Have you ever walked into a restaurant serving a delectable buffet and wanted to sample everything? That’s how you’ll feel in Michigan. Here’s just a small sampling of the good-eating possibilities in store “Up North.”
In this realm of woods and inland lakes bound by Lake Huron, US-23 can be your guide along the shore.
Stop at the Village Chocolatier in East Tawas for a chocolate-caramel apple and handmade chocolates. At this region’s first brewpub, Wiltse’s in Oscoda, the Lumberjack Root Beer and Premium Lager vie for attention with honey-sweet homemade rolls. Make a meal of the white-cheddar-and-black-bean soup at Tait’s Bill of Fare in Oscoda.
The seafood bake at Rosa’s Lookout Inn south of Alpena is “sin in a bowl” with lobster, scallops and wine sauce. In Rogers City, your mouth will water over the prized smoked pork loins at Plath’s Meat, owned by the same family for 95 years.
Watch the boats cruising Michigan’s Inland Waterway, as you dine on fresh whitefish and walleye at Cheboygan’s Boathouse Restaurant. Order from-scratch turkey dinners and carrot cake at Gobbler’s Restaurant in Gaylord, and buy chocolate-covered potato chips at the Alpine Chocolat Haus.
Great finds go beyond resorts and golf courses around Grand Traverse and Little Traverse bays.
Nationally known American Spoon Foods in Petoskey makes specialty sauces, preserves and condiments. Most are made from locally grown ingredients.
Carlson Fisheries in Leland sells the freshest fish around. Also in Leland, a 6-inch chub substitutes for the swizzle stick in the “Chubby Mary” at The Cove, and the Bluebird Restaurant has served fresh whitefish and Grandma Leone’s cinnamon rolls since 1927.
The Sunday brunch at Stafford’s Bay View Inn in Petoskey draws diners from miles away.
In Cross Village, the lakeview Legs Inn prepares Polish specialties. The quirky furnishings and décor, hand crafted from tree stumps, tree limbs, roots and driftwood, compete for attention with the gardens, views—and the stove legs that gave the Cross Village landmark its name.
You can’t beat the cherry pie at the Cherry Hut in Beulah or the cherry-berry pie at Jesperson’s in Petoskey.
At Art’s Tavern, a no-frills fixture in Glen Arbor, sample the savory whitefish dip and the locally renowned Moomers ice cream drizzled with fresh maple syrup. Moomers Homemade Ice Cream store outside Traverse City always stocks at least 20 of Moomers’ 100-plus flavors.
Exceptional eating abounds amid the vast forests, meandering rivers and sparkling lakes of the UP.
At Antlers’ Restaurant in Sault Ste. Marie, munch a giant Paul Bunyan burger as stuffed critters peer from the walls, and bells, horns and whistles signal boats passing by on the river.
For sophisticated fare, order salmon finished with caper sauce at Capers Restaurant at the historic Landmark Inn in Marquette, the UP’s largest city. The Hilltop Restaurant in L’Anse is known for one-pound cinnamon rolls. Beef-lovers shouldn’t miss the Saturday night prime-rib buffet at Keweenaw Mountain Lodge near Copper Harbor.
Party purist may quibble: Is it PASS-tee or PAH-stee? (Never PASTE-ee.) But they agree that the hefty half-moon-shaped crusts with hearty, stewlike filling are the soul food of the Upper Peninsula (UP). Warm pasties filled Cornish miners’ lunch pails long ago. Today, almost every UP community claims a bakery, pasty shop or restaurant selling pasties.
Watch for these popular UP pasty stops (east to west): Bessie’s in St. Ignace; Dobber's in Escanaba and Iron Mountain; and Jean Kay’s in Marquette.