Lake Geneva is a charming little town about 90 minutes from Chicago, just over the Illinois-Wisconsin border. It’s full of lovely boutiques, beautiful lake views, historic homes, and lots of delicious flavors from the many wonderful restaurants ranging from fine dining to cheap and cheerful. It’s a great place to go for a visit, have some food, and then wander around. You can find something wonderful to dine on for every meal and even enjoy some snacks as you stroll. Here are just a few of our favorite spots where you can enjoy the great taste of Lake Geneva.
1. Popeye’s On Lake Geneva
No visit to Lake Geneva is complete for us without stopping to eat at Popeye’s. This local institution has been serving up delicious food and drinks since 1972 when it started as a 60-seat pub. Now accommodating over 500 diners, Popeye’s also offers ample outdoor bistro-style seating. The fun ambiance evokes a nautical theme that highlights the fresh seafood and their famous All You Can Eat Friday Fish Fry. But our favorite offerings come from their fantastic rotisserie and grill. They have lots of choices, from their Danish barbecue baby back ribs to Greek-style roast lamb, barbecue pulled pork, rotisserie-style Greek chicken, and charbroiled ribeye steak.
If you can’t decide, you can get their BBQ Sampler and try a few. We love the BBQ Chicken Ranch Salad, full of barbecue rotisserie-style chicken, their famous barbecue sauce, cheddar jack cheese, and their house buttermilk ranch dressing. We’re dreaming about it even now! There are plenty of drinks including tropical cocktail favorites, a killer Tito’s Bloody Mary, and various types of spiked lemonade. Best of all, you can get a view of beautiful Lake Geneva itself with your meal, which is great fun in any season.
2. Sprecher’s Restaurant And Pub
We admit that one of our top tastes is real quality root beer. We love the spicy, sweet flavor of the classic soft drink. It’s no surprise that whenever we go to Lake Geneva, Sprecher’s Restaurant And Pub is a stop on our list. But you don’t have to like root beer to find this fun place full of appealing options. Not only do they have 15 awesome Wisconsin beers on tap; they also offer several flavors of craft soda such as cran-cherry, orange dream, grape, and all-natural Puma Kola.
To go with your beverage, the menu includes a wide array of salads, steaks, ribs, seafood, signature sandwiches, and specialties. If you just want a bite to go with your drink, try some of their fresh-baked beer bread. For heartier fare, barbecue mac ’n’ cheese (topped with pork and crispy onions) and the corned beef rueben roasted in Sprecher’s own Black Bavarian beer get high marks. We can’t resist the crispy schnitzel sandwich, which pairs perfectly with any beverage.
3. Geneva ChopHouse
For a treat in casual fine dining, check out the phenomenal menu at the Geneva ChopHouse. A Spectator Award-winner for its amazing wine list, the ChopHouse is located in the Grand Geneva Resort and Spa, which was just named one of the Top 10 Best Hotel Resorts in the Midwest by Travel + Leisure. While Wagyu beef and Butchers Prime Cut steaks and pork get lots of love from loyal diners, there is a lot for those who prefer to skip the meat as well.
Starters like tempura cauliflower or oysters on the half shell, seafood favorites from lobster to branzino, creative veggie Buddha bowls, and indulgent king crab and lobster mac are just a small sampling of the delicious options. Service is pampering without being pandering, and the ambiance feels special every time.
Breakfast is a treat when you’re out and about, and Joni’s is known to have the best breakfast in Lake Geneva. Farm fresh omelets with creative fillings, griddle treats from buttermilk pancakes to banana bread French toast, and hearty signature dishes like biscuits and gravy, breakfast burritos, and corned beef hash join full-plate combos and DIY options.
If you’re not a breakfast lover, you can try Joni’s great salads, burgers, or platters if you happen in around lunchtime. We love to snack, too, so Joni’s poutine, fried cheese curds, or “frickles” can make for a tasty break during the day. Great diners make us want to dine, and Joni’s is a great diner in Lake Geneva.
5. Flat Iron Tap
We don’t eat a lot of beef these days, but when we do, we want it to be really, really good. Flat Iron Tap ensures the absolute best quality beef by sourcing grass-fed, local options. They tell you where your meat is from on the walls and the menu, which we love. But they don’t stop there. They also use cheese from local dairies, produce from local farms, and, well, you get the idea. You’ll know where everything you’re eating comes from, and we think that’s important. And you don’t have to be a vegetarian to love their portobello steaks and other meatless offerings.
Beer lovers will be happy with two dozen rotating craft beers on tap with many more -- as well as wine and other tasty beverages -- in bottles and cans. We love a place that goes the extra mile. It seems to make everything taste better, and Flat Iron Tap is just delicious.
6. Next Door Pub And Pizzeria
This is one of those places where everyone can choose something different from the menu and all of it is delicious and very affordable. Known for their fantastic stone hearth-fired pizza, Next Door Pub and Pizzeria has a lot of other flavorful options. We enjoy a good Midwestern wedge salad, and the Pub Wedge easily fits the bill. Their sandwiches, like Italian beef (a specialty for 40 years) and Mighty Meatball, are fresh and filling. Hand-battered lake perch and build-your-own pasta bowls are popular with the locals. They also offer daily specials like wings, pasta, tacos, lasagna, and ribs. And if you’re looking for snacks, they have beer-battered cheese curds, pickle fries, mozzarella sticks, stuffed mushroom caps, drunken tots, and more. We really could make a meal just out of the appetizers!
But it would be a shame to miss out on the creatively topped pizzas. The Pub’s Famous Garbage with just about everything and Wisconsin Mac and Cheese, topped with, you guessed it, mac ’n’ cheese, pretty much tell you where to begin. They also offer a personal-sized cauliflower gluten-free crust if you want one. Specialty Bloody Marys get raves too, but there are lots of beverages, with or without booze, to satisfy your thirst.
7. Taqueria El Gallo De Oro
When we say you can get a burrito the size of your head, we really do mean you can get a burrito the size of your head. But if you want a good burrito the size of your head, then you’ll want to go to Taqueria El Gallo De Oro. This little gem of a spot serves up seriously authentic Mexican dishes prepared with care and quality ingredients. You’re going to find special touches here, like house-made tortillas, salsas, and soups. Entrees from tacos and burritos to tortas and platters provide ample portions of high-quality food. Steak versions are a local favorite, but other options include shrimp, chicken, pork, vegetarian, and more. You will also find special dishes like menudo (stewed, chili-seasoned tripe) that’s available only on weekends.
They offer lots of sides so that you can customize dishes the way you like best. Special items like barbacoa, guacamaya, and grilled cactus show you how deep their authentic playlist is. They offer weekly lunch specials and house dishes worth exploring, too. Be sure to bring your appetite as portions are hefty. And save room for dessert because the tres leches cake and chocoflan are worth it.
There’s no reason to count calories when you’re visiting Lake Geneva. The food is just too good in too many places. So while you’re at it, you will want to pay a visit to Kilwins Lake Geneva to look at the sweet treats and definitely have an ice cream cone. While we typically shy away from chain shops, even the locals love this Kilwins location for its exceptional quality and selection. The ice cream is incredible and there are so many tempting flavors, we found ourselves each getting double scoop cones and eating them with delight. Don’t forget to check out the fudge and other sweet treats to take home for yourself or give to someone. You will absolutely make their day. And don’t worry if you want to visit Lake Geneva in the winter. It’s a wonderful location in any season. Just check their events page to see what’s happening during the time you want to go.