Cottonwood Social

Restaurant of the Week: The Cottonwood Social

Located on the shores of beautiful Elkhart Lake, the culinary scene is strong at The Cottonwood Social. It is home to a mix of old and new, which combines wonderfully to create a cozy and welcoming place to dine and mingle.

Their street-side entrance of The Cottonwood Social is very unassuming and tucked into the building of the recently renovated The Shore Club Hotel. However, when guests descend the old staircase and enter the downstairs area, they will experience an enchanting space with full lake views, comfortable leather lounging chairs, a vintage bar, open seating and a glowing fireplace used during colder months.

During prime summer dining, guests can enjoy the lakeside patio breeze among the twinkling light strings, flowers and namesake Cottonwood trees. As the closest restaurant to the lake, The Cottonwood Social offers beautiful views to watch boats and kayaks float by. 

Enjoying their fourth season at The Shore Club and The Cottonwood Social, owners Tom and Kristin Shortt, and their young family, split their time between the Chicago area and Elkhart Lake. They have been working hard to renovate both Cottonwood Social and the adjacent boutique The Shore Club Hotel. Their passion for food, hospitality, guest experience and Elkhart Lake shows.

Their chef team travels to Elkhart Lake for the season, bringing with them bold flavors and unique dishes all while using as many local products as possible like Johnsonville, Sargento Cheese and Plymouth Springs Fish Co.

Guests can start their meal with some sharable eats like tuna tartar tacos, caprese toast or the very Wisconsin baked cheesehead dip made with a plethora of melted cheeses and warm pita bread. There are a couple of nice salads to enjoy, but the real food fun comes in form of Cottonwood Social’s pastas and hearth-baked pizzas. The bucatini and homemade beef meatballs in a red sauce or the truffle Portobello penne in a white wine sauce are both delicious pasta options. Pizza flavors like the BBQ chicken gouda, spicy pepperoni or The Social Gathering, loaded with Italian sausage, sweet peppers, mushrooms, onions and spices, are perfect to share. 

The Cottonwood Social is passionate about its specialty cocktails and craft beer selection, serving up Wisconsin favorites like the Brandy Old Fashioned and local beer from down-the-street neighbor, Switch Gear. We are confident the mixologists could whip up just about anything, including a delightfully refreshing watermelon and basil concoction, which we enjoyed lakeside at sunset. 

After dinner, pop over to the recently re-vamped century-old El Teatro for a seasonal show. Wednesday nights feature a local singing and dancing troupe, and we would be remiss not to mention it has the feel of a certain 1987 movie set in the Catskills (if you know, you know). And while, we didn’t carry a watermelon, we certainly enjoyed the warm hospitality, delicious flavors, refreshing cocktails and had the time of our lives. 

The Cottonwood Social is open Thursday to Monday, 5 to 10 p.m., during summer months. Reservations are encouraged.

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