Madison WI, Minneapolis-St Paul, Bismark, ND, Pierre SD, and Des Moines, IA

We’re planning a trip to the upper Midwest/Plains to continue our quest to do 10K guided walks in all 50 states. We’ll need to eat. I’m eager for suggestions in the capital cities and on the way from one to the other. We’ll follow the sequence above-- WI, MN, ND, SD, IA, and back to Milwaukee – and won’t want to depart a lot from the interstates, given the distances involved. I’m always interested in barbecue, but mainly locally owned places serving local specialties.
Thanks for your help.

This may not be what you are looking for, but one of my favorite restaurants in the US is L’ Etoile In Madison, Wi, right on the capital square. They were farm to table before that was a thing. Can be $$$, but a way to get a hint without breaking the bank is to visit the bar and ask them to assemble a Wisconsin cheese plate. You’ll sample incredible cheeses that never leave the state.


It sounds good. I’m certainly not ruling out tiger end places, and that’s certainly celebrates a local specialty.



Dang! We’ll have to miss it

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But I’ll be on the lookout for some Chislic

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So you’re trying to walk 10k in each capital?
Does your blog have a recap of your efforts so far?
BTW, this is where the fans of Roadfood page would come into play.
Cliff is also a state capital fan and would be glad to share his experiences. And food choices :relaxed:


No recap of each walk, but reports on some – Meat BBQ in Lansing and Shapiro’s in Indianapolis most recently.
And I have posted in Fans of Roadfood/Facebook. I’ll need to do another post on our NJ, WV, and KY trip, which iss actually earlier on the horizon

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Whether you go Madison to Minne or the other way around, you might want to bring a cooler and take 90 through WI until you hit 52 in Rochester MN, head north to Minne. There many cheese factories in what is known as the coulee region (where I live), with high quality milk. Pasture Pride (Cashton, WI) has all the cheese you need, much made right there (you’ll smell the brine when you walk in). If you’re organic, you’re in luck, right next to Pasture Pride is Organic Valley, which has everything Organic, and the cheese is made there. K&K and Old Country cheese factories are also very close to Cashton. Now, I’m biased, working for the school district of Cashton, but the cottage cheese made just down the road in Westby is the best on earth. ON EARTH!!!

If you have a few minutes, you could then take a drive through our Amish mall. Stop at Central Expresss gas station to grab a map. Spices, plants, bakery, etc. are all on Irish Ridge road. Bring cash.

Hope you have the best trip. I’ve eaten at Le’ Etoile. Max ain’t kiddin’. For cheaper great eats in Madison, the calzones at the Brass Nickel are amazing. My son goes to UW Madtown, so I get there often. The Heritage Tavern on MIfflin street is impressive. Paul’s Pelmini has delish Polish dumplings (get them “mixed, with the works”.) If you want pure WI, go to The Old Fashioned. Not just WI’s favorite cocktail, but a great place to eat.

Safe travels.

You’ll find great places in Des Moines, too.


I’d try a pork tenderloin sandwich in Iowa. Maybe some posters can mention where they would get one.

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DaBadger, Thanks for the ideas! since we’re flying to WI and renting a car, a cooler is pretty well out of the question. I’ll need to look into ordering some. Thanks for Madison recs, and what are your Des Moines favorites? Again, thanks

prima, Thanks. I need to Mao out those locations. I recently had the world’s best r=tenderloin biscuit sandwich at Flo’s in Wilson, NC, and I’m ready for more

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I used to live in Ecuador, so I always go to Mi Patria. Flashback food. Only other one I’ve tried was Kathmandu. Loved it.


We’re back from the trip and had some great meals, and I’ve been string them up on my blog. Highlights included the Brookside Bar and Grill in Marine on St Croix – walleye and bluegill in a delightful setting; EAT Thai in Bismarck ND; the Cattleman’s Cub and and Zest ice cream in Pierre and a great evening at the Chuckwagon in Ft. Pierre; good bbq at Hickory Park in Ames; Jesse’s Embers, a must-visit old school steakhouse in Des Moines, which also boasted a good Lebanese place and an excellent tenderloin sandwich (the Iowa Taproom); and Mo’s in Milwaukee. Lots of other places. Oh, and the Parthenon Gyro served great lunch in Madison. We had mixed results in some other places, some by mis-ordering.

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Glad you had a good time and ate well. My son lives only blocks from the Parthenon (Madtown).

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