12 New Restaurants in the Fox Cities

by Jenni Eickelberg

The pandemic has been hard for all of us, but it has been especially tough for restaurants. Nationwide, nearly one in six restaurants shut down in the first six months of the pandemic. Since then, many have struggled to stay open. To add to their misery, supply chain issues have left many restaurants unable to get ingredients for their menu items. Some restaurants have found creative ways to stay afloat, including heavy promotion of their take-out items on social media and reducing hours due to staffing issues. 

Despite these challenges, new restaurants have been popping up across the Fox Cities. These adventurous souls have been willing to jump in with both feet to brave the unknown economic headwinds. They have the benefit of starting their businesses fresh while incorporating the current health guidelines.  

I initially started writing reviews of local restaurants and posting them on Facebook to encourage people to support local eateries. I had high hopes that the reviews would help my favorite restaurants survive. I wanted to drive business to my preferred hangouts so that I and the Fox Cities could enjoy them for years to come. I then transitioned my food reviews to a Facebook group page called “Food for Thought Fox Valley” and have grown that community to over 3,400 followers. I’m delighted that I get to share my reviews of new Fox Cities restaurants with the readers of Appleton Monthly magazine. Bon appétit!

New restaurants in 2021:

Black Bear Family Restaurant (Appleton)

Crumbl (Grand Chute)

Cruise In Family Restaurant* (Appleton, in the former Rico’s location)

Fast Taco (Kaukauna and Appleton)

Firehouse Subs* (Appleton)

Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers (Appleton)

Hop Yard Ale Works (Appleton)

Jersey Mike’s Subs (Appleton)

Jexi’s Restaurant (Appleton)

Jimmy’s Chicken and Fish (Appleton)

Panera Bread (East Appleton location)

Stone Arch Tied House (Little Chute)

Sticky Fingers Cafe & Catering (Kaukauna)

Taco House (Appleton)

Tanners Grill & Bar* (to be located in the former Fuddruckers building)

The Main Celebration (Little Chute)

Uptown Snail (Appleton)

Urban Modern Kitchen (Appleton)

Voyageurs Bakehouse (Appleton)

*opening soon

Restaurants that have closed in 2021:

All Seasons Coffee

San Rocco’s Pizza

Rico’s Family Restaurants

Paradise Island

Queso Fresco


Golden Basket Family Restaurant


*Still closed as of the writing of this article

Crumbl Cookies

Started by two cousins in 2017, Crumbl Cookies became a social media sensation in four short years. Originally started in Logan, Utah, I was super excited to see that a franchise had opened in Grand Chute (in a strip mall by the Fox River Mall). I heard so many great things about the company’s cookies and knew I had to try them out.

Crumbl Cookies’ business model is built on rotating cookie flavors, with four to five different flavors offered each week. They always have their original chocolate chip cookie on the menu (it’s the one that started it all). I will admit that the higher price is totally justified. A few of the flavors are close to the best cookie I’ve ever had!

Crumbl’s pumpkin pie cookie is more like a personal-sized pie than a cookie. It features a buttery cookie pie crust filled with creamy, flavorful pumpkin pie filling.  It is finished off with whipped cream and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Yum!

Many say the best flavor is Crumbl’s birthday cake cookie flavor. I was lucky enough to find it on one of their recent menus and made a special trip out to their store to try it. Served warm, it was soft and gooey and topped with a thick layer of vanilla frosting. This cookie transported me back to birthday party memories from my childhood. I’d agree with critics on the internet that it is the best flavor (or at least my favorite cookie flavor so far).

My close second favorite is the buttermilk pancake flavor. It is a warm buttermilk pancake cookie glazed with buttermilk syrup and finished with a dollop of buttercream frosting. The warm cookie practically melted in my mouth. As an added artistic touch, this cookie looks like a single stack of pancakes.

Insider tip: Download the Crumbl app to order your cookies. The app not only shows you the flavors of the week, but it also allows for easy curbside pickup (especially since the Grand Chute shopfront area is rather small and always has lines inside). If you order from Crumbl often, the app has a rewards program from which you can earn free cookies.

