19 Places to Eat on a Northern Michigan Road Trip

Northern Michigan is home to some of the most scenic and beautiful destinations in the world, from sparkling lakes to nature trails and award-winning wineries. We put together a list of just a few delicious places to eat when you take a road trip through Northern Michigan.

Cherry Republic Salsa on a shelf
Cherry Republic | Photo Courtesy of Pure Michigan

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1. Cherry Republic – Traverse City

Celebrating the beauty and spirit of northern Michigan is key here. Cherry Republic, is a traveler’s one stop shop for all things cherry: salsa, buts, dried, cherries and more. Stock up on treats then hit the Grand Café to enjoy pizza, sandwiches and baked goods.

2. Grand Traverse Pie Company – Traverse City

Famous for its cherry crumb pie, Grand Traverse Pie Company also serves wonderful pot pies, quiches, sandwiches, salads and more.

3. Terry's Place Charlevoix

With over 35 years in the business, Terry Left, the proprietor, and Paul Bradley, the executive chef, serve delicious meals. Terry's offers excellent full course dinners in a warm, casual dining atmosphere. Given the close proximity to the Great Lakes, their fish entrées are a fresh and ever-popular selection.

4. PepeNero – Traverse City

PepeNero is a cozy and intimate restaurant snuggled inside the Village at Grand Traverse Commons. Owners Giorgio and Monica Lo Greco are experienced professionals who know how to amaze your palate by preparing simple, genuine Italian food utilizing the gift of fresh seasonal ingredients from local markets and the high quality of imported Italian products.

5. Friske’s Orchard Farm Market – Ellsworth

The café serves up homemade soups, chili, pizza, baked goods and has rotating breakfast and lunch menus. You can also stock up on Northern Michigan goods in the general store, or fruit from the fruit stand. If you have more time, pick your own seasonal fruit with their u-pick option!

6. The Landing – Charlevoix

American style dining, with great views of Lake Charlevoix, this family restaurant is a great place to dock your boat and enjoy a meal. While visiting the Landing, watch the Ironton Ferry travel the waters.

7. Horton Bay General StoreBoyne City  

Did you know writer Ernest Hemingway spend time in Northern Michigan? Horton Bay was a store he visited! Today, the store still stands and they now serve breakfast and lunch behind the tavern. Be sure to sit outside on the patio, weather permitting!

8. Cafe Sante – Boyne City

A casual, European-style bistro serving The Classics—simply and with flair. Enjoy wood-fired pizzas, mussels and frites, pastas, Panini, unique breakfasts and a great environment.

9. Right Brain Brewery – Traverse City

Right Brain Brewing has over 20 beers on tap with unique food inspiration like asparagus, cinnamon and cherry pie. They also have light snacks and apps as well as a food truck.

10. Short's Brewing Company – Bellaire

Is a popular craft brewery, with a hand-on mom and pop approach. Stop by for a tour or to enjoy hearty sandwiches with a glass of craft beer.

11. Beards BreweryPetoskey

Beards Brewery was founded by two Petoskey beer lovers in 2012. The spot keeps 24 beers on tap, with new recipes popping up all the time, and has a wonderful list of food from wings to burgers and pizzas to pair.

12. Willow – Harbor Springs

Willow overlooks historic Bat Street and the waters of Little Traverse Bay. The menu is American farm-to-table with delicious wines and craft cocktails.

13. Stafford’s Pier Restaurant – Harbor Springs

This staple dining spot dates back to before prohibition. Today, it sits on the pier with stunning views of the water. Dine on their special chowder while you soak in the views of the water.

14. Court Yard Ristorante and Olde Roost LoungeAlpena

A local favorite for over 30 years, Court Yard sources some of its fruits and vegetables from its onsite garden, and rotates dishes seasonally. 

15. Downtown Scoops – Alpena

Swing by for some classic hand dipped ice cream at downtown scoops. The shop is not only home to over 24 flavors of ice cream, but includes apparel, souvenirs, jams, syrups and an assortment of other goods.

16. Iron Pig SmokehouseGaylord

Iron Pig Smokehouse emphasizes the use of high quality meat and poultry in their delicious BBQ goods, plus they expertly combine spices and sauces for the perfect BBQ meal.

17. Scalawags Whitefish & ChipsMackinaw City

If you’re driving into the U.P. this is the perfect lunch stop! Enjoy fresh caught Great Lakes fish from whitefish to perch and walleye every summer.

18. Mackinaw Pastie & Cookie Co. – Mackinaw City

Pasties, or a “balanced meal in a crust”, are a must do in Northern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula. At Mackinaw Pastie & Cookie Co., enjoy fillings like beet, chicken or vegetable and cheese, then enjoy a freshly baked cookie.

19.  Pier 33 on the CheboyganCheboygan

Dine along the river for a relaxed feel at the family-run stop, you can even pull up in their marina! Pier 33 takes pride in a flavorful menu, for breakfast, lunch and dinner.