6 Local Barbecue Hot Spots to Try

By Brian Thalhammer | Photos by Holly Leitner

Nothing quite beats the sizzle of authentic barbecue on a scorching summer day, and in the Geneva Lake area, diners are truly spoiled for choice when it comes to indulging in savory smoked meats. From family-owned smokehouses steeped in tradition to trendy eateries pushing the envelope of tradition, Lake Geneva and its nearby communities offer a vibrant barbecue scene that caters to nearly every palate. Barbecue restaurants celebrate the spirit of community and the individuals who dedicate themselves to perfecting their craft and sharing their love for smoked meats with others, infusing each dish with their passion and expertise. It’s not just about the savory cuts or the tantalizing sauces; it’s about the camaraderie forged over sizzling grills, the laughter shared among friends and family gathered around picnic tables and the sense of belonging that permeates every bite. It’s family. It’s friendship. So, fire up your appetite, grab your friends and family and tackle these barbecue hotspots.


A seasonal gem in Elkhorn, Wilson’s Whistle Stop is a family affair, according to Amber Wilson, daughter of the owner. What sets this spot apart is its commitment to the farm- to-table concept, with the family sourcing pork straight from their own farm. “It was originally my dad’s idea,” she explains. “He wanted to do a farm-to-table concept, raising pigs, so we could have control over the quality.” This dedication to quality shines through in every bite, with beautifully marbled, dark pork forming the backbone of their menu. From burgers and brats to brisket and pork belly, all prepared using authentic, old-school grilling methods, every dish is clear evidence of their passion for top- notch ingredients. Barbecue fanatics need to experience their pulled pork and butterfly pork chop sandwiches, accompanied by delectable sides like fresh coleslaw and crispy homemade chips. With live music on Saturdays and a relaxed ambiance, Wilson’s Whistle Stop offers a true taste of rustic, family-focused charm.


If you’re craving authentic barbecue that’s been slow-smoked to perfection, LD’s Barbecue in East Troy is the place to be. Owner Leon Davis ensures that no corners are cut in delivering tender, juicy meats, slow-smoked over 100-percent seasoned oakwood. “There is smoke in the air from very early in the morning until late in the evening,” says Davis, highlighting his restaurant’s commitment to quality and consistency in every platter served. From mouthwatering mac and cheese dinners topped with the finest smoked meats, to loaded nachos and signature sandwiches like The Hocking (smoked sausage covered with pulled pork) and The Drake (all three meats sandwiched together!), LD’s menu is a carnivore’s delight. Dip into their sample platter for a taste of everything, featuring ribs, chicken, brisket and smoked sausage. With sides and meats also available by the pound, LD’s offers the ultimate barbecue feast for any and all occasions.


For a smokehouse experience with a touch of sophistication, look no further than turf. Smokehouse at Geneva National. Perched amid picturesque golf course views, this year-round clubhouse-style restaurant and bar promises enticing hickory-tinged aromas and a menu teeming with flavor. From smoked Wagyu brisket tacos to cedar-planked Ora King salmon, turf. Smokehouse takes barbecue to the next level with its innovative, Tex-Mex-inspired dishes. Diners would be daft to miss their legendary turf. burger or prime rib sandwich, paired perfectly with sides like truffle fries and jalapeno cheddar cornbread. And save room for dessert, with indulgent treats like bourbon pecan pie and smoked apple-bread pudding. With offerings for breakfast, lunch and dinner, turf. Smokehouse is a must- visit destination for foodies seeking a truly upscale barbecue experience.


Tucked away in Burlington, Jacobs Smokehouse is a local favorite renowned for its mouthwatering fare and welcoming atmosphere. From loaded fries to barbecue mac and cheese, the dishes at Jacobs are full of flavor- packed pleasure. Unique offerings like the crayfish special and smoked surf- and-turf showcase the restaurant’s creative flair, earning rave reviews from patrons addicted to the menu. “This is authentic barbecue,” says Jason Jacobs, owner of Jacobs Smokehouse, accentuating his allegiance to hand- crafted, real-deal barbecue. With top- of-the-line prime cuts and a pedigree that includes the National Pro BBQ Tour, Jacobs Smokehouse delivers an unforgettable dining experience that has guests spreading the word like barbecue wildfire.


Just off the interstate in Mukwonago, David Alan Alan’s Smokehouse & Saloon (DAASS) is the brainchild of local duo Dave and Tina O’Bryan, whose shared love for authentic smoked food and craft beer has fueled their barbecue dreams. The two met in 2010 at a local sports bar, and found that Tina’s passion for hospitality and Dave’s talent for smoked food sparked an idea for their dream establishment. At DAAS, it’s all about bringing people together over mouthwatering smokehouse fare and an extensive beer selection. Whether you’re stopping by for their irresistible, $1 smoked drummies during Monday’s all-day happy hour or indulging in their smokehouse taco platter on Taco Tuesday, there’s something to satisfy every craving. But it’s not just about the specials — every dish at David Alan Alan’s is crafted with care, with a dedication to freshness that’s hard to beat. And for cocktail enthusiasts, don’t miss the smoked old-fashioned, made with smoke-infused brandy!


Situated within Fontana’s Abbey Resort, The Waterfront Restaurant offers a laid-back harborside atmosphere and a menu brimming with lakeside-worthy flavor. Whether you’re craving barbecue salmon or a hearty barbecue stack burger, you’ll find it here, accompanied by classic sides like Wisconsin cheese curds and crispy fries. The Waterfront’s Friday fish fry and Sunday “Burnin’ Down the Docks” events, featuring live entertainment and house-smoked barbecue treats, make summer evenings even more of a paradise than they already are. With a tempting array of cold brews and hand-crafted cocktails to complement your meal, The Waterfront is the ideal spot to soak in the lake vibe, savor the flavors of summer and listen to melodies from local artists.

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