Revisit a Wine Bar Offering Excellent Cuisine with Your Swirl and Sip

Reserve the private cellar for a more intimate dining experience, with seating for six and customizable menus.

Venture just off the main drag in Stillwater, and you’ll find one of the top 25 wine bars in the United States, at least according to Travel + Leisure Magazine, the writers of which might know a thing or two about the subject. Domacin (pronounced like “chin”) Restaurant and Wine Bar is named for a Serbian word that translates loosely to “host of the house.” Inside, Domacin is a romantic, cozy and upscale spot where people are paramount and flavors come first.

On the simple but thoughtful menu, choose first from the charcuterie, olives and almonds, steak tartare, flatbreads or crostini piled high with prosciutto, apple, brie and caramelized onion. The seasonal, rotating selection of small plates is perfect for pairing tapas-style, with the 800-plus wines available for tasting, dining in or retail (there’s an off-sale shop attached).

Wines are the focus, with small-batch, unique vintages curated from around the world. (There are almost 50 wines from Oregon’s Willamette Valley alone, and a huge selection of Italian varieties.)

Further down the menu, soups and flavorful salads delight, and a handful of signature and seasonally created entrées—including Aleksandar’s risotto with mushroom, Reggiano, truffle oil and aged balsamic, named for the Serbian co-owner—are cooked to perfection. And just like when visiting a friend’s home, there’s a communal vibe to dining at Domacin.

“We get people talking here; we’re not a quiet little restaurant. We introduce everyone to everyone,” co-owner Rich Hoch says. “And we don’t have televisions. We hope people put their phones away, enjoy the wines, look at the menu and enjoy the people and flavors.”

As is also the case when visiting a friend’s home, Domacin’s wine and menu selections change according to the season, the host’s mood and the occasion. “We’re pouring more whites in summer, and you’ll see more big reds and meats in fall and winter,” Hoch says. Tastings happen every Tuesday, often featuring small-batch producers and local experts. You’ll see the staff’s personal picks on the menu, along with a description of why they love each one and how it pairs with favorite meals.

American bistro-style entrées are made from scratch daily, featuring local ingredients as often as possible. Meats come raw from Wisconsin, processed and trimmed in-house. “The mushroom guys we use—they stop in regularly,” explains Hoch, with a chuckle. “We hope people come in, try something new, and learn and experiment. Wine is supposed to be fun!”

Breakfasts on the Go

The Marine Café is one of a handful of businesses in charming Marine on St. Croix. It’s a quirky, cozy spot with bright walls, funky artwork and bike wheels hanging from the ceiling. It’s had a number of owners and names in recent history, but the signature simple-yet-delicious recipe book, the welcoming vibe that spills out onto the patio in summer and the well-known persona of “Chef Jeff” Tubbs have remained. The café serves up delicious breakfast bakery and pastries, plus lunch specials and fresh-made soups, alongside locally roasted coffee, tea and specialty beverages. The quality of the coffee, according to Tubbs, is and always has been a non-negotiable, giving locals and Highway 95 drivers- (or riders-) by good reason to stop in.

“It’s simple. I have to be able to drink it all day! So it’s fresh-roasted just for us, not stock-piled somewhere,” he says. “I joke, ‘The coffee’s good, and everything else is adequate.’”

The corned beef hash, Swiss-ham-and-egg sandwich, gluten-free veggie egg bake and wild rice soup are fan favorites, along with the famous blueberry scone. Turns out there’s a secret ingredient to many of the savory items on the menu: “Chef Jeff’s seasoning,” he says. “It doesn’t matter what I put that stuff on … people say ‘that’s the best whatever I’ve ever had! I haven’t tried it on ice cream, but it might be pretty good on vanilla!”