Food for Thought

Area dining scene updates, broken down in one digestible review

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


FOME Food & Company, Appleton

Nea Hahn, owner of FOME Food & Company (and also Whisk & Arrow Sugar Studio) in Appleton, has a particular philosophy when it comes to what she serves at the the new breakfast and lunch eatery:

“(It) is all food I would feed my family: clean, simple, delicious,” she says. “We had a few savory chefs ready to get to work on our team at Whisk, a real estate opportunity presented itself and we went with it.”
FOME, located in what was once the Paradise Island Grill, opened for takeout and delivery in November, and for dine-in guests the first week of December of 2022.
Notable dishes include the Corned Beef Hash, a recipe Hahn developed over 10 years ago. The Dutch Baby, served with powdered sugar and fresh lemon wedges is also popular, while the coffee bar offers both classic and innovative options.

“The milkshakes are to die for! Italian sodas are refreshing!” Hahn exclaims. “So much good stuff!”
When asked what guests can expect, Hahn smiles:
“A wait!” she laughs. “We have limited seating so Saturdays and Sundays can be daunting. The vibe is very casual, homey. I want guests to feel as if they were at my house. During the week we offer counter service, where guests are encouraged to grab their own water and silverware. During the weekends we have servers. Our menu is simple and straightforward, and we are currently working on adding more plant-based options to our butter-heavy menu.”

The Taqueria, Oshkosh
“A place where passion meets flavor and hospitality,” Elie Saad, owner of The Taqueria in Oshkosh says the energy of the restaurant is palpable.
“When you visit our restaurant, especially when we’ve got a few diners and the music’s going, the energy is palpable.”
The Taqueria opened in June 2022, and, according to Saad, brings authenticity, genuineness, good energy and “a menu for all pallets, of course.”
Included in that menu is perhaps the most popular: the Cali Burrito.
“We grew up eating those monsters,” Saad explains. “Who can say no to steak, fries, guacamole, pico de gallo, shredded cheese and sour cream—all in a burrito? It’s a California staple and you should try it. And our tacos, of course!”

The Sweet Lair, Menasha
Sweet meets silly at The Sweet Lair in Menasha. Opened in June 2022, the bakery and board game cafe owner Bri Lutz opened it in hopes of creating a “community space for people to come and spend time with others.”
“We want people to put down their devices and really get to know the person across the table,” she says. “Enjoy good food and good times… the space should feel like home. An open concept that feels cozy and comfortable… It is a fun atmosphere to kick back and play board games and interact with people.”
Offering homey but elevated food, The Sweet Lair has a sweet trick up its sleeve in the form of innovative options, one being a Design-Your-Own Cupcake Station.
“This brings the fun into creating your perfect cupcake where you get to choose the flavor, filling, frosting and topping,” Lutz says. “We also do coffee flights in which we have 12 different flavors to choose from and you can roll the dice to let the dice decide your drinks. Our flights feature 4 mini sized drinks and 4 mini cupcakes.
“For food items our most popular is our Hungriest Hippo Bagel Sandwich. It is made on our house-made bagel and comes with egg, cheese, sausage and bacon. All of our featured items are board game themed with a fun name!”

PARM, Oshkosh

Whether you’re looking for a casual evening or want to celebrate a special occasion, PARM Chef Andy Saray wants everyone to feel comfortable at the new restaurant in Oshkosh.

“Everyone should feel welcomed,” he says. “Good food doesn’t need to be expensive, but we offer that as well if you want to treat yourself.”
PARM had been operating as a pop-up since July 2021, but recently opened the Oshkosh location in January.

A monthly changing menu with wood-fired pizzas, an open concept, chef’s counter and local craft beer are some of the notable things guests can expect.
“We pride ourselves on serving ‘old world pizza’ with ‘new world flavors,’ Saray says.

Sweet Jules Bakes, Oshkosh

If Sweet Jules sounds familiar, you’re right. The bakery had been in operation for four years when owner/baker Jules Kupsky was injured.
“I couldn’t work for 6 months, so during that time I re-found my love for baking,” she shares. “Needing a certified kitchen led me to Appleton & Hippie Wayne’s Green Tomato, a shared kitchen. In late July 2021 it finally came to a point where I had to choose either my day job or my passion and chose what I love… I knew a brick and mortar was what I needed: my own space with my own identity.”
With a soft opening on Valentine’s Day this year, it was a sweet entry into a booming bakery business.
“Sweet Jules has a clean, light, happy, natural vibe,” Kupsky says. “Some visitors have commented it has a Parisian feel. White walls with turquoise blue and gold accents, natural wood, and large windows facing Main Street supply tons of natural light and a great view of downtown happenings… I hope guests can see, feel, and taste the love poured into every last detail and baked good.

