Food for Thought

Posted on April 1, 2022 by Grace Olson

Area dining scene updates, broken down in one digestible review

Please check in with individual restaurants for updated days and hours of operation.


1025 N Badger Ave, Appleton

Caribbean Taste food truck lovers are in luck: the mobile favorite now has a brick and mortar location in Appleton. Area509 opened in February 2022 after their success and growth dictated more space.

“It became quite clear that the volume we were doing needed its own kitchen space rather than renting space in a shared commercial kitchen,” Reggie Desamour, owner, says. “From there the idea blossomed into opening as a restaurant so we can be a year-round establishment rather than the seasonality that is associated with the food truck.”

Diners can expect a casual dining experience to relax in their intimate indoor and seasonal outdoor spaces. As for the food, Desamour says the daily menu will remain the same as Caribbean Taste but with the added ability to include specials like tuna steak, goat, walleye, red snapper, and griot (a Haitian dish).

Stay tuned to Area509 to find out more they have in store.

“We have some fun things planned like the outdoor space… we hope to host live music and create a vibe that incorporates the culture, the food and the atmosphere of the Caribbean, specifically Haiti,” Desamour explains. “We will be operating Caribbean Taste as well so readers will still be able to catch us on the road!”

Hop Yard Ale Works
512 W Northland Ave, Appleton

Described by owners Oliver and Amy Behm as a “relaxed community atmosphere,” Hop Yard Ale Works in Appleton focuses on good food and good beer, but also one of the best parts about going out to grab a bite and a drink: fun companionship.

“Orders are all placed at the bar and what we have loved about this is that it forces you to get up, walk around, stand next to someone in line and start a conversation,” Behm says. “You’ll see people you know, or maybe haven’t seen in a while and catch up. We wanted to get away from the sit down restaurant feel.

“The best part of the day is when you see a family come in, grab a board game and start playing games together at the table…. that is what we really wanted to bring to the valley: a place where you can come as you are, be who you are and enjoy a little time with your neighbors.”

Hop Yard Ale Works’ beer is brewed in small batches and rotates often.

“Our brewer, Ben Fenton, is a master at his craft and has yet to make a bad beer. Right now we don’t have a philosophy as much as what our customers are requesting—why not make it?!”

The brewery offers traditional, build-your-own pizzas and 5-6 speciality pizzas that rotate approximately every 6 weeks.

“To give you a sample, we had Thanksgiving pizzas with turkey, mashed potatoes and cranberries,” Behm says. “Our new menu is set to be released in early March—it will include a brat pizza, a take on jambalaya and a reuben pizza that will knock your socks off!”

Parker John’s BBQ
30 Wisconsin St, Oshkosh

With locations in Menasha, Green Bay, Sheboygan and Kiel, Parker John’s BBQ isn’t entirely new to the area. And that’s why, whether because of the made-from-scratch recipes or family-friendly atmosphere, its Oshkosh location’s grand opening in February 2022 was highly anticipated.

“Our goals are to create a friendly, guest-centric atmosphere that guests love, to serve perfected recipes that guests crave, and to provide a level of service that goes above and beyond guests’ expectations,” Jordan Saunders, Director of Marketing and Off-Premise Events, says.

Popular menu items include the Carolina Sandwich, featuring hickory-smoked pulled pork, a generous scoop of coleslaw, thinly sliced then fried haystack onions and made-from-scratch Carolina Mustard sauce. Brisket, another crowd favorite, is smoked for 14 hours.

“The smoke ring that outlines the brisket loaf is impressive. It has a nice fat cap that locks in all of the juices, and after its 14-hour smoke time, it’s left with a nice bark that’s concentrated with so much dry rub flavor,” Saunders says.

“People love our BBQ. We stay true to real Texas BBQ, dry rubbing all of our meats, smoking them slow and low, and serving them dry, or without any sauces. We have 5 different sauces at each table, each varying from different BBQ meccas across the U.S.”

Parker John’s BBQ is open seven days a week for dine-in, catering, delivery and carryout with various weekly specials and live patio music during the summer season.

Voyageurs Bakehouse
201 W College Ave, Appleton

With a philosophy “to hustle hard, rest hard and reflect hard” Voyageurs Bakehouse fits perfectly within its new second home in downtown Appleton.

The bakery’s original location in Green Bay opened in 2020 and its subsequent location in the beginning of January 2022.

Known for their artisan baked goods, their Bakehouse Cafe menu boasts coffeehouse options and favorites like cinnamon rolls and croissants, and unique sandwiches ranging from “Smoked Salmon Pate” to “Garbanzo Beans and Greens.”

