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Mar 1, 2002 12:38 PM

Traverse City, MI

  • j

Any reccommedations for travelling in Traverse City area?

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  1. These are the stalest tips I've ever given (on this site or anywhere else), but here goes:

    When I was nine years old, I had the best doughnuts of my life (before or since) in a shack a few miles from Interlochen Arts Academy (where I was studying) on the way to Traverse City. They were freshly fried. And I wouldn't be surprised if they're still there (things change slowly up there). If you do go to Interlochen for a concert, ask around.

    Also, there was a GREAT diner on a major cross roads where you turn left going from interlochen to traverse city. You should be able to find that on a map.

    But I hope some slightly fresher tips come your way.

    Too bad you're not going during cherry season. I, myself, can hardly eat a cherry after two summers up there. The very thought of cherry juice makes me shudder.


    4 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Jim, I remember having those doughnuts as a child during summers when my family camped at Interlochen State Park - probably most recently almost 40 yrs ago. We pretty much did all of our own cooking on those trips so my parents as well as I must have thought they WERE amazing. I have a vague recollection that the place was on the west side of that N-S highway that runs between the lakes, but maybe not.

      My parents still camp at Interlochen sometimes - I will ask whether the shop is still there.

      Traverse City area has been greatly developed since that time, with casinos,etc. As I recall it, there are places to get smoked lake fish and some relatively pricy restaurants up by the Leelenau peninsula. Morel mushrooms, wild blueberries and of course those cherries are also specialties in that area.

      1. re: jen kalb

        Thank you for your replys. I will let you know what I find

      2. re: Jim Leff
        Linda Griffith

        Too bad, Jim that you didn't get back in the last, say, 10 to 15 years. The suggestion of Tapawingo in Ellsworth, Mi. ...about 7 miles east of Charlevoix, is the best suggestions anyone could make. We wrote about it in our book, "The Best of the Midwest" that came out in 1990 and it is still my personal favorite...Owner/Chef Pete Peterson took this old summer house and turned it into a culinary jewel. Hard to believe that anything so wonderful could knock our socks off every trip we make (7 serious driving hours from our Cleveland house) but it does. And we'll have 3 dinners in a row and hate to say goodby. Great food in a magical will continue to be one of my absolute personal favorite restaurants ...of all we've been to anywhere in the world. And I've been lucky enough to have been to a lot of great ones. This is real food...just wonderfully prepared. Food with great soul and heart...Don't even need cherries.

        1. re: Jim Leff

          >> These are the stalest tips I've ever given (on this site or anywhere else)

          They can't have gotten any fresher in the six years since this statement was written - LOL!

          Those looking for more recent recommendations in Traverse City may want to take a look at the discussion at

        2. Tapawingo is a restaurant somewhere in the Leelenau, I believe. Pioneering new american, lots of local ingredients. When I spent time there I couldn't afford it, but an old family friend who's a real chowhound highly recommended it.

          1 Reply
          1. re: annieb

            Tapawingo is NOT in the Leelenau peninsula; it's in the small town of Ellsworth, just southeast of Charlevoix. It's still outstanding, IMHO the best restaurant in the entire state of Michigan. This year, they closed for the winter for the first time; they will re-open in mid-April.

          2. Bower's Harbor Inn is an upscale, American classics restaurant in an old home on Mission Peninsula--lovely venue, good food, great service. An Italian deli downtown got good reviews from other 'hounds --check the search engine for the name. Cherry Hut, there's a couple around, is classic for fruit pies. Windows is also upscale, on the Lake, well regarded. When I was at Interlochen at college, a lot of the music profs played jazz gigs at Bill's Dills--decent bar food, great music, downtown. Don't know if it's still there, but i have great memories of good tunes there. The Manitou near Crystal Lake had some of the best wall-eye I've ever had. BlueBird in Leland serves, to many, the quintessential Great Lakes whitefish dinner--everybody shows up there --was a fave of writer Jim Harrison who has lived nearby. Larry Mawby winery is a must to see--several wineries have set up on Mission Peninsula-lots of wine tasting opportunities there as well. Let us know where you chow! It's a beautiful corner of the world..

            1. Boone's Long Lake Inn has a pretty good menu with a favorites being very generous portions of quality prime rib, steaks, crab legs, lobster- casual dining- always crowded- good prices- worth the trip! it's in Leelanau, actually, just outside of Traverse City.

              2 Replies
              1. re: albany

                I must say I'm roundly disappointed by most of the suggestions I've seen. I have spent my entire life in TC and most of the previous suggestions are off the mark. Boone's serves huge portions, but is noisy and has no ambience. Tapawingo is nice, but Windows and Rowe Inn are better (Rowe has a great wine list!). If you're looking for romantic then you cannot beat Bower's Harbor Inn on Old Mission. Top of the Park has the best view, but ranks low in my book in terms of value.

                TC has unfortunately been overdeveloped and the casinos and chain restaurants have driven away most of the better places. Don't go to Dill's for burgers; J&S or Sleder's Tavern are the best burgers in town, depending on level of atmosphere you are looking for. And, by all means, avoid the local wine. Yes, the soil is fabulous, but the wine is not.

                1. re: A

                  The Reisling and Gerwurz is ok in some of the wineries, but stay away from the reds.

              2. Lu Lu's in Bellaire is serving up some of the best stuff in Michigan. After opening last year they keep out-doing themselves. Last night I had a seared lamb tenderloin that was unreal! The app was pan fried gnocchi with a morel mushroom sauce. Don't miss it! Daily menu updates with a fairly good selection of wine by the glass.