al gen dinner club rhinelander wi Photo: Oneida County Tourism

A classic culinary experience: The Wisconsin supper club

There’s no dining experience more classic that a Wisconsin supper club. Time stands still in these lively roadside establishments that serve up delicious food in a cozy atmosphere. Many have a history as rich as the desserts—these establishments began appearing in the 1920s, and many hold stories of gangsters, moonshine and lumber barons. Hungry for more? Here are a couple of our favorites.

Vintage House

In the charming central Wisconsin community of Marshfield, there’s a restaurant that used to be a favorite of gangsters like Al Capone and John Dillinger. The gangsters, moonshine and molls are long gone, but people are still making evening runs to the Vintage. Located on the south side of Marshfield, this classic restaurant offers a full dinner menu. Steak lovers should order the Vintage New York Steak—it’s a well-aged, center-cut steak that’s grilled to perfection and topped with sautéed mushrooms.

Silver Birch Supper Club

A Northwoods institution, the Silver Birch Supper Club in Tomahawk (just south of the Oneida County/Lincoln County border) has been a go-to spot for fine dining for more than a century. Sitting on the shores of Half Moon Lake, the Silver Birch Supper Club is open for dinner on Thursday, Fridays, and Saturdays and for brunch on Sundays. Menu items include BBQ ribs, steaks, fish, prime rib, and more.

The Guide’s Inn

The Guide’s Inn, located in beautiful Boulder Junction, has a long history—in the 1920s, there was a building on site that stored the moonshine that fueled early lumberjacks. Northwoods vacationers today are more likely to enjoy something that goes down a little easier, like a hand-muddled old fashioned. It’s the perfect accompaniment to the restaurant’s pan-fried walleye.

Rupp’s on Washington

Just a short drive from the shores of Lake Michigan and south of Manitowoc sits this casual dining supper club, recognized for its great steaks and seafood. Tasty specials include a Friday night fish fry (lightly breaded lake perch) and prime rib with au jus served on Saturday.

Minocqua Prime

Sure, this one might officially be called a “steakhouse,” but it’s definitely got a supper club vibe, from the size of the portions to the décor to the lakeside location. Minocqua Prime sits on the shores of Curtis Lake west of downtown Minocqua, but it’s worth the quick drive out of town. Guests will find delicious prime-cut steaks, seafood, chicken, pasta dishes, specialty pizzas, and other favorites, including broasted chicken.

Little Bohemia

Would you like a side of 1930s gangster history with your prime rib? Head to Little Bohemia in Vilas County. You can still see the bullet holes in the walls of this traditional Northwoods lodge, which was the site of a shootout between notorious gangster John Dillinger and the FBI in 1934. Little Bohemia serves dinner seven nights a week and breakfast and lunch Friday through Sunday. “Remember,” the lodge’s website says, “Dillinger only left because he had to!”