2010 Best Food Finds from Traverse City, Petoskey, Mackinac Island and More

Chicken pot pie from a Traverse City restaurant, bread from bakers in Petoskey, steak from Mackinac Island and those special pretzels from a Leelanau County farm market. Just some of the best food finds of 2010 being created by Northern Michigan chefs and discovered by the editors of Traverse, Northern Michigan's Magazine.

1. Hot Garlic Pepper Jelly

POND HILL FARM

This bright orange, sweet-hot jelly turns what you pour it on into a fiesta. Begin with pork loin, chicken, and cream cheese—then get adventurous. Jars leave the farm by the case load. 5581 S. LAKE SHORE DR., HARBOR SPRINGS, 231-526-3276. pondhill.com.

 

2. Meat Loaf Sandwich

CORNICHON’S

Comfort is in this half-pound of homemade meatloaf kneaded with secret spices, sandwiched in a Zingerman’s caramelized onion New York roll and topped with chipotle ketchup. 248 State St., Harbor Springs. 231-242-0020.

 

3. Mike’s Sweet Creamy Lemon Dill Mustard

WASHBURNE’S TASTY TREATS

A reader recommendation turned us on to this made-in-Charlevoix mustard that pops with the flavors of an herb garden in summer. Now it’s just a matter of finding enough stuff to dip into it. 305 Meech St., Charlevoix. 231-547-0585. www.mikesmustard.com/

 

4. Deep Fried Cinnamon Bun

DUTCH OVEN BAKERY

Light as custard on the inside, crunchy and sweet on the outside, just the right amount of cinnamon zing—sin, manifested. 7611 U.S. 31, Alanson, 231-548-2231. dutchoven.com/

 

5. 3 O’ Clock Baguette

CROOKED TREE BREADWORKS

On every afternoon but Sunday, customers queue up in the toasty-yeast ambiance as Greg Carpenter pulls handcrafted, Parisianstyle baguettes from his stone hearth just in time for dinner. 2264 M-119, Petoskey, 231-347-9574. breadworks.com/

 

6. The Idaho

THAT’SA PIZZA

Glorious, not greasy: crisp bacon on top, cheddar next, then light mashed potatoes all layered on a perfect pizza crust. 3860 N. Long Lake Rd., Traverse City, 231-947-1888. thatsapizzami.com/

 

7. Pastrami Sandwich

FRENCHIE’S FAMOUS

French Clements home roasts the localsourced brisket; his wife bakes the supple foccacia. Sauteed onions, provolone and a sweet-hot honey mustard finish the steamy, juicy and succulent sandwich moment. (Bonus: Great coffee.) 619 Randolph St., Traverse City, 231-944-1228.

 

8. Duck Curry

THAI ORCHID CUISINE

Tender slices of duck breast, peppers and peas swimming in a creamy curry sauce that blissfully balances salty, sweet and hot. 433 East Mitchell St., Petoskey, 231-487-9900.

 

9. Black Bean Soup

CATCH ISLAND GRILL

Slow-braised pulled pork, chorizo, cumin, red pepper and cardamom amplify the calypso beat in this extraordinary bowl of soup. 120 Park St., Traverse City, 231-933-7200. catchislandgrill.com/

 

10. Dan’s Pretzels

COVERED WAGON FARM MARKET & BAKERY

Linda Mikowski is zip-lipped over the spices that transform pedestrian pretzels into a reason to brake for her farm market. Make sure to pick up the creamy salsa to dip them in. 8996 East Duck Lake Rd., Suttons Bay, 231-271-6658. coveredwagonmarket.com/

 
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11. Pepper Bacon

STOUT TROUT SMOKEHOUSE

Measurably thick slabs butchered from locally raised pigs, house-smoked, not too salty, peppercorn-encrusted. BLT’s will never be the same again. 17356 Caberfae Hwy., Wellston, 231-848-4555. thestouttrout.net/

 

12. Cake Batter Shake

BROTHERS TEA AND COFFEE

Yes, actually, it does taste like cake batter. But better—colder and sweeter and even more delicious. Slurp, slurp. 416 W Main St., Gaylord, 989-705-7660.

