The 3 Best Hole-in-the-Wall Restaurants in 4 NE Wisconsin Cities

I’m going to go ahead and start this with my definition of a “Hole-in-the-Wall” restaurant. To me, a hole-in-the-wall restaurant is a place that is small with limited or no indoor seating. Typically a place where something about the restaurant is deceiving, AKA the food surpasses the expectations set by a usually lack-luster interior or exterior. A hole-in-the-wall to me has an infamous character, a place where not everyone within a 5 mile radius eats there, but everyone in a 5 mile radius HAS eaten there. Places that are either simply great quality, passionately patronized by droves of regulars, or carry a special history or reputation when discussed in conversation. I hope this list finds you well, and gives you a few spots to go next time you and you’re friends are on the road in an unfamiliar area, or you and your partner need a new spot in town to check out.

Green Bay

Al’s Hamburger Shop

Address: 131 S Washington St, Green Bay, WI 54301

Al’s is a Green Bay classic. In the heart of Downtown Green Bay and a few doors down from the Meyer Theater, Al’s has been serving up classic American fast food since 1934! That’s older than McDonald’s (Est. 1940)

Joe’s Texas BBQ

Address: 1800 S Ashland Ave, Green Bay, WI 54304

A quaint and long established eatery, Joe’s recently moved locations to be closer to Lambeau Field. They serve classic barbeque that surpasses the expectations of their small shop.

Taqueria Don Pancho

Address: 1807 N Irwin Ave, Green Bay, WI 54302

This “Hole in the Wall” is such a hidden gem, we haven’t heard from them online since 2016. Taqueria has very high reviews for their authentic Mexican Cuisine at very fair prices. Don’t be scared off by the exterior, the food gets high marks from their customers.

Appleton

Basil Cafe

Address: 1513 N Richmond St, Appleton, WI 54911

Basil Café is on the line as a “Hole-in-the-Wall” The location isn’t huge, but it’s big enough to accommodate, but the exterior makes the real deal feel like a mirage. From the outside, Basil appears to be basic, but once you step foot inside, you’re transported into another world! The food lives up to the expectation set by the interior. Highly regarded in the Appleton community.

Home Burger Bar

Address: 205 W College Ave, Appleton, WI 54911

Home Burger Bar is reminiscent of comfortable, delicious burger bars in larger cities like Madison and Milwaukee. Tucked in on College Ave Downtown Appleton, Home Burger Bar is clean, quirky, and delivers on their name sake, their burgers.

Mai’s Deli

Address: 104 S Memorial Dr, Appleton, WI 54911

Mai’s Deli is an awesome food shop with an awesome history. For years local immigrants sold their stuffed chicken wings essentially egg rolls but instead of the roll, the insides are stuffed into a chicken wing. Eventually, the family opened Mai’s Deli, and they’ve been consistently packed ever since. Very small, quaint location on the corner of College Ave and Memorial Drive. Mai’s Deli is a great spot for a tasty bite.

Oshkosh

Pete’s Garage

Address: 1514 Oregon St. Oshkosh WI

Pete’s has become somewhat of an unstoppable force in Oshkosh. The place barely has a chance to breath it’s often packed with warm faces, and happy customers.

Co-Owner Ryan at a Halloween event.

Leon’s

Address: 121 W Murdock Ave, Oshkosh, WI 54901

Leon’s covers the Northside of Oshkosh for it’s tasty fast food, and amazing custard needs. In fact, a custard machine from Leon’s was purchased by the Culver family for their first location. I don’t have a source for this, but I heard Craig Culver say this to the owner of Leon’s at an entrepreneurship event at UW Oshkosh (Craig Culver’s alma mater).

Ardy & Ed’s

Address: 2413 S Main St, Oshkosh, WI 54902

Ardy & Ed’s on the flip side, covers the Southside of Oshkosh’s needs. Ardy and Ed’s still has car hops on roller skates that serve their customers.

Sheboygan

Shulz’s Restaurant

Address: 1644 Calumet Dr, Sheboygan, WI 53081

Shulz’s has been around for DECADES! A truly classic American dining experience, and something that you have to see for yourself.

Chester’s Drive-In

Address: 1504 Eastern Ave, Plymouth, WI 53073

Not exactly in Sheboygan, Chester’s is a classic drive in with delicious American fast food and ice cream. The drive-in is over 40 years old.

Harry’s Diner

Address: 2504 Calumet Dr, Sheboygan

Harry’s Diner is a 1950 style diner open for breakfast and lunch. If you’re looking for a unique, quaint spot for breakfast in Sheboygan, Harry’s is a great place to start.

