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Guide to Northern Michigan’s Wineries

Guide to Northern Michigan’s Wineries



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Blessed with a perfect blend of soil, climate, and terrain, Northern Michigan is quickly becoming known for its award-winning wines. With more than 20 wineries dotting the Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas, wine enthusiasts are flocking to the area to travel the wine trails and see what all the hype is about; very few leave disappointed.

Not only is the wine highly acclaimed, but the food offered at several of these destinations is some of the best in the area. Many of these wineries are located within just 25 miles of Lake Michigan’s shores, and perched atop rolling hills, they offer spectacular views of both east and west bays. Here’s a closer look at just a few of the wineries in Northern Michigan.

Chateau Chantal (Traverse City, Mich.)
Chateau Chantal was voted by the New York Daily News as one of North America’s top 10 wine destinations for good reason. Chateau Chantal, a European chateau-style winery nestled on a 65-acre estate, is home to an 11-room bed-and-breakfast and a cooking school. Delicious views of the bay, vines, and cherry orchards can be savored on the patio while sipping a glass of house wine. The chateau’s Great Room and B&B are open year-round for wine tastings, sales, and overnight stays.

Black Star Farms (Suttons Bay, Mich.)
If you’re in the mood for more of an "agricultural destination," Black Star Farms is truly, just that. With two wineries, tasting rooms, a petting zoo, and an inn with views of vineyards and barns, your stay will be as eventful as it is delicious. After wine tasting, stroll down the lane to the Leelanau Cheese Company, located on the property, and sample their award-winning raclette, or kick up your feet at the cozy Hearth and Vine Café for wood-fired pizzas and sandwiches. Black Star Farms produces an extensive list of wines, ciders, brandies, and dessert wines that will keep you busy tasting for quite some time. Open year-round, the hours vary with each season.

L.Mawby (Suttons Bay, Mich.)
L.Mawby is a small company producing sparkling wines with one mission: to make the best wine possible. Producing less than 8,000 cases a year, these wines are well taken care of and it’s clear that the winemakers at L. Mawby love what they do. Owner Larry Mawby writes poems about each wine he produces and posts them around the tasting room to be read. Their most popular wine has an unusual name and racy poem to accompany it. You’ll have to take a visit to the tasting room to find out why this brut rosé sparkling wine has been named "Sex." While there, seat yourself on the covered patio, overlooking the vines, and enjoy a premium tasting served with cheese, pâté, and crackers. Open year-round, the hours vary with each season.

Tandem Ciders (Suttons Bay, Mich.)
If you’re not in the mood for wine but still want the wine tasting experience, try Tandem Ciders. Specializing in artisanal hard ciders, Tandem Ciders is run by a tandem-bike-riding husband-and-wife team, who are as friendly as they are enthusiastic about their cider. With a cozy and friendly tasting room, it’s easy to waste away an afternoon sipping ciders with names like Honey Pie and Smackintosh. Don’t be alarmed when regulars show up to get their big glass jugs refilled; it only takes one taste to be hooked. Open year-round, the hours vary with each season.


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)


The Best of Northern Michigan 2019: People, Places + Food!

Thank you (all 15,349 of you!), for sharing your favorite things about Northern Michigan in our annual Red Hot Best competition. Here are 101 reasons to fall in (red hot) love with the best place on Earth.

Best of the Best

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN RESTAURANT
Trattoria Stella, Traverse City
We never tire of dining in this soft-lit, brick den where Chef Myles Anton prepares fresh culinary perfection and sommelier Amanda Danielson pairs it with wines she knows we will adore.
» Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen, Elk Rapids (2)
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN WINERY
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Two decades of showing Northern Michigan’s wine country all that a winery can do—from producing fine wine to offering a luxurious getaway and so much more.
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (2)
» St. Ambrose Cellars, Beulah (3)

BEST NORTHERN MICHIGAN BREWERY
Short’s Brewing Co., Bellaire
Could it really be 17 years since Joe Short let the microbrew horse out of the NoMi barn with his Short’s Brewery? My, how time flies with great beer…cheers.
» Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay (2)
» Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort (3)

