Like any city, when visitors come to Green Bay, it is easy to find reliable places to eat. Green Bay has many national chains, such as Chili’s, Applebee’s, Texas Road House, and many more like Denny’s, and Perkins. We don’t need to mention all the fast food chains. If you walk into one of those places, it will be the same as if you were in Dallas, or Denver, or Boston. It will be reliable. And simple, because you know exactly what you can order.

But those places lack any local character. When I travel, I want to experience the region like a native to the area. I won’t eat in a national chain when I am on vacation. I search for the small local eateries; often, that is where I find the best foods. The secret restaurants.

Well, these are not actually secret restaurants, but you will normally only see locals here. When you are next in Green Bay, I urge you to eat at any of these local eateries. None of these restaurant will be found in travel guides; none were featured in “500 Things to Eat Before It’s Too Late: And the Very Best Places to Eat Them”.

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Every city has its own style and flavor. When traveling, try to experience things that are outside your normal daily routine. Look for those little places that are unobtrusive and humble, because often you will find greatest hiding in plain sight.

Al's HamburgerCredit: Trevor LaRene

Photo by Trevor LaRene, 2014

Al’s Hamburgers
A simple white-painted cinder block building in downtown Green Bay has held Al’s Hamburgers since 1934. The seating is sparse, with ten seats at the counter and a four booths, but the wait is short to get freshly grilled burgers (make certain you order them with fried onions.) No premade patties here, the cook takes a quarter pound of burger, puts it on the grill and presses it into a patty, and then piles raw onions on top. And this place is inexpensive. I enjoyed a quarter pound cheeseburger, fries and a coffee for $7.00. They accept credit cards and cash, no checks.

Al's CheeseburgerCredit: Trevor LaRene

My meal at Al's.

Photo by Trevor LaRene, 2014

Apparently, their homemade corned beef hash is the best, but have not tried their breakfast yet.

Recommendation: Everything.

Taco Burrito MexicoCredit: Trevor LaRene

Photo by Trevor LaRene, 2015

Taco-Burrito Mexico
None of the places listed in this article are chains, but this restaurant is almost a local chain, with three locations in east, west and central Green Bay. Simple food, served fresh and fast. I’ve not yet eaten in Mexico, but my guess is that these places serve all the traditional foods, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, as well as combination meals. The food is plentiful and inexpensive (two small pastor pork quesadillas cost $2.50.) You can eat in or take to go. Soft drinks and beers are available in cans and bottles, but cannot be taken to go. 

Suggestion: Buy a “real” Coca-Cola, bottled in Mexico and made with cane sugar, for a taste that will bring you back decades. Also, ask for the green sauce for your foods. Both red and green are made in-house, but the green is hotter with better flavor.

Recommendation: Vegetarian burrito (but only if you are very hungry.)

White Dog/ Back CatCredit: Trevor LaRene

Photo by Trevor LaRene, 2015

White Dog/Black Cat 
A combination of a bar and a café, the White Dog is a full service bar (beer, wine, and spirits) while the Black Cat has sandwiches, snacks and meals. Both sides of the building are designed with a unique style, with vintage furniture throughout, combined with an eclectic mix of modern art and new age funk. The food is equally varied. You can get sandwiches like at any other restaurant, but you can also find a hummus pizza (one of my favorites), a BLT with avocado with homemade potato chips, or a black bean burger. Appetizers include a warm beer-cheese dip served with garlic toast, olive tapenade with pita flatbread and others. 

Recommendation: Order a bowl of the cream of wild mushroom and brie soup.

Joe's BBQCredit: Trevor LaRene

Photo by Trevor LaRene, 2015

Joe’s Texas BBQ
This restaurant grew out of a garage, eventually adding a small indoor seating area, in addition to the picnic tables outside. Joe makes the best smoked beef brisket, pulled pork and pork ribs I have ever eaten. The menu is small, and written on a white board near the ordering window. You can order sandwiches, combination dinners or simply the meat to go. If you are hungry, get the Ranger Plate (all three meats for a total of one pound, with two sides for $15.00). The pulled pork sandwiches are served with cole slaw on top, with extra BBQ sauce on the side. Bring extra napkins, the meat is juicy. Beer and sodas are available by the bottle, for on-site consumption only.

An important suggestion: Arrive early. While their hours are 11am-7pm, they close when they run out of meat. Many times, that is around 5pm. If you really want brisket, call in advance to make sure they will save some for you.

Recommended sides: Homemade potato salad and homemade macaroni and cheese.

Pasquale’s International Cafe
Further away from the other restaurants is Pasquale’s in DePere, a southern suburb of Green Bay. Their décor is extensively retro, from the bar back, to the newspaper and magazine clippings from the 1940s and 50s. A bar that also serves excellent food, you can find almost anything on their extensive menu, from American traditional foods like BBQ to Italian specialties. Their BBQ ribs are excellent, especially with their sweet potato fries. If you like beer, their choice is enviable. 

Suggestion: The restaurant is located on a one-way street, immediately after you cross the Fox River. Drive past the restaurant, located on the corner of Main St and 3rd St. Turn left at 4th street, and then immediately enter the alley behind the buildings to find a parking spot. 

Recommendation: Chicago-style hot dog.

Every city has its own style and flavor. When traveling, try to experience things that are outside your normal daily routine. Look for those little places that are unobtrusive and humble, because often you will find greatest hiding in plain sight.

Al's Hamburgers Get Directions
131 S Washington St, Green Bay, WI 54301, USA
Taco Burrito Mexico Get Directions
108 N Oakland Ave, Green Bay, WI 54303, USA
Taco Burrito Mexico Get Directions
1697 E Mason St, Green Bay, WI 54302, USA
Taco Burrito Mexico Get Directions
238 S Webster Ave, Green Bay, WI 54301, USA
White Dog/Black Cat Cafe Get Directions
201 S Broadway, Green Bay, WI 54303, USA
Joe's Texas BBQ Get Directions
1800 S Ashland Ave, Green Bay, WI 54304, USA
Pasquale's International Cafe Get Directions
305 Main Ave, De Pere, WI 54115, USA