Curly’s Pub, Green Bay, Wis.
Given my love of sports and my profession, it was only a matter of time before a football-centric place showed up on this blog. But a place inside a stadium? Well, that’s a little bit different, considering that most stadium food is just a step above your average school cafeteria.
But of course, when I say that, that’s referring to what they serve at the concession stands, and that’s not what you have at Curly’s Pub. Curly’s Pub might be inside historic Lambeau Field, but it’s a real restaurant, not your typical stadium fare. This place is a sports bar that stays open year-round and plays up the history that is the team that plays at Lambeau, the Green Bay Packers.
As Packer Backers have probably figured out by now, Curly’s Pub is named after the founder of the Packers and the namesake of Lambeau Field, Curly Lambeau. Inside the restaurant, the glass walls feature plays that Curly Lambeau used while running the Packers. The menu is handed to you on a clipboard, and the serving staff’s uniforms are reminiscent of the original blue and gold uniforms the Packers wore in the days before there was an AFL or a Super Bowl. Keeping with the football theme, you can even order what the Packers are having for their pregame meal during football season, or opt for either the players’ or coaches’ choices from the daily specials.
But you’re in Wisconsin, known as America’s Dairyland on their license plates. That means cheese, and that almost always means cheese curds. Cheese curds are exactly what their name suggests, small pieces of cheese (they can be multiple kinds, but tend to be cheddar). They can be eaten plain, but at Curly’s, they’re breaded and fried, then brought out hot with a side of marinara. If you’ve ever had a mozzarella stick in a restaurant (and really, who hasn’t?), this is similar, but it’s cheddar instead and it works so well.
Playing off the theory that the closer it came from, the better it tastes, the cheese is just a higher quality in Wisconsin. I would honestly say to pass on the marinara since I don’t think it adds anything, but it doesn’t take away from the curds either.
As you might have guessed, one good dairy item deserves another, and that means a combination of Wisconsin’s two traditions: beer and cheese, in the form of a beer cheese soup. As I’ve said before about Pickerman’s, a good soup needs to be flavorful and creamy unless it’s a broth-based soup, and beer cheese is definitely not a broth. What it is, though, is quite delicious. The flavor of beer does come across (so yes, despite having never drank, I do know what beer tastes like) as a subtle enhancer that makes the cheese really shine. It’s a perfect complement to the many sandwiches here, of which I went with a wonderful turkey and swiss sandwich with a garlic aioli.
Curly’s Pub might be in a stadium, but it’s high-quality and yet another something for the Packers to be proud of. It’s an experience any true Packer fan (and fans of the other 31 NFL teams) shouldn’t miss.
Time to go: Lunch or dinner. Curly’s Pub is open most of the day, although you do need a ticket to dine there if the Packers are playing while you visit.
Wait during my visit: None. It’s Green Bay, a city of 100,000 and change. You don’t wait long here.
Location: Curly’s Pub is behind the Packers’ team store on the second level of Lambeau Field.
Parking: It’s Lambeau Field. Unless it’s gameday, there’s a TON of parking here.
Cost: You’re paying a little more for the experience of eating at the Packers’ restaurant. Plan on about $15.
Website: Curly’s Pub
Specialty items: Cheese curds, beer cheese soup