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May 30, 2009 05:15 AM

Eating our way up Michigan's western coast

Although I'm a native Michigander, I left for college a few short months after receiving my drivers license, and never had the chance to thoroughly explore my home state. I'm looking to rectify that in conjunction with my brother's wedding next month, as I meander up from my parents' house in Ann Arbor (where I'm picking up the wedding booze) to the venue near Traverse City. I have a full two days to make the trip.

I'm hoping to build my itinerary around edible destinations, and would love fellow Chowhounders' suggestions. I'm clear on what to eat once I'm north of Sleeping Bear dunes (like many metro Detroiters, I've spent plenty of time in the TC area), but have no idea what lies between there and A2. Thoughts?

Thanks in advance for all your help.

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  1. I can't say much from personal experience, but there is a Michigan wine country magazine that has a lot of interesting-sounding restaurants in it, in SW Michigan and along the coast. You can probably find the magazine at a wine store or order it from

    1. I'd plan my route by going 96 and making a brief detour south in Grand Haven to go to the beach. There's a great county beach in Ferrysburg near GH, or two big state park beaches in GH and up at PJ Hoffmaster near Norton Shores. In GH, stop at Ray's for to-go FRESH perch sandwiches, "beef burgers" and shakes for cheap eats. Tons of restos on the waterfront in GH too. For amazing views of the lake try Bil-Mar. I find the restaurant at Bil-Mar a bit stuffy, but their patio is great. Also in GH right downtown near the boardwalk is the Kirby Grill, which has 3 different restaurants in one building that's pretty good. Last,but not least, a FANTASTIC breakfast can be had at Morning Star Cafe.

      From there, meander up 31. There are fun, good places to stop, especially in Ann Arbor, when making your way west, but I'd skip the middle of the state, whether you go 96, 94 or even Michigan Ave (although that would take you pretty far south) to get to the lake and go up the coast.

      1. I used to eat at the Common Grill in Chelsea, MI, when I lived in Ann Arbor. This place is like a miracle in a small, rural town. The owner used to be an executive chef.

        1. Two places I can think of near Lansing....

          El Oasis Taco Truck

          I highly recommend the beef cheek burrito.

          Second would be in Potterville

          Its a old time bar that serves up Gizzards, Deep Fried Cheeseburgers, and other morsels. Draft beer is served in a Mason Jar. The People are real friendly!

          Both of these are inexpensive places but are in my humble opinion not to be missed culinary destinations.

          1. I'm a big fan of Hermann's European Bistro in Cadillac. It would
            be an excellent restaurant anywhere ... why did Hermann relocate
            from Austria & Nepal? Married a hometown girl ...

            He also has an excellent (attached deli) and meat/fish/wine market.
            Upstairs is the five room hotel.