Dining in Appleton, Wisconsin

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Jeff Lindsay's guide to eating out in Appleton and the Fox Cities.

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I enjoy dining out and find Appleton and the Fox Cities to have a rich variety of good restaurants. I've traveled to many cities and nations, trying many restaurants and many cuisines, and don't feel disadvantaged to live in Appleton. For those of us who want to get good value for our money and good food, Appleton is a great place to eat out.

I've divided this page into two main sections: (1) Webmaster's Choice - a few of the places that I think deserve special attention, and (2) Other Recommendations for Dining. In the second category are some places I really like as well as some I'm not so sure about that others have recommended. I tell you what I think and always welcome your feedback.

Special Mention: Webmaster's Choice

Here I discuss places in the Fox Cities that I think deserve some kind of award for what they offer. Give them a try and let me know what you think.

Recent Changes in Fox Cities Dining

Some 2009-2014 changes: Old Country Buffet has closed and is now Great Sushi and Steak Buffet. Jet Sushi is closed with a new Island Sushi in its place. Bella Vita was a great new addition that closed August 17, 2013. Ouch. Other departures include the short-lived Bennigan's (sigh, I really liked the place!), Lolita's, Los Compadres, Mi Puebla, Grillin' Steak house, the Seasons (one of the nicest places!), Madhouse Grill and the Black and Tan Grille (in the site where Bella Vita was). Po Boy's restaurant arrived in 2010 but closed early in 2011, leaving me hungry for its inexpensive fast Cajun food. Lemon Grass Thai has withered away, being combined now with Seasons, which now has a dual menu and two chefs. Sirocco's, a trendy and tasty tapas bar, kicked the bucket at the beginning of 2010. A real loss. In its place is the new Cena Restaurant, with a promising menu. One of my favorite places, Jonathan's Italian Bistro, closed for a while but has reopened with new management, a terrific chef, and a fabulous menu. Better than ever, and highly recommended for its desserts. Not too far from it is another new upscale Italian bistro, Carmella's Italian Bistro--some say the best place in town. Other recent additions for Fox Valley dining include a terrific ice cream shop, Cherry on Top in Neenah and one of the best chains ever, Panera Bread, in Appleton. Grazie's went under in 2009 and became Lucky's Bar and Grill, which has also failed and is now the Thai, Sushi, and Japanese Steakhouse. Tumbleweed Mexican closed in 2009 and was replaced with Lone Wolf Mesquite Grill, which was good but also went under in 2010. Sad. Now it's another Solea Mexican Grill, like the one in southern Neenah. Chavez closed and became the Cafe on the Ave at 100 E College Ave., which has since closed and is now El Patron, a Mexican place.

Recommended Dining: More Good Places I Think You'll Like

Some Other Places You Still Might Like

These are some restaurants that might not appeal to me personally (or ones that I just haven't had the time or incentive to try), but may be worth considering. The Menasha Grille on Main Street in downtown Menasha offers some Cajun cuisine. I went there for there lunch buffet at the end of 2005. It was OK, but I found the flavors to be timid. I understand they do a better job for dinner, but haven't tried it yet.

I tried the Golden Corral on Richmond Ave. in Appleton in 2010 for my first time. You can get a lot of calories for your money there--reasonable prices, lots of food--but it was unappetizing and disappointing on several levels. Don't think I can recommend it at this time.

Another place that was "OK but disappointing" was Michiel's in Menasha, although I highly recommend Michiel's banquet hall in Appleton as a place for receptions.

For those who prefer to cook their own food, Woodman's is the biggest store around. I like it for its great produce, huge selections, and exciting ethnic specialties (they even have yerba mate, the popular South American beverage). Visitors often are surprised to see the name of another popular chain, Piggly Wiggly. If you say it fast and keep a straight face, no one will trouble you. Copps, Festival Foods, and Pick 'N Save are also popular.

For spices, Penzeys near the Fox River Mall is hard to beat. Incredible selection, low prices.

In addition, there are many pubs and bars all over Appleton that also serve a variety of foods, though I personally avoid bars.

Of course, there are many more great places to ward off hunger. For a quick treat, many people like Manderfield's Bakery. For those with a flare for Asian specialties, Appleton has several oriental grocery stores (catering primarily to the Hmong community). So many choices - so little time to eat!

Finally, feel free to let us know you're opinions. Here's an example from one person in 2009:

Outback has the best steak filets and the house salad with tangy tomato French dressing is great. Pullmans and Fratello's have a great red cream soda on tap. Good Company's French dip sandwich is very good. Paradise Island has great smoothies and the excellent 1918 root beer. They have a 20oz frosted size. This root beer is only available on tap and is brewed in the Twin Cities. I have only been to the one on Ballard. The other location is in the Mall.

Yeah, that sounds good. Like Appleton and the Fox Cities in general. A great place with a lot of good food, if you know where to look.

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Curator: Jeff Lindsay,   Contact:
Last Updated: July 11, 2014
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