LTH Home

The Great River Road

The Great River Road
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 2
  • The Great River Road

    Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 1:02 pm
    Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 1:02 pm Post #1 - July 28th, 2010, 1:02 pm
    Wisconsin

    I'm a fan of travel along the Mississippi so I was happy to start my 2010 Great Lakes journey north with a stop at Pete's Hamburgers which is located in Prairie Du Chien which is the largest river community in Wisconsin along the Mississippi and the 2nd oldest town in Wisconsin. Pete's Hamburger Stand was the gold medal winner on the trip for me so that in itself makes this drive worthy of some good chow spots. We started the Great River Road drive at Pete's and headed North from there where we would continue north to Duluth, Minnesota.

    Image
    Highway 35 along the Mississippi

    I did a little web browsing of places worth stopping and another place getting alot of love like Pete's which had just captivated us was a place not but a five minute walk from the hamburger stand. Valley Fish & Cheese specialized in smoked meats and fish amongst many other things. It was a really cool looking shop from the outside and something you can expect to see a few of on this trip.

    Image
    Pete's Hamburger Stand (Prairie Du Chien, WI)

    Image Image
    Image
    Valley Fish & Cheese: a treasure along the river (Prairie Du Chien, WI)

    This is a place that's been open for over 25 years now but owned by a family that's been commercial fishing, trapping and hunting their entire lives. They do a unique combination of things including hickory smoked catfish, smoked buffalo fish, snapping turtle jerky, catfish jerky, smoked frog legs, dried beef, buffalo meat, fresh cheese curds, hickory smoked string cheese, mustard's of a wide variety, aged cheddar's, pickled river chub and a bunch of other unique Wisconsin canned and bottled products. You can also get all sorts of gear and items for fishing and hunting along with wooden carved decorations for your yard and all that other good stuff. I thought this place was phenomenal and the jerky was as good as it gets and tasted more like steak than jerky. I thought the smoked carp was unique and interesting and loved the turtle beer stix and carp jerky as well. I wish I had left with alot more than I did. I got some pic's to share and if you want to check out this video I just found on google, its a look into the place with the owner.

    Image
    Great selection at this shop

    Image Image Image
    frog and duck legs to the left, pickled prawns in the middle and pickled perch to the right

    Image
    assorted jerky's

    Image Image Image
    They smoke it all...

    Image
    Never seen that until I saw it there

    The fact that Valley Fish & Cheese is also in Prairie Du Chien along with Pete's and some other places I didn't make it too like an old fashioned soda fountain make it a fun stop on the River Road route and one I would highly recommend.

    Image
    Onward north we went, there were many historical markers and sites along the way

    Our next stop was in Lynxville at a place that popped up and caught my eye so I pulled in since I at least needed a drink since I was thirsty. It was a little fair food stand bragging about their hot dogs and catfish and looked like a place to get a nice snack even though I wasn't hungry.

    Image Image
    "World Famous Dogs" and fresh fried Mississippi catfish

    It wasn't over an hour since I devoured four burgers from Pete's and had plenty of smoked fish and jerky for dessert so I didn't try a dog and they didn't seem to appealing anyway but I did get some catfish and a draft of 1919 Root Beer brewed in New Ulm, MN.

    Image
    The view from The Dawg Houses parking lot

    Image
    The expertly fresh fried catfish nuggets were great loaded with hot sauce and the root beer was really good and I'm a fan of draft beer and drink it when I see it and this was a nice brew. Good stuff along the river.

    Image
    and on we pushed northbound...

    I think about the halfway point was La Crosse which is the home to City Brewing Company and has been to the home to many different brewers over the years such as G. Heileman Brewing Company. It's also the home to the worlds largest six pack and a cool place to stop and stretch the legs. Only in Wisconsin does your first stop have an abundant smell of onions everywhere and then the next there's the smell of beer in the air. On this particular trip I didn't go to any of these places in the La Crosse area except the Coney Joint seen below (which was closed on my last visit) but I went here for Labor Day weekend last year and had a good time and enjoyed the area. Perrot State Park located just outside of here along the Mississippi was beautiful and a great place to spend the day bbq'ing or biking or canoeing or doing whatever your thing is.

    Image
    World's Largest Six Pack

    Image
    Beer has always been abundant in these parts

    Image Image

    Image

    Image
    The King of Beers

    Image
    So many a breweries on a trip thru WI

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Image
    and so many more bars & taverns

    Pictured in the collage above are Bodega Brew Pub which is is downtown La Crosse and has a great selection of beer and the same look and feel of Map Room but alot bigger. Next to that pic is Beedle's a typically appealing looking authentic Wisconsin tavern. Both stops were visited last summer and I loved the both of them. The river taverns play an important role along the Mississippi and there are too many to visit all of them but you'll see some uniquely looking and oddly named taverns with great personality on the outside and in. On my 2009 Labor Day visit we went to Bodega on a Sunday and enjoyed some great local microbrews and next door was a local Coney Island joint that I wanted to try but was not open on Sundays. This trip around up the river I managed to stop since it was on the route and an easy in and out.

    Image Image
    La Crosses local Coney Island hot dog stop

    I will usually stop in for a Coney Dog whenever I see a place on the road while traveling and this stop was the first of a few on my journey North this summer. Usually these stands have been around for a long time time and this one said they've been doing them since 1922. I also always get mine with cheese. I wasn't really thrilled by this Coney but I'm sure they're different if you grow up on them. What I should have done was make the stop at Beedle's Tavern seen up thread which is a place I stopped at on the way home from Perott State Park last summer in between there and La Crosse. It's got the classic Wisconsin tavern feel and has some great food to go with the atmosphere. It's also has the best fried appetizer combo I have had anywhere and its called the Coulee combo and it includes fresh dipped cheese curds, mushrooms & onion rings. I also had a great Reuben sandwich on my only visit. More on that visit HERE if you want to check it out.

    Image
    Coulee Combo from Beedle's Tavern

    Perrot State Park is located about 30 minutes up the river from La Crosse in Trempealeau, WI and I had read last year when I visited that it along with Devil's Lake are two of Wisconsin's better state parks. Since I know how great Devil's Lake is having hung out there when I was in Madison for school, I knew that Perrot would be pretty panoramic and a great place to spend a summers day exploring, grilling and enjoying some brews and it was. I would rec a visit there for some exploration and relaxation.

    Image Image
    Perrot State Park

    Image
    and on we push...many great little towns to cruise thru for 10-15 minutes

    The next stop was the end of the Great Wisconsin River Road in Presscott, WI and the end of our journey up the Mississippi. It was done in a few hours and we made a few stops so a weekend excursion out of it would be very much possible. I'd like to one day ride up the other side and go thru IA and MN. I had a few spots on my radar in Presscott and since we just drove a couple hours we wanted to take in some sun and get a snack and a brew or two and stopped into the Point St. Croix Marina's Bar overlooking the river to do so.

