On the Marina: The Mariner’s Inn was the von Rutenberg family’s first restaurant and is almost as famous for its steaks and seafood as it is for its spot in the marina on the north end of Lake Mendota. You won’t want to miss the sunset view from the patio—or the authentic antiques inside that create this restaurant’s renowned ambience.
Mom-Approved: Most people have probably perched on the porch at the Nau-ti-Gal, nestled along the Yahara River at the north end of Lake Mendota. This casual dining spot serves lunch, dinner and snacks, but may be most famous for its Mother’s Day brunch and bottomless mimosas.
Aye, Aye: Captain Bill’s, located on Lake Mendota, gets two nods from those in-the-know: this place does both seafood and setting well. Appetizer and entrée menus feature everything from crab cakes to lobster, and on chilly nights a giant round fireplace awaits—a great gathering spot for a group of friends.
All Aboard: From April through October, the family even offers the chance to dine aboard the Betty Lou, a chartered cruise around Lake Mendota or Monona that comes complete with a captain, bar and buffet service—all you have to do is enjoy!