Slip away from the bustle and hustle of holiday prep for a delicious tête à tête—someone special, somewhere memorable. Here, then, a sampler of romantic dining rooms, places with dim and flickery light and tasty things in store. These five Northern Michigan romantic restaurants come highly recommended by Traverse Magazine food and wine editor Tim Tebeau, as seen in the December 2015 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine (Get your copy here!).

Smoke & Porter

1752 US31 | Traverse City | 231.642.5020

At Smoke & Porter, savory wood-roasted lamb and St. Louis–style ribs offer smoky succor from the snow lashing off East Bay. With a hip elemental aesthetic driven by reclaimed wood and industrial chic, Traverse City’s new open-fire eatery is owned by former Lulu’s chef Henry Bisson and his wife, Mindy.

Smoke & Porter’s meat-centric lunch, dinner and brunch menus are informed by Bisson’s artful slow-food preparations like smoked grilled quail with chive potato waffle, arugula and maple bourbon vinaigrette or smoked short rib pierogies with pickled mustard seeds and black garlic. In addition, a few Southern barbecue staples such as trout, veal breast roulade and whole prime rib are likewise seared and smoked over local maple and accented with creamed mustard greens, roasted sunchokes and wild mushrooms. From the bar, Smoke & Porter pours forth a host of Michigan craft brews, ripe New World wines and whiskey cocktails.

Trattoria Stella

1200 West Eleventh Street | Traverse City | 231.929.8989

Stoke the amore under Stella’s cozy stone arches with seared sweetbreads or handmade gnocchetti with braised boar and a nuanced bottle of nebbiolo.

Martha’s Leelanau Table

413 North St. Joseph Street | Suttons Bay | 231.271.2344

Loot Suttons Bay’s chic boutiques and retire to a corner table at Martha’s for champagne and a spread of local cheeses followed by pan-roasted salmon with tomato-basil cream.

Grey Gables Inn

308 Belvedere Avenue | Charlevoix | 231.547.9261

Swankly renovated, Grey Gables’ new dining room gives a nouveau Victorian groove and serves fresh, chilled oysters, coriander-crusted walleye and succulent hand-cut steaks. Hit the bar for an after-dinner bourbon.


215 ½ Howard Street | Petoskey | 231.347.2981

End your shopping loop through the Gaslight District with a well-deserved splurge on a half-bottle of Sauternes and Chef Tommy’s foie gras terrine, then shift over to rack of venison with hazelnuts and cider gastrique.

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Photo(s) by Dave Weidner