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Jul 13, 2012 07:40 AM

Vegetarian and or Localvore Recommendations in Northern Mi

Hi all,

Next Friday, we will be traveling to Northern Michigan (Petoskey for 2 Nights, Mackinac for 2 Nights, Hillman for 3 Nights). He's a vegetarian, I'm mostly veggie, but eat fish (especially when it's local), and we both appreciate seasonal local cooking. We are also into craft beer and wineries, so we'd appreciate those kinds of recommendations as well. We'll be traveling with our 11 month old son, so our recommendations have to be places where we can take a baby without irritating other diners. Thanks for your tips!

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  1. Depending on how far you're willing to drive from Hillman, there is a new vegetarian cafe in Rogers City called Chicory Cafe. I have not been personally but have heard good things.

    1. I haven't been there, but Thai Orchid in Petoskey gets good reviews on Urbanspoon and the menu seems veggie-friendly.

      1. For locavore in Petoskey, try American Spoon Cafe on Lake St. Grain Train natural food market on Mitchell St. has some good veg deli items for a picnic lunch if you're interested in that. Petoskey has several great parks for picnicking.

        2 Replies
          1. re: muffinovic

            Other menus to check out for Petoskey:

   Great view, some vegetarian options, but small dining room, not sure how it would go for your little one?

   This can be great, or frustrating, depending mostly on your server. However, their main plates are pretty meat-centric. If you stick to the small plates, there are some veg options. Nice deck seating.

        1. One recemmendation I have is to check out Symon's General Store in Petoskey. It's not a restaurant (though I believe you can dine-in in the wine celler in the basement), but has tons of local goodies - cheese, chips, salsas, sauces, craft beer, and of course the huge basement wine cellar. It's a must visit in Petoskey I'd say. They also have two restaurants associated with the store, but I'm not sure how veg-friendly they'd be.

          You may also like Roast & Toast for breakfast/brunch.

          Mitchell Street Pub is somewhat of a locals, dive bar type of place, but you could bring a kid there no problem. It is quintissential northern MI in my opinion. They will have a decent craft beer selection as well. How familiar are you with the craft beer/wine selection in MI? Short's Brewery is located about 40 miles south of Petoskey in Bellaire and they make really good stuff.

          You say 2 nights in Mackinac - is that Mackinac Island or Mackinaw City?

          3 Replies
          1. re: GreatLakesBetterFood

            Thanks for all the suggestions. Please keep them coming. When I said Mackinac, I meant Mackinac Island.

              1. re: GreatLakesBetterFood

                Re: Roast & Toast, Could be a good option for an easy, casual lunch too. They always have at least one veg soup and a few sandwich choices for vegetarians. You can view their daily soup menu online (there are four each day). Their salads are kind of meh. Very casual (order at the counter, pick it up when they call your name), definitely kid friendly. And good mochas, if you like dessert in your coffee. :)
                Note: FWIW, Roast & Toast is not always the tidiest of places. Gets a lot of traffic and can start to get a little...disheveled during busy times.

              2. Mackinac suggestions? For being a tourist destination, the restaurants all seem to be kind of meh. Very generic. Any suggestions for interesting food on the island?

                6 Replies
                1. re: muffinovic

                  Unfortunately, I think your assessment of Mackinac Island might be accurate. Mackinac Island is indeed very touristy, but it is somewhat kitschy - not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but you should know what you're going into if you've never been before. I don't think you're going to find a whole lot in the way of interesting food that someone who's into seasonal cooking/locavore/craft beer is going to like.

                  Having said that, the one place that comes to mind is The Woods (though I've never been). It is set back in the woods and supposed to be a nice setting, though the picture of the dining room looks like it's of the hotel in The Shining.


                  Honestly, 2 nights on Mackinac Island sounds like it might be overkill for you based on what you've said in this thread. I have a feeling you might like the vibe of the Petoskey/Charlevoix area a bit better based on what you seem to be into.

                  Here is a writeup I did on the Charlevoix and Elk Rapids area (a little further southwest from Charlevoix) to give you a little bit more flavor of that area:


                  1. re: GreatLakesBetterFood

                    Thanks GreatLakesBetterFood. Your blog is awesome -great food photos. You are totally right. We are packing way too much in, but our whole trip is kind of insane. My parents are from Michigan, so I've been to Traverse City, Charlevoix, Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Mackinac, but not in 20 years! The Hillman detour is to spend time with my 92 year old grandmother and Aunt and Uncle. After that we head to Bloomfield Hills and then Ontario for some camping. I think it's like 2500 miles of driving with an almost 1 year old! At any rate, we are packing is so much of Northern Michigan including Mackinac, so that my husband can get a really good taste of the area. We like history, so he's excited about the fort. We're going to toodle around on bikes, etc.

                    1. re: muffinovic

                      Oh, he will love the fort! It really sounds like a great trip you have planned, and you will see so much of the great lakes shoreline. I hope you have a beautiful time.

                      1. re: muffinovic

                        I gotcha, I didn't realize you were familiar with the area. I was just saying you might feel a little trapped on the island after two nights - you could always do one night on the island and one night in Mackinaw City, that is no additional driving. Anwyway, the trip will be a blast. You could always load up on food at places like Symon's in Petoskey and snack on that while on Mackinac.

                        Also, be sure to get pasties on the mainland in Mackinaw City.

                      2. re: muffinovic

                        Agreed on the assessment of Mackinac. I love the island, but it is not a food-lovers destination. I would describe it as a dining lottery. :) The same goes for Mackinaw City. Do explore the natural beauty of the island and enjoy the quiet after the tourists leave for the day. Think of it this way- if you have a great meal, it will be a bonus. ;)

                        As GLBF suggests, The Woods is worth a stop just to see the place, even if the menu is not to your liking.

                        I also suggest grabbing some snacks in the Petoskey area before you head to the island, as options are limited and expensive once you are there. If you're at all interested in locally smoked whitefish (or whitefish spread) you could pick some up at Krueger's or Big Stone Bay in Mackinaw City.

                        If you want to cross the bridge and take the ferry from St. Ignace, you might like breakfast at Java Joe's one morning. It's an eclectic little place with a broad menu.