so it was easy to select all the sweet wines and skip the dry flavors. My favorite was the Green Apple Riesling and the Blueberry Cabernet.
6 – Fulton Store
If you’re looking for a breakfast place, don’t miss the Fulton Store in nearby Edgerton. The unassuming exterior doesn’t begin to show what happens inside! The staff is delightful and offers great service, the food is hot and delicious, and the feeling is cozy and familial.
The Fulton Store is known for its homemade cinnamon rolls; believe me, they are worth the trip! I recommend the original roll. After I tried the blueberry and then tasted my friend’s original I would say that sometimes there’s no good way to improve the standard.
I also tasted the biscuits and the sausage gravy, which is only served on Sundays. They’re not much to look at, but there’s no doubt these are made from scratch with love. They were yummy! When I saw Spam on the menu, I needed some of that, too. Everything we ate was delicious, but it wasn’t the food I will remember most from our visit.
My favorite memory is when our delightfully cheeky server, Cheryl, barked out to a seemingly random man entering the door behind her, “Where ya been? You’re late! Almost called the cops on ya!” and then continued taking our orders without another pause. We could feel the love!
One visit to the Fulton Store, and you’ll know that this is downhome cooking with a downhome atmosphere and a bit of sass thrown in for fun! I left there with a mighty fine homemade apron, too. So next time I’m in my kitchen cooking up a batch of biscuits, I’ll remember my trip fondly.
7 – Campbell Brothers
After a morning of kayaking on my last day in Janesville, we had a picnic in the park with box lunches from the Campbell Brothers. I am not a great fan of a sandwich, mind you, but eating at a picnic table in beautiful Gibbs Lake State Park was lovely. And these sandwiches were a perfect way to fill the gullet before heading out for a long drive back home to Holland.
The Campbell Brothers make a mean roast beef sandwich that even this picky sandwich girl will eat. Sometimes good food does come wrapped up in a sandwich! My sandwich was packed with yummy beef and had plenty of condiments in the box, and the bread was moist but not soggy, which is my chief concern when it comes to sandwiches.
Wrapping It All Up
I didn’t get to every great Janesville restaurant, but that means I have more to choose from when I return. Have you been? Please tell me your favorite places, so I can add them to my list!
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