Thanksgiving is next week. That means a lot of people have eating on their minds.
So do I.
With that in mind, I set out to find the best comfort food at restaurants in north central Wisconsin.
First – The Kitchen Table in Marshfield. You might think you're back at grandma's house.
Lloie Schwartz has owned the restaurant for more than 35 years.
"I'm a real foodie, and I love to cook," said Schwartz.
That's good because her customers love to eat. Shelby Weister of Marshfield is a regular.
"The waitresses are great," said Weister. "When I order, they put down 'Shelby's' because they know that I order one scrambled egg, two bacon, a piece of toast."
During the time we spent with her, Schwartz went out of her way to make everybody feel welcome.
"You'll notice that it has a very relaxed atmosphere and very cozy," said Schwartz. "We try not to change things radically here so that when you come back 20 years later, it's the way you remember it when you were a kid."
The Kitchen Table is famous for omelets. I quickly found out why when I sampled one of them. The potatoes were soft, the bacon was crunchy, and the homemade salsa gave it an amazing flavor. The egg was also very soft. It was easy to see why omelets are the specialty there.
Besides that, I got to try some homemade bread. Delicious! In fact, Schwartz says gets up every morning to arrive at the restaurant by 3:30 a.m. to hand-make the dough to make her own bread and hamburger buns.
"Bakers are like farmers," said Schwartz. "They have very early hours."
And I got to appreciate her efforts even more with a homemade cinnamon roll—hot, sticky, sweet, and tasty.
"The customers really get an experience, so thank you very much," I told Schwartz/
"Yes, they've just been telling me that it's kind of a desert out there. It's hard to find a little place like this," she responded.
"This is a gem," I told her.
And I'll leave it at that. The Kitchen Table in Marshfield—a place where the locals eat.
Our journey continued at Wausau's Mint Cafe, a downtown landmark since 1888.
"We've got the best spot in town, that's for sure," said owner Joe Pepowski.
Right next to the city's 400 block, this restaurant promises to take you to the peak of home cooking.
"It tastes like something like what mom or your grandma would make back home," said diner Jason Mack.
The menu offers a lot to choose from. Pepowski had his crew make me a Greek salad. I could see why it was popular at lunchtime. It wasn't too heavy, and it was salty.
But my favorite part? A hot, soft dinner roll—a staple at the Mint.
For dessert, I sampled some chocolate pistachio pie. I love desserts.
The cafe has a dedicated baker in charge of all the goodness from the oven.
"I think what sets us apart is we're always real consistent," said Pepowski.
The Mint Cafe in Wausau—another place where the locals eat.
Finally, something I can't get enough of—barbeque.
Welcome to Big Hass Barbeque in Merrill, located inside a bar. It's named after Scott Hass. Every day he cooks up ribs, chicken, and brisket.
"Everything gets smoked a day ahead of time, and then I finish it on the char-grill here so it gets a little crust on it," said Hass.
In addition to mouth-watering meats, Hass serves up plenty of comfort food.
"My biggest seller for the comfort food side dishes would be like the cheesy mashed potatoes," said Hass. "It's kind of like a summertime fourth of July and wintertime Thanksgiving mixed together."
You can't get much more home style, home-cooked than barbequed ribs, homemade mashed potatoes, and delicious baked beans."
"I like to put as many flavor profiles in there as I can," said Hass.
Big Hass Barbeque in Merrill—another place where the locals eat.
We can only profile a few restaurants at a time, so head to my Facebook page and let me know what other restaurants serve the best comfort food, and tell me what you like to eat there.