    Image Image
    Prescott, WI

    Image
    Still my favorite summertime beer anywhere...and only available in WI :(

    Image
    the marina bar's jumbo grilled shrimps are $1.65/each

    I had read the marina bar does a good jumbo grilled shrimp that go great with a cold one while sitting in the sun looking over the river. They weren't bad and came served with melted butter and cocktail sauce but weren't great either, just Vietnamese jumbo shrimp coated with Louisiana seasoning and grilled. I liked them for what they were. The next stop was to a place called Enrique's that I had read put out a mean burger (handmade and stuffed with pico and queso) and also did deep fried tacos. I had to pass on the burger since it was a monster and we were just 15/20 minutes from Minny/St. Paul and were going to stop for dinner there and get a Juicy Lucy before we pushed onward to Duluth. So I went with the deep fried taco and we all split some fresh fried tortilla chips coated with cinnamon sugar.

    Image
    a Mexican/American grill in Prescott, WI

    Image Image
    What the fried tacos lacked in spice and flavor the chips did not and were great

    Image
    So this is where we end the tour up River Road thru WI

    So on we drove to Minneapolis/St. Paul...
    _________________________________________

    Pete's Hamburger Stand (seasonal and wkds only)
    118 W Blackhawk Ave
    Prairie du Chien, WI 53821
    608-326-6653

    Valley Fish & Cheese
    304 South Prairie Street
    Prairie Du Chien, WI 53821
    (608) 326-4719

    The Dawg house (seasonal & wkds only)
    Located on Highway 35 near the boat landing
    Lynxville, WI

    City Brewery Tour Center
    1111 3rd St
    La Crosse, WI 54601-4412
    (608) 785-4283

    Bodega Brew Pub
    122 4th Street
    LaCrosse, WI 54601
    (608) 782-0677

    Coney Island Hot Dogs
    114 4th Street South
    La Crosse, WI 54601
    (608) 782-6314

    Beedle's Bar & Restaurant
    W24966 State Rd 54/93
    Galesville, WI 54630-8242
    (608) 539-2251

    Perrot State Park
    W26247 Sullivan Rd Off Rte 1
    Trempealeau, WI 54661
    (608) 534-6409‎

    Point St Croix Marina
    101 Front Street
    Prescott, WI 54021-1619
    (715) 262-3161

    Enrique's Mexican and American
    310 Lake Street North
    Prescott, WI 54021-1766
    (715) 262-5566
    Last edited by Da Beef on October 16th, 2010, 12:24 pm, edited 2 times in total.
  • Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 1:59 pm
    Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 1:59 pm Post #2 - July 28th, 2010, 1:59 pm
    Da Beef-

    Great post! I'm looking forward to the rest of the journey!
    -Mary
  • Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 3:06 pm
    Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 3:06 pm Post #3 - July 28th, 2010, 3:06 pm
    Great Post- we may end up near Pepin and Waubasha this weekend...
    maybe we'll hit Pete's
    "If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home."
    ~James Michener
  • Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 3:08 pm
    Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 3:08 pm Post #4 - July 28th, 2010, 3:08 pm
    Wow :!: :D

    Effin wow.

    We're not worthy.

    And I cannot wait to follow in your footsteps. Pete's especially has been on my list for ages.
  • Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 5:18 pm
    Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 5:18 pm Post #5 - July 28th, 2010, 5:18 pm
    WOW Wonderful post!
  • Post #6 - July 28th, 2010, 6:08 pm
    Post #6 - July 28th, 2010, 6:08 pm Post #6 - July 28th, 2010, 6:08 pm
    great post , the food looks outstanding
    way to go beef
    philw bbq cbj for kcbs &M.I.M. carolina pit masters
  • Post #7 - July 28th, 2010, 6:16 pm
    Post #7 - July 28th, 2010, 6:16 pm Post #7 - July 28th, 2010, 6:16 pm
    Da Beef, it is my ambition (I suppose once I no longer am schlepping a kid who tends to get whiny on long trips) to do some of these terrific scenic route tours, but I'm grateful to be able to live vicariously through you.
  • Post #8 - July 29th, 2010, 7:09 am
    Post #8 - July 29th, 2010, 7:09 am Post #8 - July 29th, 2010, 7:09 am
    I remember that giant 6-pack when it was painted as Old Style cans 30+ years ago. Love the LaCrosse area and have spent a lot of time there in the past. Great photos!
  • Post #9 - July 30th, 2010, 1:36 am
    Post #9 - July 30th, 2010, 1:36 am Post #9 - July 30th, 2010, 1:36 am
    You're living up to your past wonders, da Beef! Just *love* your Great Northern Road Tours. Tnx sooo much!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #10 - August 4th, 2010, 8:30 pm
    Post #10 - August 4th, 2010, 8:30 pm Post #10 - August 4th, 2010, 8:30 pm
    one stop you might have missed is the pie lady right on the highway in Stockholm, Wi--great pies--its the best pie shop we know---although the Main Street Cafe in Bloomer is darn good too!
  • Post #11 - August 5th, 2010, 12:16 am
    Post #11 - August 5th, 2010, 12:16 am Post #11 - August 5th, 2010, 12:16 am
    da beef,

    If and when you do the Great River Road through Illinois, I have something I hope you can find for me.

    In the mid 1980's, I drove the Great River Road from Cairo to roughly the Quad Cities. Somewhere around the John Deere factory and home, I found an interesting historical marker. It described a robbery where a posse of something like 112 guys chased the robbers. Once they caught up with the crooks, there was a gun battle where these crooks were killed. However, it appears ever single person in the posse shot these guys. Each body had as many bullets as there were members in this posse.

    I have tried to find information on this event and historical marker with no luck so far. If you come across it, please take a picture.

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - August 5th, 2010, 6:48 am
    Post #12 - August 5th, 2010, 6:48 am Post #12 - August 5th, 2010, 6:48 am
    Epic post Beef!
    Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans?...........Louis Armstrong
  • Post #13 - August 5th, 2010, 12:20 pm
    Post #13 - August 5th, 2010, 12:20 pm Post #13 - August 5th, 2010, 12:20 pm
    jhawk1 wrote:Epic post Beef!

    I couldn't agree more. Thanks, for the education and for sharing the experience.

