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Traverse City, MI & Glen Arbor, MI casual dining spots?

We're planning a family vacation from Ohio to Traverse City and Sleeping Bear Dunes (Glen Arbor), Michigan in August 2013. Looking for casual, non-chain, kid-friendly (we'll have our 5yr old and 10 month old with us) dinner and lunch spots. Our 5 yr old is rather adventurous for that age, so pretty much any menu works for us. What's good and local to the area?

I also wouldn't mind recs for a good coffeeshop/bakery (that might offer sandwiches we could get as take-out for a picnic along the way) and maybe an ice cream shop.

Lodging specifics still need to be worked out, but right now we are strongly considering a B&B about 5 miles west of 'downtown' TC.

Thanks for any info you can pass my way. :)

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  1. When we went last year, we *loved* the French bakery/café Patisserie Amie / Chez Peres. We also had a nice casual breakfast at Martha's Leelenau Table.

    You'll find lots more recommendations for TC in these discussions:


    1 Reply
    1. re: nsxtasy

      ^ that is the best suggestion so far. definitely a don't miss

    2. For ice cream, Moomers out on Long Lake Rd. is a fun stop.
      A couple days a week they have tours (small fee), fun for kids-

        1. Art's Tavern in Glen Arbor

          Get a real fruit milkshake at Don's just east of TC.

          The Blue Tractor in TC is a decent place kids will like.

          You can get stuff for a picnic at Burdicks in TC. But I love the chicken salad at Tom's (grocery store).

          1. Thank you to all who responded. This gives me a good start and I'm already checking these places out online. I am really liking Blue Tractor. Sounds like what we'd be looking for.

            Red Mesa... what do they do best? What on their menu would you recommend?

            Moomers looks fun! I think we'd be able to do the dairy tour, given the timeframe we'll be there.

            I can't seem to find any online reference for Burdick's via google. Is it a restaurant, bakery, grocery store, what?

            Also, any good pizza places in the area? We like a flavorful sauce (not sweet), bread-like crust, quality toppings (not necessarily gourmet, just good stuff). Anything along those lines nearby or is it all chains?

            1 Reply
            1. re: jroach

              Sorry, its Burritt's.
              For pizza, check out Full Moon Pizza Company or That'sa Pizza

            2. You should look into The Cherry Republic.. they have absolutely everything cherry-related you could imagine! There are a few locations.. the Glen Arbor branch has a retail store, bakery, cafe, and winery. It's a fun experience and a quirky place! It's tradition for us to visit every year.
              There is a branch in TC as well, but maybe just the retail store.
              Have a great trip! I love Northern Michigan.


              1. Best take out sandwich in TC is Folgarelli's on Front St. Across the street from Burritt's which is a great market.

                1. Many, many terrific dining options in TC. Good luck choosing your list.

                  Here's a suggestion your 5-year old might really like: Bubba's. Ultra casual. Architypical "family seating" which is a plus for parents with young'uns. Pub/diner style foods. Tater Tots are amazing. Inexpensive. Great people watching.

                  428 Front Street

                  1. We always make a stop at Art's in Glen Arbor (I love the Rachel sandwich and my fiance loves the whitefish burger). It's a casual, divey type place with tons of character. I always see lots of families there. The original Cherry Republic is also in Glen Arbor. We've never had to the food there but there is a full menu. Also a fun place to stop by to get treats (I love the chocolate covered cherries) and let the kids run around.

                    For pizza we really love heading over to Black Star Farm on the Leelanau Peninsula. They have a little market and small restaurant there. Might be fun with the kids because they can look at the farm animals etc. The pizza is great---this is also Mario Batali's favorite spot!

                    In Traverse City proper check out Red Ginger for sushi and Asian small plates. We also thought Don's Drive-In was fun for burgers and shakes (get the cherry shake---really good).

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Elyssa

                      Thanks! I'm definitely adding these to the list. I will likely buy a case of dried cherries at Cherry Republic. Can't go wrong with Michigan cherries, right? Black Star Farm sounds good, too.

                      1. re: jroach

                        Black Star Farms is fun, I like to get their Raclette cheese and/or fromage blanc at the Creamery when they have it.

                        +1 Cherry Republic in Glen Arbor for edible souvenirs ;), and Bubba's for a casual family-friendly lunch and happy hour deals (check their website) www.tcbubbas.com

                        Also not a fan of Red Mesa fwiw, feels 'chain-y' to me. (It's part of a local restaurant group, which is fine, but it is just ok.


                        The suggestions you've gotten are budget-friendly and very casual. There are several more excellent options in TC if you go up in price and ambiance (Stella, Jolly Pumpkin) but still kid-friendly.

                        1. re: tokyo

                          I don't think Stella is necessarily kid friendly. I've been there 3 times over the years and have never once seen a child there. It's pretty upscale for the area. Most of what I see there is couples on date night (or in small groups).

                          1. re: Elyssa

                            Good point... I have friends who take their kids there so I was thinking of them. But they're probably an exception. Come to think of it, there isn't any place they *wouldn't* take their kids... So, yeah, scratch that.

                    2. TC- Scalawags for fried Whitefish
                      Bluetractor for BBQ.
                      Not a fan of Red Mesa but they have good drinks.
                      Amical is fairly casual as well.

                      1. If you're meat eaters in TC, go to Mode's Bum Steer: http://www.modesbumsteer.com

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: FritzJMcDonald

                          Wow. What a tip! Thanks, Fritz.

                          Two of us will be in TC this fall. We definately will take this place in.