Voyageurs offers weekly bread delivery via pre-order online, and can be found in local specialty shops and markets and as a part of area restaurant offerings.

N9650 Friendship Dr, Kaukauna

Established in 2021, SALT in Kaukauna is lit—literally. 36 crystal chandeliers invite guests into the transformed modern space in Kaukauna. It also features outdoor domes during winter and patio space in the summer.

The Modern American Restaurant specializes in fine dining: cocktails and entrees cooked on unique Himalayan salt blocks.

“We have weekly features and a menu that changes with the season,” Head Chef Manny Gandara says. “Our talented bartenders will whip up craft cocktails including our popular Old Fashioneds. We work with seafood companies to get fresh, quality seafood, use prime cuts of beef and source from a local cheese company. We also use Himalayan salt blocks to grill our steaks to enhance the flavor of these quality foods.”

Stone Arch Tied House
137C W Main St, Little Chute

“Stone Arch” is a household name in the Fox Cities, not only because of the locally brewed beer, but the award-winning brewpub that offers organic and locally sourced food.

Now there’s more of it to enjoy!

A Tied House is a British term for a restaurant/pub that is owned by a parent brewery and sells that company’s products. Stone Arch Tied House in Little Chute opened in mid-December 2021, continuing their parent brewery’s focus on high-quality, sustainable foods.

Menu items include traditional and specialty pizzas, burgers and sandwiches, entrees, and weekly specials.

Little Mexico of East De Pere
310 N Wisconsin St, De Pere

With an ambiance described as “colorful and welcoming,” Little Mexico of East De Pere opened in November 2021, offering both traditional and nontraditional Mexican food.

“The menu is designed to reflect our family’s complex structure of being a mixed-family household,” Owner Gabriela Parra says. “My parents emigrated from Mexico to the U.S. in the 1990s and have children that were born in the United States. While Mexican dishes were mostly served at the dinner table, there were many times when my parents had to incorporate non-traditional Mexican dishes like chimichangas and fajitas as that became some of the foods we enjoyed.”

Stars of the menu include Steak Tacos, Mole, Enchiladas, Shrimp Tacos, Fajitas, Molcajete and a Wisconsin Fish Fry on Fridays.

Black Bear Family Restaurant
1932 N Richmond St, Appleton

From early morning to evening, the Black Bear Family Restaurant focuses on “a commitment to quality homemade food, affordable prices and a family atmosphere.”
Formerly Johnny’s Family Restaurant in Kaukauna, Nick, Eduardo, Javier and Juan combined forces to take the original restaurant’s legacy into the future as the Black Bear Family Restaurant.

“We have a commitment to quality homemade food, affordable prices and a family atmosphere! You walk in our doors and you become family. We will do everything we can to make you feel at home.

The classic diner serves breakfast, lunch and dinner. All items are available for carryout. 

Cruise In Family Restaurant
1027 Orchard Dr, Seymour

Formerly Kary’s Family Restaurant, Cruise In Family Restaurant in Seymour opened in July 2021. Menus boast traditional American cuisine and an all-you-can-eat Friday Fish Fry.

Sticky Fingers Cafe & Catering
145 E 2nd St, Kaukauna

After a complete remodel of a 100-year-old historic building in Kaukauna, Sticky Fingers Café & Catering opened in June of 2021 and offers 

“My description of the cuisine (here) would be a modern and innovative brunch, with a unique bakery display twist,” Kim Mischler, owner of Sticky Fingers Café, says.

Breakfast options include flavored lattes and breakfast sandwiches from a scratch kitchen, plus a wide array of bakery items: cheesecake, bars, cupcakes, hand pies and more.
Sticky Fingers Café & Catering is open Monday through Saturday and offers catering options.

Uptown Snail
5114 W Michaels Dr, Appleton

Making deep dish pizza the star of the show, Uptown Snail in Appleton brings the Windy City to the Fox Cities.

Uptown Snail believes in “excellent service, showcasing a Chicago-style pizza, great drinks and a laid-back atmosphere” The menu features Manderfield’s garlic bread, Crab Dip and build-your-own and specialty pizzas like The Snail, Veggie Delight and Meat Lovers.

Currently open for carryout and delivery only. 

Scooters Coffee
901 E Airport Rd, Menasha

Scooter’s Coffee, known for its drive-thru, specialty coffee and baked-from-scratch pastries, arrived in Menasha in February 2022. 

Its signature drink is the Caramelicious®, and the menu features an array of specialty espresso beverages, single-origin coffee, fruit smoothies, Red Bull Infusions, Cold Brew, baked-from-scratch pastries, and savory breakfast options. Scooter’s also recently released its first-ever ready-to-drink canned flavored lattes.