    =R=
    That don't impress me much --Shania Twain

    Another beer before happy hour to put me in the mood for drinkin', uh huh huh, oh, forget thinkin' --Beaver Nelson

    I find it a matter of note that in New York or Terre Haute, school cookies always seem to be oatmeal --Mr. French
  • Post #14 - October 16th, 2010, 2:27 pm
    Post #14 - October 16th, 2010, 2:27 pm Post #14 - October 16th, 2010, 2:27 pm
    Minnesota & Iowa

    Originally this thread was titled "The Great River Road - Wisconsin". However my original trip along the road thru WI seen in the OP captivated me so much I knew I would be back traveling along the river taking in the sites, culture and of course, food. So when we pushed into Minnesota from South Dakota I looked at the map and said screw it, we're going to drive to the Mighty Mississip from Rochester, MN and ride the Great River Road from MN down into Iowa and then over to Illinois and then head back to Chicago and that's just what we did. We took a byway from Rochester into the pretty little town of Winona, MN which is along the Great River Road. We took the time to head into the Main part of town and take a stroll around and see some of the historic buildings that flood the streets. Winona is also known as the stained glass capitol of the country. Another old fashioned Midwest river city is what we had in Winona. Behind the historic downtown area were large factory buildings and manufacturing plants most of which were vacated. Although Winona is still the home to a few operating industrial companies.

    Image Image
    Historic Downtown in Winona, MN along The River Road

    Image Image
    Old Schlitz Hotel (L) Old College building? (R)

    Image
    Old German Bank (1890)

    The Saturday morning we stopped into check out the town was a very vibrant one. Winona is the home to a university and people were out enjoying the stunning fall day. I'm going to get back here next fall, I think that's the peak time to take a stroll up or down River Road. Winona had the perfect place to start out our day. Bloedow's has been baking up their specialties in Winona since 1924 and I would guess it is the communities most beloved place. The day we visited the line was out the door and it wasn't even peak hours since it as about 1130a.

    Image
    Bloedow Bakery in Winona

    I dont know what it is about MN but this state has the best donut shops around. Before my stop here I have said the best donuts I have had were from a place called World's Best Donuts" in Grand Marais, MN seen HERE. Well Bloedows is my new heavyweight (what you'll get if you eat too many of 'em) donut Champeen of the Midwest. This place was amazing. I got a bag of 6 donuts and a package of fresh baked hamburger buns and the total was $4.80. The standout for me was the peanut butter long john and the days special, blueberry frosted. My girl liked the glazed a whole lot. I used the buns the Sunday I was back in town and they were outstanding.

    Image
    Part of the display case...there's so much more

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Donut bliss from Bloedows

    So after a little treat from the high heavens we were off onto the Great River Road. Nat Geo Traveler Magazine named the drive from MN thru Iowa along River Road "one of 50 drives of a lifetime" they said it's "not only one of the most scenic drives in the country, but one of the culturally richest" and I wholeheartedly agree. I took 100's of pics and I'm trying to find some of the better ones but the best way to see this and experience it is to take the drive. I got a real trip out of the boathouse communities located along the river in parts of both states, imagine if that's where you came from? life would be totally different.

    Image
    Great River Road along MN

    Since we started out in Winona it didn't take all that long to get down into Iowa. One thing I was loving about this drive was how I did virtually the same one this past summer except along the other side of the river thru WI and it was totally different. While they have many similarities and the communities had basically the same lifestyle, the culture and foods and people were different on each side. I cant wait to one day do the entire drive down the river on one side and then the entire drive back up on the other.

    Image
    The most beautiful part of the state

    The whole reason for ending up taking this route home to Chicago had to do from the fact the ride thru middle Iowa to South Dakota was so boring traveling along the main highway with the scenery never changing. Nothing against Iowa but its a pretty boring state when it comes to the views. However Western Iowa and the part of the state along the Mississippi are gorgeous and unlike the rest of the state from my personal experiences. We went along the river into the spectacular natural landscape of hills and farms and towns all nestled into one.

    Image
    A view along the great River Road in Iowa

    I only the had day and its daylight to work with on this trip thru Iowa but I came away very impressed. Pictures are worth 1000 words so here are some of the views from this fall day along the Great River Road from MN down into IA. I stopped and took a ride down Main street in most of the towns along it and they really were some classic American communities. Let me reiterate that the Fall is a great time to go. It was a Saturday and these towns were rocking with fairs, festivals and visitors from all over. The bars were flooded and them and the butcher shops were smokin' and grillin' it up all over.

    Image Image
    Image Image
    More views from River Road (Iowa)

    Image Image
    Image Image
    So many butcher shops and small town meat markets...

    The fall Saturday we took the ride down the road it was 80+ degrees and the bikers and old time cruiser vehicles were out in full force. I'm not sure there's a road in America that has more bikers on it than the Midwest portions of Great River Road. If its a nice day out on the weekend, your going to see packs of them livin' it up.

    Image Image
    Classic American made vehicles and bikers are abundant on River Road

    At one of the turning points along the road we spied this little mobile cart (seen below) out on top of the hill and I needed a drink and am a sucker for mini donuts at the fair which is what they had. I got a fresh brewed lemonade that was thirst quenching and the donuts, fresh from the fryer were the perfect snack to hold us over until lunch.

    Image Image
    Mobile mini donut 'mobile

    We stopped at the Mississippi Valley overlook and I picked up some apple butter and raspberry jam from the local vendors that were selling their products at the popular scenic overlook. Good stuff indeed.

    Image
    Mississippi Valley Overlook

    I was keeping my options open as far as where to stop for some food and was glad I did when we rolled into Dubuque County and the tiny little town of Balltown. Its the home to Breitbach's, Iowa's oldest continuously operating restaurant and bar. They've been at it since August 23, 1852. It's been all in the family since its original opening and has burned down to the ground twice in the past decade. The rebuilding of the place (both times) was stellar, as you still get the old country dining/tavern feel (beer garden in the back) except with much nicer up to date surroundings.

    Image
    Breitbach's (Iowa's oldest restaurant/tavern)

    The place was packed when we stopped in as the tiny town of 90 people had its annual market days along Main street which attracts vendors of all sorts of things from across the state as well as people. There must have been 2,000+ in town and 250+ at Breitbach's. But that was ok, they had the sheriff patrolling traffic (who I heard telling a bike gang "If I wasn't here I'd be out riding the Harley with y'all"), plenty of parking and the restaurant is ginormous. We sat at the bar like I always like to do which had plenty of bikers and regulars as well as visitors like myself. Most of the people there that Saturday were going for the buffet which is the talk of town. The Boulevard beer on tap was as cold as I've had and exactly what I needed. I had a few and started a chat with the older lady next to me. She was from about an hour and a half away and used to go there all the time with her family, she drove up by herself the Saturday we were there for a few beers and chatter. I had to buy her rounds as she told me the stories of the town and its famous resident.

    Image
    The view from my seat at da bar

    It's these type of places that always have the best fried foods. I asked the bartender if the rings were hand battered and he told me yes so that's what I started off with. I'm not sure that they were but they were good anyway. We weren't starving and still had a few hours to drive with a stop for pizza in the Quad Cities so we passed on the huge tenderloin and got a hot ham and cheese sandwich. They didn't have the house specialty spaghetti soup that day which I would of tried even though it was hot as hell. The sandwich was really comforting and homey and went great with my ice cold Boulevard beer from the keg.

