Northern Michigan Food & Wine: As a foil to heavy holiday feasts, we dine diminutive at these creative small-plate destinations. From Traverse City to Petoskey, these venues make ideal stops for respite and friendly meet ups during those bustling days of holiday shopping.

The Towne Plaza

202 East State Street, Traverse City, 231.929.0900

The perfume of spice-rubbed pork belly broadcasts from a huffing iron smoker behind The Towne Plaza, where Traverse City foodies fill the tables and tuck into Chef Chris Hoffman’s farm-to-table fantasia for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The pork-centric menu at Towne Plaza stakes its claim on soul-bolstering American roots food like Kansas City–style barbecued pork shoulder with slaw and arugula, crispy pork rinds or fried oysters with jalapeño corn cake, poached eggs and andouille cream. Entrées like lamb sirloin with chèvre-whipped potato, or halibut with apple, fennel and three-bean salad may keep you committed to one or two plates, but social diners will delight in small-plate offerings like braised pork cheeks with spaghetti squash, pickled shrimp, crisp arancini with smoked tomato sauce or venison tartare. Housemade charcuterie platters of terrine, bresaola and mortadella can be paired with a grilled romaine or apple spinach salad for après-shopping fortitude. Complementing the craft spirits, a concise and dynamic wine list offers groovy international bottlings and plenty of bubbly by the glass. Read on as we roam the North for small-plate satisfaction.

The Fusion

300 West Main Street, Frankfort 231.352.4114

The Fusion serves synergistic East Asian small plates like steamed barbecue buns, Indian-accented Masala mussels, braised five-spice pork shank and garlic string beans. Bookend your bites with sips of artisan sake.


310 Cass Street, Traverse City 231.932.1310

Eat global with Firefly’s Latin, Mediterranean and East Asian–inspired small-plate menu showcasing roasted pork tostadas, red curry noodles, sweet potato gnocchi and the locally informed broiled raclette fizz. Chase with a proprietary cocktail or glass of local bubbly.

Walloon Lake Inn

4178 West Street, Walloon Lake 231.535.2999

Housemade sausages and rillette, braised veal cheeks over mushroom risotto or bay scallops poached in wine, cream and wild mushrooms are served in perfect passing portions on Hemingway’s boyhood water of Walloon Lake.

Palette Bistro

321 Bay Street, Petoskey 231.348.3321

Bring friends for eyefuls of the gale-beaten bay and mouthfuls of baba ghanoush, butternut bisque, barley salad and stone-fired pizzas. Interesting and affordable pan-European wine list.