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Jul 16, 2007 08:21 PM

roadtrip from chicago through WI, around lake superior, through MI and back. where to eat?

we're a couple of foodies recently moved from london. we're doing a smallish roadtrip around lake michigan and superior from chicago. i'd love to have some food/snack/ice cream/drink destinations in mind along the way, as our route is totally fluid.

i've heard door county is nice, and we may do a meal on mackinac island (or just fudge, based on reviews here!), but any suggestions for places along any stretch of the way would be most appreciated.

thanks in advance!

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  1. By "around Lake Superior" do you mean to circumnavigate it (Michigan - Wisconsin - Minnesota - Canada - Michigan)? Or do you mean to travel along the Lake Superior shore but just in Michigan and Wisconsin?

    There are some good recommendations for the north shore of the Lake, in Minnesota, but I'm not sure from your paragraph if you'll be venturing that far west.

    1 Reply
    1. re: KTFoley

      we're playing it a bit by ear, but i suspect that we'll go all the way around, including into canada. tips for that corner in minnesota would be great. we basically decided to take this trip at the last minute, so haven't had that much time to do research, and food is probably the thing we enjoy most in our travels.

    2. The original comment has been removed
      1. Michigan's Upper Peninsula is gorgeous in a minimal way. The "minimal" part, some might say, also applies to good food--somehow I doubt the Cornish pastie, the regional specialty in the faded mining towns up there, will hold too much appeal for you. This said, here are a few ideas. Go up the Keweenaw Peninsula, which juts into Lake Superior in the U.P.'s western half, north of where you might be going in Wisconsin. The scenery is rugged (don't miss Brockway Mountain Drive), and Harbor Haus in Copper Harbor has decent German food with fresh fish. A really unusual store is the Jampot ( ), run by a group of monks from an unusual Eastern Catholic sect who make jams and jellies from the wild fruit in the area, including the elusive thimbleberry (don't let the cost discourage you). They also have good cookies for the road. Going across to Marquette in the central U.P., a very scenic small city with big ore docks and the world's largest wooden dome, you could do pretty well at That Italian Place downtown.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Jim M

          Marquette has a lot of good food, in addition to the pasties. I really like the Sweetwater Cafe. And Jilbert's ice cream is worth driving from Chicago for.

          Try these threads for more info:


          Jilbert's Dairy
          200 Meeske Ave, Marquette, MI 49855

          Sweet Water Cafe
          517 N 3rd St, Marquette, MI 49855

        2. Sounds fun! And rather ambitious. You'll want to post about the Canadian portion on the Canada board. On the MN side, you can do a search for Grand Marais or Two Harbors to dredge up some good posts. I haven't explored everywhere in Grand Marais, there is a place right on the harbor (outdoor dining available!) called the Angry Trout Cafe. It's gotten some mixed feedback here on Chowhound, but I think it's terrific if you want a locally-sourced focus for your meal. I had an outstanding lake trout + wild rice meal there. Also, I've never been there, but Chez Jude across the street looks intriguing as well. (Can't get the places link to work, though.)

          There's a frozen custard place in Grand Marais called Sydney's--I think it's a chain, but they have a deck with a wonderful view, as well as beach access, giving you a a couple of wonderful options for where to enjoy your cone.

          Sven & Ole's is a beloved pizza joint in Grand Marais. It's a good stop if you're craving pizza at that point.

          Lots of people love Betty's Pies, but I thought it was ordinary and a little disappointing. It's probably fine if your expectations are properly set: I was expecting my grandma's pie, ya know?

          Have fun! Report back!


          Angry Trout Cafe
          416 E Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

          2 Replies
          1. re: The Dairy Queen

            Places links for Betty's Pies & Sven & Oles. Can't get Sydney's to come up. I have a friend who swears by the breakfasts at South of the Border Cafe in Grand Marais. I haven't personally eaten there--we tried to get in but the service was a bit too crabby for me (I hadn't had my morning coffee yet and was a bit on edge) and, if I recall, they wanted to seat me next to someone who appeared to be chain smoking, which I couldn't abide. I think the smoking situation has been remedied, no?

            I had breakfast at the Blue Water Cafe in Grand Marais instead. I had lake trout there, too, as my breakfast. Fine, not exceptional.

            Betty's Pies
            1633 Hwy 61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

            Sven & Ole's
            7 W Wisconsin St, Grand Marais, MN 55604

            South of the Border Cafe
            4 E Hwy 61, Grand Marais, MN 55604

            1. re: The Dairy Queen


              in Duluth, MN: Fitger's Brewhouse makes a mean root beer float. The root beer is brewed on the premises. I didn't eat there, but the burgers and portabello mushroom sandwiches+greens that other folks were eating looked good.

              in Two Harbors, MN Their brown sugar smoked trout is divine and the perfect picnic food. I think they have a small outdoor seating area, too, if you want to have your meal there.

              in Two Harbors, MN Lou's Fish House
              Hwy 61 in Two Harbors
              Smoked fish, jerky, and cheese, to go.


              Fitger's Brewery Complex
              600 E Superior St, Duluth, MN 55802

              Lou's Fish House
              1319 Hwy 61, Two Harbors, MN 55616

              Superior Choice Fishing Company
              10th Ave, Two Harbors, MN 55616

          2. Hi lettezilla,

            That sounds like a nice trip. As with the others here, I am only familiar with the section from Bayfield, Wisconsin around the Minnesota side up to the border with Canada.

            Here are links to some information I posted here last summer -- they are still valid:


            Once you get past Grand Marais, other than the Naniboujou Lodge, there are very few options for food until you reach Thunder Bay.

            By "a couple of foodies" do you mean a couple romantically connected or two non-related individuals? (Why am I struggling for the right way to ask that???) The reason I ask is because, for couples, I would recommend a place called Sweetgrass Cove for at least one night's stay. It's a wonderful, private guest house (with excellent meals included) halfway between Grand Marais and the Canada border.


            If you like hiking, be sure to burn off some of your chow at the Temperance River/Cascade River State Park trails or some of the other hiking trails along the way.