Food and drink are undeniably huge parts of our lives. They’re also some of the most accessible avenues for understanding a region and its historical and cultural influences.
Door County’s food and drink scene has been most notably influenced by its earliest permanent settlers from Scandinavia as well as its proximity to the Great Lakes, plant-rich forests, and highly fertile farmlands. Even the most modern of local restaurants is likely to have some dishes inspired by either the region’s people or its natural features.
The next time you’re in Door County, keep an eye out for restaurants, cafes, bars and taverns, markets, farm stands, and shops that offer up food with the following historical and environmental influences for a true taste of this unique region.
Door County’s Belgian, Swedish, Norwegian, and Icelandic roots are evident all over the peninsula and islands, from the architecture to the festivals to the business names and place names to the locals' surnames to the all-seasons love of the outdoors to, especially, the food.
Many local menus and kitchen tables feature wild-caught fish, grass-fed dairy, produce-forward entrees, potatoes and root vegetables, herbs fresh from the garden, and other simple and soul-satisfying Nordic foods. These foods harken back to a simpler time that the county still embodies in many ways. One of the most popular desserts in these parts is Belgian Pie, which is often a featured dish at a traditional Belgian Kermis celebration.
Farm-to-Table & Forest-to-Table
Sure, produce is grown on farms across the county, but it also grows freely in the wilds of local woods. Wild mushrooms, ramps, onions, herbs, leaves and greens, edible flowers, and more can be found in the damp forests of Door County if you know when and where to look.
If you don’t want to forage for yourself as the area’s early natives and settlers did, you’ll find plenty of hand-plucked ingredients on local restaurants’ menus.
Fish Fries & Fish Boils
Door County is a peninsula—plus one inhabited island—that juts 70 miles into the third largest lake in North America. So, you can imagine we consume a lot of fish up here. (The region’s fishing and shipbuilding industries are well documented.) The two most popular fish-based dishes are fish fries and fish boils, but plenty of food establishments offer up creative and delicious local-caught fish in all kinds of preparations.
Fish fry mainstays include wild-caught perch, walleye, trout, and whitefish, but fish boils almost always stick to whitefish, a sort of Lake Michigan delicacy around these parts.
You might be tempted to accuse us of being a little cherry-obsessed up here, but once you take a springtime drive down a highway lined with cherry trees in full bloom and their gentle scent wafting through open windows, you’ll get it.
Cherries are a highly versatile stone fruit. You’ll find them in, of course, pies, tarts, scones, crumbles, and other desserts, but cherries are a common ingredient in everything from salads and sandwiches to meat dishes, pancakes and waffles, burgers, cocktails, jams, preserves, and just about anything else you can imagine.
Supper Club Staples
Supper clubs in the US are most often associated with Wisconsin and the Midwest, and Door County has its fair share.
These cozy, slow-dining establishments serve up some of Door County’s most iconic foods: fish fries, non-fried lakefish and seafood, prime rib, broasted chicken, steaks, veal, and other hearty meals that offer a taste of the north woods.
Typically, supper clubs also offer warm and inviting atmospheres, fine-dining level service, and a slower, more mindful dining experience that encourages conversation and conviviality.
Explore Food & Dining Tools
Dine: Explore the cultural and historical influences on local cuisine or use the dining finders to locate a specific restaurant, cuisine, or amenity.
Recipe Book: Explore the unofficial Door County recipe book and cook up something amazing. The recipe book features entrees, apps, desserts, veggies, sides, Scandinavian-inspired eats, and more.
Wine: The wine scene in Door County has been quietly thriving for decades, but, in the last few years, it’s started getting more and more outside attention from culinary media. See what all the wine hype is about and take a deep dive into local winemaking.
Dished Up Video Series: Go behind the scenes at local restaurants to meet the chefs, see their signature dishes, and learn their food philosophies.
Savor Door County Series: The Savor Door County video series serves up instructions on how to craft a few distinctively Door County meals.
Cherry Blossom Report: Track the cherry’s arrival in Door County though six distinct stages. Then, plan a scenic drive, a cherry-centric activity, or your entire trip around the cherry blossoms or the cherry harvest.
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