    Image Image
    Onion Rings and hot ham and cheese from Breitbach's

    I'm going to go back here one day but on this visit in particular we had to push forward and we paid the bill, I signed the guestbook and we went out and checked out this lady and her daughters baked goods for sale at the fair days. I got an apple crumble and some zucchini and pumpkin bread that were eaten later in the week and really good and tasty. Dubuque wasn't far and we stopped into town and rolled around and again I was captivated by the place. Another classic river city, Dubuque had that old school feel with a newly built riverfront district. So it had old and new going for it. We only had an hour or so but I liked what I saw and again-I will be back. I don't know if I've ever seen so many historic buildings and churches and old architectural gems in one little city. Main street? check. Old manufacturing district? check.

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Image Image
    Image Image
    Dubuque, Iowa

    I leave you with some more views from the road and its long time residents and hope you enjoyed this chapter of "The Great River Road." Might to have to wait 'til the spring/summer/fall of 2011 to get my next fix of it, but I'll be patiently waiting.

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Image Image
    The stories these establishments could tell...

    Image Image
    See ya next time on "America: The Beautiful"
    ____________________________________________________

    Bloedow Bakery
    451 E Broadway St
    Winona, MN 55987-3931
    (507) 452-3682

    Breitbach's Country Dining
    563 Balltown Rd
    Sherrill, IA
    (563) 552-2220
  • Post #15 - October 16th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    Post #15 - October 16th, 2010, 3:12 pm Post #15 - October 16th, 2010, 3:12 pm
    Thanks Beef. My mom grew up across the street from Bloedow's (pronounced BLAY dohz), and it's great to see it get some LTH love.
  • Post #16 - April 27th, 2011, 7:33 pm
    Post #16 - April 27th, 2011, 7:33 pm Post #16 - April 27th, 2011, 7:33 pm
    What's up y'alls? So I'm heading down to the Lou where I'll meet a friend who lives there and spend a couple nights in town going around and what not, you know the drill. We will then jump in the car and head south down the Mississippi all the way to Nawlins. It'll be a five/six day adventure. The date is not set in stone as I type this but we might be starting the journey in the middle of May. So either way, even if the schedule doesn't work for May, it's a trip were going to do so I might as well ask for some tips now so they're around when were ready to roll.

    We would be going down across the river from St. Louis to Memphis where we will stay the day/night and then leave the next morning.

    Day two will be my first ever visit to Mississippi (very intrigued) as we cruise down the river thru the state. The Mississippi Delta has long been a place I have wanted to go and we will most definitely be stopping at multiple tamale shops along the Hot Tamale Trail thru the Delta, so if you got a favorite let me know, I'll be eating them all day. We'll stay in MS for the night, so if anyone has a town worth staying in let me know, nightlife and food stops a plus, I'm thinking a Blues club down there would be fun.

    Day Three we'll take off early from MS and head to NOLA where we'll spend two/three nights.

    Obviously I'll be checking the threads for St. Louis (been there) Memphis (been there) and NOLA (been there too) but I was hoping I'd get some rec's for my style of fine dining ,which is popular local eats with special regional treats, in some places I am not familiar with. But still if you gotta spot that's a must let me know, no matter where it is. I got my guide to Great River Road from the official site for travel along it and it comes with a great pull out map. Some of the river cities we'll ride thru include Tunica, Clarksdale, Greenville, Natchez, Baton Rouge amongst many others. Also I will most likely take the ride to the Gulf and go to Venice, LA which is the last community down the Mississippi accessible by automobile. As always places will pop up and rec's will come from yocals I meet along the way but it's always nice to have a list of worthwhile places to stop at and I'll have one as always for this trip.

    In the end we will have driven thru Tennessee, Mississippi and Louisiana along the Great River Road. So where do I need to go? Also we wont have but one full day and night but will probably ride the river back up to STL on the other side thru Louisiana, Arkansas and into Missouri.
  • Post #17 - April 27th, 2011, 8:05 pm
    Post #17 - April 27th, 2011, 8:05 pm Post #17 - April 27th, 2011, 8:05 pm
    always like staying in Clarksdale and enjoy the music---have stopped at some of the places on 'the tamale trail' but none were really memorable--just kind of a glimpse of history--more seem open Fri/Sat--hopefully will be heading that way again next May(2012)--love the trails along the river reminding us that it ain't one world!! Nexttime will make an effort to head further to the east and see some different spots----looking forward to your reports
  • Post #18 - April 28th, 2011, 4:57 am
    Post #18 - April 28th, 2011, 4:57 am Post #18 - April 28th, 2011, 4:57 am
    The Memphis In May International BBQ Fest is scheduled for May 12-14 this year. There is some talk about relocating the festival this year due to high waters on the Mississippi (also something you may want to look in to before embarking). If you do try to hit BBQ Fest up, try to make it on Thursday, which is the biggest party night. Make friends (it isn't hard) and they will feed you BBQ and beer.
  • Post #19 - April 28th, 2011, 12:09 pm
    Post #19 - April 28th, 2011, 12:09 pm Post #19 - April 28th, 2011, 12:09 pm
    If you are traveling along the River Road in Southern Illinois (and it may be under water at times), don't miss Louie's Kampsville Inn in Kampsville, Illinois (2nd Street & Joliet Street). As it says on their Facebook page, located next to (and sometimes in) the river. I've had some of the best catfish ever there -- they pull it out of the river and cook it.

    Suzy
    " There is more stupidity than hydrogen in the universe, and it has a longer shelf life."
    - Frank Zappa
  • Post #20 - April 28th, 2011, 3:44 pm
    Post #20 - April 28th, 2011, 3:44 pm Post #20 - April 28th, 2011, 3:44 pm
    sdritz wrote:If you are traveling along the River Road in Southern Illinois (and it may be under water at times), don't miss Louie's Kampsville Inn in Kampsville, Illinois (2nd Street & Joliet Street). As it says on their Facebook page, located next to (and sometimes in) the river. I've had some of the best catfish ever there -- they pull it out of the river and cook it.

    Suzy


    Amazingly enough (given the location) I can add a +1 to this.
    They also serve buffalo fish (carp) right out of the river. Buffalo fritters were a wonderful combination of fresh and funk.
  • Post #21 - April 29th, 2011, 11:44 pm
    Post #21 - April 29th, 2011, 11:44 pm Post #21 - April 29th, 2011, 11:44 pm
    Lambert's in Sykseton, MO, right off I-55. An experience.
    trpt2345
  • Post #22 - May 13th, 2012, 5:18 pm
    Post #22 - May 13th, 2012, 5:18 pm Post #22 - May 13th, 2012, 5:18 pm
    Dubuque & East Dubuque

    As I was about to post this reply here I glanced over the thread and as it turns out I guess I had at one time been right outside of Paul's Big Game Tavern. As seen in the pic collage of Iowa taverns upthread in a previous post. If I remember correctly it was earlier in the morning when I took that picture but I'm not sure. Either way I had wanted to stop into Paul's since a guy from Dubuque whom I randomly met at Toons told me I had to.

