There are so many things to do at the The Village at Grand Traverse Commons—from shopping, to wine tasting, to hiking—but eating at one of the Commons’ Northern Michigan restaurants should be on the to-do list for any visit to this Traverse City attraction. From simple tacos to upscale Italian, there are plenty of Northern Michigan food finds for any diner, at any time of day. The Commons’ eateries are located in the Mercato inside of Building 50 (the campus’ anchor) and also in smaller surrounding buildings—check out a pair of maps of the Commons at the bottom of the page.
Cuppa Joe, with a view of overlooking the front lawns of Grand Traverse Commons, is a great place to grab a cup of coffee in the morning after a walk around the grounds. Cuppa Joe also offers free WiFi and a full menu that includes soups, salads, and sandwiches. The entrance to Cuppa Joe is near the Commons’ front lawn, at the western end of 11th Street; it’s inside the Mercato.
Tucked away near Spanglish and sharing a building with Left Foot Charley west of Building 50, this coffee shop and roastery is loved by local coffee aficionados and tourists alike. Higher Grounds is committed to sustainability, and their organic coffee is made in small batches. It’s a great place to grab a cup of coffee before heading out to the hiking trails behind Grand Traverse Commons. Keep an eye out for concerts hosted in Higher Ground’s roasting room.
With its distinctly urban feel and its prime location as the area’s closest winery to downtown, Left Foot Charley is a great place to sip a glass of white wine or cider after a long day at work or a long day at the beach. They also have some great happy hour specials with dishes from around the world, and the Wednesday open mic nights feature tasty tunes from Northern Michigan singer-songwriters.
Mi Farm Market
If you’re in the mood for Moomers Ice Cream (and honestly, who isn’t?) or another treat to satisfy your sweet tooth, stop by the Mi Farm Market in the Commons and pick up Michigan-made goods. Their products, which include gift baskets stuffed with locally made fudge, popcorn, and jams that make great gifts and savory souvenirs.
A southern Italian eatery that serves simple and fresh food, this is a great place to stop for lunch or dinner. With food made from scratch, stop by Pepenero (translation: black pepper) to grab a bite after doing some shopping. Try the Ravioli al Quattro Formaggi al Ragu di Funghi (translation: a four-cheese ravioli with mushroom meat sauce). Pepenero is located in the Mercato.
Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery
A great place to satisfy almost any craving—Pleasanton has both sweet and savory pastries, to-die-for tarts, and brick oven pizzas. Named by Food and Wine Magazine as one of the best bread bakeries in 2012, its offerings are both accessible and elevated. Pleasanton is located in a charmingly small brick building near Spanglish and Left Foot Charley.
Jamie and Andrew like to make beer. They were making way more than they could ever possibly drink with their friends, so they quit their day jobs and started one of Traverse City’s newest breweries in late 2016. Currently offering four year-round brews and several seasonals, Jamie and Andrew like to brew beer with a sense of place. “Our beers help us tell our story, and we share that with our customers through each pint,” Jamie says. Northwoods Soda’s root beer and wild ginger ale, Shrub Soda Company’s cherry shrub and Higher Grounds French-press coffee are also available along with snacks. Outside food is welcomed—neighboring Spanglish and Pleasanton are excellent choices.
Spanglish’s menu—consisting of tacos (pictured above), quesadillas, tomales, and burritos—is deceptively simple. Their food is fresh and full of flavor. Grab a few tamales or tacos and sit outside at one of the many picnic benches in the area. Spanglish is located in Building 69, just south of Left Foot Charley and Higher Grounds.
Red Spire officially opened in January 2017. Offering classic egg dishes, omelets, specialty benedicts, red velvet pancakes and unique French toast alongside fresh salads (try the cobb or wedge), delicious sandwiches, gourmet macaroni and cheese and daily-baked homemade cinnamon and pecan rolls, the menu at Red Spire is designed with simultaneous breakfast and lunch in mind and will adjust seasonally.
This much-heralded, neighborhood restaurant, set in a cellar-like space beneath the Commons’ Building 50, is perfect for everything from a romantic evening out to a fun night with friends. Loved by locals and frequented by tourists, the food is local, Italian-inspired, and, most importantly, delicious. Trattoria Stella was even featured in The New York Times for its chill atmosphere, locally-focused, extensive wine list, and thoughtful cocktail selections. Trattoria Stella is located in the Mercato.
The Underground Cheesecake Company
The perfect place to stop in after a dinner out or a mid-afternoon chocolate craving, The Undergound Cheesecake Company is famous for their cheesecake on a stick, and for good reason, too. Grab everything from brownies to cookies to, of course, cheesecake and share with friends and family. Try the to-die-for chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting. The Underground Cheesecake Factory is located in Building 67, near Spanglish and Left Foot Charley.
Learn more about The Village at Grand Traverse Commons at TheVillageTC.com.