Black Star Farms, Best Northern Michigan Winery // Photo by Taylor Brown

Best Northern Michigan Events

BEER EVENT
Suds & Snow, Traverse City
They call it the Ultimate Party in the woods—and it would be hard to think of a better one. A half-mile hike, snowshoe or ski into the woods earns you live music, food vendors, 20+ craft breweries, all around a roaring bonfire.
» Short’s Fest, Elk Rapids (2)
» Michigan Beer and Brat Festival, Crystal Mountain (3)

CHARITY RUN OR RACE
Bayshore Marathon, Traverse City
For 35 years it’s been how you prove your mettle in Traverse City. Marathon, half-marathon, 10K and, new this year, a kids marathon. Views of the bay help ease the pain.
» Zombie Run, Traverse City (2)
» Turkey Trot, Traverse City (3)

DOWNTOWN HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING
Traverse City
The tradition of gathering ’round the tree at Cass and Front to watch as the switch is flipped is even better with the recent addition of a downright awesome light parade. Be there.
» Manistee Sleighbell Parade and Old Christmas Weekend (2)
» Ludington (3)

SUMMER EVENT
National Cherry Festival, Traverse City
Nothing tastes better than cherry pie and Gibby’s Fries after a good ol’ pit-spitting contest at this granddaddy of NoMi festivals. (FYI, the world record pit-spitting distance is 95 feet, 6.5 inches. Start practicing.)
» Traverse City Film Festival (2)
» 4th of July, Ludington (3)

WINE EVENT
Great Mac & Cheese Bake-Off, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula
Tickets sell out within minutes for this irresistible day of cheesy comfort food paired with local wines.
» Leland Wine and Food Festival (2)
» Downtown Traverse City Art Walk (3)

WINTER EVENT
Restaurant Week, Traverse City
Three-course menus feature everything from smash burgers and birthday cake to braised beef cheek and bacon vanilla custard beignets. How’s that for a Northern Michigan winter survival kit…
» Suds & Snow, Traverse City (2)
» Iceman Cometh Challenge, Traverse City (3)

National Cherry Festival, Best Summer Event // Photo by Dave Weidner

Best Northern Michigan Food, Drinks and Restaurants

BAKERY
9 Bean Rows, Suttons Bay
Alchemists turn flour, sugar, salt and natural leavens into croissants, brioche, baguettes and other melt-in-your-mouth gold.
» Bay Bread Co., Traverse City (2)
» Grand Traverse Pie Company (3)

BBQ RIBS
Sparks BBQ
Authentic wood-powered BBQ. Don’t wear white.
» Blue Tractor, Traverse City (2)
» Pigs Eatin’ Ribs, Charlevoix (3)

BOYNE CITY RESTAURANT
Café Santé
This European style bistro cozied up next to Lake Charlevoix is ooh la la, right down to the moules-frites.
» Red Mesa Grill (2)
» Boyne City Tap Room (3)

Patisserie Amie, Traverse City
Late morning: order up an espresso (keep your shades on) and linger over choices. Fresh begnets? Steak frites avec des ouefs? Sip a raspberry mimosa. Sais la vie en rose, n’est-ce pas?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» Towne Plaza, Traverse City (T3)
» Hofbrau, Interlochen(T3)

BURGER
Slabtown Burgers, Traverse City
Get in line—it’s worth it—on the deck of this funky little home-turned-restaurant for these perfectly juicy burgers.
Scarf one right away with hand-cut fries. Then take a brown paper bag of ’em home for dinner and make the fam’s night.
» Bubba’s, Traverse City (2)
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (3)

COCKTAIL LOUNGE
The Parlor, Traverse City
Intimate rustic-industrial vibe, authentic craft cocktails (try The Smoke Stack: aged bourbon, maple syrup, wood- smoke infusion), way kicked-up bar food (lobster pomodoro!). What are you doing Saturday night?
» Iron Fish Distillery, Thompsonville (2)
» Low Bar, Traverse City (3)

LOCAL ROSÉ
MAWBY, Grace
Juicy berry and cherry with a clean, crisp finish. End your beach day here.
» Black Star Farms, Arcturos Rosé (2)
» Brys Estate, Signature Rosé (3)

