I’m going to cut to the chase. These restaurants (and brewery) look incredible. Check them out.

Blue Smoke
101 Main St. | East Jordan | 231.222.2583
Owners: Adam & Jill Kline

The Southern-inspired menu includes Carolina crab cakes, brisket, ribeye steaks, shrimp and grits, barbecue platters, prohibition-style cocktails and more. “We’re offering things you don’t see north of Cadillac, or even in Detroit,” says Adam, who also owns Pigs Eatin’ Ribs—a Charlevoix restaurant known for its smokehouse-style BBQ.

So what is real smokehouse-style BBQ? “More or less, it’s what they do down in Texas and other southern states,” Adam says. “There’s a counter where they cut the meat and right behind it are the smokers. It doesn’t get fresher than that. There will be a line out the door, and when they sell out they’re done.”

Fresh and simple are two words Adam uses to describe Blue Smoke’s menu. Local vendors are featured as much as possible, including Northwoods Soda, Moomers, Boss Mouse Cheese and Bowers Harbor (their hard cider is on draft). Adam recommends the All-Merican Burger—two smash patties of house-ground brisket, grilled onion, American cheese, pickle and magic sauce—and the chicken and biscuits smothered with sawmill gravy.

What’s Next: Weekend brunch starting this spring and live entertainment coming soon.

Current Hours: Monday–Friday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Saturday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Red Spire Brunch House
800 Cottageview Dr., Suite 30 | Traverse City | 231.252.4648
Owners: Chad Hall & Josh Anderson

After a soft opening last week, Red Spire officially opened January 16. Offering classic egg dishes, omelets, specialty benedicts, red velvet pancakes and unique French toast alongside fresh salads (try the cobb or wedge), delicious sandwiches, gourmet macaroni and cheese and daily-baked homemade cinnamon and pecan rolls, the menu at Red Spire is designed with simultaneous breakfast and lunch in mind. Specials will soon be available, and the menu will adjust seasonally.

“We are proud to serve classic meals within our clean, classy, bright location in Building 50, conveniently located halfway between Stella’s and PepeNero,” Chad says. “We have main dining room seating, cafe seating in the hall, and if you want an up-close view of the workings, bar seating is also available.”

What’s Next:  Liquor license submitted and waiting for approval from the state. Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s on the horizon!

Current Hours: Monday–Friday 7 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Saturday–Sunday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Red Top Pasteria
112 E. Philip St. | Lake Leelanau | 231.994.2733
Owners: Ken & Jill DeLeary

This local eatery is inspired by family traditions and Michigan history. Opening January 11, Red Top offers Detroit-style pizza, Finnish pasties and pastries, wings, breadsticks, salads and weekly specials. 

“I am Finnish, so the Original Pasty is on top of my list,” Jill says. Her great grandfather, Jaakko Sauvola, and great grandmother, Fanni Sofia Kleemola, migrated from Finland to the Upper Peninsula in 1898 to work for The Quincy Mining Company. Fanni’s pasty recipe has been passed along to each generation for more than 100 years. 

Red Top Pasteria (pasties + pizzeria) is the culmination of the DeLeary’s love of family and a dream to own a pizza parlor.

What’s Next: In the process of trademarking the name Pasteria. Also, perfecting a vegetarian pasty.

Current Hours: Tuesday–Thursday 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.; Friday–Saturday 8:30 a.m. to 6:30 p.m.; Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Earthen Ales
1371 Gray Dr., Suite 200 | Traverse City | 231.252.4270
Owners: Jamie & Andrew Kidwell-Brix

Jamie and Andrew like to make beer. They were making way more than they could ever possibly drink with their friends, so they quit their day jobs. And ta-da! Traverse City’s newest brewery opened December 9. Currently offering four year-round brews and several seasonals, Jamie and Andrew like to brew beer with a sense of place. “Our beers help us tell our story, and we share that with our customers through each pint,” Jamie says. “Right now, we’re really excited to brew the Juniper Rye, a northern-inspired IPA, and even more excited that customers seem to be enjoying it.”

Northwoods Soda’s root beer and wild ginger ale, Shrub Soda Company’s cherry shrub and Higher Grounds French-press coffee are also available along with snacks. Outside food is welcomed—neighboring Spanglish and Pleasanton are excellent choices.

What’s Next: Brewing a stout for the Traverse City Stout Challenge and looking forward to summer seasonals, including Lime Wit and What Gose Around, a lightly tart German wheat ale. For those coming in the summer, Earthen Ales will be opening an outdoor seating area under the water tower. 

Current Hours: Daily 2 to 9 p.m.

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Photo(s) by Blue Smoke