Each week offers a different “Ultimate” Cake (a creamy cheesecake topped with a moist cake and frosting) available by the slice, as well as hand mixed scones, cupcakes, cookies, chocolate chia brownies and rotating other items such as biscotti and baked donuts.
“Everything is made from scratch sourcing local eggs and milk from the Oshkosh Food Co-op and other seasonal items. Even the caramel and toffee on my signature Chocolate Decadence Cupcakes are from scratch,” Kupsky says. “I love to create new flavors and items so guests can continue to be surprised.”

Tipsy Taco & Tequila Bar, Appleton
Sarah Gregory, owner/operator of Tipsy Taco & Tequila Bar that opened in December of 2022, is also the owner of next door’s Sangria’s Mexican Grill, but the similarities stop there.
“We have made an entire creative vibe there, completely different from anything else downtown,” she says. “We put personality into everything there, from the decor to the tacos.”
She says they wanted to create an escape to a big city, more of a destination than just a meal, with great food and service.
“We have fun drinks, trendy tacos and an eclectic ambiance that brings in people from all over. We are known for making our own corn tortillas in house,” she adds. “The Birria tacos, the Ribeye Fundido and Jamaican Jerk Tacos have been the biggest hits so far. So many flavor combinations and pops of color. We also built a tequila bar with tons of options from recognizable brands to higher end.”

BAGO Bar & Grill, Neenah
Although BAGO Bar & Grill is technically “new on the scene,” Katie Samuelson has owned the establishment for 19 years. Originally Vinland Still & Grill, she says it was simply time for a rebrand.

“We updated our menu, our specials, our decor and our overall vibe. We’re so close to the lake, we wanted to tie our brand more closely to all the exciting things that outdoor enthusiasts get to experience here.
“We treat our guests like family and every day like it’s Friday Fish Fry. We are featuring a revamped menu which includes new ‘Smokehouse Favorites’ such as smoked brisket, smoked pulled pork sandwiches, smoked pulled pork tots pileup, smokey mac and cheese and smokehouse pizza—all of which feature our new signature homemade BBQ sauce and smoked meats.”

The “on-the-lake” vibe includes fishing, hunting and outdoor decor, with newly painted murals of outdoor scenes completed by a local artist.
“We are also now home of the BAGO BOGO, an ongoing promotion which will offer guests buy one, get one deals throughout the year,” Samuelson adds.

Thunderbird Bakery, Oshkosh
Elizabeth Redman, Thunderbird Bakery Co-Owner and husband Trent Wester, began selling their baked goods at the Oshkosh Farmers Market in 2018 as home bakers when they realized they had a successful venture on their hands.
“Our success that summer gave us the confidence to go all in and build a licensed commercial kitchen that opened in late 2019. This allowed us to build our wholesale business and offer home deliveries while we searched for the perfect retail space.”

The current cafe opened in January 2022 inside the Rise & Grind co-working space.
“It was a no-brainer to open here, as the space was previously a coffee shop, has a convenient drive through, and qualified for the Main Street Bounceback Grant through the State of Wisconsin. We will be here through October and hope to open our permanent home by November of this year,” Redman says.
As for popular options?
“Our Ham and Cheese Croissant has been a hit,” she says. “We source the pasture raised ham from Park Elm Farm in Green Lake and have personally visited the farm. It’s so awesome to be able to source high quality, sustainable meat from so close. We use gruyere cheese and stone ground mustard to create a great breakfast or lunch option. Anything you order in our cafe can be warmed to order. Our Cinnamon Rolls, made with flaky sourdough croissant dough, also remain a best seller.”

Chicago’s House of Hoagies, Menasha

If you want to experience a piece of Chicago in the Fox Cities, Chicago’s House of Hoagies in Menasha is for you.

Wilona Young, has created a place that feels like home in the casual eatery that opened in July 2022.
“The vibe is family, home, friends,” she says. “(It has) an old school neighborhood feel.
“My Chicago Hoagie is the most popular hoagie: turkey, lettuce, tomatoes, onions, basil, salt, pepper, hoagie sauce, hot giardiniera peppers, mild pepperoncini peppers, mayo, and cheese. And next it would be the Ford City hoagie. All of the hoagies are named after streets and places in Chicago.”

JB Arepas, Appleton
“A Venezuelan gastronomy restaurant,” JB Arepas in Appleton opened in November 2022, and offers a varied menu of arepas, cachapas, patacone, empanadas, tequeños.
Even more, the restaurant offers an inviting space to enjoy food and companionship.

“It is a family restaurant, with a pleasant atmosphere for people,” owners Jesus Briceño and Esther Palermo de Briceño say.

Madras Cafe, Appleton

Akame Sushi, Appleton

Tanners Grill & Bar, Appleton 

Olive Garden, East College Ave, Appleton

Tulum Mexican Restaurant, Appleton

Slim Chickens, Appleton

El Guadalajara Mexican Restaurant, Appleton


The Melting Pot, Appleton
Going into its 20th year of business, Jay Supple, owner of The Melting Pot in Appleton, believed it was time for a refresh.