    Image
    Dubuque, IA

    We were just talking and somehow the conversation got into Dubuque then over into food and Paul's was then mentioned. Little did I know then that I was almost there once. I didn't miss out the second time around. We stopped into Paul's on an early weekday around 6p and its a good thing I'm not claustrophobic nor a sufferer of Taxidermy Phobia. Which I guess is a real thing many people have. This is because Paul's is pretty narrow and as you enter your going to see what it said outside you would. Paul's hunting "trophies" hang on the walls, both the left and right side. Stuffed bears and other animals to your left above the people eating in the tiny booths and stuffed mountain goats and other creatures displayed above the bar.

    Image Image
    The Views Inside

    Paul's is your stereotypical Midwest Mississippi river-town tavern. It's been around since 1948 so this is where the locals go. Not much has changed except the fact theres now government restrictions and regulations to shooting animals such as polar bears. All of the trophies are from the 50's into the early 70's. Paul isn't around anymore but still stops by over the summer when not hibernating at his winter place in Texas. The guy who took the bar over used to bartend there and when the regulars told him they didn't want nothing changed, he listened. Paul's has always been popular for their cold beer and burgers which are still made the same way today as when they first set up shop.

    Image
    Bartender making our burgers in the Broilator

    Paul's uses a "Broilator" which used to be manufactured by the now defunct Norge Company. From Dubuque365.com "This gas fired countertop broiler contains a very well seasoned cast iron griddle. The cook places burgers on this plate and pulls a lever that positions the plate between top and bottom flames. The meat is cooked at a high temperature and does not have to be flipped. The Broilator has been cooking over 100 hamburgers a day for over 62 years! The griddle only holds 8 burgers so when the bar is busy you have to wait your turn." The bartender told me the thing itself was from the 1930's and on weekends when it gets bust theres two people behind the bar. One serving drinks and one making burgers.

    Image
    Cheeseburger from Paul's Tavern

    The burger was what it was. I don't say that to mean it sucked but it wasn't the best ever, still it was some nice fresh locally butchered albeit beef in a bun and went real well with the ice cold bottles of High Lifes and conversation with the regulars. The price has changed going up from 25 cents back in 1948 up to $2.45 today. Nowadays they also do sloppy joe's during lunch hours on weekdays and macaroni and potato salad too. The mac was pretty fantastic. After that we took a short 2 minute ride over to Fourth Street.

    Image
    The Fourth Street Elevator in Dubuque

    Also known as 'The Fenelon Place Elevator' I never knew about this classic cliff railway cart they have here. It's listed in the National Register of Historic Places and so they claim it's the shortest/steepest railroad in the world. I'll tell you this much, it's well worth the $2 roundtrip ticket to take a ride up. If you do take the ride, take note now that they don't accept debit or credit cards which I didn't see mentioned at the bottom but was the first thing you saw at the top. I had cash but don't forget, it's a little bit of a walk around and then down :wink:

    Image Image
    Don't forget...

    Image
    The Ride Up

    I felt like a kid again getting into the car and then ringing the bell to tell the lady up top we were ready to ride. She had to remind me over the intercom that I had sit down before she could bring us up. The ride up was a little more scarier and had me the slightest bit of nervous. I guess it's open year round but man would it be scary if icy and cold during the winter. There's some beautiful homes in the neighborhood it takes you up into, as well as some great views of Dubuque and the Mighty Mississippi from the observation deck.

    Image
    Looking down from the top

    Image
    Overlooking Dubuque

    Done with what needed to be tended to earlier in the day we had arrived at Paul's not knowing where we were going from there. I had planned to spend the night in Galena but then I remembered about a place that came rec'd here on LTH, off to East Dubuque.

    Image
    Leaving Iowa, entering Illinois

    Image
    East Dubuque, IL

    Timmerman's Supper Club was actually a spot I wanted to eat at when I was up in Galena this past winter but a snowstorm switched those plans up. I remembered they also have a hotel so that's what would be done. Check in at their Inn and then walk over to the supper club for dinner a little bit later. Classic supper club setting and on top of that this one has sick view overlooking the Mississippi. We sat down at the bar right around sundown, the place is huge and can serve 100's so it seemed empty considering the space but nonetheless all the tables along the glass windows overlooking the bluff were taken for dinner during prime time.

    Image
    The view sitting at the bar

    Dont let the fact that this is in Illinois stop you from stopping in. It's the Tri-State (IL, IA, WI) area and this place was just about everything you expect to see at a Wisconsin supper club minus the old school beer displays and neon, it's a little upgraded in that sense. The old ambiance and drinks are the biggest draws to supper clubs for me. More so than not the food can be pretty damn good too as long as your not dumb enough to order something that was obviously added to the menu recently and in some cases, seafood. Hey most Supper Clubs are in Wisconsin so fresh lake perch? Yes. Fresh fish from the ocean? I suspect not. The onion rings were mentioned as lightly battered and freshly fried served with a side of cheese dip and those are a good way to go as is the whiskey sour old fashioned and French onion soup. I went with the "what else would you get" (in my mind) supper club order of prime rib with my potato choice being hash browns with onions and cheese.

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Supper Club Eats & Drink

    They offer an extra think cut but I went with the regular cut and ordered it medium rare and everything was what you would expect. Very nice piece of meat and more than enough to eat along with your soup and potato. Not to mention the supper club standard house rolls served with dinner and complimentary corn bread at the bar. Our bartender was great and fit the roll of a supper club bartender well. The service was great and I got to take half of the thing back to the room which is where the good stops. It's not horribly dirty or disgusting but the actual hotel is ok at best. I wouldn't stay there unless passing thru and looking for a fair priced place to stay and a good dinner not far away or in this case, walking distance. The leftover meat and potatoes were even better for dinner the next day.

    Image
    Prime Rib Dinner

    Paul's Tavern
    176 Locust Street
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 556-9944

    The Fenelon Place Elevator
    512 Fenelon Place
    Dubuque, IA 52001
    (563) 582-6496

    Timmerman's Supper Club
    7777 Timmerman Drive
    East Dubuque, IL 61025
    (815) 747-3316
  • Post #23 - May 13th, 2012, 6:28 pm
    Post #23 - May 13th, 2012, 6:28 pm Post #23 - May 13th, 2012, 6:28 pm
    Hadn't seen this thread bumped in a while. Most of the places I get to are not quite close enough to fit into any Great River Road thread. Maybe the Gunderburger in Gunder could fit right in with the Burgers of Wisconsin because its in an area of rolling hills and small towns with just a few buildings and a cheese factory in each one. I hope to make it to Eastern Iowa later this month to get some more places in.

    It was late last year when a certain professor Iowa City wrote a controversial attention getting piece for The Atlantic. Amongst other things it described the river cities of Iowa, like Keokuk , Muscatine, Ft Madison, Bettendorf, Dubuque etc. by saying "Keokuk, is a depressed, crime-infested slum town. Almost every other Mississippi river town is the same; they're some of the skuzziest cities I've ever been to, and that's saying something."