LOCAL SOUR BEER
Peachy Pom Pom, Short’s Brewing Company
Brewed with wild bacteria and yeast, peaches and pomegranates, Short’s describes this as huge and tangy … we swear it tastes like “crank up the tunes and dance.”
» La Roja, Jolly Pumpkin (2)
» Watermelon Gose, Rare Bird Brewpub (3)

LOCAL SPARKLING WINE
Mawby, Sex
This provocative bubbly blend of pinot noir, chardonnay and Muscat grapes has become so synonymous with a good time that we can finally say its name without blushing.
» Mawby, Blanc de Blanc (2)
» Black Star Farms, Bedazzled (3)

LOCALLY DISTILLED WHISKEY
TC Whiskey Co., Straight Bourbon Whiskey
A smooth, smoky, caramel and cocoa swallow. Yesssss.
» Iron Fish Distillery, Bourbon Whiskey Finished in Maple Syrup Barrels (2)
» Traverse City Whiskey, Cherry Whiskey (3)

MAC ’N’ CHEESE
Blue Tractor, Traverse City
Step 1. Smoke a pig. Step 2. Blend the tender shoulder meat with tangy BBQ sauce, macaroni and smoked Gouda béchamel sauce. Step 3. Swoon.
» Barley & Rye, Ludington (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

MARQUETTE RESTAURANT
Portside Inn
A tavern that combines the down-home folksiness of the U.P. with Marquette’s enlightened ’tude (as in plenty of locally sourced ingredients). A fave since 1983.
» Iron Bay Tap Room (2)
» The Vierling (3)

Café Santé, Best Boyne City Restaurant // Photo by Jesse Green

The Good Bowl, Best New Restaurant // Photo by Stocki Exchange

COFFEE ROASTERY
Higher Grounds, Traverse City
Turning coffee into the circle of life: they source organic beans from globally diverse small-scale farmers you fuel your day with one fine cup o’ java they give back to their growers.
» Leelanau Coffee Roasting Co., Glen Arbor (2)
» Roast & Toast, Petoskey (3)

DINER BREAKFAST SPOT
Omelette Shoppe, Traverse City
Experts in folding delicious and unexpected ingredients between eggs since 1975. Where do YOU want to
go to breakfast?
» Red Spire Brunch House, Traverse City (2)
» J&S Hamburg, Downtown Traverse City (3)

DOG FRIENDLY BAR/RESTAURANT
The Little Fleet, Traverse City
Owners Allison and Gary Jonas don’t discriminate—two-legs, four-legs, three-legs—everyone has a license to chill at this hip food truck lot/bar.
» The Filling Station, Traverse City (2)
» Short’s Brewing Company, Bellaire (3)

ELK RAPIDS RESTAURANT
Pearl’s New Orleans Kitchen
Get your Cajun Creole on—bayou alligator, Louisiana jambalaya, crawfish, fried green tomatoes, po’boys, oyster shooters, moonshine—with the warm embrace of Up North hospitality.
» Siren Hall (2)
» Riverwalk Grill and Taproom (3)

FARM STAND
Gallagher’s Farm Market and Bakery, Traverse City
Brake for brake lights on M72 just west of Traverse City. Then follow that car into this beloved motherlode of fresh fruit, veggies and baked goods. (Fall’s pumpkin doughnuts are epic.)
» 9 Bean Rows Farm, Suttons Bay
» Friske Farm Market, Charlevoix

FOOD TRUCK
Happy’s Taco Shop
Two men and a truck—and now another truck, showing NoMi how to make stellar tacos (guys, they ferment their own hot sauce!) and live large at the same time.
» Roaming Harvest (2)
» White on Rice (3)

FUDGE SHOP
Doug Murdick’s Fudge, Traverse City & Acme
A part of the royal Northern Michigan fudge lineage (it all began with a Murdick on Mackinac Island in the 1800s), Doug Murdick’s Fudge has been doing it right since 1964: copper kettle, to marble slab, to your mouth.
» Kilwins, Traverse City (2)
» Murdick’s Fudge, Mackinac Island (3)

