Last week I took a roadtrip that took me around the northern part of the Upper Peninsula and then into the UP for a visit to Tahquamenon Falls and Pictured Rocks. The first part of the trip was mainly around the Little Traverse Bay area, we started down in Bellaire and then moved north to Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs and then through the Tunnel of Trees before crossing the Mackinac Bridge. Here are some of the food spots we hit along the way. I will try to keep this fairly concise, there is a longer write-up on my blog Great Lakes, Better Food
After kayaking around in Torch Lake for a bit, we stopped in Bellaire for the night primarily to go to Short’s Brewpub but also got a great meal at Lulu’s Bistro. We ate fairly light so as to save room for plenty of beer and bar snacks, so we had the mussels in a tomato/fennel broth served with olive tepenade crostini and some whitefish.
Short’s was just a couple doors down. I had a tasting flight, but I seem to have lost the slip of paper that had all of the beer descriptions. Short’s makes a couple of my favorite brews right now – Huma Lupa Licious and the Nicie Spice summer wheat – so I had been wanting to try some of their beer that they do not bottle.
Just north of town is the Bellaire Smokehouse, which has a small fresh meat counter, plenty of smoked fish and assorted smoked meat snacks. Worth a quick stop to load up on snacks for the road.
We had a brunch date with Roquette Burger Bistro in Charlevoix. This place has received a lot of hype recently so I tried to temper my expectations. Their menu of gourmet style burgers features lots of local ingredients and the beef is a locally-sourced grass fed beef if I remember correctly. I went with the bacon jam burger with brie, arugula and their bacon jam. My wife got the breakfast burger with a fried egg, white cheddar, bacon and their housemade mayo. Both were amazing. We both ordered them medium rare and while they were probably closer to medium, they were incredibly juicy. The buns were light and pillowy, similar to Martin’s potato rolls if you’ve had those – the perfect vehicle for a burger IMO.
In Petoskey we stopped by Symon’s General Store, a gourmet grocery store with a great wine cellar, and American Spoon, your source for every jam, preserve, butter, salsa you could think of made from Michigan produce. The mango habanero salsa is outstanding.
We stopped in both Mitchell Street Pub and City Park Grill for a couple drinks while we were in town. Mitchell Street Pub is a somewhat kitschy dive bar with an awesome jukebox, while City Park Grill is a little more refined and an old Hemingway hangout during his summers in northern Michigan.
For dinner we went to Chandler’s, owned by the same family that owns Symon’s. You can dine in their dining room, in Symon’s wine cellar, or in the patio/alley between the two stores. I really like the set-up and the vibe of it. The menu was great as well. We got the tomato salad, Chinese spare ribs, and the seared duck breast. The ribs were just outstanding, they were glazed with a hoisin bbq sauce and served with this pineapple/shallot slaw, I need to try to reverse engineer these. I got a mojito and my wife got a pomegranate mojito, which were also delicious.
Just north of Petoskey is Toski Sands plaza, which has a great grocery store and bakery (Crooked Tree Breadworks). The grocery store has a great meat counter with everything from smoked fish to La Quercia guanciale. The bakery in the same plaza is great, we got some breakfast snacks there and also a loaf of bread before we left town for the camping portion of our trip.
We biked around Little Traverse Bay from about Bay View over to Harbor Springs. We stopped at Tom’s Mom’s Cookies in Harbor Springs, definitely worth a visit.
From Petsoskey, we drove north on M-119 through the Tunnel of Trees. An awesome drive if you’ve never done it, you alternate between driving through thick forest to being right on the edge of Lake Michigan. We planned on stopping in Good Hart at the general store for their whitefish spread, but they were all out. There was a whitefish shortage across the area due to the warm weather – the fish have gone to deeper, colder water, but the fishermens’ nets do not go down that far apparently.
I will post a recap of the Upper Peninsula portion of our trip later and you can read more about this portion of the trip here Great Lakes, Better Food