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A Tasty Trail: Wisconsin's Best Barbecue Restaurants

By Dennis R. Getto
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel restaurant critic
Last updated: July 21, 2001

...Famous Dave's Barbecue. Six locations: 1170 Westhill Blvd., Appleton, 920-991-9700; 3030 Milton, Janesville, 608-757-8100; 3055 Highway 16, La Crosse, 608-779-4100; 900 S. Park St., Madison, 608-286-9400; 435 Broadway, Wisconsin Dells, 608-253-6683; and 5168 County Trunk B, Hayward, 715-462-3352.

In 1994, Famous Dave Anderson opened his first barbecue restaurant in Hayward, not far from the Lac Court Oreilles Indian Reservation where his mother had grown up.

It didn't take long for him to discover how much Wisconsinites like barbecue.

"During the summer, we were serving 4,000 to 6,000 meals a week in a town of 1,800 people," Anderson said. "People would drive from as far away as Green Bay just to eat barbecue."

That first restaurant's warm reception with barbecue fans set the tone for a nationwide success story.

"There are 50 Famous Dave's restaurants from Utah to Washington, D.C., with six more opening this month," Anderson said.

Famous Dave's success springs from several factors, including his themed restaurants (which look like hunting lodges) and a wide menu that includes Southern fried chicken and wild rice soup.

But the heart of the menu is barbecued ribs, pork shoulder and beef brisket, roasted over hardwood and served with a sweet tangy sauce that Dave Anderson developed himself.

For sides, there's corn on the cob, beans baked with sausage, coleslaw and potato salad. For dessert, try the bread pudding - if you have room....

This article may not be reproduced by others without permission of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

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