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An October afternoon hiking the blazing autumn hillsides is best capped with good food and wine. You’ll find both at these destination eateries. Read on as we get the dish on Rock’s Landing and travel leafy country highways to some of the North’s best restaurants for a Northern Michigan fall color tour.

Northern Michigan Fall Color Map: Where to See the Best Colors Right Now!

Northern Michigan Restaurants with Fall Color Views
  1. Rock’s Landing | 1577 Crystal Dr., Frankfort | 231.399.0158
    Fine dining and a friendly atmosphere on the shores of beautiful Crystal Lake.
  2. The Riverside Inn | 302 River St., Leland | 231.256.9971
    You’ll enjoy seasonal, local ingredients and an extensive wine list at this handsome 100-year-old inn on the Leland River.
  3. La Bécasse | 9001 South Dunns Farm Rd., Maple City | 231.334.3944
    La Bécasse has been serving French country food in its intimate dining room for more than 30 years. The restaurant is near Glen Lake in between Glen Arbor, Empire and Maple City—a perfect stop on your fall color M22 road trip.
  4. The Rowe Inn | 6303 East Jordan Rd., Ellsworth | 231.588.7351
    In a rustic 1947 cottage near Ellsworth, find French country specialties such herb and garlic-crusted rack of lamb and one of Michigan’s largest wine lists.
  5. The New York | 101 State St., Harbor Springs | 231.526.1904
    Spend the day exploring M119, then end the day with a waterfront dinner. Here’s your guide to a Tunnel of Trees fall color tour.

Photo by Lisa Schroeder-Confer // Watermelon Salad at Rock’s Landing

FOODIE FILE

Steve Tebo | Co-owner, Rock’s Landing, Frankfort

Steve and Kristin Tebo left Chicago careers in tech marketing and retail management consulting to bring creative, locally sourced cuisine to the Frankfort food scene. After selling Coho Cafe in 2011, Steve ran the food program at Chimney Corners Resort for 7 years before the couple opened Rock’s Landing at the resort’s former beach house property in 2018.

As fall sets fire to the maples lining Crystal Lake, summer’s memory still abides in crystalline blue water lapping beside the patio and the electric palette of a panzanella salad studded with late-season tomatoes and candy-striped beets from Lost Lake Farm. Housed in a reimagined 1950’s beach snack bar at the centenary Chimney Corners Resort, Rock’s Landing is the vision of restaurant entrepreneurs Steve and Kristin Tebo, partnered with sister Julie Tebo, her husband Paul Danes and Chef Joe Meyers. Tebo and Meyers bring pan-Mediterranean flavors to the seasonal flow of Northern Michigan produce found in dishes like roasted baby cauliflower with pine nuts, za’atar and lemon-tahini sauce or pinchos murunos: grilled Spanish pork skewers with Moorish spice rub. Autumn flavors assert themselves in the form of nutmeg-laced ricotta gnocchi with roasted squash and wilted fall greens or crispy arancini in rich pork ragout.

Your dining room is literally three steps from the water, how does that shape the experience at Rock’s?
It’s one of our great advantages—every seat on the porch has a panoramic view of Crystal Lake which is close enough to drop a fork in. We don’t have a dock but guests frequently anchor their boats off shore or even arrive by floatplane.

How is Benzie County showcased on the menu?
Growing a strong local food economy is important to us so we source the vast majority of our proteins, dairy and grains from local purveyors through Cherry Capital Foods. Most of our seasonal produce comes directly from Lost Lake Farm and all the bread products used on the menu are custom baked for us at Crescent Bakery in downtown Frankfort.

Does Rock’s Landing have a signature dish?
I’d be happy if everyone who ate here started with our panzanella salad. Everything in it is picked from within 12 miles of the restaurant and it encapsulates our mission of reimagining local ingredients through a Mediterranean lens. Our ricotta gnocchi is another staple whose components change to match the season.

What does fall make you hungry for?
Arancini with sausage ragout. We break down big cuts of organic Michigan hogs and Chef Joe uses the trimmings to make Italian sausage that gets simmered for hours with tomatoes and aromatics and then served over panko-crusted risotto balls.

Traverse food and drinks editor Tim Tebeau writes from Petoskey. [email protected] // Dave Weidner is a freelance photographer based in Traverse City. [email protected]