Find terrific food at these five local taverns, perfect spots to kick back after a day spent outdoors in a Northern Michigan winter. Warm, cozy and delicious—perfect apres Northern Michigan skiing.
1058 Benzie Hwy., Benzonia, 231-882-9631
A Latin fire is burning in Benzonia at The Roadhouse, a lovable raucous hilltop cantina where firecracker fajitas and soul-quenching Don Juan margaritas welcome all amigos during the cold slash of November Up North. Staring down fist-sized chiles rellenos or a triple piston platter of enchiladas topped with fried egg and incendiary fresh salsa, the only cold you’ll notice comes from the rum or tequila-based potions being poured from icy blenders behind the bar.
Working almost entirely from scratch, Chef Miguel taps his Mexican roots and the freshest possible ingredients to deliver big plates of border food that satisfy our essential need for that Southwestern synergy of chilies, cumin, cilantro and cheese. Read on as this month we gorge and quaff (designated driver required) our way through some of the North’s best bars for eating, drinking and atmosphere.
6487 Western Avenue, Glen Arbor, 231-334-3754
Rightly dubbed ‘a quaint piece of schlock in an increasingly generic world,’ Art’s is an enduring institution in Leelanau County where you can sit down with your favorite libation to eavesdrop and eat fried smelt or white cheddar on grilled apple bread and ponder the mystery of the two-headed fish.
Lil Bo Pub and Grille
540 West Front Street, Traverse City 231-946-6925
There are precious few bars in this world that serve cold draughts and great lasagna, but you’ll find both at Lil Bo. This venerated pub and self-proclaimed ‘Cheers’ of Traverse City has live music, hearty fare and a great cast of regulars.
Side Door Saloon
1200 North U.S. 31, Petoskey, 231-347-9291
Any given Saturday you can bite into one of the North’s best burgers, drain a few pints and watch big-screen sports from any seat in the house. The cherry pool table and friendly vibe reinforce the Side Door’s mantra: ‘You’ll never miss the water.’
Moose Jaw Junction
922 East Van Road, Pellston, 231-539-8528
This rustic watering hole in the rolling forests south of Pellston is sprung from a Jim Harrison novel: boot-scuffed plank floors, a pool table and a roaring fireplace hung with antlers. The beer is cold, the drinks are stiff and the fried fish is worth braving any weather.