6 Northern Michigan restaurants for comfort food as you combat the winter cold. From meat loaf to mac ‘n cheese, these are the dishes to warm your soul when fighting off the January chill.
12719 South West Bay Shore Drive, Traverse City 231.922.2114
With panoramic views of West Bay harbor whorled by January winds, diners at Harbor 22 tuck into artful Americana, like rustic meatloaf with whipped parsnip and kale chips, house-smoked brisket sliders and crispy Brussels sprouts with Plath’s bacon and shaved pecorino. Executive chef Ryan Mateling and his crew run a religiously scratch kitchen, working with Cherry Capital Foods and local independent purveyors to craft creative comfort cuisine from local seasonal foods. Pastramis, hams and sausages are cured in-house to complement Harbor 22’s hearty charcuterie board and signature lunch sandwiches like the smoked pastrami Reuben. Carlson’s and John Cross provide fresh fillets for the kettle-chip-crusted walleye with andouille and shrimp étoufée, fried okra and collard kale or crunchy fried perch with cracked-pepper slaw. A sleek wraparound bar offers Northern Michigan microbrews and a comprehensive wine list balanced between local Old Mission and Leelanau bottlings alongside well-known West Coast wineries.
9515 Frankfort Ave, Elberta, 231.352.9136
Start with some garlic fries, end with the dessert pretzel. Down the comfort food in between at this cozy and friendly neighborhood bar in Elberta. Perfect follow-on to a day of Crystal Mountain skiing.
129 South Union Street, Traverse City 231.941.8271
The pleasure of pasties is programmed into our DNA. Cousin Jenny dishes up flaky pastry envelopes overstuffed with meat and vegetables in eight proprietary incarnations. The not-so-diminutive six-ounce Breakfast Bobby promises to “start your day on the right side of the law.”
133 Ames Street, Elk Rapids 231.498.2155
Soul food wizardry is served up cafeteria-style for only $5 at this Elk Rapids micro-café. West Indies chicken curry, house-smoked ribs, creamy mac and cheese, braised collard greens, candied yams and other Southern staples are piled high for lunch and dinner.
Side Door Saloon
1200 U.S. 31 North, Petoskey 231.347.9291
Big burgers, proprietary meatloaf, Great Lakes fish and overstuffed quesadillas feed hungry locals and winter weekenders at this bustling bar and grill decked out in vintage curios and indigenous taxidermy.
8418 M-119, Harbor Springs 231.838.5377
Aromatic bowls of slow-simmered bigos and borscht, hand-rolled pierogis, schnitzel and smoky sausages satisfy the metabolic craving for cold weather comfort. Wash it down with a pint of Polish brew.