Whitefish, that flaky, savory stuff that seems to drive all of Northern Michigan wild, is in high demand as usual. Every restaurant this side of US-10 shouts its own praises—best whitefish in the state! But where can you find the very best of Northern Michigan whitefish, really? We’ve got you covered.

Read on this month as we mine the top 10 vote getters from 2016’s Red Hot Best nominations for the best places to eat whitefish Up North.

Apache Trout Grill

13671 South West Bay Shore Drive, Traverse City | 231.947.7079

Patio doors swung wide open to welcome an early summer breeze off the bay, the dining room at Apache Trout Grill bustles with wait staff serving platters of Red Hot Best Apache Whitefish to hungry patrons. The restaurant’s interior has a comfortable lodge feel with floor-to-ceiling polished wood, rustic furniture and requisite taxidermy, but the tens of thousands of diners that flood Apache’s dining room and expansive outdoor patio come for the view, and the whitefish.

Netted fresh from the deep water basins of Lake Superior, the North’s favorite native salmonid is artfully reincarnated by the Apache kitchen crew, flash-fried with a crunchy panko crust, pecan-crusted with cherry amaretto sauce, served in bright Baja-style tacos or smoked and folded with fresh herbs in a delicious appetizer dip. Apache’s menu ranges well beyond its piscean delights with signature burgers, barbecue and thick-cut steaks all washed down with local and West Coast wines as well as house cocktails like the Sangria de Leelanau.

Apache Trout

Bluebird-Style Whitefish

The Bluebird | 102 River Street, Leland | 231.256.9081

Generations of locals and resorters flock to Leland for lightly breaded fresh whitefish fried “Bluebird Style.”

Stuffed Whitefish

The Cove | 111 East River Street, Leland | 231.256.9834

In a trinity of tasty sea creatures, The Cove pinwheels whitefish fillets and stuffs them with a rich mix of shrimp and crab.

Broiled Whitefish

Boone’s Long Lake Inn | 7208 Secor Road, Traverse City | 231.946.3991

Long Lake’s bustling steakhouse serves this native fish simply seasoned and broiled.

Great Lakes Whitefish

The Boathouse | 14039 Peninsula Drive, Traverse City | 231.223.4030

Topped with luscious crabmeat, the whitefish at The Boathouse is garnished with roasted tomato, artichokes and lemon beurre blanc.

Almond Crusted Whitefish

Old Mission Tavern | 17015 Center Road, Traverse City | 231.223.7280

Rolled in crushed almonds, pan seared and served with Frangelico butter sauce and cherry purée.

Fresh Whitefish

Amical | 229 East Front Street, Traverse City | 231.941.8888

Order your whitefish crusted with crushed nuts or grated Parmesan and fresh herbs or have it blackened Cajun-style.

Whitefish & Chips

Scalawags Whitefish & Chips | 226 East Central Avenue, Mackinaw City | 231.436.7777

Scalawags masters the classic pub-style fry with crunchy battered fish, fries, slaw and hush puppies.

Cedar Planked Whitefish

Cawthorne’s Village Inn | 1304 Hoban Street, Mackinac Island | 906.847.3542

Cawthorne’s carries on the North’s favorite retro preparation of cedar plank–roasted whitefish served with piped potatoes and lemon caper butter.

Deep-Fried Whitefish

Villager Pub | 427 Bridge Street, Charlevoix | 231.547.6925

Charlevoix’s Villager Pub expertly batters and fries fresh whitefish carried across the street from John Cross Fisheries.

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Red Hot Best winners were originally published in the June 2016 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

Special Subscription Offer: Get the Red Hot Best June 2016 issue + one-year of Traverse Magazine which includes next year’s Red Hot Best June 2017 issue!


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Photo(s) by Jesse Green