Located in Green County WI, the heart of the Wisconsin Cheese country, Monroe has been getting some great press about its small, but growing food scene. It has a charming downtown square anchored by the beautiful brick Green County Courthouse from 1891. You can visit and take a self-guided tour.
For foodies and cheese lovers, you can visit the National Historic Cheesemaking Center at Highway 69 South and 21st St.
Don’t miss Baumgartner’s Cheese Store & Tavern located on the main square. Opened in 1931, it is the oldest cheese store in the state. This is a great spot for lunch and a local beer or to buy some local cheese to take home. I bought some wonderful cheddar, two types of Swiss and a great smoked Gouda. 1023 16th Ave.
Two blocks away at 1208 14th Ave., is Minhas Craft Brewery which is the second oldest in the nation. You can take tours, visit the tasting room, see the museum of beer memorabilia with brewery artifacts, advertising and lithographs, visit the store and enjoy a meal in the restaurant. Brands produced include Mountain Creek, Rhinelander and Boxer Ice. They also produce the Blumer line of sodas and root beer. Across the street is the Micro Distillery, they produces white and rye whiskey, rum, gin, tequila, absinthe, moonshine, vodka and an Irish Cream and an horchata cream liqueur. Tours and tastings are available daily.
In addition to Baumgartner’s and Mihhas Brewery, a recent Chicago Tribune article recommends Pancho & Lefty’s Outlaw Grill (love the name) at 1017 17th Ave.
Keep your eyes open for the Green County Barn Quilts sites as you drive in the area. There are 136 barns, corn cribs and other farm buildings, each featuring a unique 8’ by 8’ colored quilt painted on wood and hung on the side.