    Ft. Madison is a town known for its prison between a hill and the river that has a big intimidating presence greeting visitors. The Fort Sandwich Shop, also known as Jake and Walt's Fort Diner, is a small rail car pre-fab diner separated from the Big River by the BNSF triple tracks. I was impressed with the service in this tiny diner, and the two people there went out of their way to explain the menu to me. The specialty is The Wallyburger, with a pound of beef topped with more stuff.
    Image
    Image
    Image

    The Fort Sandwich Shop
    801 Avenue H
    Fort Madison, IA 52627
    (319) 372-1949
  • Post #24 - May 14th, 2012, 4:18 pm
    Post #24 - May 14th, 2012, 4:18 pm Post #24 - May 14th, 2012, 4:18 pm
    great report as always Beef, beyond the cool food spots that elevator attraction looks dang cool.
    Last edited by jimswside on June 27th, 2014, 2:57 pm, edited 1 time in total.
    R.I.P. jimswside - 5/2/16



    @GrubSeeker
  • Post #25 - May 15th, 2012, 1:14 am
    Post #25 - May 15th, 2012, 1:14 am Post #25 - May 15th, 2012, 1:14 am
    Great story Da! How *do* you find these places?? I'm with jimswside: your trips and reportage are inspirational. Please keep up the good work, and keep us informed of your latest travels. Just *love* your stories!!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #26 - August 7th, 2012, 4:28 pm
    Post #26 - August 7th, 2012, 4:28 pm Post #26 - August 7th, 2012, 4:28 pm
    Hartford, Alton & Grafton

    I'm continuing to enjoy each and every trip I get to take along the Mighty Mississippi. While down in St. Louis I got a chance to have a quick day fling with her as me and my buddy took a ride into Alton, Illinois which was celebrating it's 175th Anniversary that weekend. On the way into town we rode thru Hartford Illinois which is about 15 miles north of St. Louis. It sits where the mouth of the Missouri River meets the Mississippi. It's also where Camp Dubois was set up which is where Lewis & Clark spent the winter of 1803-1804 before heading off on their now historic expedition.

    Image

    Image
    Hartford, IL

    There are a couple of places commemorating the brave expedition the two of them and the many men with them made over 200 years ago. They have an interpretive Center where people can go experience "...over 14,000 square feet of exhibits, displays, artifacts, and multimedia renderings that emphasize the Corps’ preparations for the expedition" Then there's also a Tower which rises "high above the point of departure to take in the Spectacular panoramic view of the rivers" We stopped in to check it out and arrived just in time to take the last tour of the day.

    Image Image

    Image
    Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower

    Another great stop with some spectacular views that's well worth the $5 donation. "Climb 50, 100 and 150 feet above the confluence of the Mississippi and Missouri rivers and look down on their waters and the story where two explorers began their journey westward. From the three levels, vantage points give way to communities, history and stories of life along the riverbanks."

    Image

    The tower does indeed have an elevator and if you choose to take the tour you'll be guided by a local volunteer who will share with you his/her knowledge of this once booming town which is now an area filled with oil and gas pipelines. I saw the Koch brothers set up shop nearby. Hartford is also the birthplace of actor Clint Walker who many of the old timers here on LTH may remember. Our guide was a great guy and proud to be showing us the area where he's from. I have yet to visit a river town that isn't interesting in one way or another.

    Image
    View of the confluence at 50 feet

    Image
    View of the town at 150 feet

    This tower began as a project by a grassroots citizen group that wanted to do something to honor the bicentennial celebration of the space where the men courageously set out on their expedition. 20,599 cubic yards of concrete or approximately 3,433 concrete truck loads later, it's a great place to check out while riding the Great River Road in Illinois. On we pushed as we rode into the historic town of Alton shortly thereafter.

    Image
    Alton, IL

    Located about 7 miles up the river from Hartford is another very interesting river town. Alton Illinois is famous for its picturesque limestone bluffs along the river which make for a beautiful scene as you drive by. It's also well known for its importance in the American Civil War as it was an important town for abolitionists with Illinois being a free state across the river from the slave state of Missouri. It was the site of the last of the Lincoln-Douglas debates and is said to be the most haunted town in America. It's most famous resident was probably Robert Wadlow who was the tallest person ever. Alton was once a booming industrial town with some big steel companies taking up residence there but these days it thrives more off of people who like to go antique shopping, tour historic areas and gamble. It hosts quite a few weddings year round as well.

    Image
    Riding around Alton

    I wish we had more time to further explore this historic city which is a popular weekend destination for those from down this way and bikers riding the Great River Road. One of the most popular stops for folks from all walks of life is Fast Eddie's Bon Air. Its here where you can mingle with big old burly biker men alongside beautiful young women counting down a bachelorettes last days as a single lady. If the name sounds familiar but you know you've never even been to Alton you may remember Fast Eddie's being featured on Alton Brown's "Feasting on Asphalt" series on Food Network.

    Image
    The legendary roadhouse/eatery in Alton, IL

    "The Legend begins with beer—Busch beer to be exact. But this was just the beginning. In 1921 Anheuser Busch decided to open a drinking establishment in the picturesque river town of Alton, Illinois. A yellow brick building known as Bon-Air, was constructed right on the corner of three streets, 4th, Pearl and Broadway. Approximately ten years later, Busch had to sell the tavern due to a change in the statutes, which prohibited breweries from owning drinking establishments." Well 90 years later and the purchasing of the place in 1981 by Eddie Sholar things have changed.

    Image Image
    Some views from inside

    Fast Eddie's has quadrupled in size and it is now said by some that it is the #1 bar in terms of beer volume in the world. So that means it's pouring alot of Budweiser and cracking many caps off the bottles of Bud Light these days. Alton is a town of about 28,000 people but on a good day at Fast Eddie's that number can rise by a couple thousand. We were there on a Saturday and it was rocking, of the 100's upon 100's of places to sit at including the area they built outside with a roof just so people could smoke, there were maybe 4 or 5 seats open. We found some at one of the many bars stationed throughout the place.

    Image
    another view from one of the drinking areas

    Most come here to drink and while they do that they like to snack. Fast Eddies takes the "sell our food for cost while bringing them in to drink lots" approach. The menu isnt big but they have beef, chicken, pork and seafood selections ready. You can imagine that a place packed with 1000's of people may have some problems as far as serving food goes but at Fast Eddies they have a system and they got it down pat. The line starts where the sign says it does, it then extends around the main bar which is what greets you as you enter. As you wait in line you'll see about 25 feet of grill space where each section has certain things being made. If you want some of their cocktail shrimp, you tell the guy who's in the middle.

