Biz Theme: 3 squares and libations in the tri-states

The tri-state area has a wealth of restaurants, pubs, supper clubs and bars that serve everything from new American, Italian, Mediterranean, Hispanic, European, pub grub, pizza and more.

Starting with breakfast and ending with dinner, one could eat their three-square meals plus cocktails, beer or wine in Dubuque; Galena, Ill.; and Platteville, Wis.; as well as surrounding communities.

While the COVID-19 pandemic might have put a hold on eating out for a lot of people, with restrictions lifted nationally and locally, there are plenty of options for those who might be craving a professionally prepared meal.

While not a comprehensive list, here are some of the options — organized by meal — in the area.


Start the day at Otto’s Place with Otto’s Breakfast Sando, featuring house-cured pork belly, scrambled egg, Hook’s cheddar cheese, arugula and Otto’s special mayo on a ciabatta bun. Or, choose from pancakes and other breakfast specialties including a vegan porridge.

Located in Galena, Otto’s Place was purchased by Chef Kevin Scharpf last year. Shcarpf also owns Birds Fried Chicken food truck and Brazen Open Kitchen + Bar, a made-from-scratch, locally sourced dinner option in Dubuque.

“We’ve loved (Otto’s Place) for many, many years, so … this means a lot to my wife and I,” Scharpf said of the purchase. “This restaurant’s far more than just a restaurant. It’s our first opportunity to really be able to be a part of that Galena experience, which is really exciting to us.”

The Iowa Egg Council recently named the chorizo omelet at Caroline’s Restaurant as the Best Omelet in Iowa. The award-winning dish was created by Executive Chef Michael Henson and features Spanish chorizo, green onion, avocado, salsa and cheddar cheese. Located in the Hotel Julien Dubuque, Caroline’s also serves lunch and dinner.

Ma’s Bakery in Bloomington, Wis., not only has baked goods, but a full list of breakfast items. There aren’t menus at Ma’s, as owner Mary Adrian believes customers should order what they want and only be charged for what they order.

If a cupcake and coffee-to-go is your preferred morning routine, Frosted and Filled in Dubuque sells baked-from-scratch extra-large muffin-sized gourmet frosted and filled cupcakes in 10 to 12 flavors each week. Gluten free and vegan options are available by the dozen via pre-order. Almond, soy coconut and oat plant-based milks are used for lattes and other coffee drinks by Doc’s Brew, which is located inside Frosted and Filled. Doc’s also offers regular and vegan waffles and fruit smoothies.


Adobos Mexican Grill, with locations in Dubuque and Galena, offers a quick, mobile lunch of burrito bowls, nachos, tacos, taco salads and more.

Salazar and his wife, Flor, are the co-owners of Adobos and Jamie serves as the chef.

“Business in Dubuque is very busy right now, so we decided to (add) Galena and see how it goes,” Jaime said.

Originally from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, Jamie was a student of culinary arts at Highland Community College in Elizabeth, Ill. Adobos cuisine is based on Jaime’s recipes for sauces, marinades, spices and special seasonings.

“People already knew our products because we came with the food truck to Galena about two or three times a month,” Flor said. “They like (our food) a lot, because it’s fast and healthy, and they like that everything is made in-house.”

Vinny Vanucchi’s Little Italy in Galena provides a tasty selection of Italian pasta, salads, “sangwiches” and more for both lunch and dinner. The Dubuque location only serves dinner. Recipes for the Italian cuisine come from co-owner Deb Coulter’s grandmother, Lucille “Nana Lu” LaCorte, and are made fresh daily. An extensive wine list by glass and bottle, cocktails, margaritas and draft and bottled beers add to the dining experience.

Steve’s Pizza Palace in Platteville has been making pizzas for more than 58 years. In addition to pizzas, burgers, sandwiches and calzones are available for dine-in, carryout or delivery within city limits. Three full-service bars and mixologists create drinks to order.

If a burger is what you are craving, there are many options on both sides of the river. Baraboo’s on Main in Dubuque has a historic and eclectic atmosphere and has been voted the No. 1 burger by Travel Dubuque.

The burger specials include a cheese curd bacon burger, a goat burger, fried pickle burger and a bacon bleu burger.

Fun options on the cocktail menu include How I Met Your Mother, ShirleyAnne Temple and the Gentleman Jim Sour. Open until 2 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday, Baraboo’s also is a late-night dining option.

Another burger option in Dubuque is the Foodie Garage Eatery, which serves one of the top 10 burgers, as designated by the Iowa Beef Industry Council. Serving breakfast, lunch and dinner, there’s a lot to choose from. If you’re really hungry try the Holy Chuck bursting with three chuck patties, a pound of bacon, Swiss, pepper jack and provolone cheese layered with French fries, mushrooms and onions between three slices of Texas toast, served with loaded French fries and queso cheese.

With 12 specialty burgers on the menu daily, Durty Gurt’s Burger Joynt in Galena has been filling bellies since 2007. Salads, sandwiches, shrimp platters, appetizers and a kid’s menu round out the menu. To wash it all down, choose from sangrias, rum buckets, margaritas, wine and beer.