The Main Celebration Gourmet Dessert Parlor

Downtown Little Chute is becoming quite a destination location. The Little Chute Windmill and Van Asten Visitor Center are at the heart of this village’s development. A Cobblestone Hotel was recently built next door to the windmill, followed by the Stone Arch Tied House. The Main Celebration Gourmet Dessert Parlor rounds out this area, helping lure tourists to downtown Little Chute.

This gourmet bakery is known for its creative cupcake flavors, large variety of macaroons, and specialty cakes. They also have satellite locations in Fox River Mall and Bay Park Square Mall. Their storefront in Little Chute is decorated in bright colors and has ample seating for individuals and groups.  

I had to try the peanut butter Oreo cupcake. This moist vanilla cupcake was filled and iced with fluffy peanut butter frosting. The top of an Oreo cookie was at the base of the cupcake. It was then topped with a mini peanut butter cup and drizzled with peanut butter. So yummy!

I also tried a Nutella Bueno cupcake. A decadent chocolate cupcake was bursting with a chocolate whipped cream filling. It was topped with a rich chocolate ganache. All this deliciousness was highlighted with a piece of a Bueno candy bar on top and drizzled with Nutella.  

The true highlight of my dessert journey was a piece of The Main Celebration’s Northwoods Cabin Cake. A tres leches layer cake was frosted with a thick buttercream frosting on the outside and between each layer. An ampule containing a Brandy Alexander liquid was included on the top of the cake. It was a creative way to flavor the cake as it allows the person eating it the option to customize how strong of a Brandy Alexander flavor they want to put in the rich cake. This masterpiece was topped off with candied bacon, with the flavors combining to bring an amazing taste to each bite.

The Main Celebration also includes friendly and attentive customer service.  You’ll most certainly leave their gourmet dessert parlor with a smile.

Black Bear Family Restaurant

Many people were sad when the Golden Basket restaurant closed last year. They had nothing to fear, as the Black Bear Family Restaurant took its spot and saved the day!

Black Bear Family Restaurant was formerly located in Kaukauna and known as Johnny’s Family Restaurant.  After a change of ownership and name, the restaurant sprung up on Richmond Street in the former Golden Basket space. It opened in November.

Much like the Golden Basket, Black Bear Family Restaurant features homestyle cooking.  Their slogan is “Reasonably priced variety & value for the whole family!” They totally live up to those words. The restaurant is open daily from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. with breakfast, lunch, and dinner available anytime.

The patty melt sandwich truly melted in my mouth. It consisted of a juicy hamburger patty, cheese, and bacon served on grilled rye bread. I normally don’t see bacon on a patty melt, so it was an added bonus that brought extra flavor to this sandwich. The fries were fluffy and crisp.

I love to make Monte Cristo sandwiches at home, so it was nice to compare our version to Black Bear’s. Stacks of thick ham and turkey were smothered in melted mozzarella cheese. Monte Cristo sandwiches use French toast instead of bread, which brings a sweet flavor to the sandwich. It would have tasted good dunked in maple syrup.

Black Bear Family Restaurant offers many flavors of pancakes including chocolate chip, strawberry, blueberry, and many more. Pancakes with cinnamon apples on them … yes, please!  Crisp apple slices swam in a gooey cinnamon sauce, which was placed on top of fluffy buttermilk pancakes. 

The grilled hamburger steak dinner was my favorite. The dinner comes with a choice of soup or salad, potato, and dessert. The homemade chicken dumpling soup was a great start to the meal. Grilled onions swam in the juice of the perfectly cooked half-pound hamburger patty, absorbing its flavor. The mashed potatoes were covered in rich beef gravy. 

I chose the strawberry shortcake for my dessert. A moist pound cake square was topped with ripe strawberries in a sugary juice. The juice of the strawberries seeped into the cake, flavoring it to perfection. 

If you’re looking for family food favorites with large portions at a reasonable price, be sure and stop by Black Bear Family Restaurant.

