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I am 35 years old, and I have been visiting Door County, Wisconsin since I was 2. I consider myself an expert on this charming, little county. I have eaten at almost at every restaurant at one time or another. I know every shop, every renovation to every downtown, every nature trail, hidden beach and beautiful picnic spot. I can tell you the best places to watch the sunset, my favorite places to bring babies, toddlers and the best place for a date night. I can tell you where to find the best cup of coffee, where to get the best olive oil, my favorite local musical performer and the best festivals the week of the 4th of July. What can I say? I love Door County. It is such a unique and special place.
I have decided that I might need to write a few Door County Posts. I get people asking me all the time about Door County, so I have spent a lot of time writing e-mails to people about what to do there.
Today, I am going to share with you my top 12 things to eat in Door County. Not all of these things are items from restaurants. There are some fantastic restaurants in Door County, but it is also a special place for picnics! Some specialty food items are worth buying and eating while you’re there!
12 Things to Eat in Door County
1. A big stack of Swedish Pancakes- One Door County rite of passage I have enjoyed witnessing as a mother, has been watching each of my sons eat their first stack of Swedish Pancakes at Al Johnson’s Swedish restaurant in Sister Bay. This place is an authentic Swedish restaurant with an old-fashion charm. Every year, I absolutely have to eat here at least once. My kids love getting their Swedish pancakes with strawberries and whipped cream on top, while I usually get my Swedish pancakes accompanied by the side of their world-famous Swedish meatballs and topped with their lingonberries! This place is hard to miss, as there are goats on the roof!
Travel tip: Al Johnson’s is REALLY crowded at breakfast time. Get there really early, or go there and have breakfast for dinner!
2. Smoked Salmon from Charlie’s Smokehouse- You can find Charlie’s Smokehouse on the north end of Door County in Gills Rock. It is a small little smokehouse that has the best-smoked salmon ever. They also sell freshly-caught fish. We always make a trip up to Charlie’s for some smoked salmon. We eat it on crackers, put it on salads, and serve it over pasta. Door County has so many beautiful places to picnic, and bringing a meal that includes Charlie’s smoked salmon makes for a delicious treat!
3. Any breakfast item from Basecamp-
If you want to eat breakfast at Basecamp, I have two pieces of advice for you. Eat anything and everything on their breakfast menu and get there really early if you don’t want to wait in line. Basecamp’s owner is a French pastry chef, and absolutely everything on the menu is fantastic! You will find quiches, muffins, croissants, scones, breakfast sandwiches and coffee. The specials change from day to day, and many of these baked goods are fresh out of the oven. Basecamp is in Sister Bay, and worth the drive north.
Here is a link to Basecamp’s Instagram.
4. Cherry pie and cherry pie filling from Seaquest Orchards
You really can’t go to Door County and not have a piece of cherry pie. Many places have cherry pie, but the cherry pie at Seaquest Orchards is the very best. You can get them frozen or fresh. Every summer my mom will get at least one pie, and it is a tradition to eat it as a family, along with some vanilla ice cream from Door County Ice Cream Factory. It is a must. You can also buy a jar of cherry pie filling to bring home for friends.
Seaquest orchards is a fun activity for the whole family. If it is raining, head over there for samples and a little fun!
5. Wilson’s Ice Cream– The ice cream from Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor in Ephraim is absolutely everything. Wilson’s Ice Cream Parlor has been around since 1906 and is such a fun place to go! You even get a jelly bean at the bottom of your ice cream cone!
I recommend the black cherry, mint chocolate chip or the peppermint ice cream!
6. Door County Mustard You can find Door County Mustard at Seaquest orchards and many of the local food shops in Door County. It is excellent and is a great spread to bring with you when you make picnics for the beach or the park. I always buy a few jars to bring home, and it never lasts long.
7. Lunch at the Door County Creamery– Every year, when my family is in Sister Bay in July, my sister-in-law, mom and I always try to plan a girls lunch at the Door County Creamery. I think that Goat cheese might be the world’s perfect food so this is right up my alley. They have lunch items featuring other cheeses as well. I have been blown away every time I have eaten here, and their goat milk gelato is incredible too!
8. Bea’s ho made chopped cherry jam
When I was a kid up in Door County, my parents would always stop at Bea’s ho-made products to pick up a case of the jam. I remember being told to use it sparingly all year long, as we wouldn’t be able to get more until we went back to Door County the following year. If you have the time, a trip up to Bea’s is always worth it, and their chopped cherry jam is the best. Their sweet pickles are also worth getting.
9. Wild Tomato Pizza- When I was in Door County, pregnant with each of my three son’s, my ultimate goal of my vacation was to eat pizza at Wild Tomato. I succeeded each time. Wild Tomato has two locations in Door County, one in Fish Creek and another in Sister Bay. During the summer Wild Tomato might be the most sought-after table in Door County. I have waited for hours to eat there, and it is worth it every time.
10. Lavander Caramel Corn- I first came across Island Lavender a few years ago, when I was on a bike ride on Washington Island. This store made the long journey to Washington Island worth it. They also have a location in Ephriam. Imagine the most comforting, beautiful store ever filled with products made from locally grown lavender! This store doesn’t just throw lavender in things, all of their food is handcrafted and tested before it ever hits the sales floor. In addition to lavender caramel corn, they also have gelato, hand-crafted chocolates, and many other goodies. You should also pick up one of their lavender bath bombs!
11. A white fish dinner from Sister Bay Bowl- If you’re a frequent visitor to Door County, then you’ve probably been to a fish boil. If you have already been to a fish boil, then try getting some whitefish from Sister Bay Bowl. Sister Bay Bowl has an old Wisconsin supper club feel, and the food happens to be out of this world. I recommend the whitefish, perch and the broasted chicken.
12. Cherries- If you have never been to Door County before then expect to see cherry everything. Cherry juice, cherry jam, cherry cobbler, cherry chicken salad. You name it. They have it. If you are lucky enough to be in Door County during cherry season, I highly recommend that you go cherry picking! But make sure you get a cherry pitter so you can prep them afterward. You will find cherries and cherry products all over Door County, and cherries are perfect to take with you on a picnic or for a snack while watching the sunset.