If you know me, you know that food (and not feeling hangry) is one of my top priorities. So it should come as no surprise that food is an important part of many of my travel experiences. In fact, sometimes the places I eat along the way are some of the best parts of a trip. And I was delighted to find some truly memorable places to eat in Janesville, Wisconsin.
One of my favorite things about dining in this small community was the people I met along the way. At every turn, friendly servers and shopkeepers provided recommendations that went above and beyond my lunch order. Everyone I encountered was not only kind and helpful but also immensely proud of their community.
From true Wisconsin staples like cheese curds and supper clubs to innovative restaurants with seasonal selections, there are lots of delicious places to discover here. I was delighted to find some inspiring local eateries in Janesville, Wisconsin, and I think you will be, too. The next time you’re exploring southern Wisconsin and find your stomach growling, consider pulling over at one of these eight incredible establishments.
Disclosure: The Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau hosted my trip to Wisconsin and my meals at some of the restaurants below. However, all opinions are my own.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
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Best Places to Stay in Janesville, Wisconsin
Best Downtown Option: Cobblestone Hotel & Suites – Janesville is conveniently located along the Rock River in downtown Janesville. Here you’ll be just steps from some of my favorite places to eat in this Wisconsin community.
Unique B&B: If you’re looking for a place to stay with a little extra character, the Guardian Angel Bed & Breakfast is the spot for you. Located in a historic 1871 home in Janesville’s Prospect Hill neighborhood, this bed and breakfast has no shortage of character and is teeming with antique touches.
Places to Eat in Janesville, Wisconsin
I’d heard great things about The Bodacious Shops before my visit to Janesville. And they did not disappoint. This combination shop, eatery and cafe is pretty much everything you could ever want from a culinary destination under one roof.
Start your morning in Janesville with coffee from The Bodacious Brew Cafe. Armed with strong coffee and a delicious scone, I spent some time during a recent visit waking up and taking in the view on the shop’s riverfront patio. Later, I popped into The Bodacious Olive and was blown away by their selection of cooking accessories, cheeses, and infused vinegars. I’m always a sucker for an edible souvenir, and — after much deliberation and input from the shop’s incredibly helpful staff — took a bottle of dark chocolate balsamic vinegar home with me.
Bodacious Shops, 119 N. Main Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
Buckhorn Supper Club
Located on the shores of Lake Koshkonong, the delightfully vintage Buckhorn Supper Club has been serving diners for more than 85 years. Hearty portions and a relaxed lakeside vibe reign at this classic eatery. Be sure to bring your appetite! At the Buckhorn Supper Club all entrees are served with salad or soup, and your choice of potatoes or veggies.
Buckhorn Supper Club, 11802 N. Charley Bluff Road in Milton, Wisconsin
When some locals told us that drafthouse was a popular spot for dinner and drinks, they weren’t exaggerating. The weekend we explored Janesville both the patio and interior of this high-energy gastropub were packed with people. At drafthouse you’ll find innovative takes on traditional American fare, including beer battered cheese curds and crispy Brussels sprouts.
During our dinner, we opted for those fan-favorite appetizers alongside seared tuna bowl, which came highly recommended by our server. You can find lots of other hearty options at drafthouse as well like flatbreads, sandwiches and meat-forward entrees. Another big draw for this downtown spot is the Friday walleye special, which we heard sells out quickly.
drafthouse, 101 E. Milwaukee Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
Genisa Wine Bar
For a classic but cozy date night, look no further than Genisa Wine Bar. This stylish spot combines minimalist, upscale decor with the welcoming ambiance of a traditional Italian restaurant. With more than 100 international wines as well as a variety of seasonally changing cocktails on the menu, Genisa is one of Janesville’s best places to imbibe.
But that doesn’t mean they don’t serve incredible food as well. This delicious eatery combines traditional Italian flavors with the influences of southern Wisconsin to create something truly special. I mean, where else can you find a flight of meatballs to sample?
