15 Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire WI

Many surprises and varieties of food can be found among the 15 Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire WI! Come discover this beautiful river city and some foodie treasures along the way!

1. Grand Avenue Cafe

Famous, and I mean, like don’t ever eat it anywhere else, for their bread pudding, the whole menu is outstanding and named after famous books. Try the Turkey Bacon Salad, Chicken Pesto Salad, the Cotton Club, or the Eggs Benedict. And try the bread pudding. Even if you don’t like bread pudding. Because you will now. It doesn’t matter what the flavor of the day is, it will still convert you, no matter how weird it sounds. https://www.facebook.com/people/Grand-Avenue-Cafe/100063766354387/

Bread Pudding at Grand Avenue Cafe
The Epic Bread Pudding at Grand Avenue Cafe

2. Thai Orchid

The 15 Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire, WI would not be complete without an entry featuring the fantastic Thai/Hmong food of the area. Eau Claire has a very large Hmong population and many great choices for Thai and Hmong menus, but Thai Orchid is by far the best. Try the Pad Thai or the Hot and Sour Soup, or one of the many Pho (soup) options. Their egg rolls are the best in town, with a variety of sauces. I like the satay peanut sauce! Be careful of the spice level–you can order any dish with “no spice”, and “mild” is more like medium. The famous tiny Hmong peppers are HOT!!!!! https://www.facebook.com/ThaiOrchidEauClaire/

3. Taqueria La Poblanita

Extremely authentic, and run by a very nice family! Try the chicken or shrimp Mexican Tacos with cilantro and onions, which are excellent, but I go just for the three salsa intro with fresh chips. The creamy green one is best. Also, try the sampler meal with fried cactus, which is weird but really tasty. Trust me, Eau Claire actually produces some of the best Mexican food anywhere, and this one is worthy of mention on the Best Unique Restaurants of Eau Claire WI. https://www.taquerialapoblanitaec.com

4. Ninja

I am not a sushi eater, but the fried spicy crab sushi roll, dipped in soy sauce, will make anyone a convert. The fried rice is a giant portion and perfectly done. http://ninjaeauclaire.com

5. Roadside Diner

This unconventional and impossible to categorize local diner serves the biggest ever portions of whatever it is. The former Dairy Queen has better-than-blizzard Legend Mixers. Be careful when ordering the “small”. The warning is even on the backs of the servers’ t-shirts…AFTER you’ve ordered. The menu uses local and organic meats and produce, and will likely provide three meals out of the leftovers. Their breakfast bowls are epic and whatever they do to the mushrooms is pure magic. Burgers are large, sloppy, and pure Wisconsin. Well worth it. Try the mushroom Swiss!!!! or bacon cheeseburger. https://roadsideec.com

Mushroom Swiss burger at Roadside, one of the Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire WI
Mushroom Swiss Burger at Roadside

6. Five and Two Cafe at Down to Earth

This lunch spot inside a gorgeous nursery will surprise you. Their highlights are the cracker-crust personal pizzas. Try Thyme on Earth or Down to Earth pizzas or any of their soups…no matter what kind. The “pesto chicken sandwich” is really good paired with soup. This is the only one of the 15 Best Restaurants in Eau Claire WI at which you can get a delicious lunch AND wander through the spectacular greenhouses and buy plants. https://downtoearthgardencenter.com/five-and-two-cafe.html

7. The Nucleus

Featured in many publications as a local landmark, this breakfast and lunch icon is nearly impossible to get in on weekend brunch. They are famous for their Lemon Ricotta pancakes and the El Presidente chorizo skillet is my favorite. If you’re feeling decadent, try the Strawberry Nutella Crepes. They are WELL worth it. A very Instagrammable stop for one of the Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire WI. https://www.nucleuscafe.com

8. The Livery

This historic converted livery stable pays tribute to its roots in some very creative decor, and the food is progressive and unusual. The Livery wins my “Best Fries of a Lifetime” award. I hate ketchup (I know, I know!) and I LOVE their unique house made rosemary ketchup. Try the Soba Noodle Salad with shrimp or chicken–both fantastic–or the fresh and tangy Mediterranean Salad. https://www.theliveryec.com

Best fries ever at the Livery

9. Chickadees

This unassuming breakfast place is a surprise pick for 15 Best Unique Restaurants in Eau Claire, WI, but the hash browns and perfectly done eggs will convert the skeptical, and the raisin toast is the perfect complement. https://www.visiteauclaire.com/listing/chick-a-dees-restaurant/2116/

10. Stella Blues

This downtown creatively Cajun staple is adventurous and creates cravings that bring you back over and over again. Try the Wilted Spinach Salad, Sweet Bourbon Pasta, Sweet Potato Fries (don’t forget the famous Cajun Mayo!), and the decadent Bananas Foster for dessert. This one is a favorite of mine and definitely one of the best unique restaurants in Eau Claire WI. https://www.stellablues.biz

11. Mona Lisa

Mona Lisa is an upscale date-night Italian restaurant in downtown Eau Claire. All their food is consistently fantastic, changes seasonally, and I typically follow wait staff recommendations in general, so ask their opinions and experiment with confidence. They feature an impressive wall of wine which you can stroll by and choose your dinner pairing. https://www.visiteauclaire.com/listing/mona-lisas/430/

Gnocchi at Mona Lisa

12. Houligans

A staple in the area for many years, the warm ambiance of this fine downtown date night hotspot will have you making Houligans a tradition. Most locals put this on their list of best unique restaurants in Eau Claire WI. They are famous for steak and prime rib, but don’t forget their marvelous Garlic Mashed Potatoes! Another favorite is the unpronounceable but eminently delicious Chicken Tchoupitoulas, aka “Chicken Tchop”. https://houligans.net

Chicken Tchoupitoulas at Houligans
Prime Rib at Houligans

13. Egg Rolls Plus

The locals know. This place is in an odd spot and not much to look at, but GOSH the egg rolls…. Currently takeout only. https://www.facebook.com/EggRollPlus/

14. Cranky Buzzard

A fresh newcomer to Eau Claire’s food scene, Cranky Buzzard is located in the former Galloway Grille on Galloway St. in downtown Eau Claire. The owner also owns Denali farms, and this is very much a farm-to-table restaurant. Try the stunning Brussel Sprouts on the appetizer menu, which are possibly the best sprouts on the planet. Find the Cranky Buzzard Menu on their Facebook page by clicking on Photos and scrolling down to the Menu image: https://www.facebook.com/TheCrankyBuzzard/

Best Brussels Sprouts on the Planet at Cranky Buzzard

15. Johnny’s Italian Steakhouse

This very upscale and intimate fine dining experience is memorable for both the incredible steaks and the equally incredible popovers. Try any of the steaks, and their upscale mac n’ cheese is pretty amazing too.

Sirloin Steak at Johnny’s
Famous Popovers at Johnny’s

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