In Wisconsin, stop for lunch at the Potosi Brewing Co. where you’ll find a selection of burgers, wraps, entrees, salads and much more. Enjoy a Potosi brew or soda with your meal and on Saturdays and Sundays take a tour of the brewery.

Dinner, date night and special occasions

Going to a supper club for dinner is always a great option for a memorable dinner, special date night or to celebrate a special occasion. The tri-state area has several such establishments, as well as many casual restaurants that serve dinner.

Since 1961, when Robert and Helen Timmerman opened Timmerman’s Supper Club in East Dubuque, Ill., the restaurant overlooking the Mississippi River and the bluffs of Dubuque has been serving steaks, seafood, pasta and some of the best old fashioneds and ice cream drinks around. Timmerman’s is now co-owned by Mark and Jodi Hayes and Gary Neuses. Mark started at the club as a dishwasher and Gary as a bartender.

“It’s amazing for a restaurant to remain in business this long,” said Neuses. “It’s a tough business. You have to be willing to put in the time.”

It was always the intention of the current owners to retain the historic aspects of the business.

“When we purchased it, (prior owner Juan Rodriguez) had it running great,” Hayes said. “It was just a matter of keeping things consistent and keeping the traditions. If the wheel is not broken, don’t fix it — that sort of thing.”

The Log Cabin Steakhouse in Galena’s historic downtown has been in business since 1937 and owned by the Rigopoulos family for more than 40 years. The menu includes steaks, pork chops, seafood, surf and turf and flaming saganaki cheese as one of the appetizers. Choose from cocktails, wine and beer from the bar and visit on the weekends for a piano bar.

For more date night dining, Pete’s Thai Kitchen in Dubuque serves a full menu of Thai specialties including stir fry, curry, noodles, Thai salads and appetizers plus options from Happy Hibachi.

Pepper Sprout, in downtown Dubuque, serves Midwest cuisine of small plates, pasta and steak, chicken and lamb chops entrees.

“Our menu changes every two months, based on the availability of seasonal ingredients,” said Chef Kim Wolff. “There are also weekly specials.”

Pepper Sprout also offers boutique beer, limited edition wines and exotic cocktails.

Get your sushi fix fixed at Little Tokyo in Galena by ordering either raw or cooked rolls. Open since 2009, Little Tokyo also has numerous hibachi, tempura and teriyaki options for lunch and dinner.

Fiesta Cancun in Lancaster, Wis., serves authentic Mexican food for dinner and lunch. Fajitas, burritos, tacos, enchiladas, salads and a beverage menu featuring margaritas, beer and wine is offered.

Libations in the tri-states

The tri-state area is home to many bars, brew pubs, breweries and wineries.

The Smokestack is located in one of the area’s oldest buildings and has one of the only publicly open rooftops in downtown Dubuque and the Millwork District. Smokestack is a casual cosmopolitan art and music venue on three levels that serves food, cocktails, wine and beer.

7 Hills Brewing Co. has locations in Dubuque, Platteville and Dyersville, Iowa, and suggests that patrons come as they are and exercise their right to be weird. The food menu offers munchies (appetizers), breaking bread (sandwiches) leaf (salads) and closing time (dinner) and brisket burgers.

The Platteville location opened in 2021, and will be complemented by 7 Hills’ new casual fine-dining restaurant, The Beastro Se7en, which is set to open Wednesday, July 12.

“There seems to be a need for something like this in Platteville,” said Jeremy Hall, 7 Hills’ front-of-house director. “When it comes to casual fine dining, there is not a lot in Platteville. A lot of the surrounding towns come here to eat. We’ll be filling that void in the market. And this will also be a place for the locals to go. This is a college town, and that’s great for us, but the locals need a place to go.”

The Dyersville location opened its doors in 2022, and includes a bowling alley as part of its focus on entertainment.

When it comes to drinks, the menu has a rotating selection of 7 Hills beers, seltzers and craft beer from other breweries. Prohibition Edition offers some non-alcoholic options and Liquid Courage has four unique concoctions including the Brown Cow and Adult Cherry Cola.

For wineries, the Park Farm Winery in Durango, Iowa, is a family-owned and operated vineyard that also boasts a wood-fired pizza eatery. Established in 2004, Park Farm has an outside deck and a two-level tower with amazing views and live music in the summer. It’s a year-round destination with chateau facilities and old-world charm.

The wines produced at Whispering Pines Winery in Potosi, Wis., are inspired by the birds of the upper Mississippi Valley Flyway such as Golden Goldfinch, Kingfisher, Blue Jay and Scarlet Tanager. The wine bottles are collector’s items as the labels are reproductions of original artwork depicting the birds for which the wine is named. The paintings are by local artist Wes Helmick who is also the winemaker at Whispering Pines.

Additional reporting from Kayli Reese, Erik Hogstrom, Anthony Frenzel and Elizabeth Kelsey.