The small villages scattered throughout Northern Michigan’s Chain of Lakes Region boast an impressive array of restaurants, accomplished chefs, and inventive menus. Fabulous to dine at any time of year, these Northern Michigan restaurants are exceptional during the summer with intimate outdoor seating and dishes full of fresh, local produce.
Seafood takes center stage here—oysters from both coasts, scallops, a wicked-good New England clam chowder—but there’s also pasta, pizza, steak and other sophisticated offerings. An excellent wine list and lovely outdoor patio make this place ideal for lingering over drinks on balmy summer evenings. 151 River St., Elk Rapids 231.264.6062, sirenhall.com.
Read a MyNorth chat with Siren Hall’s chef, Michael Peterson.
It’s no stretch to say that this intimate, award-winning, French-country-inspired establishment helped pioneer fine dining in Northwest Michigan. The Rowe was founded in the early 1970s with the mission to celebrate local foods—long before the “farm to table” ethos became a movement. French cooking techniques and traditions, a menu that shifts with the seasons, and a spotlight on Michigan’s rich culinary offerings make for an unforgettable—yet still Up North casual—dining experience. A must for foodies. 6303 East Jordan Rd., Ellsworth, 231.588.7351, roweinn.com.
The Lakeview at Shanty Creek
Spectacular sunset views over Lake Bellaire is the proverbial cherry on top to dining at this upscale-casual restaurant at Shanty Creek Resort. The dinner menu focuses on flights of small plates, but does offer larger-portioned “complete plates” (rib-eye, salmon, pasta)—always with an eye toward locally procured ingredients and regional craft brews. Award-winning desserts and a great selection of creative after-dinner drinks. 5780 Shanty Creek Rd, Bellaire, 231.533.8621, shantycreek.com.
If driving out there is not in the cards, try replicating their award-winning Mac & Cheese at home!
Culinary Institute of America graduate Chef Michael Peterson trained in Paris before returning to his native Northern Michigan and opening this hip bistro near the bridge in downtown Bellaire. Elegant, seasonally inspired menu; smart wine list with many regional offerings; seating on the brick patio for outdoor dining. 213N. Bridge St., Bellaire, 231.533.5252, lulusbistro.com.
Eclectic, Bayou-inspired Pearl’s celebrates the melting-pot flavors of Cajun-Creole cuisine: fried green tomatoes, jambalaya, blackened alligator, po’ boys, étoufée, crawfish and other authentic Southern specialties. In keeping with the laissez les bon temps rouler spirit, there’s also a great selection of festive cocktails—plus an entire menu devoted just to premium single-barrel and small-batch bourbons. 617 Ames St., Elk Rapids, 231.264.0530, magnumhospitality.com/pearls.
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This seasonal cafe tucked alongside a wine shop feels like a sweet European bistro, with a simple chalkboard menu, patio for dining al fresco, and dishes inspired by the region’s bounty (local farm produce; seafood from nearby John Cross fisheries). The wine list is practically endless—in addition to those listed on the menu, every bottle in the retail cellar is available for purchase with your meal, regardless of price. Reservations recommended. 23853 US-31, Charlevoix, 231.237.9300, esperancewine.com.
For more summer vacation ideas in Northern Michigan, grab the 2013 MyNorth Vacation Guide!
Your Guide to Traverse City, Mackinac Island, Petoskey, Charlevoix, Leelanau, Benzie & More
From the same people who produce Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, this is a colorful, easy-to-use guide to Northern Michigan vacation ideas from Ludington to Traverse City, from Charlevoix to Mackinac Island and everything in between. It is filled with ideas, tips and hundreds of websites that connect you to fun, food, activities, lodging and recreation in every part of Northern Michigan.
- More than 140, full color pages with stunning photography and travel stories
- Maps of each region
- Hundreds of resources
Be sure to also check out our free online area-specific vacation guides!
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Traverse City, Acme, Fife Lake, Interlochen, Kingsley, and Williamsburg
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Mackinac Island, and Boyne Country
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Charlevoix, Alden, Beaver Island, Bellaire, Central Lake, Easst Jordon, Elk Rapids, and Torch Lake
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Cedar, Empire, Glen Arbor, Lake Leelanau, Leland, Maple City, Northport, Peshawbestown, Sleeping Bear Dunes, Suttons Bay, and Omena
Ideas for your ultimate vacation in Benzie, Manistee, West Shore, Beulah, Benzonia, Crystal Lake, Frankfort, Ludington, Onekama, and Pentwater