Honorable Mentions

The Booyah Shed – Green Bay

Mr. Taco – Downtown – Appleton

My Lee’s Egg Roll House – Appleton

Rhapsodies – Oshkosh

Notes

Hole-in-the-wall restaurants are interesting because they are always changing. For example, Joe’s Texas BBQ, just moved locations. Plus, sometimes new joints emerge or old ones lose their consistency. As Venture Wisconsin grow, and we learn more about Northeast Wisconsin, we will share the knowledge with you! What’s your favorite hole-in-the-wall? Do you agree with our definition? Let me know in the comments.

Top 12 Events in the Fox Cities – December 2018

The weather is getting colder, the snow is starting to fall, and the ideas of “what can we do?” …in Northeast Wisconsin are becoming more and more limited, to the indoors at least. We are all busy with the Holidays, but when that slows down, the kids will be nagging to do something, and of course you’ll be ready for a night out! End 2018 on a positive note with fun activities all throughout the Fox Cities.

Race for the Light 5k, Saturday December 1, 2018 – Oshkosh

Join over 1,000 people as you run through Oshkosh’s Celebration of Lights at Menominee Park by the Lake. (Oshkosh’s best park!) The 5k run raises money for the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse Services in Oshkosh. The run starts at 4:30pm. Registration opens at 2:30pm. After the race, be sure to stop by Ground Round in Oshkosh for some delicious food, they are generously donating 15% of their sales to the Christine Ann Domestic Abuse center! winterrun

Oshkosh Gallery Walk, Saturday December 1, 2018 – Oshkosh

Right after you’re done with the Race for the Light 5k, head downtown to enjoy tons of local art at 13 different venues throughout the city. Including at Becket’s, Jambalaya, and New Moon Cafe! The walk starts at 6pm. Full line-up of artists, art styles, and venues here!

Electric City Parade, Tuesday December 4, 2018 – Kaukauna

Did you love the Appleton Christmas parade? Did you accidentally miss the Appleton Christmas parade? Kaukauna also has an annual parade that you’re bound to enjoy! After the parade, you have the opportunity to enjoy cookies and hot chocolate with Santa in the Community Room of the old City Hall.

Rudolph Run, Friday December 7, 2018 – Neenah

A costume contest and a fun run all in one? Could it be? That’s exactly what the Rudolph Run has to offer.  Dress up in your best Christmas outfit for the chance to be one of the three lucky people to win the dress up competition. Not a good runner? Don’t worry, this isn’t necessarily a race (though it can be if you’re feeling competitive!). Start out at Shattuck Park, pay $8 per person and run down to the Christmas tree on the corner of Wisconsin Ave and Main Street. Even better, the first 300 participants get fuzzy antlers to add to the awesome dress up and a glow necklace.

Make a Glass Ornament at Bergstrom-Mahler Museum of Glass – Saturday December 8, 2018 -Neenah

A very special way to get creative with your family. The local Museum of Glass in Neenah offers friends and families an opportunity to make your own glass ornament for $15  a person. They will also have various other art projects to partake in. The event runs from 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM.

Menasha Holiday Hayride, December 8, 2018 – Menasha

You have 8 opportunities for a ride – you don’t want to miss it. From 5 PM to 8:40 PM, get your tickets at the Parks and Rec office through December 8th. Tickets are $2 a person. The ride will take you through Menasha Island, which is beautifully decorated for the Holidays. Visit with Santa and Mrs. Claus, all while enjoying some delicious treats!

Hayride events in Menasha, WI

Downtown Appleton Holiday Fun Fest, Saturday December 15, 2018

Games, activities, cookie decorating, horse-drawn wagon rides, and Santa with Mrs. Claus. That’s enough said. Enjoy these activities and downtown Appleton from 10:30 AM to 2:30 PM.

Brunch with the Grinch, Saturday December 15, 2018 – Appleton

Brunch with the grinch activity in Appleton, WI

Join the grumpy ol’ Grinch at the Children’s Museum for a fun brunch and story, plus a Grinch themed photo booth. Cost is $5 a person if you’re a member, $12.50 a person if you’re not. This is something your kids won’t want to miss! Hurry though, as this was written there were only two time slots available for tickets.

Pet Photos with Santa, Mondays through December 17, 2018 – Appleton

Get your furry friend a photo with Santa at the Fox River Mall from 5 – 8 PM on Mondays! This can be the perfect addition to a Christmas card, or just a fun excursion for your four legged loved one.