Lost Key Tap
505 Washington St, Wrightstown

Taking a casual approach to quality dishes and creating a comfortable, fun and relaxed environment, Lost Key Tap opened in Wrightstown in March 2022 in what once was The Tigers Den Pub and Grill.

The revitalized establishment offers “Snacky Snacks” like Crispy Brussels Sprouts, Beer Battered Bacon and Arancini (cheesy rice balls), as well as burgers, sandwiches and salads.

Mama D’s Cafe LLC
N3994 Columbia Ave, Freedom

Rico’s restaurant in Freedom closed earlier this month after the unexpected death of owner Rico Carrasco, but the doors weren’t closed for long. Longtime waitress Donna Wall and her husband, Dick, have reopened the popular eatery in Freedom as Mama D’s Cafe.

Mangiare Italian Restaurant
121 North Adams Street, Green Bay

Mangiare Italian Restaurant, the sister restaurant of neighboring Republic Chophouse in Green Bay is influenced by the Tuscany region of northern Italy. The menu features balsamic and oils sourced directly from Italy and breads from specialty bakeries, creating an unpretentious, yet fine dining environment.

1212 Sports Pub and Grill
1212 S Main St, Oshkosh

The new 1212 Sports Pub and Grill opened early December of 2021 and is located inside the Oshkosh Arena.

“The 1212 offers a variety of beers including those local and domestic. Our build-your-own-burger concept gives you full control of creating your dream burger,” Nans Johannes, Marketing Director, says. “The food is fresh and locally sourced including our hand battered cheese curds and hand cut fries.

“The pub showcases a variety of sports on the TVs from hockey to football to basketball and more! We want to make sure our customers feel at home, relaxed and are able to be themselves.”


1016 E. Pacific Street, Appleton

With an anticipated opening in mid-May of 2022, Ellinor in Appleton will offer “a cozy, modern atmosphere with an open kitchen… a place where people come to enjoy a meal amongst friends, family and neighbors,” Owner and Chef Adam Marty, says.

“Our vision for Ellinor is a neighborhood restaurant, elevated in flavor but tucked away from downtown. Original brick, reclaimed wood, an open ceiling and natural light provide for a unique space filled with contrasting colors. The focal point of Ellinor will be the wood-fired oven, which will be the sole means of cooking all hot menu items.”

The menu will feature locally sourced ingredients in the form of pizzas, shareable plates, entrees and desserts. A wine and beer menu will be available as well. 

Ellinor—named after the Martys’ children, Ellis and Norah—is a longtime dream realized.
“We recognized a need in Appleton for a fun, cozy, unique dinner spot; this building provides the perfect location and feel,” he says. “We have been waiting for the perfect space in the perfect spot and this is it. We live in Appleton, we love Appleton and Appleton has so much to offer—Ellinor will only add to it!”

Mill City Public House
1103 West College Ave, Appleton

Mill City Public House’s Head Chef James Dudley and Co-owner/General Manager Rusty Leary are particular about what they take seriously.

Themselves? Absolutely not. Respecting high-quality ingredients that result in wagyu beef smash burgers, cheese and charcuterie plus a myriad of fun options in their upcoming restaurant? Yes.

“(It will be) a fun warm environment with emphasis on not taking ourselves too seriously. You are going to want to hang out here!” Dudley says.

Dudley’s past is in scratch style cookery, most recently highlighted while he was at the helm of Fress in Appleton. He and Leary’s combined experience in fine dining creates a “fairy dust” on the menu, but at its heart, “Mill City is your classic neighborhood burger bar,” Leary says. 

“We have a farm-to-plate sourcing model, our belief is that the best food comes from the best produce and the happiest animals. We’ve got a full bar with craft cocktails, cold beer and a nice little wine list, great whiskey and scotch selections. The bartenders are friendly and they know what they’re doing, so they’ll make you whatever you want… 

We designed it to be warm, inviting, friendly and cozy. The kind of place where you’re comfortable hanging out for a while. We’ve got leather and wood and brass, it’s pretty, but not stuffy or intimidating.”

Anticipated menu favorites include a Mushroom Swiss Burger: two wagyu smash patties, swiss cheese, garlic aioli, roasted mushrooms in demi glace and crispy onions. A Breakfast Burger: crispy bacon, a fried egg and hash browns. 

“Our PB&J Burger comes loaded with crunchy peanut butter and Dudley’s famous pepper jelly,” Leary explains. “If you think that sounds weird, you have to try it. I thought it sounded weird and now it’s probably my favorite food.”

