Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine, has been on the hunt for must-try food finds, local cookbooks and artisan, made-in-Northern-Michigan kitchen wares for decades. Now, in print each month, our editors feature these delicious small bites and home items. Watch as this tasty list grows online, and get ready to take a road trip to find these special Northern Michigan dishes and goods!
August 2022 Small Bite: Buchan’s Blueberry Hill Ice Cream
Come August, a bevy of U-pickers assemble each day at Buchan’s Blueberry Hill, a fifth-generation farm on Old Mission Peninsula. They come to fill buckets with enormous juicy berries, some as big as quarters—and reward themselves with a scoop of Lori Buchan’s homemade ice cream, made fresh at the farm. That delicious legacy led the Buchan’s to own Scoops22 in Suttons Bay and, new this year, Buchan’s West Bayshore in Traverse City, selling their famous Blueberry Hill ice cream alongside flavors like Harbor View Lavender and Old Mission Apple Pie.
The inside scoop: “People love to mix and match flavors,” Lori says, “and the most popular pairing is blueberry and lemon poppyseed.”
Photo by Buchan's
July 2022 Small Bite: Firefly Lettuce Wraps
In July, seats on the riverside patio at Firefly are coveted. But if you manage to nab one, a more difficult challenge awaits—deciding what to order. The downtown Traverse City restaurant known for its small plates and sushi is celebrating 20 years this month. I personally can’t pass up the lettuce wraps: chicken, water chestnuts, edamame, peanuts and hoisin sauce all tucked into crispy romaine. It’s salty, crunchy perfection. But you can’t just order one small plate, right? So also get the sweet potato fries and garlic aioli to share, and cheers to a match made in culinary heaven.
Photo by Firefly Kitchen & Bars
Photo by Firefly Kitchen & Bars
June 2022 Small Bite: Fischer’s Strawberry Pie
This seasonal sweet appears on the menu at Fischer’s Happy Hour Tavern in Northport as soon as strawberries are ripe, typically in mid-June. “It’s very weather dependent because we only use local berries,” says third-generation co-owner Kristi Fischer, who makes 10 pies a day and sells it by the slice. “The longest pie season I’ve had is three weeks and the shortest was 10 days.” For a truly happy hour, grab a patio seat and pair your pie with a glass of local white wine. Fischer recommends Good Harbor Vineyards’ Fishtown White. Tip: Follow Fischer’s on Facebook for pie updates and know that it almost always sells out by late afternoon.
Photo by Fischer's Happy Hour Tavern.
Searching for More Northern Michigan Small Bites?
If you’re on the hunt for some of the best food and drink in Northern Michigan, view our 2021 Small Bites list featuring everything from cinnamon rolls to tacos:
May 2022 Small Bite: Mimi’s Homemade Chicken Soup
Don’t let the simple name fool you. This is no ordinary chicken and rice soup. Husband and wife Angel and Mimi Sanchez, owners of Mimi’s Taqueria in Interlochen, have put a Mexican spin on it, adding pico de gallo, cilantro, finely diced jalapeños and crispy tortillas for a just-right salty-spicy kick. And that lime wedge served on the side? Squeeze it on top for a zesty finale. Call ahead so you can bring some home for dinner on Cinco de Mayo, along with an order of churros, of course.
Photo by Mimi's Taqueria
April 2022 Small Bite: The Bread Lady’s Caprese Bread
19773 Linwood Ave., Lake Ann | The Bread Lady’s Website
Rachel Beckwith’s cinnamon rolls put her on the map in 2019 as Lake Ann’s Bread Lady, but now customers also come for the 28 rotating flavors of bread and sweets like buckeye brownies and lemon bars. For Easter or Mother’s Day brunch, we’re craving the best-selling Caprese bread—a constant on the menu made fresh daily with tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and a balsamic glaze—which Rachel says is especially good for BLTs. (I bought a loaf for “fact-checking” and can confirm it makes a darn good sandwich.) Find The Bread Lady at her Lake Ann home where the garage has been converted into a kitchen and small shop open to the public or the Interlochen, Frankfort and Elk Rapids farmers markets.
Photo by The Lake Ann Bread Lady
March 2022 Small Bite: Taproot Cider House Shepherd’s Pie
To experience a true celebration of Made in Northern Michigan, grab a seat at Taproot Cider House in downtown TC. Proprietor Jen Viren has (literally) put down roots in the community—a taproot (the strongest root and the foundation of a tree) is the centerpiece behind the bar. To Jen, roots represent local partnerships—something she and husband/co-owner/chef Andrew Viren showcase in every item on the menu.
On March’s still chill nights, we love their take on a classic English dish: Shepherd’s Pie. Served up bubbling hot in a crock, it features Zimba Farms organic grass-fed beef, Providence Farm ground lamb, Omena Organics sweet peas, Lakeview Hill organic Oneida gold potatoes and St. Ambrose red wine. Pair it with a glass of cherry ginger hard cider. “Its bright complex flavors cut through the richness and bring the dish to life,” Jen says.
Photo by Taproot Cider House