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To Know a Northwoods Supper Club Is to Love a Northwoods Supper Club

American cocktail is old-fashioned. Cocktail stands on a wooden bar in a nightclub

Supper clubs’ roots are traced back to New York City’s Prohibition-era speakeasies that served dinner as a cover for their real business (serving illegal alcohol) and to the Los Angelos diner that Milwaukee native Lawrence Frank opened. But today, supper clubs are a particularly Upper Midwest thing—and something that baffles people who hail from outside our region. Sure, there are certain qualities that define a Wisconsin supper club:

  • Classic specials menus: You’ve got your Friday night fish fry, Saturday prime rib, and Sunday broasted chicken and ribs.
  • Other idiosyncratic offerings: You’ll see relish trays, cheese and crackers at the bar, hand-muddled brandy old-fashioned, over-the-top ice cream drinks, and cocktails for the kiddies, too.

But you can’t really know what a supper club is or understand its appeal until you’ve gone to one. Preferably, go on repeat until it becomes “your” supper club. Whether you’ve been going to supper clubs your whole life or are still trying to wrap your head around what a supper club is, here are some of the wonderful supper clubs in the Northwoods region, enjoyed by locals and out-of-towners alike, to put on your must-go list.

Al-Gen Dinner Club – Rhinelander

This rustic log cabin restaurant was built in 1932 by Al & Genevieve Nelson (in case you were curious about its name). We recommend Al-Gen‘s barbecue ribs (the house specialty), but they also serve excellent, mouth-watering steaks.

Fireside Supper Club – Rhinelander

If you’re looking to dine in a cozy place, overlooking a lovely lake, then this is your supper club. Top off your dinner with one of Fireside’s highly recommended ice cream drinks, like the famed Grasshopper or Brandy Alexander.

Silver Birch – Tomahawk

Built by Matt Nick in 1903, this calm sanctuary overlooking Half Moon Lake offers scenery as remarkable as its fare. Silver Birch’s unique offerings include classics alongside the likes of escargot and Thai pasta. Enjoy your meal with an artistically crafted cocktail, or share a bottle of wine from their impressive wine list.  Although a supper club, Silver Birch also serves delicious brunch. If you like it savory, choose among items like the Silver Cordon Birch Omelet. Or delight your sweet tooth with cinnamon roll pancakes.

The Guide’s Inn – Boulder Junction

The Guide’s Inn has been serving up an authentic Northwoods dining experience since the 1920s. The high-quality offerings range from classic American fare to items with a European flair. Burgers, Coquilles Saint-Jacques, roast duck, Black Forest schnitzel, and barbecued shrimp are just some of the diverse offerings you’ll find on the menu. But don’t just stop at dinner; stick around for The Guide’s Inn’s famously creative (and alcohol-free) ice cream drinks.

Little Bohemia Lodge – Manitowish Waters

This iconic Northwoods lodge was put on the map as the site of the Dillinger Gang’s infamous shootout with the FBI and as the filming location for Universal Studios’ film Public Enemies. So you may come to Little Bohemia Lodge to rub shoulders with history, but you’ll keep coming back to enjoy their superb Wednesday and Friday fish fry specials, the rustic ambiance, and lovely views overlooking Little Star Lake.

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