Mill City Public House will also offer a variety of snacks and appetizers, a vegetarian smash burger and salads. It is anticipated to open mid-April 2022.


Spats Restaurant
733 W College Ave, Appleton

Spats Restaurant in Appleton has been in business for 35 years, and in a historic, 100-year-old building. But new owners Brianna and Nick Kapheim are breathing new life into it by living out their dream.

“We are living out our dreams of owning/operating a business!” Brianna says. “We have basically overhauled the menu creating a more upscale dining experience! Chef-driven, scratch comfort food.”
Guests can expect Spats classic Friday Fish Fry and Reubens, along with “awesome drinks, excellent food, amazing service and overall hospitality.

“Our goal is to make you feel as welcome and comfortable as possible while dining,” Kapheim says.

Waverly Beach Bar & Grille
N8770 Fire Lane 1, Menasha

A landmark in the Fox Cities since the late 1800s, Waverly Beach has new owners (Anduzzi’s Sports Club) and is looking forward to reviving its title as a destination hub.

“Our goal is to enhance the existing business through a thoughtful remodel, new menu and entertainment additions… Seated on the beautiful shores of Lake Winnebago, the new renovation will take full advantage of the waterfront,” Samantha Scott, Director of Content Innovation for Anduzzi’s Sports Club & Waverly Beach Bar & Grille, says.

The space will take on a “beachy, coastal” design including two large bars, expanded dining areas, a stage for entertainment, multiple TVs and a fireplace. The indoor space is now surrounded by windows, allowing all guests a clear view of the waterfront.

“We are confident that guests will be reminded of the great times shared with family and friends over the years at Waverly Beach, whether celebrating weddings, concerts, sturgeon spearing, dinner, afternoons on the water or sharing cocktails at the Tiki Bar,” Scott explains. “We look forward to enhancing the guests’ experience with an updated space, comfortable modern décor, and a menu that will take them from easy, casual beach favorites like nachos, tacos and tiki-burgers to coastal, trendy favorites like Grilled-Jerk Salmon, Pan Fried Walleye, Tuna Poke and Steamed Mussels.”


All Tied Up Floral Cafe
New location approximately April 1: 324 E College Ave, Appleton

This fun vintage industrial designed cafe is a great place to pick up not only your morning cup of locally roasted coffee, but delicious bakery, flowers and unique gifts.

Stop in their new downtown location to visit!

Jexi’s Restaurant
New location: 1011 Crooks Ave #2858, Kaukauna

Jose, Eyvis, Xenia and Isaias make up the hardworking team of Jexi’s Restaurant—literally.

“The name is a combination of our initials,” Xenia Nieto, co-owner, says. “After we decided the name we found out the meaning, which we love.”
Jexi, in Hebrew origin, means “a person who is beloved by God.” 

It was kismet, and so is their success. So much so that the family restaurant, that originally opened in August 2021, has already expanded to a larger space in Kaukauna (the former Kaukauna Family Restaurant building).  

Guests can expect the same popular dishes: Eggs Benedict, Southern Benedict, Jexi’s Special (two eggs, ham, bacon, sausages links, potato, and toast or pancakes), Jexi’s Steak, French
Toast Combo and Crepes.


308 W College Ave, Appleton

RYE in downtown Appleton was established in 2014, and taken over by new owners Chef Nick and Events Manager Charlotte Morse in December 2019. From there, it’s been a consistent whirlwind of bringing their visions to live.

“We are always looking to grow and evolve!” Morse says. “Since taking over in 2019, we have been actively working on innovative ideas to build upon our current success. In 2020 we added outdoor dining on the sidewalk. In 2021, we decided to renovate our unused ‘Coat Room’ to become a private dining chef’s table!

“We wanted the space to feel luxurious, private and elegant. The finished project turned out better than we could have envisioned! We love to see our guests enjoying the space!”

The special six-course dinner is recommended for “​adventurous foodies,” with the menu consisting of fresh ingredients sourced locally when possible. The menu changes daily and reflects the season and the mood of the chef.

GingeRootz Asian Grille
2920 N Ballard Rd, Appleton

GingeRootz invites guests to discover the origin of Asian cuisine through traditional recipes, fused with today’s trends with flavors from China, Thailand, Japan, Korea and other Pacific Rim countries.

Now they’re doing it in their newly renovated, sleek space.

Gone is the raised section and banquet room, as well as several walls, resulting in an inviting open concept space. New is the floor and lighting and monochromatic color scheme.


We’re sad to see these establishments recently close:

All Seasons Coffee

SanRocco’s Pizza

Rico’s Family Restaurant

Paradise Island Grill & Ice Cream

Queso Fresco

Golden Basket



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