 

13. Chicken Pot Pie

AMICAL

Carrots, peas and house-roasted chicken tucked beneath a voluptuous blanket of puff pastry and bedded in a real cream sauce that seduces with a burst of French chervil. Tip: At dinner, look on the children’s menu for this lunch menu standard. 229 E. Front St., Traverse City, 231-941-8888. amical.com/

 

14. Carrot Wheat Bread

SHIRLEY’S CAFÉ

Toast and butter a thick, tender slice of this homemade beta-carotene booster. Healthy, heavenly. 528 S. Williams(U.S. 131), Mancelona, 231-587-1210.

 

15. Steak Sicilian

ICE HOUSE BAR & GRILL

Eat this remarkable shaved rib-eye steak au jus on a crusty baguette—and in a sweet hideaway behind the Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island. Huron St., Mackinac Island. 906-847-3347 (OPENS MEMORIAL DAY WEEKEND). www.theislandhouse.com/ice-house-bar–grill-33/

 

16. CHILI DOG

HOUSE OF DOGGS

Ray Charles bigger than life on the wall. A plenitude of dog selections on the menu. We like the classic chili dog, onions and mustard, of course. 120 S. Union St., Traverse City, 231-922-1348. houseofdoggs.com/

 

17. Smoky Butternut Squash Bisque

ANDANTE

Hold the pumpkin pie comparisons. Chef Bob Stark’s signature soup packs enough chipotle and sweet-smoked paprika heat to keep it in demand all year long. 321 Bay St., Petoskey, 231-348-3321.

 

18. Kibbeh Wrap

WELLINGTON STREET MARKET

Lebanese flavors, marvelous and magically layered. It begins with delicate lamb, then pleasing complexities emerge—homeroasted cumin, toasted pine nuts, a little green pepper, subtle cinnamon and more. Unforgettable. 115 Wwllington St., Traverse City, 231-946-8702. wellingtonstreetmarket.blogspot.com/

 

19. Biscuits and Gravy

THE VILLAGE GRILL

Creamy, sausagey, spicy. People pour owner Sam’s homemade gravy on omelets or whatever else is on their plates, but we recommend starting with the classic American biscuit side-dish. U.S. 31, Downtown Pellston, 231-539-8004.

 

20. Pear Cider

LEFT FOOT CHARLEY

Luscious Leelanau pears inspired one of our most talented vintners to create this light but luscious pear cider—hard cider that is. Sold out now, get it quick come mid-October. 806 Red Dr., Village at Grand Traverse Commons, Traverse City, 800-515-1081. leftfootcharley.com/

 
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21. Baklava

OPA! CONEY AND GRILL

Hints of orange, cinnamon and clove infuse this sweet treat from Greece. Chef’s secret: A bonafide homemade simple syrup (real sugar, no high fructose stuff). Rolled, not layered, for a twist on the classic. 1752 South Garfield Ave., Traverse City, 231-947-6721. opagrill.com/

 

22. Planked Whitefish

WEATHERVANE

Take a fresh-daily Great Lakes whitefish filet, lay it on an oak plank that’s cured in olive oil, gently spice with salt, fresh pepper and paprika, and bake. Elemental Northern Michigan flavor. 106 Pine River Ln., Charlevoix, 231-547-4311. www.staffords.com/weathervane

 

23. Rack of Lamb

BLU

Save for the hint of mint in the dribble of infused olive oil on the plate, a kiss of Burgundy in the pool of demiglace, Chef Randy Chamberlain leaves his seared and roasted rack of lamb to speak for itself. Sublime. 5705 South Lake St., Glen Arbor, 231-334-2530. glenarborblu.com/

 

24. Red Dragon Cocktail

RED GINGER

Raspberry Stoli, pomegranate juice and a squeeze of orange; glass rimmed with housedehydrated raspberries and sugar. Makes the sun shine. 237 East Front St., Traverse City, 231-944-1733. eatatginger.com/sit.php

 

25. Raspberry Pancakes

PAULA'S CAFÉ

The fragile and sweet-but-tart king of fruit cooked inside a magically light pancake. “We aren’t stingy with the berries,” Chef Paula says. She mandates the batter sets 12 hours for ideal pancake texture. 4141 Club Rd., Indian River, 231-238-8323.

