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Thai Orchid // 433 East Mitchell Street // Petoskey 231.487.9900
Ginger- and lemongrass-driven Pa Nang-style curry paste graces a spicy coconut milk broth with peanuts, Thai basil and kaffir lime leaves. Add chicken and enjoy the flavor epiphanies.
Ham Bonz // 1108 East Eighth Street // Traverse City 231.929.9288
Dearborn hams (the best kind) adopt some smoky mojo after several hours in the pit and wind up sliced thick and stacked high on Texas toast with tangy honey mustard.
Sweet Mama’s // 145 Ames Street // Elk Rapids 231.498.2298
Chef/owner Ralph Humes elevates this soul food staple to a level of Platonic perfection. The rich sweet-potato purée is copiously studded with caramelized pecans in a crust you wish your grandma could make.
Port City Smokehouse // 1000 Main Street // Frankfort 231.352.9192
Outta-the-lake whitefish gets dunked in light, crispy beer batter and landed on a grilled kaiser roll with lettuce, tomato and tartar sauce. A classic done right.