HAPPY HOUR
The Parlor, Traverse City
From 4–7 p.m., seven days a week: Half- off drinks and 25 percent off the food menu. Yes, this makes us happy.
» Red Ginger, Traverse City (2)
» Firefly, Traverse City (3)

LEELANAU RESTAURANT
Hop Lot Brewing Co., Suttons Bay
Your tasting menu … First: expertly brewed ale. Second: slow smoked meats (piled mile-high on brioche or on nachos) Third: s’mores by the campfire. Fourth: thank your lucky stars for a perfect night in the beer garden.
» Art’s Tavern, Glen Arbor (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

LOCAL BRATS (SAUSAGES, NOT KIDS)
Maxbauer, Traverse City
The dog days of summer call for these snappy, irresistible brats made by a certified master sausage maker. Break out the buns, hun.
» Pleva’s, Cedar (2)
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (3)

MEAT MARKET
Maxbauer, Traverse City
A real cut-up (read: their billboards) outfitted with small town service and legendary meats.
» Burritt’s Fresh Markets, Traverse City (2)
» Ebels, Falmouth (3)

NEW RESTAURANT (OPENED IN 2018 OR LATER)
The Good Bowl, Traverse City
Vietnamese classics like phở and bánh mì drive the menu, but the wings and spicy lime chili sauce steal the show.
» Robby’s Mexican & Spanish Cuisine (Garfield location) Traverse City (2)
» Wren, Suttons Bay (3)

NEW WINERY
Amoritas, Lake Leelanau
The name means love and truth, and truthfully you will love the Goodell family who own this vineyard/winery/tasting room with soulful white wines.
» Two K Farms, Suttons Bay (2)
» WaterFire, Kewadin (3)

PETOSKEY RESTAURANT
City Park Grill
Slip away to a storied building where tales of prohibition (underground tunnels!) and Ernest Hemingway flavor the relaxed vibes and eclectic menu.
» Beards Brewery (2)
» Chandler’s (3)

PETOSKEY WINE REGION
Pond Hill Farm Vineyard & Winery, Harbor Springs
To discover what’s distinct about Michigan’s newest wine region, make sure this relaxed, sunny farm and its estate-grown wine is on your list. Grab a glass of Lakeview Rosé and wander the vineyards…you’ll want to stay all day.
» Walloon Lake Winery, Petoskey (2)
» Mackinaw Trail Winery, Petoskey (3)

PLACE TO GROUP WINE TASTE
Black Star Farms, Suttons Bay
Tell your friends: the home of some of the world’s best riesling lies at the end of this winding drive.
» Bowers Harbor Vineyards, Old Mission Peninsula (2)
» Mawby, Suttons Bay (3)

PLACE TO STOP FOR A BITE OR DRINK ON TUNNEL OF TREES ROUTE
Legs Inn, Cross Village
This quirky restaurant is as iconic as M119. Go for the kielbasa. Stay for the Lake Michigan sunset.
» Pond Hill Farm, Harbor Springs (2)
» Good Hart General Store, Good Hart (3)

RESTAURANT YOU CAN BOAT TO
Dockside, Torch Lake
Tie up your craft at this goodtime watering hole for a signature Dockburger or perch sandwich.
» Knot Just A Bar, Omena (2)
» Apache Trout Grill, Traverse City (3)

ROOFTOP DINING
The Franklin, Traverse City
String lights twinkle overhead and bustling Front Street offers endless people watching. Pair with house-made charcuterie and a craft cocktail.
» Hotel Indigo, Traverse City (2)
» Boone’s Prime Time Pub, Suttons Bay (3)

SKI RESORT PROPERTY RESTAURANT
Thistle Pub and Grille, Crystal Mountain
Dip those famous truffle butter Thistle fries in roasted garlic aioli and everything will be okay.
» Nub’s Pub, Nub’s Nob (2)
» Wild Tomato, Crystal Mountain (3)

SOFT-SERVE ICE CREAM SHOP
Moomers, Traverse City
Serving the classics—vanilla, chocolate, twist—plus 160 creative hard serve combos while happy cows and kids moo outside.
» Bardon’s Wonder Freeze, Traverse City (2)
» Dairy Lodge, Traverse City (3)