Chicagoans routinely get bombarded with plenty of commercials from Michigan’s tourism department. Even if one thinks tourism spokesman Tim Allen’s Tool Time thoughts are grating, there’s plenty to enjoy in The Mitten, and a weekend road trip is easy therapy for whatever ails city folks. Michiganders certainly have plenty of access to farms, giving chefs the building blocks to dazzle in the kitchen. Check out these 12 spots destination-worth spots near Lake Michigan’s beach towns through Grand Rapids, Mich. They’re listed from west to east.Read More
12 Restaurants Where Chicagoans Can Enjoy Pure Michigan
Get the best out of a road trip through The Mitten
1. Stop 50 Wood Fired Pizza
Michiana Shores, IN 46360
This might be cheating, as Michiana is in Indiana. But no matter, the Neapolitan crusts at Stop 50 are divine. And don’t rush back home to Chicago for Nutella. The dessert pizzas feature the spread drizzled as a topping.
New Buffalo, MI 49117
Redamak’s was everything to Chicago in a pre-Au Cheval world where steakhouses and fast-food restaurants would be the only places for a good burger in the city. In those halcyon days, Redamak’s simple cheeseburgers from New Buffalo, Mich., cooked on a grilltop, were destination worthy. The lines still pour out the door as an essential road trip pit stop, but there’s a bit of luster lost. Go more for the experience.
3. Journeyman Distillery
Three Oaks, MI 49128
A picturesque spot in Three Oaks, Mich. that’s popular for weddings, Journeyman has plenty of bourbon, cocktails, and slushies for seasoned drinkers. There’s also a farm to table restaurant with all the basics plus Detroit-style pizza made with their whisky grain mash bills.
4. Plank’s Tavern
St Joseph, MI 49085
For guests wanting outdoor dining, Plank’s is a strong choice. The patio offers pretty waterfront views, and the menu features modern American cuisine with a little something for everyone. There’s a Sunday brunch buffet, too.
South Haven, MI 49090
For beachcombers who need love, Taste, which opened in 2013, offers small plates and stiff martinis. The seafood shines on the menu with mussels, tilapia tacos, and tuna tartare.
6. Phil’s Bar and Grill
Saugatuck, MI 49453
This is neighborhood bar with great food with a menu on par with many of Chicago’s best gastropub. It’s a great escape after spending the majority of the day outdoors, a place to unwind with a great drink at the bar with that special someone. The chicken wings are A+.
7. Evergreen Lane Farm & Creamery
Fennville, MI 49408
Cheese lovers need to center their travel plans around a trip to the tasting room at Evergreen. The handcrafted cheeses are beautiful, and they employ the honor system to pay for these delicious wonderments.
8. Crane’s Pie Pantry & Winery
Fennville, MI 49408
The warm cider donuts are just one of the items tourists need to try at Crane’s. It’s a rustic spot full of Midwestern Americana. Save room for a slice of fruit pie and don’t worry—it’s OK to be a glutton. Just get those doughnuts to go and eat them in the car or save them for later in the week at home.
9. New Holland Brewing’s Pub on 8th
Holland, MI 49423
Michigan is known for having some of the best brewpubs in the country, and New Holland Brewing is among the best. Dragon’s Milk makes beer lovers who weigh in line for Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout look kind of foolish. The menu, which includes a Michiganized version of the Vietnamese bahn mi, features farm-to-table fare. There’s also a beer garden.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
The wine list alone makes Reserve one of Michigan’s best restaurants. It’s a creative modern American menu with items like duck breast, West Michigan Chowder (made with whitefish), and chevre gnocchi. Get a seat on the sidewalk or second-floor patio if the weather allows.
11. Madcap Coffee Co.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
Madcap Coffee just opened its third location and it’s widely regarded as The Mitten’s best coffee shop. Wormhole Coffee in Wicker Park is among the shops in Chicago that serve the coffee. With all the attention beer gets in Grand Rapids, don’t forget about this coffee that’s earned national recognition, using South American and African beans.
12. Brewery Vivant
Grand Rapids, MI 49506
The former church that houses Brewery Vivant gives way to one of the best-designed spaces road trippers will lay eyes open. The holy site doesn’t observe temperance, but the menu does point out that they will only serve patrons a maximum of four beers. There’s a heavy Belgian tilt on the menu, which visitors say matches the quality of the beer list. The roasted bone marrow is among the favorites.