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Introvert’s Guide to the Fox Cities: Dining! Part 2!

Posted on July 17, 2017 by Dan Meyer

It’s no secret that the Fox Cities are home to dozens of fantastic restaurants and diners, so it comes as no surprise that it’s impossible to cover every introvert-friendly restaurant in one post. I stand by my previous five picks for introvert-friendly restaurants (if you haven’t taken a look at the post, check it out here!), but the list wasn’t long enough to cover every great option and was primarily limited to downtown Appleton. The list length in this post won’t be much different (do you really want to read a list of 40 different restaurants?), but I’ve widened the focus to include Neenah and Menasha as well.

The judgment standards for this list are the same standards from the last post, but here’s a quick rundown to jog your memory:

Price Range: the restaurants should be feasible for medium-to-low budget diners. You might not be able to eat out every other day of the week, but anything north of $15 for a one-person, single course meal is probably not going to cut it.

Wait staff: there are so many phenomenal waiters and waitresses in the Fox Cities who love their job and are great at what they do. That being said, I’m not really trying to talk to someone unless I absolutely have to when I’m eating alone. I gave priority to restaurants that minimize awkward small talk or forced interaction. This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t tip! There’s a time and a place for you to rant about the irrational nature of tipping, and it’s not when you’re about to pay at a restaurant/café/diner. (Side note: Tom Colicchio, restauranteur and Top Chef judge, has made waves for eliminating tipping at his restaurant and his reasoning might make you support the no-tipping trend. There’s a good article about the change here.)

Seating: nobody wants to eat in a fishbowl. In this category, I tried to give preference to any restaurants that allow for relatively secluded seating or tables that only have two chairs. Any options that don’t make it look like you’re eating alone at an eight-person table in the middle of a busy restaurant.

Alright, here they are: the five best restaurants for introverts in the greater Neenah-Menasha area:

Off-kilter buns are all the rage these days.

Off-kilter buns are all the rage these days.

Third Street Diner, Menasha
My deep and abiding love for diners will follow me to the grave. (It might also send me to my grave a little early if I don’t lay off the cholesterol, but I’m not going to abandon breakfast food just because “doctors” tell me my eating habits are “not sustainable” for a “healthy” lifestyle.) My continued search for good diners in the Fox Cities led me to Third Street Diner, located along 3rd Street (duh) in Menasha. The diner offers classic diner staples for every meal, including phenomenal apple fritter french toast. If you’re looking for healthier options, Third Street Diner also offers salads and reduced-portion meals. The wait staff is friendly, but not intrusive and the dining area is well-spaced to avoid bumping elbows with other tables.

When Should I Go and What Should I Know?
The diner is open Mondays-Saturdays 5am-8pm and Sundays 5am-2pm. Seat yourself at the bar or in the dining area to the left- somebody will be out to help you soon after. You can pay at the table in typical restaurant style, but there’s a register at the front if you’re paying with plastic.

 

From Timshel on Instagram

This is basically the same as living in Paris, right? Right? From Timshel on Instagram

Timshel Café. Neenah
Timshel is in line with the recent artisan coffee boom that has swept the nation at large in recent years. The atmosphere is aided by Neenah’s downtown vibe and the interior of the building is cozy despite occupying a larger area than most shops. Timshel has seriously good coffee, and its atmosphere subtly changes throughout the day to accommodate different guest demographics. (Looking for a lot of natural lighting and a crisp feel? Visit in the morning. Searching for a warmer, Parisian café vibe? Check out Timshel in the afternoon, especially in the winter when it starts to get dark around 4pm.) Timshel has two main seating areas, giving introverts many options for seating. The seating is open, but you can’t go wrong with the classic cafe tool for introverts: bringing work to do while you enjoy the craft coffee.

