Sturgeon Bay Visitor Center News

Sturgeon Bay Upholds a Treasured Door County Tradition - The Fish Boil!


While the exact origin is unknown, Door County’s infamous fish boils date back over 100 years. Some credit the area’s early Scandinavian settlers and fishermen while others believe it all began as a means of feeding large, hungry groups of lumberjacks. Perhaps we’ll never know exactly how it began, but there’s one thing we do know — fish boils are a unique and timeless tradition throughout the County year-round.

So what is a fish boil, and what makes it such a popular cornerstone of Door County’s booming culinary scene? Simply stated — fish boils are more than a meal, they’re an experience! The process begins with a large kettle of water brought to a boil over a wood fire using three pounds of salt as eager groups of hungry patrons look on. Once the water is boiling, baskets of potatoes and onions are lowered into the kettle followed by healthy fillets of fresh-caught Lake Michigan Whitefish. Additional salt is added to elevate the water temperature leading up to the “boil over.”

What’s a “boil over?” Well, that’s the highlight of it all! Believe it or not, fuel oil — yes, fuel oil, is splashed over the kettle causing the fire to roar wildly casting flames 15 to 20 feet into the air. Spectators snap photos as “oohs” and “ahhs” erupt from the crowd. Yet, to the surprise of many, it’s not just for show. As the fish cooks, oil is released that forms a gray film on top of the kettle. The boil over carries the unpalatable oil over the side leaving behind clean water from which to remove the fish and vegetables. Once the flames have subsided, dinner is ready!

Comprised of hearty chunks of tender fish, potatoes, coleslaw, bread, and a generous portion of homemade, Door County cherry pie, a fish boil dinner is a feast to behold and enjoy! As always, seats at the table fill up fast and availability is limited. Call ahead to place a reservation and bring your appetite. You’re in for a true Door County treat.

So where should you go for this one-of-a-kind culinary experience? Look no further than Sturgeon Bay, Door County! We’ve taken the guesswork out of it and compiled a list of the area’s top restaurants serving fish boils and more, so there’s always something for everyone. Bon appetit!


Mill Supper Club

Family-owned for over 48 years, the Mill Supper Club offers a true Wisconsin Supper Club experience with a touch of Door County flair! Popular menu items include baked chicken, certified Angus steak, pasta, prime rib, homemade soup, and dessert. All-you-can-eat fish boils are offered on Thursday nights at 6pm from mid-June through mid-October. 920-743-5044

Scaturo’s Baking Co. and Café

Known for fresh-from-the-oven bakery and bread, Scaturo’s Baking Co. and Café offers an extensive breakfast and lunch menu seven days a week. Daily offerings include deep-dish quiche of the day, biscuits and gravy, omelettes, soups, sandwiches, and wood-fired pizza! Fish boils take place Friday night only at 6pm. 920-746-8727

Waterfront Mary’s Bar & Grill

Nestled along the northwest corner of the Sturgeon Bay ship canal, Waterfront Mary’s offers a wide selection of appetizers, burgers, wraps, and sandwiches. Daily specials include sushi, tacos, and wings! Fish boils are offered Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday at 5:30pm and 7:30pm by reservation only. 800-388-8055