What is Optimo?
Optimo is a family-owned restaurant and cafe located in the historic Viroqua Public Market of Viroqua, Wisconsin. We serve a mix of American and international classic dishes that change weekly and with the seasons... burgers and pizza to sirloin kebabs and trout pate... catfish po-boys to veggie stir-fry.
We cater to vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian preferences too. Everything we do is delicious and almost 100% made in-house from scratch by a team of culinary professionals, led by executive chef Christine Russell and sous chef David Teghtmeyer.
Optimo deals directly with area farmers who deliver right to the kitchen. We also provision at the year-round Viroqua Farmer's Markets, immediately adjacent to the kitchen. Most of our food is raised/grown within ten minutes of the restaurant. On our prep days a whimsical procession of beat-up farm trucks and Amish buggies wait their turn to deliver goods right into the hands of the chefs. They then turn around with payment in hand!
It is these local ingredients (and the chef's imagination) that determine what we conjure up that week. Our chefs make virtually everything in house: ketchup, salad dressings, flavored butters, hot sauces, spice mixes, kraut, mustards, sauces ... just about everything on your plate is made by Optimo!
When a culinary team comes together like the one that has gathered in the Optimo kitchen... who is then presented with such a delectable bounty from our uniquely pristine soil by the farmers themselves.... is it not our duty (and privilege) to present our cuisine in this manner?
Not feeling that adventurous - you can always order a tasty pizza from scratch or an Optimo third-pound cheeseburger.
To drink, Optimo stocks cane-sugar sodas, home made root beers, Kickapoo Coffees (who actually launched in what is not the Optimo kitchen!), as well as Wisconsin craft beers and a superior wine list (including varietals from the new "Upper Mississippi Valley" region).
We craft our own pastries and desserts. Optimo is an official location for Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream too!
What is our Mission?
- To serve local, seasonal, fresh, pure, natural, healing and delicious food prepared with awareness, gratitude and joy.
- To support local farmers, independent food vendors and purveyors.
- To create a supportive, abundant and "all-inclusive" community—a warm and friendly gathering place with a family-oriented atmosphere, honoring an eclectic community of people from all walks of life.
What to expect when you visit
Optimo is elegant but casual, romantic, lively, eclectic and welcoming to all. Perfect for dates, small groups, solitary diners, celebrations, parties, kids, families, seniors, locals, and tourists alike.
Seating is in cozy booths or tables. We usually have seating outside al fresco in front of the restaurant on Main Street and on a private back deck. You can also dine in the Public Market hall, under a big skylight near the town fountain.
You are the most important part of Optimo and we appreciate your visit each and every time.
Our Location & Its History
Optimo is located in downtown Viroqua, Wisconsin inside the historic Viroqua Public Market complex. The Viroqua Public Market was built in 1912 as Clark's Automotive and is part of the Viroqua Downtown Historic District, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
About the same time the Clark Building went up, a local family launched the *first* Optimo in 1908, whose name and mission inspire us to this day. It was located just down the street from the Clark Building in what is now Citizen's First Bank. The original Optimo served Asian and American dishes, naturally made of local ingredients. The owners aimed for "a refreshment parlor of highest purity". We just love this tantalizing history!
In 2004 the Clark Building was relaunched as the Viroqua Public Market after our family completed an extensive gut rehab of the space. We were recognized as "Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building" for the State of WI in 2005.
The Viroqua Public Market is a perfect accompaniment to Optimo ... a grand and romantic space with massive exposed wood trusses, a stone fountain, streetlamps and more than 100 local micro-merchant stands. We're also honored to be the Winter home of the Viroqua Farmer's Market!
Viroqua sits in the heart of the "Driftless Region" ... a segment of land that was spared apocalyptic glaciation in the prehistoric past... resulting in a most ancient and unique geography. The entire area sits over a massive aquifer. This, coupled with one of the highest concentrations of small family farms remaining in America, the Driftless Region is an optimal spot for an eatery like Optimo.
This pure energy of place, Earth, and people combine to form the essence of our cuisine.