 

26. Apple Tartlet

HANNA BISTRO

Austrian Daniela Weiner, Hanna’s new pastry chef, keeps things simple—and simply delicious—on the dessert menu she created last fall. Exhibit A: The apple tartlet. Spy apples from Leelanau, delicately sweetened. A brown sugar-and-pecan topping as subtle accent. A buttery and delightful crumbly crust. Homemade butter pecan ice cream smoothly complements. Harmony. 118 Cass St., Traverse City, 231-946-8207. hannabistrobar.com/

 

27. Morel and Chanterelle Bisque

BOATHOUSE RESTAURANT

Untamed flavors of the forest conspire with the refined demeanor of a creamy, delicate bisque. Know this: Your bowl brims with wild 'shrooms. 14039 Peninsula Dr., Traverse City, 231-223-4030. boathouseonwestbay.com/

 

28. Pear Almond Tart

LA BÉCASSE

Chef Guillaume, how you tempt us: Sliced poached pears layered on frangipane and dripped with apricot glaze, all atop a buttery but not-too-sweet pastry crust. 9001 South Dunns Farm Rd., Maple City, 231-334-3944. restaurantlabecasse.com/

 

29. Sweet Potato, Cherry & Oats Pancake

CLANCY'S KITCHEN

This dinner plate–sized flapjack looks ordinary when it arrives at your table that’s adorned with Mr. and Mrs. Potatohead. A peek underneath reveals the novelty: flaky oats and dried cherries that offer a tart contrast to the moist and ephemeral sweet-potatoness inside. 9672 U.S. 31, Interlochen, 231-275-0808. clancyskitchen.net/index.php

 

30. Bubba’s Buffalo Burger

BUBBA'S RESTAURANT & BAR

A beefy stalwart for families catching Bubba’s Saturday afternoon deal (33 percent off food 3–5:30p.m.) or anybody looking to appease a bovine-sized hunger. Quality, delicate beef, big slice o’ tomato, lettuce and that spiky buffalo sauce dripping onto your plate (keep napkins handy). Tasty pickle too. 428 Front St., Traverse City. 231-995-0570.

 

31. Memphis BBQ

PORT CITY SMOKEHOUSE

The long steak bun holds a trove of this spicy, sweet, oozy and warm BBQ concoction—a must-have in Frankfort. Dress it with coleslaw. 1000 Main St., Frankfort, 231-352-9192. portcitysmokehouse.com/

 

32. Crab Cakes

PHIL'S ON FRONT

Plump, succulent and subtly spiced, the crab cake at Phil’s on Front proves that 25 years of recipe-tweaking by chef Phil was a grail worthy of pursuit. Sublime. 236 E. Front St., Traverse City, 231-929-1710. philsonfront.com/

 

33. The Lizzie

LAKE STREET MARKET

When even the crust impresses with basil and Asiago cheese, you understand that a crush will follow. Add homemade sauce, fresh tomato, feta, applewood-smoked bacon and red onion, and you’re in a long-term relationship. Comes full baked or half-baked so you can eat it hot out of your oven. 306 South Lake St., Boyne City, 231-582-4450. lakestreetmarket.com/

 
Who has the best eats Up North? You call it!
Vote for your favorite Best Eats!

Elizabeth Edwards is managing editor Of Traverse. [email protected] Jeff Smith is editor of Traverse. [email protected]

Article Comments

  • CherryPie

    So what exactly does the winner get?

  • Anonymous

    Yay for the Apple Tartlet!