The Recipe Site Review

Tom's List of Favorite Racine Restaurants

Tom's List of Favorite Racine Restaurants

The Michelin and Gault Millau restaurant guides somehow skipped Racine, Wisconsin. In their absence, Tom, a Racine resident of some 27 years, with a flair for consuming food, offers up his own preferences and prejudices.

Racine Cuisine

This is a no-nonsense industrial town with a Siberian climate. Hearty fare is appreciated here. Portions in most restaurants are HUGE, bigger than those found in other, less bountiful states, and simply tower over the bird-pickings commonly served up in your elegant corners of Europe.

A Note About Meat

Check into it while you're here, even if you are not normally a big-slab-of-meat fan, or favor leathery range-fed, over marbled. The better steak houses in Texas advertise "Wisconsin Beef", and prominently out front, not just buried in the menu's fine print.

Our cattle, raised in the freezing north of the state, and living under cover for much of the year, have always enjoyed room service, and a rich agricultural diet. They breathe in dulcet, fragrant northern air. Their responsibilities in life are taken lightly.

By contrast, their Texas cousins are pretty much on their own, living on mesquite and tumbleweed, baking their brains in the hot sun, battling cowboys and scorpions. Stress shows.

While your ornery Texas steers would doubtless win in a fight, Wisconsin's benign approach to the cattle-raising question makes for more soulful creatures, and tender, flavorful beef.

Tom's Favorite City Restaurants

This being Racine, prices are generally moderate. Exceptions are noted.

BEST SERIOUS RESTAURANT
Sebastian's
(262) 681-5465
6025 Douglas Ave.
Racine, WI 53402
Combines the local taste for great basic ingredients with considerable refinement. Pleasant environment. Prices are very high by Racine standards--about $50 per person for dinner. Wonderful appetizers. Great wine list. I have yet to find anything mediocre here.
BEST "BIG BEEF" RESTAURANT
The Corner House
(262) 637-1295
1521 Washington Ave.
Racine, WI 53403
A Racine tradition going back years, and a place everyone in town knows about. You'll want the Prime Rib--truly memorable. Other varieties of beef are also quite fine. Other elements -- salads, vegetables, etc. -- are ordinary.
An Italian visitor, an accountant by trade, and therefore one of your less effusive Italians, said he would remember the prime rib meal he had here for the rest of his life.
Service is friendly, rather than expert, and the waitress may ask you if "you're still working" on that beef slab.
BEST ELEGANT LUNCH PLACE
The Yellow Rose
(262) 637-4340
340 Main St.
Racine, WI 53403
On Main Street, downtown. Fun place to lunch. Light menu. Very good food and service.
Part of the elegance comes from the architecture--it's a converted turn-of-the-century pharmacy. The exterior looks like a Dutch townhouse.
Its previous owners, members of the Johnson's Wax clan, are artglass collectors and jazzed the place up with an array of it. It's now owned by Sebastian's, who brought their food-mongering skills with them.
Expensive by Racine standards, not by most others.
TWO COZY DOWNTOWN BAR & GRILLS
Yardarm Bar & Grill
(262) 633-8270
930 Erie St.
Racine, WI 53402
Varieties of fish, and "sand dollar" potatoes are a specialty of the house. The rooms look like the inside of a wooden ship. Bar. Nice selection of beers on tap. Great place for chatting.
 
Waves Grill & Pub
(262) 634-7668
107 4th St. (corner of 4th & Lake)
Racine, WI 53403
Simple place near, but not overlooking the water. Bar. Short, but REALLY good menu.
CONTENDER FOR BEST PIZZA ON EARTH
Infusino's Pizzeria & Restaurant
(262) 634-2727
3301 Washington Ave.
Racine, WI 53405
The pizza you want is the House Special Pan, a "Chicago-Style", deep dish. Take it as it comes; don't add anything to it -- you'll mess it up.
Another Italian visitor said Infusino's Deep Dish House Pizza was the best he'd ever had anywhere. He said it three months after the fact, on his second visit to Racine, and after careful consideration.
Infusino's has a long menu of other items as well, but it's the House Pizza that puts them on this list. Pricing is a true bargain, especially in view of the portion size.
GOOD FOOD ON THE WATER RESTAURANT
Chancery Pub & Restaurant
(262) 635-0533
207 Gas Light Dr.
Racine, WI 53403
The Chancery is actually part of a small chain. It started here, and spread across southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois. Our Chancery is annexed to the Radisson Hotel and overlooks the yacht basin and the lake.
The interior resembles a WW I vintage boat house. The food is sort of California-eclectic style -- creatively concocted, much of it invented by them -- and very good -- except for the normal Wisconsin "Giant-Slab-of-Meat" dishes, which are better elsewhere. French-surnamed Louisianans have complimented the Jumbalaya.
GOOD-FOOD IN FOUR WALLS RESTAURANT
Oh Dennis! Saloon and Charcoal House
(262) 681-1715
4301 Douglas Ave.
Racine, WI 53402
Walk in through the squeaking, somewhat dented door and one look around reassures that virtually every dime you spend goes into the ingredients. Food is very good indeed, and all of it I've tried--so far. Many contend the ribs are the best in town--and remember we're into meat.
Cheerful service and high volume chatting brighten up what conventionally-minded people might call a dark hole. The clientele spectrum includes both locally-reputed businessmen and locally-reputed bikers.
ART DECO CHAINBURGER
Kewpee Sandwich Shop
(262) 634-9601
520 Wisconsin Ave.
Racine, WI 53403
You'll want to sit at the counter and order the cheeseburger "with everything", french fries, and home-made root beer. Good stuff, the way fast food used to taste back when teens wore bobby socks. The curved counter inspires chatting. Budget about four bucks.
The Kewpee's chain started in the 1920's, but seemed to come into its own in the late 1930's, and its little restaurants have a Zaftig period flair to their decor inside and out. Our Kewpee looks authentic--like the inside of a streamlined train--but the building is one of the newer ones in town. The old one was situated under structure-compromised parking structure, was torn down and rebuilt about five years ago.