Fast Taco by Lupitas Mexican Store

Fast Taco has taken the Fox Valley by storm! You probably have seen Fast Taco trucks all over town. In addition to their food trucks, they have many brick-and-mortar eateries across Northeastern Wisconsin, including Appleton and Kaukauna. Many of their restaurant locations offer drive through, including the Appleton location at 2418 S. Oneida Street. I visited their Kaukauna location, which also houses a small Mexican grocery store. 

Fast Taco promotes their fast service and large servings. They sure live up to it with their GIGANTIC burritos and HUGE quesadillas. I swear their burritos weigh at least two pounds! Their Mexican food is authentic and cooked while you wait. I felt like I was at a taco stand in Mexico.

I tried their chicken burrito. A freshly made tortilla was filled to capacity with refried beans, rice, Mexican cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and sour cream. The juicy shredded chicken was flavored with a mild taco seasoning and blended with a plentiful amount of seasoned rice. Mexican Cheese was melted into the warm chicken, giving the burrito a pleasant cheese taste. The sour cream leached into the lettuce, creating a “sauce” that enhanced the flavor of the other contents. The burrito was big enough to save half for another meal.

I also had a grilled steak quesadilla. The small, chopped-up pieces of steak were tender and meaty tasting as they were freshly prepared on the grill. They were folded into a 14-inch fresh tortilla and surrounded by gooey melted Mexican cheese, lettuce, tomato, avocado slices, and sour cream. It was easy to eat the quesadilla with my hands, like a pizza slice.

For a beverage, I tried the horchata. This sweet vegan drink from Mexico is made from either rice or coconut water and is flavored with cinnamon and granulated sugar. It tastes like sweet cinnamon milk and is really refreshing. Horchata is an excellent source of vitamin B9, which helps provide energy. It is also known to promote a healthy liver and is a great kidney cleanser.

While at the store, I found frozen pupusas, which I promptly bought. I grew to love pupusas from my past trips to El Salvador where I proudly built houses with Habitat for Humanity. Pupusas are a thick griddle cake made with cornmeal and are usually stuffed with one or more ingredients including cheese, refried beans and even squash! I was so excited to find pupusas at this grocery store.

The next time you see a Fast Taco food truck or go by one of their restaurants, be sure to stop in for large, affordable portions of their fresh authentic Mexican food!

Urban Modern Kitchen

I’ve always enjoyed food from Draft, so when I heard they were opening a new restaurant called Urban Modern Kitchen, I knew I had to try it. Urban Modern Kitchen’s menu features contemporary sandwiches, paninis, salads, bowls, flatbreads, seafood, pastas, tacos, and quesadillas – there’s truly something for everyone.

Urban Modern Kitchen describes itself as having a “Modern and eclectic collection of high-quality fresh ingredients in creative cuisine, served in a casual and inviting Urban ambiance.” It is categorized as having Mexican cuisine, pizza, and “new” American-style foods. 

Overall, I’d say Urban Modern Kitchen’s menu is similar to Draft’s lunch and dinner menus.  With no steaks and fewer high-end large plate items, the menu includes additional sandwiches and Mexican meals.

The Urban Cowboy BBQ Sandwich melted in my mouth. This sandwich has the option of choosing shredded pork, brisket, or chicken as the base meat. I chose shredded pork, which was then topped with cabbage-apple slaw, bacon jam, pickled onion, and slathered with a raspberry-chipotle sauce. The sweet and spicy combination of the ingredients blended on my tongue in a salivary medley. The meal included a side of spicy potato salad with potato chunks swimming in a slightly spicy sauce that ended with a hint of curry flavor.

The Texas Brisket BBQ Quesadilla was filled with tender and juicy brisket. The meat just fell apart and reminded me of short ribs. The brisket was soaked in a raspberry-chipotle barbecue sauce, joined with mozzarella cheese and pico de gallo, all stuffed in a flour tortilla. The quesadilla was then drizzled with a poblano remoulade, which highlighted the flavors inside the tortilla. Sour cream, greens, and additional pico de gallo were served on the side. 