Noon Year’s Eve, Monday December 31, 2018 – Appleton

Join WIXX at Funset Boulevard on New Year’s Eve from 10 AM to noon for a bunch of New Year’s Eve fun! Donating five non perishable food items for their food drive for St Joe’s food pantry gets you two unlimited wristbands completely free! End the new year by having a great time and donating to an important need in our community!

Menasha New Year’s Eve Celebration, Monday December 31, 2018

25th annual! Enjoy free live music, a ball drop, fireworks and giveaways happening in Downtown Menasha at Reed Square. The celebration runs from 10 PM to 12:30 AM. It may be a good idea to make dinner reservations at a local restaurant nearby!

New Year’s Encore Eve, Monday Dec 31, 2018 – Appleton

Now here’s a party! The sixth annual New Year’s Eve concert celebration, produced and promoted by Mile of Music Presents. The party is at the Red Lion Hotel Downtown Appleton. The event goes from 8:00pm-12:30am. There is a surprise emcee, and the full music line up can be found here!

Events in Appleton December 2018
Mile of Music – Credit: Lawrence University

At Venture Wisconsin we make it easy for you to find cool s#!+ to do here in Northeast Wisconsin. Simple as that. What you will find on all of our blogs? Events the author would go to. In this case I, Melanie, enjoy drinks, pets, live music, hanging with loved ones, and large events. I hope you enjoy one of these throughout the month! Let me know in the comments if you went or if I missed something, and I will reply!

Five Reasons Hartman Creek State Park Should Be Your Next Adventure

Hartman Creek is the most versatile state park I have been too within an hour of Appleton! During the two hours I spent there exploring and watching all the different activities going on there I was truly in shock with how much potential this park has to so many people. So, the whole point of writing this is to give you the insight you need to get out there and experience this truly awe-inspiring place! I had the opportunity to visit with my girlfriend this fall, and our journey was great.

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Hiking

At Hartman Creek the beauty of their hiking trails is spectacular! I had the personal opportunity to hike these awesome trails. My favorite ran right along the water, and gave us an amazing view of Allen lake and the number of trails is enough for you to hike all day if that’s what you desire to do. But I highly suggest going in the fall, the true beauty of all the fall colors on your hike is amazing. Just looking across the lake and seeing the trees filled with oranges and reds is sure to drop your jaw in awe.

Fishing

Hartman Creek has some amazing fishing! We know that’s the truth because Hartman Creek was once a fish hatchery before it was even a state park! Fun fact! Plus, all the lakes around it are all spring fed. That makes for great fishing! You can expect to catch largemouth bass, perch (my favorite), blue gill, and other types of panfish. There are four lakes to choose from at Hartman Creek: Lake Allen, Lake Hartman, Lake Grebe, and Lake Middle. Along with that if you don’t have fishing gear you can rent it for free right at Hartman Creek! If you end up going to Hartman Creek don’t forget your fishing License.

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Winter Activities

Winter is just as much fun at Hartman Creek as the fall and summer are. You have winter activities like cross country skiing, snowshoeing, and fat tire biking trails! When snowshoeing you have free reign to venture off the trials or stay right on path. There are six miles of cross-country skiing trails and three and a half miles of snowshoeing trails! That’s a lot of winter wonderland to explore!

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IMG_9592-2Kayaking/Canoeing

Kayakers can launch from Manomin Lake and paddle through Pope Lake, and Marl Lake. Don’t forget to stop and look at the crystal clear water and all the amazing red and orange colors from the trees surrounding each lake.  Then you can stop and have a lunch break at Whispering Pines picnic area!

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Swimming

Hartman Creek provides an amazing 300 foot sand beach which is great to bring your family to or go on a date! What’s even better is that the beach is right next to a three acre, multi use area which is perfect for social games like spike ball and bags or just having grill outs and getting together with family and friends for the weekend! Along with that if you’re from further out of town, they have plenty of camping sites for tents and Trailers!

From hiking to swimming and all the things in between you can clearly see how amazing Hartman Creek is. Not only a great stop during the spring and summer, but a place to explore all year long. So why not head out to Hartman Creek for an adventure?

10+ Spots to Take Your Pup in the Fox Cities

If a dog is a man’s best friend, then they deserve to be allowed to join us humans in some of our favorite activities, right? Sure, we can take our dogs on the same walk around the block every day but that gets boring for everyone involved rather quickly. Downtown Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities are currently undergoing a “dog friendly initiative,” which is great news for our four legged pals. Here are 10+ of the best spots in our neck of the woods to spend some quality time with our furry friends.