“Although our guests thought the original look was still beautiful, we wanted to update it to a more contemporary look so it would be ready for the next 20 years,” he explains. “We were also able to add more intimate booth seating for couples, plus more table configurations that would allow guests who don’t like booths more options—plus allows us to move tables to accommodate larger groups.

“Guests will see an entirely new bar and back bar, including dining booths in the bar area and burners in the bar itself for a great happy hour experience with drinks and cheese fondue… one of the signature new design features is our firewall, which separates the main dining room, and we added a beautiful candle wall feature in Lover’s Lane. The remodel also included all new artwork, and unique black-and-white photography of the Appleton area all taken by a fantastic local photographer Jim Koepnick.”

SAP, Appleton

Practicality and efficiency at one of the most popular eateries in Appleton won out recently, spurring renovations at SAP.

Co-owners Nicole DeFranza and Kristen DeFranza say they’ve struggled with their original decision to put a full-service espresso bar and bakery inside the busy restaurant.
“Although initially the ‘cool’ factor was very appealing, it soon proved to be quite a difficult thing to navigate. Over time, we noticed that it was getting more and more difficult to keep the espresso bar staffed and it wasn’t always helping us to be the best we could be, which is always our goal. So, in the interest of keeping our service as flawless as possible, we decided (with a tremendous amount of trepidation as we know our guests love our espresso bar options) to remove the espresso machine.”

The added space brings extra seating, as well as new lighting and other aesthetic additions.

“As well, we dreamt up a new coffee list consisting of delicious drinks we could make without the espresso machine, including an Iced Oatchata, Iced Chai and an Iced Matcha,” the DeFranzas say. “They are so yummy and a fun way to offer much loved classics in a new way!

“We are so excited to share the new space with our guests and of course so happy that we can seat a few more while we’re at it… we’d also like to take a minute to thank our staff who have been so supportive through the changes and our guests, who make it possible for us to keep doing what we love! So much gratitude for this community that we now call home.”

Mena’s Place, Kaukauna

Tempest Coffee Collective, Appleton


Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, Appleton

You may be familiar with Uncle Mike’s Bake Shoppe, but to enjoy their baked goods will take much less time come mid-to late August.

The famous bakery currently has three locations in Green Bay, and will soon call Appleton home to its fourth.

We have been looking to expand for 4-5 years now,” co-owner Nathan Vande Walle, says. “Originally we were thinking Milwaukee, but this seemed more of a natural progression as all our baking will still be done at our facility in De Pere.”

What can guests expect?
“Lots of great tasting food! Everything we do is from scratch, the old fashioned way,” Vande Walle says. “Of course, we will have our award-winning bakery items that include our very popular kringle. The coffee area will offer Colectivo coffee, espressos, fresh squeezed orange juice and smoothies. Our homemade ice cream will also include shakes and malts to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth. Finally, the restaurant side will have amazing true wood-fired pizza, specialty cocktails, 16 taps and other great food!”

Legendairy Cookies ‘N Creamery, Appleton

Unlike the typical ice cream shop, Legendairy Cookies ‘N Creamery, shooting for an opening in Appleton in mid-May, is described by founder/owner Jeremy Mattson as having an “industrial rustic feel, similar to that of our dessert truck.”
The shop will specialize in small batch frozen custard and cookie sandwiches.

“We will have 14-16 different frozen custard flavors to choose from including several rotational seasonal flavors and dairy free options,” Mattson explains. “We have 9 or 10 different cookie and brownie options to choose from, all made from scratch in house and freshly baked.

“Besides our custom cookie sandwiches, one item of note is our “Ultimate Cookie Split.” The perfect shareable date night dessert, it comes with your choice of any two cookies/brownies, three different scoops of custard, three toppings and whip topping. We will also have a stocked display freezer full of to-go pints, frozen custard cakes and pies, cookie sandwich platters and more!

Ukiyo, Appleton
Looking for a sleek space for small private events and good food?
Chef Corbin Schiedermayer has you covered.
“The name of the new spot is called Ukiyo, which is a Japanese term that has a modern day definition translating to ‘living in the moment detached from the bothers of life,’” he says. “Food has always been probably the most important and significant part of my life and I have always associated it with creating memories with people I love and care about. And that’s what I want to be able to provide other people with as well.
“I wanted to create an atmosphere where people felt like they were at a home away from home and sharing beautiful and meaningful experiences surrounded by the company they cherish most in life.
“We will not have normal business hours and will be only open by reservation/bookings only for small private events. That being said, the food will always be different but will be very technique driven and something new that this area is hungry for. The vibe will be modern and a bit eclectic and different than most places, but will provide a warm and inviting space for people to relax and graze.”


We’re sad to see these establishments have closed:

Uptown Snail, Appleton
Metanoia Coffee Bar, Kaukauna
The Shop BBQ, Appleton
River Tyme Bistro, Appleton
Fika Coffee and Tea Bar, Appleton
Applebees, Neenah
Green Gecko Grocer & Deli, Appleton

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