The Signature Mac & Cheese was divine. Cavatappi pasta was smothered in a white cheese sauce and topped with shredded pork. The cheesy pasta sauce contained small pieces of roasted red pepper and green onion that added a bit of color to the dish. While I chose to top this dish with shredded pork, it could’ve also been topped with lobster or Texas brisket.

The Stuffed Chicken Medallions were a special treat to celebrate my husband’s birthday. A bacon-wrapped chicken breast was stuffed with spinach, mozzarella, mushrooms, garlic, and roasted red pepper. The juicy chicken had a bourbon glaze on it, which contrasted well with the savory fillings. All of this was served on rice with a side of tender asparagus.

Interestingly, the Cheesy Enchilada Dip and chips were the highlight of the meal. The dip contained chunks of chicken and slabs of melted cheese, all floating in a homemade enchilada sauce. Green onions were added as a decorative topping. Every bite tasted like an enchilada on a chip. The only downfall was that there was only a small amount of dip provided with the order.  

I loved Urban Modern Kitchen and will be back for more!

Voyageurs Bakehouse

Voyageurs Bakehouse had its humble beginnings in 2018 at a farmer’s market. Since then they’ve opened a restaurant in Green Bay, and in late 2021, added a convenient new location in Downtown Appleton, kitty-corner from the Building for Kids.

They are known across Northeastern Wisconsin for their classic sourdough bread. The bread is included on many menu items in numerous regional restaurants including Bona Fide Juicery and 313 Dodge. Their bread is also sold in small groceries and specialty shops such as The Free Market in Appleton. 

In addition to their sourdough, they offer plenty of other bread options. On the day I went, they had seeded country, Italian, rosemary olive oil, jalapeño cheddar, and cinnamon maple raisin loaves. The hefty bread loaves come in a variety of shapes depending on the flavor. Their loaves sell out quickly, so be sure to get there early before they run out of your favorite.

Voyageurs Bakehouse is also known for its creative seasonal coffee drinks. I tried a vanilla latte with house-made vanilla syrup made with real vanilla beans. Voyageurs Bakehouse also makes butterscotch, maple, and honey varieties of its house syrups. I could taste the rich vanilla flavor in my latte.

In addition to bread and coffee, Voyageurs Bakehouse offers a gourmet seasonal sandwich menu using fresh ingredients.  

The ham & pickle Sandwich is served on Voyageur’s very own Italian sourdough bread. Lush Waseda organic ham, tangy sliced dill pickles, Twin Elms greens, and mustard mayo are placed between two pieces of Italian sourdough. The sandwich left a pleasant tanginess on my tongue thanks to the combination of the pickles and the zippy mustard mayo. 

The spicy chicken salad sandwich had tender pieces of poached chicken mixed in a base of lemon mayo and spicy giardiniera (Italian pickled relish mixture). It was topped with fresh cucumbers, pickled beets, and Twin Elms greens, all sandwiched between the house-made Italian sourdough bread. The chicken salad was delightfully zingy, and not too spicy.

I absolutely loved Otto’s pastrami reuben. The pastrami is made by Otto’s Meats located in Luxemburg, Wis. and is topped with local aged Swiss cheese, Russian dressing, and a thick layer of tart sauerkraut. The grilled sandwich is served between two pieces of hearty seeded country rye bread. 

Don’t forget to add a cookie to your sandwich order. For only $1, you can add on a homemade cookie of your choice. I got a spelt sourdough Snickerdoodle cookie that I savored in between sips of my vanilla latte. It had a surprisingly sweet flavor that ended with a pleasant taste of cream of tartar (the ingredient that defines a Snickerdoodle cookie).

Please consider stopping by Voyageurs Bakehouse for your next coffee date. With its clean aesthetic interior design, it’s the perfect atmosphere to relax and chat with friends.

Jimmy’s Chicken and Fish

Move over KFC, there’s a new bird in town! Jimmy’s Chicken & Fish is in a strip mall on Richmond Street. While there is no seating at this restaurant, their menu items are perfect to carry out, take home and devour with your family.

I tried the Jimmy’s Combo with catfish and wings. I had the lemon pepper seasoning added to the catfish breading and requested a side of their mild sauce. I normally hesitate to order catfish because it can taste a bit fishy. Jimmy’s catfish had no fishy aftertaste, though. 