When Should I Go and What Should I Know?
Timshel is open Mondays-Fridays 6:30am-5pm, Saturdays 7:30am-3pm, and Sundays 8am-3pm. The kitchen closes half an hour before the café does, so keep that in mind if you’re keen on ordering some of Timshel’s great food. Order at the counter and seat yourself. Take your dishes to one of the dish bins after you’re done. Full disclosure: I’m nearsighted (not blind, but I don’t have eagle eyes either), and I had some trouble reading the menu on the wall behind the counter. If you hate squinting at menus, check out their online menu in advance.

I can't imagine a world where you can't hear this being made just by looking at the picture.

I can’t imagine a world where you can’t hear this being made just by looking at the picture.

The Weathervane, Menasha
If you’re struggling to imagine The Weathervane’s general atmosphere, picture a high-class diner; the affordability of the menu is in line with typical diner expectations but the look of the restaurant (inside and out!) exceeds the typical diner look. Lunch specials begin at 10am but The Weathervane serves breakfast dishes all day; if you’re going to visit and try out their great food, you had better bring your appetite. I, lover of ridiculous meals and consumer of dangerously high amounts of breakfast food, met my match at the Weathervane and was forced to concede and take some of my food to go. The Weathervane may have defeated me this time, but the introvert dining experience was so great I know I’ll be back soon for another showdown.

When Should I Go and What Should I Know?
The Weathervane is open Mondays-Saturdays 6am-2pm and Sundays 7:30am-1pm. Seat yourself, although I went during a slow period so you may want to wait for someone to seat you if it’s a little busier. After you finish eating, take your receipt to the register at the front to pay your bill and leave your dishes at the table.

Bread? Breeeaaad.

Bread? Breeeaaad.

Great Harvest Bread Company, Neenah
By this point in the blog series, you might question my ability to give negative reviews to various restaurants and diners. After all, this is the second post I’ve written that’s filled with rave reviews and completely devoid of any Siskel-and-Ebert style smackdowns. As much as I love all of the restaurants I’ve listed, that doesn’t mean I sit down for dinner, expecting the best meal I’ve ever had. Sometimes I’m a little apprehensive, as I was when I was making my way to Great Harvest Bread Company. Bread? Can good bread really make such a huge different in food? After eating lunch there I realize the answer to that question is a resounding yes, my fellow Foxy Citizens. Great Harvest has a great atmosphere and even better food (My favorite both for flavor and name is the Turkey Goddess). If you’re looking for a mellow vibe, you might want to check it out when it’s not the middle of a rush—Great Harvest is absolutely packed for lunch and dinner.

When Should I Go and What Should I Know?
Great Harvest is open Mondays-Fridays 7am-7pm and Saturdays 7am-4pm. Order at the counter near the entrance and they’ll bring it out to you once you find a seat (unless you get it to go, but if that’s the case, why are you worried about whether the place is introvert-friendly?). This is probably a better place to eat and clear your head rather than getting a lot of work done, as there isn’t quite enough seating to make camping out judgment-free.

From Seth's on Instagram

We’re reaching dangerous levels of hipsterdom here. From Seth’s on Instagram

Seth’s Coffee, Little Chute
What? A bonus coffee shop entry that’s not even in the Neenah-Menasha area? That’s right! It’s almost as if coffee shops are one of the most ideal places for introverts to get quality eats and quality alone time! Seth’s has great coffee and an interior that offers a lot of space without being uncomfortably empty. Normally, large windows at the front of the shop are not ideal for anyone who’s just trying to enjoy their drink without being stared at by passers-by, but Seth’s seating and windows are arranged in a way that allows for relaxation without intrusion. You can order some classic café sandwiches and desserts, but Seth’s specialty is their coffee, brewed as pour-overs, siphons, or other classic methods of coffee extraction.

When Should I Go and What Should I Know?
Seth’s is open Mondays-Thursdays 6:30am-9pm, Fridays 6:30am-10pm, Saturdays 7am-10pm, and Sundays 8:30am-6pm. It’s pretty standard coffeeshop procedure, where you order at the counter and (if you’re eating there) they’ll bring it out to you. Take care of your dishes after you’re finished by putting them in one of the dish bins.

No post next week but I’ll be back after that for tips on another big event: Mile of Music!

-DM

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