Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Exploring La Crosse Part III: Eats & treats October 22, 2015

HOW DO YOU DECIDE where to eat in downtown La Crosse, Wisconsin? You don’t. You allow your daughter to choose the restaurant.

A coaster at The Old Crow. I love the simplistic design and minimalist decor.

A coaster at The Old Crow. I love the simplistic design and minimalist decor.

Last Saturday, searching for a place to eat lunch, Miranda’s eyes landed on The Old Crow, an American Gastropub. I was expecting the usual limited fare of burgers and other sandwiches. Instead, we found those and plenty of creative menu choices. Like a burger served between glazed doughnuts. I ordered the smoked bacon, chicken and cheddar flatbread. The daughter and husband both ordered sandwiches. We all liked our food, although getting our meals took awhile. Granted, it was the busy lunch hour and we’d waited 15 minutes to be seated.

My smoked bacon and chicken flatbread cheddar. I wouldn't expect anything less in Wisconsin.

My smoked bacon and chicken flatbread with lots of cheddar. I wouldn’t expect anything less in Wisconsin.

I’m not a fan of sports bars. Typically, I’ve found the food isn’t that great. Nor is the atmosphere. But lots of natural light pours in through large street-side windows at The Old Crow. It features minimalist décor. And, as you might expect, an excessive number of televisions. A Badgers’ football game distracted my husband from conversation. That’s the primary reason I dislike sports bars. I’m out to eat and engage in conversation, not watch football, basketball or hockey. But that’s me. Sports bars fit a need. At the table next to us, a contingent of Badgers fans wore red team attire.

For a sports-focused bar and grill, The Old Crow wins with me in both food and decor.

Antique Center of La Crosse, Ltd., 110 South Third Street

Antique Center of La Crosse, Ltd., 110 South Third Street, with 18,000 square feet of merchandising space.

Details, like this tiled exterior entry, added to the charm of Antique Center.

Details, like this tiled exterior entry, add to the charm of Antique Center. This building once housed Ganterts Furniture Company.

I spotted lots of Oktoberfest buttons. La Crosse recently celebrated its annual Oktoberfest.

I spotted lots of Oktoberfest buttons. La Crosse recently celebrated its annual Oktoberfest.

A small section of the first floor merchandise in this sprawling building.

A small section of the first floor merchandise in this sprawling building.

The store offers an extraordinary amount of merchandise.

The store offers an extraordinary amount of merchandise.

I spotted two vintage dollhouses, wishing I still had mine from my youth.

I spotted two vintage dollhouses, wishing I still had mine from my youth.

I was tempted by this poster because I love vintage graphics.

I was tempted by this poster because I love vintage graphics.

It's fun to look at the clothing and wish I was about 30 years younger than I am.

It’s fun to look at the clothing and wish I was about 30 years younger.

After lunch, we checked out the neighboring Antique Center of La Crosse, Ltd., doing our share to support this business housed in an old furniture store and spanning three floors. We didn’t even hit the basement. You could spend hours in this shop teeming with customers.

With this signage, you can't miss The Pearl.

With this signage, you can’t miss The Pearl.

The Pearl offers m

The Pearl offers many ice cream flavors and types of ice cream treats. The ice cream is homemade by The Pearl.

Even though a tad chilly, we ate our ice cream outdoors. We ordered white chocolate raspberry, maple nut and Cappuccino Oreo.

Even though a tad chilly, we ate our ice cream outdoors. We ordered white chocolate raspberry, maple nut and Cappuccino Oreo.

The old-fashioned look of The Pearl is its charm.

The old-fashioned soda fountain look of The Pearl is its charm.

This clutch of birds dipped their beaks into spilled ice cream outside The Pearl.

We watched this clutch of birds dip their beaks into spilled ice cream outside The Pearl.

The ice cream and candy shop is housed in the complex known as Pearl Street West.

The Pearl Street West complex houses the ice cream and candy shop.

But we had a schedule to keep and ice cream to eat. Not that we were hungry after the filling lunch at The Old Crow. Still, we could not leave downtown La Crosse without eating homemade ice cream at The Pearl Ice Cream Parlor. It’s a must stop, for the old-fashioned soda fountain atmosphere and the creamy ice cream. After that treat, I was ready for the 2 1/2 hour drive back home to Faribault.

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CHECK BACK tomorrow for more from La Crosse. Click here to read my first post from La Crosse and click here to read my second post in this Exploring La Crosse series.

© Copyright 2015 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

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19 Responses to “Exploring La Crosse Part III: Eats & treats”

  1. treadlemusic Says:

    Love the food at The Old Crow! But, I’m with ya on the sport’s bar/TV ‘thing’!!!!! One just can’t help gazing upwards, over your companion’s shoulder, at the screens that are mounted everywhere!!! My ever ready question….”Are you listening?” is always met with “I’m listening” (ha!). Conversation is truly a lost art, forced into the shadows by the prevalence of the deluge of technology that a younger generation (has been trained to) feed(s) on!!!!!! Ugh!
    You are so correct, though, in stating that the number of excellent eating establishments are to be found on every side of every block!!!! And, I bet you didn’t even make it to the BEST locally hand-dipped chocolates shop……The Sweet Shop…..on North Caledonia Street, next door to the original “Maid-Rite” (“original loose meat sandwich) cafe!!!!!! Ah yes……..for another time…………………….

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    The gastropub looked like a fun place with a nice variety on the menu which is what we always love about places like that. I think La Crosse has a lot to offer visitors judging from your series.

  3. Beautiful Captures – that ice cream looks delicious – even the birds enjoy it 🙂 We were at an upscale restaurant a few weeks ago and they had televisions – argh! – hubbie kept getting distracted from our romantic date night – pisses me off a bit the places televisions are popping up in. Happy Day – Enjoy!

  4. Dan Traun Says:

    I concur with the sports bar notion; I am not a huge sports fan at all. The Pearl will absolutely be on my list to visit. Homemade ice cream…love it.

  5. I love the photo of the birds tasting the ice cream!

  6. Jackie Says:

    Oh that chicken flatbread looks amazing….looks like you had a good time with Miranda. Such a beautiful fall for these kind of road trips 🙂

  7. hotlyspiced Says:

    Great post, Audrey. I don’t like sports bars for the same reason – hate walking in and seeing the TV screens. I would love one of those ice creams and I love the shops signage. And I always wanted a dolls house just like the one in your photo – I never got one! xx

  8. Littlesundog Says:

    That does it! If you keep enticing me with these small community posts and images, I will have no choice but to hit the road next spring/summer and become a traveling gypsy! La Crosse seems to have an eclectic mix of tourist attractions. Great images, Audrey! I especially loved the sparrows at the dribbled ice cream.


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