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Jan 27, 2008 08:24 AM

(Food) Stops between Chicago and Detroit?

I've tried my best to do some web research and catch up on some old threads, but I think it's time to put this back out here in 2008 and formally gather some new opinions. I'm posting here in Midwest...but I'll see whether a repost in Chicago would be allowed/or be productive.

We regularly make the trip to Detroit for family and we're wondering what are notable stops along the way. We usually take the Skyway then I-94.

Fast food of note is acceptable and stop-worthy table service affairs welcome. Other food related or simply interesting stops can be included too.

Here's are familiars:
- Culver's is our usual easy choice since back when they were not as common in Michigan and are still in the Chicago 'burbs
- Jackson's Fruit Stand in Sawyer. It's been a while since we've stopped, but for sure next time
- Grandpa's Cider Mill - a new stop near Coloma (exit 39). Stopped in before Christmas. Would expect it to feel different in fruit season.

I was messing around with iWeb and built a quick blog to organize the tips and update them for the future. I may move it however to Blogger or Wordpress down the line.

If there's a better place to dig up this kind of info, let me know. Thx.

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  1. You'll find recommendations in the Kalamazoo area in the topic at

    1. "Stop-worthy" with table service: we sometimes stop at the Big T in Paw Paw. It's family and adult friendly (has an incredible beer selection). Just follow the signs to downtown Paw Paw and you can't miss it. Last time we were there, I noticed a few new places had opened right on the main street in town; they seemed to be bistro and brew-pub type places.

      1 Reply
      1. re: amandaqtpie

        If you go to Paw Paw, you can also visit St. Julian Winery, Michigan's oldest and largest winery, with tours and a tasting room. Another winery with a tasting room is just next door to St. Julian, to the north.

      2. i always stop at bell's in kalamazoo when I take the chicago-detriot trip. Pretty good beer, but often hyped too much. The sandwiches are pretty good too. The sides they serve with their sandwiches are awful though.... ruffled chips from a bag or possibly the worst chips and salsa i have ever had. and watch out, its a zoo at happy hour.

        4 Replies
        1. re: Danimal

          It's impossible for Bell's beer to be overhyped. Does anyone remember a Fried Chicken-oriented restaurant just off the freeway in Paw Paw that had a big picture of Jesus on the overhead menu board? In the late 80's it was a must-stop on our biennial road trips between East Lansing and Chicago...never did get the name of it, we just called it "Jesus' Fried Chicken"

          1. re: g rote

            Martini's in Kalamazoo is GREAT. They now have beer and wine and plenty of seating, whereas in years past it was a take-out and/or sit on a stool at a tiny counter kind of place. Everything is homemade (try ANYTHING with sausage) and they have plenty of vegetarian options as well. The only thing that's ever disappointed was the caprese sub, but I think it's just that the bread volume overwhelmed the nice delicate flavors of the tomato/moz combo.

            It's all amazingly good, FRESH food, but my personal favorite reccomendations would be:

            ANY of the pizza offerings
            Roast pork sandwich
            Grilled chicken salad (greens, chicken, roasted red peppers, mushrooms, scallions, kalamata olives, roasted potatos, and nice big chunks of asiago's a beautiful combination)
            Sausage farcitta

            They're located near downtown Kalamazoo. If you take the business loop, head west on M43/Kalamazoo. Turn left (south) onto Westnedge and go about a mile down the road. When you see a big old high school on your right hand side, you're a block away. It'll be a pinkish building on a corner on your right hand side with paintings of sunflowers and stuff in the panels.

            1. re: dingey

              DANG! I wish I remembered anything about Jesus Chicken, but I don't! I agree that Bell's BEER can't be overhyped, but the brewery itself is a different story. As a Kalamazooian, I can tell you that people either LOVE it or HATE it. I've had lots of bad service experiences there--it's very clique-y.

              1. re: dingey

                here in indiana, everyone talks up anything that bells puts out. Everything that I have had from bells was pretty forgettable. For every style they have I can think of a MUCH better example from another midwest brewery. IPA: 3F. Pale ale: Oaken Barrel. Winter White: c'mon, it tastes like blue moon. And the prices now... $10-12 for a six pack? Anyways, I could see the brew pub being clique-y, but I'm not from Kalamazoo. I don't mind stopping there on the trip, but I would never hang out there if i lived in the area.

        2. I know that you have discovered Coloma, Elvinc - but have you continued a little further off the Exit 39 between Paw Paw and St. Joseph to discover The Chocolate Garden? The most sinful chocolate truffles you ever want to have melt in your mouth! In a quaint garden setting no less! Two of my favorite wineries are right there - Contess and Karma Vista. Both are run by passionate owners who will provide you a wonderful tour of their carefully tended grapes. Worth the quick get-off the e-way!

          3 Replies
          1. re: North Oakland Gal

            If you are interested in Michigan wineries, you can find information about them at

            1. re: North Oakland Gal

              Sorry I've let so much time pass by. I'm checking into the thread again as we prepare for a trip to Detroit. When we headed to Grandpa's Cider Mill, the Chocolate Garden was just down the road. All those businesses on that exit seem to support each other and encourage their customers to visit their neighbors. Pricey (as handmade truffles should be), but good place to pick up gifts during our last visit before the Christmas holidays.

              1. re: elvinc

                If you are interested in stopping for a good meal in Northwest Indiana, check out Miller Bakery Cafe in Miller Beach or head a bit south on Route 49 and go downtown Valparaiso where there are a few good restaurants (Don Quijote for Spanish Tapas, Bistro 157 for New American upscale food, Bon Femme and Pikks Tavern are two others worth checking out).

            2. Anyplace in Kalamazoo good for wings?