HOME > Chowhound > Great Lakes >


Do hidden gems exist in Mid-Michigan? (No worthy stops en route up north.)

It's relatively easy to find good food in Metro Detroit, Grand Rapids, Ann Arbor and around the up north destinations like Traverse City and Petoskey. But when traveling between those locations, the options seem incredibly bleak. Are there ANY creative or worthy restaurants or dives in Mid-Michigan? Outside of the Laundry and Crust bakery in Fenton (which are both incredible), there seems to be nothing worthy of a stop on the 4hr trip north from SE Michigan. Ditto if you're making the 3hr hike north from Grand Rapids. An option or two along the way would make those long weekend drives so much more bearable.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. This is such a good topic... and, despite many, many drives on these routes, I have yet to find a positive answer! Really looking forward to hearing the replies on this one.

    2 Replies
    1. re: tokyo

      Yes! I'm going to make a list of these recommendations. Thank you!

      I am just so tired of the plethora of mid-Michigan places that all seem to have been opened by the same guy.

      This guy loves sports. He has at least 20 big screen teevees around the perimeter of his restaurant, each showing a different sporting event because goddess-forbid some poor schlump has to talk to his family while he eats his burger. So many places that look, from the outside, to be interesting or focused on good food, turn out to be one of this guy's places. Interchangeable menus, identical decor, and food straight off the Sysco truck.

      Two years later, they're closed and and other guy, just like the last guy, opens up the space with the same menu and decor.

      Aarrrggghhh. Do I seem frustrated? (sorry about the vent) This thread is a lifesaver!

      1. re: juliasqueezer

        Turkey Roost has *zero* teevees, not that you'll really need them. If there's a full-serve place that serves up *really good* food faster than this place, I've yet to run into it. In fact, TR is the ulitmate travel food, and yet it's definitely a family atmosphere, conducive to getting a family talking with each other.

        I'll tell you this: you get good food in your kids' mouths quickly, it's amazing how happily talkative they'll be. I still remember when we first went there as a family. Great memory.

    2. I'm still a fan of Turkey Roost in Kawkawlin. It's not gourmet, but it's definitely in the category of "Do one thing, and do it well." It's a good halfway point between the Detroit area and up north. Worth the stop any time they're open, as their breakfast is also good. And yes: if you want a turkey dinner for breakfast, you can have it. No problem whatsoever.

      Cheap, clean, great.

      1 Reply
      1. re: boagman

        Gotta second the Turkey Roost. It is off of 75 a bit as I recall, but on a parallel highway, so not terribly inconvenient. But it's not like it's right off the interstate. It was a regular stop on our way home from Alpena county. Timing was convenient for lunch. Good and cheap. Certainly a better alternative to fast foods. Worth the extra couple miles.

        Hmm. Never tried it for breakfast.

      2. Thinking a little outside of the box, do any of the country or golf clubs have decent menus? Michigan is home to some incredible destination golf courses, you'd think a couple of them would have cuisine to match, yes?

        1. Cadillac:

          Hermann's Deli
          Hermann's European Bistro
          Blue Heron


          Ruggero's (lasagna)

          2 Replies
          1. re: rainsux

            *Whataburger* Whataburger or another Whataburger? :)

            1. re: missmind

              Good catch, that you.

              NOT Whataburger ... Halo Burger. It's a
              local/Flint chain.

              It's a fast food burger, but better than McD, BK, Wendy's, et. al. Certainly not of "gem" status.

          2. Might want to try Wheelers in Standish. Old timey place that we like to hit on the way from Rochester to the Au Sable River. Open face roast beef sandwich will fill you up for hours.

            1. The I-75 artery:

              Vivio's - Indian River. Italian

              Spike's Keg O' Nails - Grayling. Good pub foods. Boisterous vibe.
              Goodales Bakery - Grayling. Terrific sweets for the road.

              Alpine Tavern - Gaylord. Funky, laid back, cheerful atmosphere.
              The Bearded Dogg - Gaylord. Gastropub. Highly regarded kitchen.
              Bennethums Northern Inn - Gaylord. Your Mom and Pop would be comfortable here.
              Michaywe Inn - Gaylord. Upscale dining with the price reflected.

              1 Reply
              1. re: RedTop

                "Vivio's - Indian River"

                A good spot for pan fried Lake Perch as well. However Indian River is no where near mid Mi.

              2. We have enjoyed The Willow Tree in West Branch. Good prices for well prepared food. They also have one in Fountain Sq. in Saginaw.

                1. "Outside of the Laundry and Crust bakery in Fenton (which are both incredible)"

                  What more do you need? Ha!

                  1. Tony's Tacos in Standish is as close to a food truck you will find. Not American Mexican food but the real thing.

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: mty917

                      Good food, but watch the check like a hawk. Ours had items we did not order and their arithmetic was abysmal.

                      1. re: mty917

                        Never heard of this place! We make the drive down 75 frequently and this is a good stopping point for us- thanks for the tip!

                      2. A true Michigan Classic,,, A cast iron skillet happily bubbles on a gas stove at Iva’s Chicken Dinners, a tin lid holding the pieces of lightly floured chicken in place while they get the golden crunch that has drawn folks to the eatery since 1938.

                        See there Facebook Page ENJOY


                        1. There are some good places close to the Lake Michigan coast in Pentwater, Ludington, Onekama and Manistee...but that it probably out of your way.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: Ross B

                            not to hijack the thread, but I'd be interesting in hearing about the places in Manistee and Onekama. Heading up to golf Arcadia in a couple of weeks.

                          2. I have 2 ideas for the route along 127 if you're heading north from the Lansing area:

                            1) Meat BBQ in Lansing's Old Town. This is a relatively new bbq spot in the Old Town part of Lansing that has undergone a bit of a revitalization. The bbq is surprisingly very solid and worth a slight detour off of 127.

                            2) Sure Shot BBQ in Mt. Pleasant. Also a pretty good bbq spot.

                            I covered these places in a writeup here: http://greatlakesbetterfood.blogspot....

                            As far as going up 131 from Grand Rapids, there is a Fricano's a bit north of GR, which is classic west MI pizza. There is also a gastropub in Howard City that I've been meaning to make it to called Latitudes Roadhouse. Oh, also Mr. Foisie's pasties in Cadillac.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: GreatLakesBetterFood

                              +1 Sure Shot, forgot about that place, not bad at all.

                            2. Bone Daddy's BBQ in Midland, is a excellent BBQ joint.

                              1. If you're coming up 131, here's my guide to Big Rapids:


                                1. Another worthwhile stop near Cadillac: Helsel's Chubby's Cafe & Market. SE corner of M115 and 13th Street.

                                  They make some of their own breads and jam. Also have
                                  corned beef hash that is homemade or from a can ... duh.

                                  Omlettes were excellent. Service was knowledgeable,
                                  prompt and good.