    Image
    View of some of the grill

    Once your at the register you order what you want and are given a number on your ticket which you better not lose. After that you go wait and over the loudspeaker groups of #'s are called. When yours is in the group "NOW SERVING #'s 73-87" you give your ticket to the guy who gives you your food which you can top with whatever at the condiments section. I took the "might as well try it all" approach and the bill came to $13 and it's not like they jack up the price of booze with the lowering of food. I got a brat, red hot, burger, chicken on a stick, a Big Elwood aka steak and peppers on a stick and a bunch of shrimp. This was alot of food for two people and I was actually pretty happy it's a "you get what you pay for experience" as far as that goes. I didn't want to eat all of that which you see.

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Image
    Eats at Fast Eddies

    First off, the shrimp was bad and so the 14 of them that I got were a waste of my $4 but I liked the brat and red hot. The brats come from a longtime 100+ year butcher down the block called Schwegal's and I liked the extra kick of black pepper in their family recipe. That and the red hot which was a sausage with red casing like those popular in the south were worth the $.99 pricetag and a good eat with an ice cold beer. The burger was bordering just below being ok but at $1 I cant complain. It tasted like the ones your buddy who isn't much of a cook makes, where he just throws a big hunky fresh patty of beef on the grill and cooks it all the way thru. The chicken stick tasted like it was full of the stadium where the Knicks play and the steak was better but not by much. All that said, well worth the stop if your looking for cold beer and a fun atmosphere. After that we rode off to Grafton.

    Image
    Riding the Great River Road from Alton to Grafton

    There was once a time when Alton was a faster growing metropolis than its sister city St. Louis. But a group of St. Louis businessmen would plan to build a competing town to stop its expansion and bring business to St. Louis. The result was Grafton, Illinois.

    Image
    Entering Grafton, IL

    Grafton sits at another scenic point along the Great River Road. Its here where the Illinois river meets the Mississippi. Also near is where Route 66 meets the Great River Road. During the late 1800's The Shafer’s Wharf Historic District was one of the largest commercial fishing centers along the Mississippi. These days Grafton's dollars come from mostly tourism as it is the center of the regions bald eagle watching and has some fun local shops along Main Street including some wineries and restaurants. Its a popular place when the leaves start to change colors. As we were riding thru and I was lucky to find a couple food recs online.

    Image
    A locals and people passing thru's favorite in Grafton

    O'Jan's Fish Stand sits right along the Main street which rests right along the river. Its the type of spot you should expect to find when riding the Great River Road. I'm sure back in the day there were many more places like O'Jans but these days there arent as many so Grafton is lucky to have it. They double as a market where you can buy fresh from the river fish.

    Image
    Notice the 93 feet mark which is where the water rose to during the Great Flood of 1993

    If you wish to just eat something they make rather than you, you can just walk up to the window and place an order. It's all fish here and they're secret breading is used to hand batter upon ordering. I was going to go with the obvious choice of catfish or maybe a catfish fritter sandwich but when I saw buffalo fish, which I'm familiar with, See: Here and Here, I had to go with that.

    Image
    Fried buffalo Fish Sandwich

    Portions come in sandwich size or as full fried dinners but after alot of eating in St. Louis and then Alton me and my buddy shared a sandwich. It comes with two nice hunks of freshly fried fish each placed on a piece of white bread with the options of mustard and raw onions available. Hot sauce is there for you to put on as you like. Orders come in old cardboard boxes so that its easier to walk with them in case you have a few and want to eat on the deck overlooking the river. I would imagine this is a seasonal joint since there is nowhere inside to eat at.

    Image
    The view from the deck at O' Jan's

    As far as O'Jans goes, its another great old school stop found while riding the road. I'm a fan of buffalo fish, for those who haven't had any, its very flaky and I like to rip each little piece off the skin which is then left bare to go in the garbage with the paper plates. Just like many of the old time Coney Shops around the Midwest, I was excited over the fact that there was another competing fish stand/market right down the block from O'Jan's.

    Image
    Also in Grafton, IL

    I was lucky to get the final fish sandwich made for the day at O'Jan's but unfortunately Beasley's just down the block closes at the same time (7p) so I'll have to wait another day to try theirs. If they were open I would of got a fritter sandwich and seen what was up. After that it was time to ride back and get ready for the night ahead in St. Louis.

    Image
    See ya next time on "Riding and Gobbling up the Great River Road"

    Lewis & Clark Confluence Tower
    435 Confluence Tower Drive
    Hartford, IL 62048
    (618) 251-9101

    Fast Eddie's Bon Air
    1530 East 4th Street
    Alton, IL 62002
    (618) 462-5532

    O'Jan's Fish Stand
    101 Main Street
    Grafton, IL 62037
    (618) 786-2229
  • Post #27 - August 7th, 2012, 8:42 pm
    Post #27 - August 7th, 2012, 8:42 pm Post #27 - August 7th, 2012, 8:42 pm
    Great work, Da! Fast Eddie's is fun, but the best eats in Alton are at the VFW hall, believe it or not! :) Next time, try Roma's Pizza, too.

    You're right, Grafton is a hoot. There's a fish market right down by the river that sells smoked river fish, which is pretty terrific. Can't remember the name, but I know it's not O'Jan's. Might be Beasley.

    Keep up the Great Work!

    Geo
    Sooo, you like wine and are looking for something good to read? Maybe *this* will do the trick! :)
  • Post #28 - August 8th, 2012, 1:43 pm
    Post #28 - August 8th, 2012, 1:43 pm Post #28 - August 8th, 2012, 1:43 pm
    Another great post, DaBeef! I especially appreciate your inclusion of architectural photos and other context for the food. And I can't believe you beat me to Fast Eddie's*, since I am so nearby. There is apparently quite a bit to see north of Alton along the river, which I hope to explore sometime this fall. I'm told a great place for fried fish is the Fin Inn in Grafton. Also, National Geographic had a pretty recent section on the area of the confluence of the rivers which might be worth looking at if you plan to return to the area.

    * Looks like I beat you to Timmerman's, though. I remember having the prime rib there in 1988. It is a true classic of the Supper Club genre. Is there still a CLOUD of cigarette smoke with every bite?
    Man : I can't understand how a poet like you can eat that stuff.
    T. S. Eliot: Ah, but you're not a poet.
  • Post #29 - August 8th, 2012, 2:34 pm
    Post #29 - August 8th, 2012, 2:34 pm Post #29 - August 8th, 2012, 2:34 pm
    Josephine wrote:* Looks like I beat you to Timmerman's, though. I remember having the prime rib there in 1988. It is a true classic of the Supper Club genre. Is there still a CLOUD of cigarette smoke with every bite?