Who knew that lemon pepper could taste so good on fried fish? The thick catfish fillets were moist on the inside and tasted like pure heaven when dipped in the mild sauce. The wings were devastatingly juicy, with a super thick, crunchy layer on the outside.

Jimmy, the owner, likes to give back to the community. He offered free chicken tender meals to hundreds of kids who attended the People of Progression Back to School event held in late summer 2021. Jimmy himself was busily manning the register while his dad was cooking the meals in the back. 

In addition, Jimmy is kind-hearted. During the event, a thirsty little boy came into Jimmy’s, wanting a bottle of Gatorade. Sadly, the boy didn’t have any money on him. Jimmy gave the Gatorade to the boy for free, saying the boy will most likely be a customer of his in the future. I hope the boy recognized Jimmy’s kindness and will pay it forward.

If you’re looking for amazing perch, catfish, or fried chicken (in all its forms), you MUST visit Jimmy’s!

Sticky Fingers Cafe and Catering

Nestled in quaint downtown Kaukauna is a cozy cafe that offers all-day brunch, specialty coffee drinks, homemade bakery, and delicious food. Sticky Fingers Cafe & Catering is a hidden gem in the Fox Cities.

All the meals on their innovative All-Day Brunch menu sounded amazing. It was so hard to choose what to try! It felt as if I was rediscovering breakfast and lunch.

On the day I went, Sticky Fingers had a grab-and-go pumpkin granola in their bakery case. I love anything flavored with pumpkin, so I knew I had to try this. The healthy parfait had layers of yogurt swirled with an infused pumpkin concoction and topped with granola and pumpkin seeds.  The mixture of the yogurt and pumpkin flavoring was a delicate combination of tangy and sweet. I also tried one of their pumpkin butterscotch muffins. The moist muffin tasted like spiced pumpkin and was highlighted by a smooth butterscotch aftertaste.

The pancake stackers were the first on my list to try. This beautifully presented dish contains thick, fluffy pancakes with artfully placed bacon pieces cooked into the top. Sandwiched inside the pancakes are a savory sausage patty and over-easy eggs. This stack of goodness is then drenched in maple syrup. It not only looked good, but it tasted good, too.

Sticky Fingers Cafe’s special of the day was caramel apple french toast. Perfect pieces of French toast were spread with a caramel apple cream cheese and decorated with artfully placed whipped cream. Caramel was drizzled over everything for an extra jolt of goodness.

The most colorful meal I tried was the breakfast pizza. A “crust” of naan bread was spread with chive cream cheese, then topped with over-easy eggs, asparagus, bacon, red onion, spinach, and a white cheddar/Monterey Jack combination. It was almost too beautiful to eat! The ingredients of this meal played well off each other and made my mouth so happy.

Not only does Sticky Fingers Cafe have great brunch meals, but their made-from-scratch baked goods are divine. Right next to the counter where you order is a display case of the unique homemade desserts offered daily. Two cheesecake flavors immediately jumped out at me: chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake and sliced cinnamon roll cheesecake.  

The chocolate chip cookie dough cheesecake was smooth, creamy, and perfectly sweet. The top of the cheesecake was coated with a layer of rich chocolate ganache that highlighted the chocolate flavor in the cookie dough. The sliced cinnamon roll cheesecake had swirls of intense cinnamon flavor baked within the cheesecake. The cinnamon and cheesecake flavors surprisingly blended well and were topped by thick patterns of white icing.

I was intrigued by their salted caramel bourbon praline latte and grabbed a cup on my way out. This coffee drink is a dessert in itself. The caramel praline flavor was the first taste to hit my tongue and was followed by a full-bodied bourbon aftertaste.  

Sticky Fingers Cafe also has a freezer of their homemade soups. It’s an easy way to bring the mouthwatering flavors of this restaurant home with you for a weeknight meal.

Both the brunch menu and the baked goods will keep me coming back for more.

Meet Kim!

