A 119-year-old candy factory has been brilliantly reborn as a great-looking 67-room getaway, run by the same forward-thinking company behind the Hewing Hotel in Minneapolis. The hotel’s brick-and-timbered restaurant — which overlooks the city’s Riverside Park — takes an aims-to-please approach to breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch, with winning results. Warm weather will herald the return of the rooftop patio, with its cocktails and wood-fired pizzas. Don’t miss the lobby’s Sweets Bar, stocked with intricate temptations from Milwaukee’s Indulgence Chocolatiers.
101 State St., La Crosse, 1-608-519-8800, thecharmanthotel.com
This adorable farm-to-table spot is the place for an easygoing weekend brunch — a mushroom frittata, black bean pupusas, decadent challah French toast — that leads into far more ambitious fare at dinner, including a grilled bone-in pork chop, a wild-rice/winter-vegetable salad, roast pheasant with smoked Gouda polenta. The cheese assortment is first-rate (as is the charcuterie, imported from Red Table Meat Co. in Minneapolis), and the bar is a craft cocktailer’s happy place. Downtown’s cozy (and crepe-crazed) the Root Note (115 4th St. S., 1-608-782-7668) is from the same folks.
1810 State St., La Crosse, 1-608-519-5011, driftmore.com
The Rudy family’s former A&W reopens for the season in early March. This spotless, well-run classic has it all: carhops, sheltering carports and an indoor dining room. Enjoy single-, double- and triple-patty burgers (order them basket-style, with fries and coleslaw), hot dogs, beer-battered cod with fries and house-made root beer. Here’s a measure of the restaurant’s deeply embedded community roots: “At least twice a week, someone will write their check out to ‘Rudy’s A&W,’ ” said third-generation owner Gary Rudy. “We haven’t been an A&W since 1979, 1980. But we still take the check.”
1004 La Crosse St., La Crosse, 1-608-782-2200, rudysdrivein.com