It’s been six years since I posted my first list of the best riverside dining along the Upper Mississippi River. It’s time for an update, especially since a few places on the first list have closed, and new places have opened.
A reminder about how I select places:
- the restaurant must have a good view of the river;
- the food and service have to be good, and
- the restaurant can’t be part of a national chain.
It’s not hard to find places that meet the first criteria, but many have trouble with the second. Here’s a reminder to restaurant owners that’s just as true now as the first time I wrote it: if you are shooting for a fine dining experience and your servers are all in high school, you should rethink your concept or hire professionals.
The new list still has a mix of places in terms of price and location, so you’ll find bars mixed in with fine dining. My personal favorites (in alphabetic order):
- Aerie’s Riverview Winery; Grafton, IL
- Douglas Lodge; Itasca State Park, MN
- The Waterfront Restaurant and Tavern; La Crosse, WI
There are many fine bars along the river that serve good bar food. If you know of some that stand out, please drop me a note, and I’ll check it out.
So here’s the list for 2019, with the restaurants in geographic order from north to south.