    I first went to Timmerman's in about 1966 when it was a half way point on the way to college and my dad driving me either to or fro. He loved it because it was a true relish tray, Old fashion (the drink) kind of a supper club. He would kick back after driving that horrible stretch of US Rte 20 which Life Magazine back in the day deemed one of the nations top 10 deadliest roads. It was a classy place. Stopped there 3 years ago and except for being no smoking, it hadn't changed much and still put out a very nice dinner. I love your reports Da Beef, so many places I haven't been to in over 30 years and refreshing to see so much still the same.
  • Post #30 - September 6th, 2012, 4:03 pm
    Post #30 - September 6th, 2012, 4:03 pm Post #30 - September 6th, 2012, 4:03 pm
    More from Wisconsin

    I got to take another trip up the Great River Road thru Wisconsin as I headed for the Twin Cities area for some rest and fun last month. I also have another place located along it that I stopped into last Fall that I wanted to share on top of the places I stopped at on this trip. This time around we'll start off near the top of the state and work are way down the river. Hope you enjoy the ride.

    Image
    Hager City, WI

    Located in an unincorporated place near the town of Trenton which sits opposite the river from Red Wing, Minnesota is the Hager Heights Drive In. There's not much going on around here but when warm weather is in the air this is a popular stop for folks looking to eat some of their famous broasted chicken. You turn off the River Road and head up a bluff which then out of nowhere pops the Drive In. You can pull into line and place your order when ready thru one of the menu boxes or park and walk up to a window to do so. If you choose to order thru the boxes it's basically just like a drive thru as you pull up and pay at the window when its your turn.

    Image
    "Please place your order when ready"

    For those that dont know, this from Wikipedia. "Broasting is a trademark applied to a method of cooking chicken and other foods using a pressure fryer and condiments. The technique was invented by L.A.M. Phelan in the early 1950s and is marketed by the Broaster Company of Beloit, Wisconsin, which Phelan founded". Broasted chicken seems to be a popular eat the further north you go in Wisconsin. The Drive In has been around for a while and you can see why when you get some of their chicken. No grease but lots of crunch with juicy meat inside.

    Image
    Chicken Meal with fries, cole slaw and beans

    Riding the road south will eventually take you thru Alma, an old 19th century river town that has been designated a National Historic District. Again, another great little river town to roll thru. Those that like to fish would really like this place.

    Image
    Alma, WI

    It was alive the day we rode thru as they have a place for people to walk over the river on Lock and Dam No. 4 as well as bars and places for people to go antiquing. We were there to catch a ride out to the Great Alma Fishing Float. Owned by two brothers, its a family run biz and basically a bunch of pier docks made into one that floats out on the river. Its a popular place for people to fish. You need to take a ferry to get out there though.

    Image
    On the ferry headed to the float

    During summer hours of operation the ferry comes and goes every 30 minutes or so. We weren't really sure what was going on as theres not much except that sign to be seen from the mainland. Just wait there and it will eventually show up. An all day fish pass (ride incl) is $16 and if you dont want to fish it's $5 round trip.

    Image
    Sitting on the Mississippi

    Image
    A view from one of the walkways

    I dont fish (yet) so I wasn't here for that. As seen on Alton's Brown's Feasting on Asphalt/Waves episode titled "The Lutefisk Express" this float also features a cafe where they serve breakfast and lunch. So I was stopping in for some of that along with the experience of having been out on the Float. Quite the spot for a diner huh? If you get motion sickness or are freaked out by places that arent squeaky clean than this is not for you.

    Image
    The other side of the hut on the float

    Nonetheless if you can handle all that it was a fun time as I got to try their famous "Mess". This seems to be another popular eat found in state. Similar to the garbage plate found at Frank's in Kenosha. The mess comes with sausage, bacon and ham mixed in with onions, green peppers, eggs, potato and cheese with some chopped smoked fish added in all topped with sauerkraut and served with Texas Toast. The brothers who run it and one of or both their sons made it for us and it was fantastic. I got a half order, I can only imagine a full. Could spend the whole day sitting and fishing after that.

    Image
    The Famous "Mess" from the Great Alma Fishing Float

    Image
    Heading further down the Great River Road thru Wisconsin, home of the Walnut Burger

    Image
    Potosi, WI

    Located down on the river near the end of it's ride in Wisconsin is the town of Potosi. It was here back in 2008 that The National Brewery Museum and Library opened on the site of the Potosi Brewery (seen above). Potosi Beer was born in 1852 and then became a full fledged brewery in 1906. At their peak they were the fifth largest brewer in state and shipped Good Old Potosi, Holiday, Garten Brau, Augsburger and other brews throughout the country.

    Image
    The Old Brewery Building

    Potosi closed it's doors and ceased operations in 1972. Then in 1995 when Gary David bought the ruined Potosi Brewery Bottling buildings after nearly one square block of buildings had been damaged by major fire and most of the them were a total loss. After working three years to rebuild parts of what had been destroyed, Gary turned his attention to the Brewery and enlisted the help of his friend and cousin who then with his wife brought the public on board through a community meeting. In 2000 the Potosi Brewing Company was back in business with the help of its neighbors.

    Image
    The Good Old Days Are Back!

    These days not only do they brew beers including their beloved Summertime brew "Steamboat Shandy" they also house The National Brewery Museum and Library. It was chosen by the American Breweriana Association to be the museums home over places like Milwaukee and St. Louis. I think it was a $7 donation (with a free beer!) to see the museum and its well worth it if you like history and beer. The place was large and there were a few floors and rooms if I remember right. Everything is for the most part on loan from beer memorabilia collectors.

    Image
    A peak into one of the many rooms and more shots from within

    Image Image
    Image Image
    So much old school memorabilia, when I was there the brewers library was just getting started...

    Image
    Anyone remember Utica Club Beer?

    Image
    There's not many who's bottles arent on display, era by era

    Image Image
    Image Image
    Some more sights from inside

    You also get to take a tour thru the original cave which is where the beer was stored before electricity. The founders dug into the limestone hillside to keep their brew cool and water from the river still floats thru floats today. On top of all this, there's the bar/restaurant to do too. Might I maybe suggest going to do a beer flight before taking in the museum?

    Image
    View from the bar

    Image
    Anything that's currently being brewed is available for your satisfaction

    As most of the current brewery was totally redone not so long ago, the same to be said for the restaurant so this is a really nice place. They have an outdoor dining patio where you can eat and or drink sitting below a big limestone bluff. It's very scenic. The menu is a little more upscale bar food using local ingredients when possible. I went with the "Good Old Potosi Bratwurst" made with secret seasonings and Good Old Potosi Beer. It's locally made at Weber Meats. A fine piece of encased meat it was. The beers were just as good.

    Image
    Brat Sandwich served with Beer Battered Onion Rings, the perfect way to end our trip

    Image
    See ya next time...

    Hager Heights Drive In
    W7866 170th Ave
    Hager City, WI 54014
    (715) 792-2118

    Great Alma Fishing Float
    35 Great River Road
    Alma, WI 54610
    (651) 380-7296

    Potosi Brewing Company
    209 South Main Street
    Potosi, WI 53820
    (608) 763-4002

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more