As the temperatures plummet and winds chill, we seek steaming dishes to fortify the body while soothing the soul. Some restaurants feed our need for the familiar, while adding a contemporary spin to long-loved dishes. Others stay true to classic recipes perfected decades ago. Here are some favorites if you have a hankering for comfort food this fall and winter.

Pot Pie Perfection

Count on a pie specialist to produce luscious crusts for both sweet and savory fare. Lake Geneva Pie Company adds only chicken breast meat and veggies in a rich, creamy filling to their chicken pot pie. Indulge in this flaky, golden, two-crust entree by the slice or whole pie.

Spicy Delight

We won’t agree on the ingredients, much less the perfect recipe or heat, so let Chili John’s in Green Bay provide enough options—beans, spaghetti, cheese, onions—to satisfy a wide range of expectations. Ordering more heat gets you more spicy meat at this century-old, three-generation family biz.

Heavenly Hash

Don’t expect a standard mix of potatoes and beef at Hackberry’s Bistro, above People’s Food Co-op in downtown La Crosse, where breakfast hash ingredients change with the seasons. In winter, that might mean honey-roasted root veggies, or chopped sweet potatoes and apples with sunny-side-up eggs perched on top. Add vegan sausage or bacon, too.

Cheers for Chocolate

Inside Sjolind’s (pronounced SHOO-linds), a homey house of chocolate in Mount Horeb, find steaming mugs filled with milk or dark chocolate cocoa. Add whipped cream or a fresh, pudgy marshmallow square. Another option is brewed chocolate: Roasted hulls are steeped, like tea, without milk or sugars.

Cheesy Goodness

Grate Modern Mac and Cheese in Menomonee Falls is among the newest in the state to specialize in creative variations of a childhood favorite. Everything on the menu of creamy mac ‘n’ cheese renditions begins with freshly grated cheeses from Wisconsin. Think bowls of classics, plus buffalo chicken and green chile pepperjack.

Meet Your Mash

Kaminski’s Chop House at Chula Vista Resort in Wisconsin Dells loads their mashed potatoes up to resemble a sundae. Topping one order are eight ounces of crumbled Nueske’s bacon, one cup of shredded cheddar, chopped scallions and sour cream. It’s enough for three or four to share as a side.

Lovely ’Loaf

Find the meatloaf of your dreams at Madison’s mecca of comfort foods, Monty’s Blue Plate Diner. Order the beef-pork Meatloaf of the Gods with red wine gravy or the vegetarian Meatless Loaf of the Gods with gingercashew sauce over a seasoned mix of carrots, mushrooms, onions and cheddar.

Pie, Delicious Pie

Nobody in Wisconsin makes more pies that earn national awards than Norske Nook, open since 1973 in Osseo. The little café with deep Scandinavian roots is a pie lover’s nirvana, offering classic choices and unconventional combos, like Pecan Fudge Orange Dreamsicle.

Savor This Soup

Comfort foods are the menu backbone at Comet Café in Milwaukee, and that means creamy tomato soup is classic fare. Add grilled cheese (an American-mozzarella-provolone mix), plus tomatoes, bacon or ham.

Author

The Midwest U.S., environmental sustainability and regional food quirks are specialties for longtime Madison freelance writer and columnist Mary Bergin. Wisconsin Supper Club Cookbook is her fifth book. www.roadstraveled.com

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