I-75: Flint to Sault Ste. Marie, MI--chow wanted
Spring is here, Michigan hounds and other users of I-75, and this means only one thing: going "up north"--at least as far as we can with gas prices at current levels. I'm sure we all have tales of fast food, half-frozen pasties, and other disastrous meals on the road to the U.P. Can you help save us from eating any more?
I'll start. Today, on the recommendation of other hounds, I ate at the Big Eazy in Flint Township. Taking the Corunna Rd. exit in Flint, you go maybe two miles west on Corunna, and it's on the left. I had a blackened catfish with a great tomato cream sauce that had scallops and andouille sausage in it--it was called Big Eazy sauce. They had several fresh fish and an oyster bar. I'll have to try it again, and my cardiologist is going to be hurt and angered, but it was very decent New Orleans-style food, which is notoriously hard to find in these parts.
Any place else, in Saginaw? Bay City? Grayling/Gaylord? West Branch? Mackinaw City/St. Ignace? I think the key is to get away from the highway.
I have a place near Mackinaw so I make this drive at least twice a month. I think your descriptives of food horrors are probably the norm along I-75. There is a place in Mackinaw West of the bridge that has the most fantastic Jerky. We all know about the fudge (and the fudgies).
My favorite stops are not for restaurants but for food items to take to the cottage. Williams cheese, Seasonings and bread at Freeway Fritz in Bridgeport.
Not off 75, but US 23 (we prefer the coastal drive) is Flour Garden in Harrisville. Although last time we ate there it was just ordinary, usually their food is outstanding--great breakfast, home toast, and real greens in the salads, not just iceberg. Service is faster than the usual Up North speed. No alcohol.
They also have a great, albeit tiny, attached market with interesting foods and wine, as well as baked goods.
I don't know of anything good in that stretch of road. You have to get over to the Lake Michigan shore to get good food in Northern Michigan.
Two of the very best restaurants in the entire state of Michigan are 30ish miles west of Gaylord in the booming metropolis of Ellsworth, and definitely worth the detour:
You can also find some recommendations for Grayling/Gaylord in the topic at www.chowhound.com/topics/429825
Tapawingo is no longer what it once was. I'm glad to see both places still have fans but there are far better restaurants (IMO) in the state. Are we talking about any place in northern MI or just off I-75?
Petoskey has some nice spots, Andante, Staffords Bay View Inn, The Perry Hotel, The dining rooms at Bay Harbor.
The dining room in the Iroquois Hotel on Mackinaw Island is an outstanding experience as well as the Grand Hotel.
Vivianos in Indian River is fine for fried Perch.
The Douglas Lake bar is always fun.
Albies Pasties has a shop in Gaylord.
If you feel like getting off I-75 head over to Traverse City then take the drive North. Charlevoix and Petoskey are beatifull and Lake Shore drive aka tunnel of trees (M-119) from Harbor Springs to Cross Village (Home of the Leggs Inn) has been voted one of the most scenic drives in America. Don't forget to stop at Friskes along the way for pie or cider and doughnuts!
That can be a pretty barren stretch of road for the Foodies. I have always found The Sugar Bowl in Gaylord to be very good. It is within a mile east of the Gaylord exit of 75 on the North side in downtown. Also plenty of parking in the rear even for those pulling a trailer. It is two places in one a family restaurant which is attached to finer dining restaurant. Solid food and clean I have never been disappointed.