Kim Mischler is the talented and proud owner of Sticky Fingers Cafe. She got her culinary degree in 2003 and has a varied background. She previously worked in mills and for various restaurants all her life. It was always Kim’s dream to open a bakery. For years, she and her husband have been on the lookout for a great location where her dream could come true.  

Kim and her husband found the building for Sticky Fingers Cafe (currently located at 142 E 2nd Street in Kaukauna) a couple of years ago. It was an abandoned bar that needed a total facelift.  Lucky for Kim, her husband works in the construction industry and did the full remodel project slowly for over a year. Supply chain issues affected the availability of building supplies, delaying the Cafe’s opening to June 2021. From the corrugated tin ceiling to the moss artwork on the walls, the result is a bright, welcoming space that is perfect for a cafe.

Kim and her four employees pride themselves on making everything from scratch. Kim’s favorite menu item right now is their grilled cheese that is made with four different types of cheese, bacon, and a tomato jam that is melted between English muffin bread. Sticky Fingers Cafe is known for its signature salted Oreo caramel pie. They offer gluten-free options and rotate their bakery desserts. They even take requests for custom cakes and larger quantities of their popular desserts.

Sticky Fingers Cafe launched its catering business in November 2021. They offer everything from a soup and salad bar to a nacho bar, or one of many other creative “bars” as catering options. Kim has worked with people from across the country, providing catered meals for all different types of events. Consider Sticky Fingers Cafe for your next catered event.

Jexi’s Restaurant

Breakfast, lunch, or dinner – Jexi’s has it all! Nestled in a strip mall on South Oneida Street between an international grocery store and a Mexican bakery, this restaurant is perfectly located. Two of the four owners are from Venezuela.

Jexi’s Restaurant serves breakfast all day and has classics like pancakes, omelets, crepes, and skillets. Not in the mood for breakfast food? Try one of their burgers, wraps, or sandwiches.  Hankering for a Mexican dish? They have a full menu of Mexican specialties including tacos, burritos, chimichangas, and nachos. I’m not kidding when I say this restaurant has everything!  Customers love that they can have anything off the menu for breakfast.

I’ve always wanted to try a tongue taco as they’re very popular in Mexico. Yes, you read that right – a TONGUE taco. I’m adventurous when it comes to food and will try pretty much anything at least once. The tongue meat was chopped into bite-size pieces, perfect for a taco filling. The grilled meat tasted like a good steak and was very tender. The tongue meat was served in a Mexican-style taco and included a topping of onions and cilantro (although I declined the cilantro because I’m not a fan of its flavor). One of the owners brought me two sauces to put on the taco: the mild green sauce and the super spicy red-hot sauce. My mouth was on fire after trying a drop of the red sauce. You’ve had your warning. The green sauce was a great complement to the tongue meat.

One of the owners brought everyone at my table a complimentary bowl of her homemade chicken dumpling soup. This is the kind of soup your grandma used to make, with chunks of real chicken and soft, fluffy dumplings. If you’re not feeling up to snuff, and are looking for some good comfort food, be sure to carry out a container of this soup. 

The chicken burrito was HUGE! The juicy seasoned chicken meat inside the burrito was perfectly spiced and paired with Mexican-style rice. The ginormous burrito was smothered in a rich cheese sauce that brought the dish together. The person who ordered it had to take half home – it was so much food! You probably could finish it if you have a large appetite.

I also ordered a chorizo torta. A torta is a Mexican-style sandwich served on grilled bread with beans, sour cream, lettuce, jalapeños, tomatoes, and avocado. I would describe it as a Mexican submarine sandwich. The chorizo had the perfect amount of spiciness to it. The chorizo was layered on the bread with the other ingredients, which brought a scrumptious taste when it all blended.

Don’t forget to try a Venezuelan arepa. The arepa is a corn cake cooked golden brown and stuffed with various fillings. They take a bit longer to make, but it’s well worth the wait. I tried an arepa burger that had a juicy, perfectly grilled ground beef patty topped with crisp bacon, cheese, lettuce, and tomatoes. The crispy corn cake makes for a delicious bun.  

