8 Food and Drink Places to Visit in Lake Geneva – Our girls trip to Lake Geneva, a bustling lake front resort town, included visiting a variety of dining options from Neapolitan pizza to steakhouse to Italian bistro to winery to cooking school to sweet treat shops.
What do we always talk about on vacation? Where to eat! And our girls trip to Lake Geneva was no exception. We were looking forward to the various culinary excursions we were going to have on our trip. While this, of course, included restaurants, we were also going to do some wine tasting at a local winery and get our chef’s hat on at the Lake Geneva School of Cooking. For more details on the trip including where we stayed and all we did, see here.
Where We Ate
There are so many reasons why traveling with friends is a special experience. The opportunity to catch up on each other’s lives, share stories, laugh (a lot) and of course, eat! While our palettes are varied, we do all like to dine out at restaurants that believe in high quality ingredients and flavorful recipes. Each restaurant that we visited had their own story, ambience and memorable dishes including farm to table, bistros, dining al fresco, view of the water and family recipes.
As we planned this trip, where and what we wanted to eat played a big role. Dining out is a part of our lives so why would it be any different on our travels? Vacation spots can be focused on the burger, fries and ice cream options (totally fine) but we also wanted to explore the culinary scene in the area. From true Neapolitan pizza to the creative fish dishes to farm fresh produce to sweet treats, there is something for everyone.
We went to two restaurants that had very distinct views. You know, the ones where you totally want a window seat. The first, Oakfire, was all about the water; while Hunt Club Steakhouse captured the golf course and rolling hills with its majestic beauty. The third restaurant, Sopra, was a familiar ambience to us as it felt like we were dining in Chicago with the restaurant design and menu.
Originally opened in 2015, this restaurant quickly made a name for itself with its Neapolitan pizzas. So much so that it did a complete rebuild in 2017 to become a two-story space with “the place to be” second floor outdoor patio.
Now they are serving fresh-out-of-the-oven pizzas on each floor as well as unobstructed views of Geneva Lake. Awesome!
For our first stop, we wanted to take advantage of the spring temperatures and sat outside on their first floor patio. Beginning with appetizers and cocktails and then progressing to salads (arugula with balsamic!) and their famous Neapolitan pizza, our girls trip was starting off on the right foot.
Their Neapolitan pizzas had the most delicious crust. Chewy and crisp at the same time with San Marzano tomato sauce and buffalo mozzarella or the Napoli pizza with garlic and fresh basil. Devoured! Crispy calamari and burrata started the meal off with fresh flavors and the Dessert Pizza with fresh strawberries, bananas, basil and Nutella ended our lunch on a very happy note. Plus, look at that view! Grab a cocktail – try the sangria – pick a balcony and just relax.
Hazel’s Restaurant is located in this historic Lakefront mansion where classic cocktails and home cooking surrounded by the gilded age style of the decor is seen in every room from furniture to table settings.
Located in the heart of the downtown area, we stopped by Sopra Bistro for dinner. The ambience gave us the feeling like we were in a local Chicago restaurant. After learning about Chef Simon’s history, it all made sense. With an international culinary background including time spent at several Chicago restaurants, we understood the food philosophy of the restaurant.
The menu offers seasonal and globally driven dishes including a Scottish trout that looks just like salmon. The shrimp and pasta was bursting with tomato flavor while the salmon was light and perfectly cooked. There is an Italian flair which is evident in the dishes.
Beet Salad, Salmon, Shrimp Pasta, Scottish Trout
While the restaurant is more upscale, it is still a casual and comfortable place to have dinner or a glass of wine and appetizers.
Finishing off our evening with coffee and dessert just seemed right. Tiramisu and Coppa Pistachio divided among us was just enough sweet to complete our meal. A taste of Italy. Delicious.
Our final evening was our celebratory dinner. We wanted a meal that reflected the importance of our friendship and this memorable trip. We chose Hunt Club Steakhouse for this purpose.
We walked into what was once a 100 year old farmhouse that is filled with history. Once owned by the Crane family, famous in the plumbing industry (and a name we learned about on the boat tour when looking at homes along the shoreline), it was used as a retreat for their corporate executives. In 2013, it was reopened as Hunt Club Steakhouse.
