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Jun 5, 2013 09:33 AM

Foodie destination in SW Michigan?

We are planning a weekend in St. Joseph in late June, but could be persuaded to change our destination if there was somewhere that had really interesting, good food options - fresh, innovative, but not fine dining as we hate being that formal and will be traveling with our adventurous teens. Probably don't want to go further north than Saugatuck - your recommendations would be much appreciated!

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  1. In Fennville (right outside of Saugatuck) is Salt of the Earth. This might just be one of the best restaurants in SW Michigan (although I haven't explored some of the towns around there).

    It's real farm to table local cooking. The bake all the bread in house, most of the vegetables are grown in surrounding farms, the ice cream is made nearby etc. The menu is great and they have probably one of the best burgers I've ever tasted (again, everything is super local...they even make their own ketchup).

    Some nights they have live music, if you are in to that sort of thing. Definitely worth a trip if you are in the area.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Elyssa

      Fennville is not right outside of Saugatuck; it's ten miles away. Right next to Saugatuck is Douglas, where you'll find Everyday People Café. Perhaps you were thinking of Everyday People Café instead? Everyday People is indeed one of the best restaurants in SW Michigan (THE best, IMHO). Salt of the Earth is also very good, but if I had to pick one, EPC would get the nod. Note, neither of these restaurants accepts reservations (with certain exceptions at SOTE, see their website). "In season" (May through September) and especially on weekends, they get busy with long waits to be seated.

      You'll find more recommendations for Saugatuck/Douglas in these discussions:

      Just keep in mind that Saugatuck/Douglas and Fennville are both 45 miles from St. Joseph. You don't need to drive that far for good food. There are several recommendations in St. Joseph in this topic:

      And Stevensville is only 8 miles away. There you'll find Tosi's, a longtime favorite that's still very good.

      If you enjoy wines, there are about ten different wineries within 15 miles of St. Joe, and some of them are very good indeed. For more information, see

      Restaurant website links:

      1. re: nsxtasy

        No, I'm definitely thinking of Salt of the Earth. We took a special trip to Saugatuck for my 30th birthday a year ago just so I could go to this restaurant.

        We've been to Everyday People and really like it but I wouldn't make a special trip just for that. Also my main issue with Everyday People is they never change their menu. We've been going there for 3+ years now and it's always the same.

        Fennville is maybe not right outside but it's basically one town over and certainly a short drive (15 minutes tops) from the B&B we usually stay at in Douglas.

    2. nsxtasy is a great go to, has lots of current knowledge, and his recommendations have been hits for me.

      Adding to his is my endorsement for Tosi's. Great food and a good local wine cellar. Which is my lead in to Tabor Hill Winery and Restaurant.

      Located just outside of Buchanan, I stopped by last October. The gewurtztraminer was every bit as good as anything from the Alsace. The chardonnay had a for me pleasant mineral aspect that reminded me of a Chablis. The restaurant looked promising, but I was behind schedule. Locally driven.

      (Disclosure) During the summer of 1972, upon being awarded a P.H.D. I was let loose in a field and was paid $1.65 an hour to set posts for wine grapes for Tabor Hill. So I do have some proprietary pride in the place.

      def. P.H.D. post hole digger

      1 Reply
      1. re: INDIANRIVERFL

        That's funny, I had a similar experience last fall! I visited Tabor Hill and tried the wines. I too noticed the restaurant, but it was an off hour for dining.

        Incidentally, speaking of their wine varieties... If you enjoy sweet dessert wines, many of those nearby wineries, including Tabor Hill, produce ice wines, and some of them are as good as ones from Niagara and Germany.

        P.S. Thanks for the kind words!

      2. Thanks for these great suggestions. In response, we've adjusted our travel plans slightly northward, and will stay in Saugatuck. My husband wasn't that keen on St. Joes anyway, but I was trying to avoid the driving!! Can't wait to try a few of these suggestions -

        1 Reply
        1. re: elleneck2000

          Perfect - that way you can go to BOTH Everyday People Café AND Salt of the Earth!

          There aren't quite as many wineries further north as in the "wine belt" around Bridgman southeast of St. Joe, but there are a few, notably Fenn Valley in Fennville. Also, several of the wineries have tasting rooms in Saugatuck.


        2. Do not miss the Blue Plate cafe near Union Pier Michigan - it's open for breakfast or lunch only and also has baked goods for carry out. I've only been there once as we do not live near it. But all three of us had really good food.
          I had tuna salad with avocado and cheese - warm and sloppy and too large to finish. My daughter had blueberry pancakes and I don't even remember what my husband had but we all want to go back.

          3 Replies
          1. re: KD1111

            "I had tuna salad with avocado and cheese - warm and sloppy and too large to finish."

            *Warm* tuna salad? You sure it wasn't a tuna casserole or something like that? Because warm tuna salad sounds disgusting...and possibly disease-carrying. Mayonnaise does *not* do well under heat. I'm not even going to talk about the cheese and avocado. This certainly sounds like a dish best served chilled, if I might say so.

            Am I wrong on this?

            1. re: boagman

              It probably was some sort of tuna melt.

              1. re: Elyssa

                Ah. That would make more sense. Thanks.