1. CU Saloon in Appleton

“Yappy hour,” the next best thing to “happy hour.” Take your Wednesday night to a whole new level, and bring your pup with you for a midweek recess and enjoy a beer with a friend while your dog socializes with other people’s dogs who clearly have the same interests as you do. CU Saloon offers a couple different beers from Bare Bones Brewery for their two legged guests to enjoy, and $1 from each of those beer purchases gets donated to Downtown Appleton’s Dog Friendly Initiative as well as the Grey Muzzle Organization. It really doesn’t get much better than that, does it?

Dog ordering a beer
Yappy Hour at the CU Saloon. Credit: @real_frankie_whitman

2. Drool in the Pool

It’s really not as gross as it sounds! With summer being right around the corner, (we hope,) our pups need to cool off just like we do every once in a while. Thankfully, local pools such as Mead Pool in Appleton and Neenah Public in Neenah will sometimes host all the well behaved neighborhood dogs for an evening in the pool. Typically, humans are to stay out of the pool while the dogs swim and do dog-like things in the water. Follow our local pools on Facebook for updates on when these unique events are hosted. The best part is, most of the proceeds typically go towards local animal shelters.

3. Lucy’s Closet

You just heard about “Drool in the Pool,” so now you have to find the perfect swimsuit for your favorite companion to debut on their first swimming outing of the summer. Well you’re in luck, Lucy’s Closet in Neenah is likely to carry something that is fashionable enough for your pup. They carry everything from dog jackets to dog carriers, and they allow your dog to shop with you. After all, they will be wearing it so they might as well help in the shopping process.

P.S. No, swimsuits aren’t required at Drool in the Pool, though appreciated for humorous purposes.

4. The Depawsitory

Very similar to Lucy’s Closet but The Depawsitory is located right in downtown Appleton. Stop in this cute little boutique during any of their fun pet related events, or just when you’re feeling extra generous and want to get your furry friend a homemade healthy treat. Follow them on their Facebook page to hear about all of their fun events.

5. High Cliff State Park

It is no hidden gem, almost everyone in the area has spent a day hiking here or climbing the infamous lookout tower but it is one of those places that you don’t get sick of. Pack a leash and a baggy, and get ready to tire your dog out on over 16 miles of hiking trails. During your hike, have your camera ready in order to catch astonishing views of limestone cliffs and the beauty of Lake Winnebago.

Girl and dog overlooking Lake Winnebago

6. Outagamie Dog Park

A whole 17 acres of land designated for all dogs to run off some energy and meet others of their kind. North Park includes 5 acres of open field where you and your dog can practice a good ol’ game of fetch. South Field is a partially wooded 12 acre lot that includes tall grasses and trails, for a more structured outing. If you’re someone that has a small dog, there is a designated area for those who are under 17 inches tall! Located on the corner of French Road and “OO”. This wonderful place only has 3 rules: pick up after your dog, control your children, and share water if possible! Website here.

7. Wiouwash Trail

This trail can be a great challenge for those adventurous dog owners, and of course, dogs. The lower trail stretches for 22 miles from Hortonville to Oshkosh. You can choose to do a short portion of it, or the entire trail in one day. It’s the perfect spot to practice long distance hikes with your dog in preparation for a future trip. This specific part of the trail takes you along Lake Butte Des Morts and then through tall grasses and wildlife areas. Pack a picnic lunch for you and the pup, and check out this neat Wisconsin trail.

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Good pupper on the WIOUWASH Trail. Credit: @caritam925

8. Fox Cities Trestle Trail

Who knew there were so many good hiking spots right in our immediate neighborhood? This trail is located in Menasha, and you can access it starting at Fritse Park. The trail has a 1,600 foot pedestrian bridge, the longest one in Wisconsin! From the trail you can also access Rydell Conservancy, which is another one mile, well maintained wood chip trail.

9. Pet Friendly Restaurants

A few restaurants in the Fox Cities have outdoor seating that allows pets. A few include:

Carmel Crisp – Oshkosh

Ardy & Ed’s Drive-In – Oshkosh

Leon’s Frozen Custard – Oshkosh

Bare Bones Brewery – Oshkosh

Brewed Awakenings – Appleton

Fox River House – Appleton

10. Winnebago County Park

Best Friends Dog Park is located within Winnebago County Park. Bring your own water when you go. There is a separate area for little pups at the park and there are lights for night trips!

With so many options so close to home, it is nearly impossible to stay home cooped up with your pup. Get out there to explore these areas, and let’s work hard to help Appleton and the surrounding Fox Cities to become more dog friendly.