With wide expansive windows and a more casual ambience, this restaurant welcomes guests for a bite to eat or a celebratory meal. Steakhouses typically have a feel to them. Their design aesthetics can feel similar. Dark ambience with heavy feeling wood. Not at Hunt Club. Yes, there is definitely wood paneling, but the restaurant’s openness and windows give a more modern perspective.
Located at the entrance to Geneva National Resort and Club, you really won’t appreciate the view until you are seated. The Gary Player designed golf course and Lake Como were out our window. Meticulous manicured greens with a simply beautiful picturesque view and shimmering lake were our dinner companions.
While this is, of course, a steakhouse and has won many awards from notable sources (Wine Spectator, 12 years in a row), their menu will exceed anyone’s dining expectations. As we were seated, the recognition that several of us were fish eaters was referenced. They wanted us to know that their fish menu was as important to them as their meat offerings. We appreciated that.
Appetizers could have been main courses! Seared tuna, butternut squash soup and a crab cake that was all crab and herbs. No leftovers here.
The must-have dish heard well before we even arrived at the restaurant was the salmon. Done. Executive Chef Ryne Harwick has created a menu that while traditional in some of the dishes, is inventive in others. A modern take on steakhouse favorites and a way with seafood that deserves notice.
This beet salad was not only delicious but so colorful. A beautiful presentation.
Their famous Cedar Planked Salmon, Chilean Sea Bass, Lobster Ravioli and Tenderloin Trio. Delicate yet intricate flavors that highlight the main ingredient while cooked to perfection. Definitely make a reservation for dinner during your visit to Lake Geneva. You will be glad you did.
Now, for us, this one caught our attention when we were making our initial plans for the trip. The Lake Geneva School of Cooking offered a cooking class that started with a visit to the Farmer’s Market to gather our supplies and then back to the kitchen to do some cooking And then eating! The instructor, Chef John Bogan was a burst of energy and entertainment. Once we began the prep work, the rock music filled the room. As we each had our tasks to complete our respective recipes, Chef John stopped by to show us techniques, tips and tricks so that we would be successful making the recipe at home.
The cooking experience was about three and a half hours from welcome cocktails and appetizers to farmer’s market to cooking to eating. Just a great afternoon in the kitchen.
They offer a variety of classes and themes including private sessions and team building experiences. Definitely check the schedule and book in advance. There were several in our class that come on a regular basis to enjoy Chef John’s classes. Totally understand why!
Popular Studio Winery is an urban winery that is totally unpretentious and completely welcoming. The owners are artists – literally – she’s an artist who offers painting classes in the winery – and he is a musician and wine maker. Both talents are readily seen in the artwork on the walls, the labels on the wine bottles and the comfortable and chill space filled with musical equipment.
We stopped by Studio Winery to sample different wines and listen to some music from local musicians. While their indoor space is eclectic, their outdoor space has artistic touches with the sculptures and of course, grape vines. Such an enjoyable way to relax in Lake Geneva.
Because no meal is officially over or day is complete without a sweet treat, here are two places we visited that you must stop by on your trip to Lake Geneva.
What would capture your attention first: looking through a huge window and seeing a pastry chef making fudge on a large marble slab or watching as hot, buttery peanut brittle is poured on to the slab and cooled and then broken into bite size pieces?
This 30 year old family business is known for their Mackinac Island fudge and so many other goodies. All made from scratch. That peanut brittle definitely won us over. What’s your favorite?
An old fashioned ice cream shoppe with so many flavors to choose from. Interesting fact, their ice cream is made in Madison (Wisconsin) and delivered to Lake Geneva. They have deservedly won three major ice cream awards including Perfect 10 by the National Ice Cream Retailers Assn. Save room, grab a spoon and enjoy!
Our girls trip to Lake Geneva may now be over but our memories of a vacation filled with our dearest friends will last forever. If a getaway is on your mind, make plans to visit this bustling lake front resort town where you can enjoy everything from water activities to golf to shopping to relaxation to delicious meals. Here is more information about the details of our trip including where to stay.