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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Saturday, Sept. 20, 2014

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A Door County Guide: Part two


Recently rated one of North America's "Ten Best Places to Vacation" by Money magazine, Door County is a haven for Milwaukee and Chicago travelers alike. In this two-part series, Door County-native Jordan Dechambre uses her hometown expertise to highlight the resort area's often-overlooked hot spots -- restaurants, lodging, shopping and leisure -- that give Door County its flair.

Restaurants

Growing up in one of Door County's most historic and charming bar and restaurants -- The Hitching Post, in a part of Sturgeon Bay just off Glidden Drive called "Whitefish Bay" -- I've been lucky enough to enjoy great meals in this tourist town since I was too young to remember. With my grandma cooking, and my grandpa and mom tending bar, I was always in the midst of the camaraderie. Sitting behind the bar, sipping a seltzer with lemon and cheating at dice games with the locals, you learn a lot about what goes in to making a restaurant great. Not all Door County eateries will have my grandma's fish chowder or chili, but many are creating delectable delights that tingle the senses and please the palette. Here are just a few of my favorite restaurants Door County has to offer.

Sturgeon Bay

Sage, 136 N. 3rd St.
(920) 746-1100

This fairly young restaurant and wine bar is a great choice for top-notch entrees on a changing menu. Seafood lovers should sample the escargot in mushroom caps with garlic butter, parmesan cheese and croutons, or the jumbo shrimp served chilled with spicy chipotle-roasted tomato dipping sauce. The Asian duck breast and Mexican prawns also are great choices. Be sure to see a wine list -- Sage has one of the best in Door County. Reservations recommended.

The Inn at Cedar Crossing restaurant
336 Louisiana St.
(920) 743-4249

Attached to the Inn at Cedar Crossing, the restaurant features superb meals and bakery. A full menu, great wine selection, delectable deserts and excellent location -- this restaurant is a Sturgeon Bay best bet.

Donny's Glidden Lodge
4670 Glidden Dr.
(920) 746-9460

This beach-front restaurant has three unique features -- a charming "ski lodge" atmosphere, excellent food (including a full salad and soup bar with every meal) and unmatched service. On your way, stop by the Hitching Post and visit owner Huey Daubner and bartender/cook Betsy Lauscher (my grandparents no longer own it, but the historic nostalgia remains.)

Jacksonport

Mr. G's Supper Club and Ballroom
5890 Highway 57
(920) 823-2112

Just a hop, skip and a jump down highway 57, you'll find a local favorite. Owners Bob and Mary Geitner have raised a family in this bar and restaurant, where you'll find the best prime rib I've ever tasted. Ask to be seated on the sundeck, which in the daytime is filled with sun and at night lets you dine under the stars.

Mike's Port Pub
6269 Highway 57
(920) 823-2499

In the mood for some great bar food? Look no further than Mike's. Mouth-watering burgers, a great munchie basket, and "real" cheese curds bursting with cheese, this local hang out has great prices and a full Friday night fish offering.

Square Rigger Galley
6332 Highway 57
(920) 823-2408 or 823-2404

Visit this breakfast favorite July through August for nightly fish boils (served indoors at your table). If you want to catch one fish boil in Door County, this is it -- it'll be worth the drive. Reservations recommended for fish boil.

Sister Bay

Inn at Kristopher's
734 Bay Shore Dr.
(920) 854-9419

Any restaurant that houses a cooking school must be good, right? (It is, trust me). Inn at Kristofer's features varied menu items from Oysters Kristofer to sautéed quail with Door County cherry sauce to lobster tail stuffed with sautéed shrimp, vegetables, herbs and Japanese bread crumbs. Save room for the restaurant's famous homemade ice cream.

The Mission Grille
Highways 42 and 57
(920) 854-9070

Lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch, The Mission Grille continues to be a Sister Bay star. Try the bruschetta as a starter, and dig into the Bear Claw, a black angus beef filet grilled with rosemary and roasted garlic shrimp. Or, sample the Whitefish Mission Style or tomato olive and fresh basil pasta. No matter what you choose, you'll be satisfied. Reservations recommended.

Egg Harbor

Trio Restaurant
Highway 42 and County E
(920) 868-2090

My -- hands down -- favorite restaurant in Door County. From the art deco walls to the bubbling atmosphere, Trio pleases in every way. The bruschetta is out of this world, and the entrees are even better. French and Italian cuisine at its absolute best.

Village Café
7918 Egg Harbor Rd.
(920) 868-3342

An art-lover's must-see. This bright and sunny spot is a breakfast-lovers dream (served until 11:30.) Also a great spot for fish boils. Reservations recommended for fish boils.

Fish Creek

White Gull Inn
4225 Main St.
(920) 868-3517

A wonderfully romantic setting that boasts great meals and fish boils. A great spot for you and that special someone. Reservations recommended.

The Cookery
Highway 42
(920) 868-3634

On the main drag in Fish Creek, The Cookery offers a full menu for all tastes. Breakfasts feature yummy omelets, while whitefish chowder is a great lunch choice. Deserts to die for! Make sure to stop in the gift shop and pick up some homemade Door County cherry pie filling and jam. If you're out for a late dinner, stop by Bayside for a drink and hear some great live bands.

Digger's Grill and Pizza
4023 Highway 42
(920) 868-3095

A great spot for a quick lunch with the kids. Try the pizzeria-style pizza, Philly cheesesteaks or Vienna hot dogs. If you have any room left, take a stroll across the street to Not Licked Yet Frozen Custard. Unbeatable sundaes and custard treats. The flavor of the day is never a disappointment, but the El Niño sundae gets a blue ribbon.

Ephraim

Wilson's Restaurant and Ice Cream Parlor
9990 Water St.
(920) 854-2041

This family owned and operated gem offers a great ice cream selection, along with homemade soups and sandwiches. A great place to take the kids -- but grab plenty of napkins on those hot days!

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