The green Venezuelan Guasacaca sauce that was served with the burger has the perfect mix of zesty flavor in a creamy base. It is the official condiment of Venezuela, served as a side with pretty much everything. The sauce is made of onion, cilantro, green pepper, garlic, jalapeño, avocado, and vinegar. If the sauce were sold by the bottle, I’d be the first in line to buy some.

Jexi’s Restaurant is not a fancy place. They pride themselves on friendly, attentive service and  catering to your needs. Plus, the homemade food is amazing!

Jexi stands for Jose, Eyvis, Xenia, and Isaias, the four co-owners of the restaurant. Eyvis and Xenia are both from Venezuela and moved to the United States more than 20 years ago. They both married men from Mexico (Jose and Isaias) they all dreamed of owning a small business. Isaias had experience in family restaurants, and when the space opened at 2303 S. Oneida St. next to a Mexican bakery, they jumped at the chance to fulfill their dream.  

Jexi’s Restaurant is truly a family affair as all the people who work at the restaurant are family members. Isaias is the chef and dishwasher, and has been known to take orders from time to time. Eyvis, Xenia, and Jose wait on customers. Even their high school kids can be seen helping on the weekends. Jose’s focus is to give diners great customer service and treat them like family. He tries to get to know his regular customers by name.

The restaurant’s most popular dishes are Eggs Benedict and Southern Benedict. The owners’ favorite meals include New York steak & eggs, stuffed crepes, steak nachos, the French toast combo, and tacos. The four owners are currently making decisions on what menu items to keep, remove, and add as they soon plan to update their menu. The restaurant is closed on Sundays to allow for family time, but is open 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Saturday.

Freddy’s Frozen Custard and Steakburgers

Founded in 2002, Freddy’s Frozen Custard & Steakburger opened its first Wisconsin restaurant in Grand Chute in 2021. Freddy’s menu is full of American classics, including staple menu items found in most fast-food restaurants. They are known for their steakburgers and custard. All their menu items are made with premium ingredients, so you know they will taste good.

Freddy’s restaurants have a nostalgic decor straight out of a 1950s soda shop. The chain was started by the sons of Freddy Simon, who named their restaurant after their father.  The restaurant’s menu is reminiscent of the all-American meals Freddy used to prepare for his family on their farm. Freddy was a decorated Army soldier who sadly passed away in 2020, believing he was “the luckiest man in the world.” 

The steakburgers use a “smash patty” technique that creates crispy edges on each steak patty.  The crispy edges add extra flavor to the already savory steak taste. Due to the smash patty technique, the steak patties are rather thin, so if you’re hungry, be sure to get a double or triple patty sandwich. All burgers are cooked to order, so there is a short wait as the meal is being prepped.

Freddy’s cheese curds definitely rank in my top three. The light, crispy breading reminds me of cheese curds that I’ve enjoyed at the State Fair. As a bonus, the cheese is made right here in Wisconsin.

All sandwiches can be made into a basket, including their premium sides (for a small upcharge).  I made my burger into a basket with Freddy’s Chili Cheese Fries. Savory chili and nacho cheese smothered Freddy’s signature French fries.  Topped with raw onions, the flavor combination was amazing!  

Freddy’s also offers custard for dessert. Where Culver’s is known for its rotating menu of custard flavors, Freddy’s sticks to the basics with chocolate and vanilla. A long list of toppings allows patrons to customize a flavor.  

After finishing my delicious meal, I treated myself to a Freddy’s PBC & B sundae. A base of fresh and creamy vanilla custard is topped with chopped Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (PBC), banana (B), whipped cream, and a cherry. The combination of the banana and peanut butter cup is fit for a queen.

Taco House

Nestled in a small building on Wisconsin Avenue in Appleton is a tasty new restaurant called Taco House.  You may have passed it many times and not even realized it was there! They bill themselves as having the best steak tacos in town, and I fully agree.

Their mouth-watering steak taco was loaded with juicy, flavorful pieces of savory steak.  Enveloped in two corn tortillas and topped with loads of cilantro and chopped onions, this taco would practically convince vegetarians to eat meat.