During our dinner at Genisa, we sat on the beautiful rooftop patio and enjoy a great view of one of the city’s newest murals that had just been completed as part of Art Infusion. We opted for a trio of meatballs alongside the Genisa Sampler meat and cheese board to start. Then, we split the New York pepperoni brick oven pizza, which was topped with perfectly crisped pepperoni cups. For desert, I couldn’t resist Genisa’s signature tiramisu, which was perfectly airy and full of flavor.
Genisa Wine Bar, 11 N. Main Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
An unexpectedly inspiring meal inside Lark‘s cozy dining room was the perfect antidote for a rainy October evening. Lark seems like the type of restaurant you might expect to find thriving in a much larger metropolitan area. So its success on the edges of downtown Janesville makes it all the more delightful. If you’re looking for a fresh and fun dining options, look no further than Lark!
The restaurant offers a seasonal menu of small plates. While I always appreciate the opportunity to try a lot of different things, I was grateful for the portion control at Lark, because, frankly, I don’t think I would have been able to make up my mind.
As we sipped our drinks, we enjoyed an order of fried stuffed olives and a heaping helping of roasted Brussels sprouts. While I’m not usually a fan of olives, these were the perfect, slightly salt bar snack. I am, however, a sucker for Brussels sprouts, and Lark’s offerings, tossed in a soy vinaigrette, are some of the best I’ve ever hard.
The real star of our meal though was the mac and cheese with jerk pork. Served with a smoked gouda sauce and molasses crisp, this dish is what all mac and cheese should aspire to be. I promise I didn’t lick the plate, but I definitely considered it. Never one to say no to dessert, we managed to find room to end our meal on a sweet note. We opted for one of Lark’s seasonal dessert options—the pumpkin-chocolate fritters—and were blown away by the melt-in-your-mouth sweet.
Needless to say, my mouth is watering just thinking about the incredible meal we had here, and I look forward to eating at Lark again soon.
Lark, 60 S. Main Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
From the team behind Lark, Sandwich Bar is a fun and funky sandwich shop that serves up a compact but inventive menu. This mural-filled downtown spot has self-proclaimed “life-altering sandwiches” and after a particularly delicious lunch, I’m inclined to agree with them.
While the popular spot has some stand-by sandwiches that are always available, Sandwich Bar also adds seasonal selections to its menu. I opted for one of the seasonal features, a BLT with pork belly, locally grown Heirloom tomatoes and an amazing hickory-theme aioli. Josh chose the Giuseppe, which comes loaded with pepperoni, salami, ham and fontina cheese. Don’t sleep on the house-cut fries either! They’re the perfect pairing to one of Sandwich Bar’s crave-worthy creations. No matter what you order, Sandwich Bar is one of the places to eat in Janesville, Wisconsin that you won’t want to miss.
Sandwich Bar, 54 S. Main Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
The Looking Glass
There’s something wrong about going to Wisconsin and not ordering fried cheese curds! And in Janesville, there’s no better place to get them than The Looking Glass. We ducked inside this beautifully restored building after a drizzly morning exploring the city’s historic district. With exposed brick interior, low lighting, and vintage advertisements adorning the walls, The Looking Glass has a homey atmosphere that instantly makes you feel like a regular.
This restaurant has been a Janesville institution since the 1980s, and it’s easy to see why it’s hearty comfort food has stood the test of time. Our group shared two orders of cheese curds—because just one would never be enough. I opted for the Italian beef that came dripping with delicious mozzarella cheese alongside a teeming dipping bowl of au jus.
If you’re looking to indulge in Wisconsin classics over a beer or two, The Looking Glass should be your destination.
The Looking Glass, 18 N. Main Street in Janesville, Wisconsin
The Sugar Exchange
If you have a sweet tooth then The Sugar Exchange needs to be on your Janesville itinerary. This beautifully decorated shop has any sweet option your heart could desire. From handmade chocolates and tons of flavors of fudge to ice cream and international sweets, The Sugar Exchange is your one-stop-shop for deserts. We were blown away by their beautifully crafted truffles and I couldn’t resist stocking up on some of my favorite foreign-made chocolate bars.
The Sugar Exchange, 119 N. Main Street, Suite 100 in Janesville, Wisconsin
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I would love to hear from you! Where are your favorite places to eat in Janesville, Wisconsin?