Chef Shack Bay City
Top chefs Lisa Carlson and Carrie Summer lay out the welcome mat with a locally sourced and seasonally minded tasting menu ($95 per person) that's served with grace in their ultra-charming Lake Pepin getaway.
6379 Main St., Bay City, Wis., chefshackbaycity.com, dinner Fri.-Sat.
The dining room at this hospitable gem overlooks the scenic Chippewa River, and the kitchen turns out well-prepared crowd-pleasers along the lines of pan-seared scallops and risotto fortified with wild mushrooms. At brunch, it's omelets, biscuits and gravy, crepes, quiche and other favorites.
214 W. Main St., Durand, Wis., facebook.com/KingfisherDurand/, dinner Thu.-Sat., brunch Sun.; full bar.
One of the state's most exciting new restaurants is the work of chef Mateo Mackbee, who channels the exhilarating New Orleans cooking that is a treasured element of his family's heritage. So many classics — gumbo, red beans and rice, shrimp jambalaya, crawfish étouffée — are present and accounted for, and cooked with precision and heart. There's also an impressive cocktail program, and don't miss the adjacent — and first-rate — Flour & Flower Bakery.
24 College Av. N., St. Joseph, Minn., krewemn.com, lunch Wed.-Sun., dinner Wed.-Sat.
Nosh Scratch Kitchen
Chef/owner Greg Jaworski has moved his restaurant 60 miles downriver from its longtime Lake City home, taking over a handsome historic warehouse space and continuing to emphasize his farm-to-table ethos (and an affinity for seafood) with an appealing mix-and-match menu of small, medium and large-size plates. A dozen craft cocktails land in the $7.50-to-$10 range.
102 Walnut St., Winona, Minn., noshrestaurant.com, dinner Tue.-Sat.
Owners and spouses Annie and Ryan Balow have stepped off the pop-up track and landed a permanent location. They've transformed the former Sontes and are offering a menu that's begging to be explored, including fried walleye with Granny Smith apples and Thai peppers; garlic- and ginger-rubbed pork ribs; and rice noodles with coconut curry, cabbage and green beans. Cocktails and spirit-free libations, too.
4 3rd St. SW., Rochester, thaipopmn.com, lunch Tue.-Sat., dinner Mon.-Sat.