Not to be outdone by a meat taco, I included a fish taco and a shrimp taco with my order. Both tacos used flour tortillas and were topped with lettuce and tomatoes. The fish taco had flaky, tender fish in it while the shrimp taco had plentiful pieces of seasoned shrimp inside.  

The steak burrito was HUGE! It was bigger than my hand. The burrito was filled with everything you’d want including Taco House’s delectable pieces of steak, flavored rice, beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, and a tasty dressing that blended well with everything else inside this behemoth.

The chicken quesadilla included four large, folded pieces of tortilla. Each piece was filled with tender chunks of fresh chicken and melted queso fresco, which translates to “fresh cheese.”  I’ve always loved queso fresco with its slightly salty taste. This is the first time I’ve had it melted in a quesadilla. 

All the above entrees were served with sides of sour cream and a red and green sauce. Both sauces were rather spicy (although they may not be as spicy to other people’s palates).

All Taco House’s main entrees can be made with your choice of meat. Choices include steak, pork, chicken, ground beef, and head meat. They even offer head meat tacos, for those who are adventurous and want a more authentic Mexican meal.  

On weekends, you can also enjoy Taco House’s barbacoa meals. Meat prepared in the barbacoa style is slow cooked over an open fire until it gets tender. The meat is known for its high-fat content and strong flavor. Barbacoa is typically sold on weekends in Mexico.

No matter how you enjoy Taco House’s menu, you are sure to be pleased!

Cruise In Family Restaurant 

When Rico’s suddenly closed all locations, no one knew if another restaurant would take its spot. Luckily, the Appleton building didn’t sit empty for long as the Cruise In Family Restaurant recently took over. This is the third location of the family restaurant, with the other two located in Seymour and Shawano.

Alex Morales owns all three Cruise In Family Restaurants. The Shawano location had the unfortunate luck of opening right after the pandemic started. To stay in business, Alex offered lots of specials and personally delivered meals for free to those that ordered them. As a restaurant owner, he is now an expert on what it’s like to open a new restaurant and survive the pandemic.

If you’re looking for restaurants serving family food, North Richmond Street is loaded with them.  The Cruise In Family Restaurant fits right into the mix, with its comprehensive menu and great tasting food. Breakfast is served all day, along with burgers, salads, sandwiches, fish fry, Italian dinners, and quite a few Mexican entrees. There is literally something for everyone.

Cruise In’s gigantic omelets are made with three eggs and are super fluffy and light. The veggie omelet was filled with loads of tomatoes, onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, and broccoli. The omelet itself could’ve been the entire meal. It doesn’t stop there! All omelets come with toast, pancakes, or a biscuit and gravy and a choice of potato. I chose hash browns and pancakes for my sides. The pancakes were super fluffy and dusted with a hint of powdered sugar. The syrup soaked into the pancakes as soon as I poured it on top.

Not to be outdone by the ginormous breakfast entree, I also tried a Texas burger and a BBQ bacon burger. Both selections had a juicy third-pound burger that was dripping with smoky BBQ sauce, then topped with bacon and melty American Cheese. The difference between the two menu items was that the Texas Burger was served on Texas Toast and the BBQ Bacon Burger was served on a soft bun.  

The shrimp scampi was divine. Tender linguini noodles swam in a creamy garlic sauce. The pasta was then topped with a heaping amount of tender shrimp. The plate was garnished with triangular pieces of garlic bread. The shrimp scampi meal also included a choice of soup or salad. I chose the cream of broccoli soup that had the perfect consistency and tiny pieces of broccoli florets. The soup had a rich, creamy taste with a slight flavor of broccoli that lingered on my tongue.

The Cruise In Family Restaurant has plenty of dessert choices to eat at the end of your meal (that is, if you have room). They have a full-size ice cream case and offer root beer floats, shakes, malts, and multiple flavors of sundaes (including the much-loved turtle sundae). Not in the mood for ice cream? Be sure to check out their pie.

I thoroughly enjoyed my dining experience at the Cruise In Family Restaurant. Be sure to stop in for a meal the next time you’re in the area.