Headed up north this summer? You aren’t alone. Summertime travel to northern Michigan smashed records in 2020, and 2021 already feels just as booked. We know that picnics on the boat, tossing your fresh catch on the grill, and fireside s’mores are often some of the most memorable meals in this stunning part of the state. But if you get rained out, want to take Grandma and Grandpa up on the suggestion of date night, or otherwise need a break from that peak-week family reunion, these Petoskey restaurants are worth getting out of your swim trunks for.Read More
Where to Dine and Drink in Petoskey
Summertime tourism has been big business in this Northern Michigan town since the late 1800s. Here’s where to eat in 2021.
1. Aamchi Mumbai Indian Cuisine
This Indian restaurant in the D&W shopping plaza on 31 North opened just a few months before the pandemic struck and has had a steady stream of fans since. While Bhim and Yavraj Basel—the father-son team behind the restaurant—kept the indoor dining room closed longer than the state required, that didn’t stop in-the-know locals from calling in their orders for chicken tikka masala, garlic naan, and the tandoori mixed grill all winter long. There’s a huge section of their menu dedicated to vegetarian entrees, perfect for planning the next veggie korma picnic. For those who would rather be inside, Aamchi Mumbai is opening its dining room for the summer.
2. Palette Bistro
Looking for a view of the Bay? Palette Bistro is the place to be. Summertime guests love the seafood paella—studded with mussels, shrimp, scallops, and house-made chorizo—which goes especially well with any of the wines from the Spanish section of the restaurant’s Old World wine list. Palette Bistro is currently offering both indoor and outdoor seating, and is especially lauded for its happy hour—when the Mediterranean-inspired restaurant offers $5 cocktails and glasses of wine and a reduced price on small plates. Palette Bistro is offering indoor and outdoor dining this summer, plus curbside pickup and cocktails to go.
3. Beards Brewery
Pizza and beer is a pretty classic pairing. Even better? Scratch made pizza, house brewed beer, and a view of Little Traverse Bay. The wild mushroom pie at this locally loved brewery is loaded with marinated mushrooms, caramelized onions, fresh mozzarella, and a garlic cream sauce and is especially good with their Deez Nutz brown ale. Not drinking? Beard’s just got in on the non-alcoholic game by launching Michigan Hop Water, a carbonated hopped tea. The brewery is offering indoor seating this summer, but their open-air bar with views of Lake Michigan is where you’ll find us.
Over the past 20-plus years, Chandler’s has become a Petoskey institution. Located behind the historic Symons General Store, owner Chandler Symons and his team serve some of the best special occasion plates in town. Think oysters on the half shell or seared Hudson Valley foie gras to start, followed by—when in season—north Atlantic halibut with fresh favas, artichokes, arugula, and saba. Don’t skip dessert, especially their spiffed up version of a hummer—the kahlua, rum, and ice cream cocktail that originated in Detroit. The restaurant is currently offering indoor seating in the main dining room and the wine cellar, as well has both heated and open air seating in the alley between the two.
5. Jose's Authentic Mexican Restaurant
Craving Mexican food? Make a beeline for Jose’s. Together with his sister and wife, José Lopez (originally from León, Mexico) has been turning out made-to-order guacamole, pork tamales, chile rellenos, and flan since late 2005. Bonus: José himself greets customers and takes orders with what’s gotta be the biggest (masked) smile in northern Michigan hospitality. Jose’s Authentic Mexican is currently offering takeout and indoor dining, but they do not have a liquor license.
6. Thai Orchid
For more than 13 years, the Vangyi family—Hmong-Americans originally from Laos—have been sharing their love of spicy food from Southeast Asia with Petoskey residents. While the pad Thai and other noodle dishes are their best-selling menu items, regulars know to try the Tom Yum soup, cucumber salad, or fish curry. This summer, don’t miss the iced Thai tea or coffee. At press time, Thai Orchid remained committed to takeout only, but will update their Facebook page when the dining room reopens.
7. Tap 30 Pourhouse
Named for the number of beers offered on draft, this tap house on the north side of Mitchell Street is a must-visit for the serious suds lover. Run by the same sommelier who operates Pour Kitchen and Bar next door, the selections include a few imported gems (the Schöfferhofer grapefruit radler and the Duvel single-fermentaed golden were recently on tap) but focus primarily on pours from the Great Lakes State. Bellying up to their bar is a good way to taste beers, ciders, or hard seltzers that are either not being canned or bottled or are otherwise from beyond this section of northern Michigan. Get over there and taste the Alpena-made Austin Brothers Nytro Murkus Double IPA before the keg is kicked. Tap 30 also offers a full pub menu, indoors or out.
8. Pour Kitchen & Bar
Ask avid home cooks where they like to eat on their night off and Pour is a common answer. From his scratch kitchen, chef Colin Campbell is poaching Maine lobster tail that’s served with celery root soubise, Iberico chorizo, and an almond gremolata with sumac or plating a dish of Michigan rabbit loin with king trumpet mushrooms, fiddleheads, a morel cream, and pickled mustard seeds that ran this spring. Be sure to pair these and other beautiful menu items with wines from sommelier Todd Chinnock’s well-curated list. Chinnock lists some 55 selections by the glass or half glass, including some harder-to-land allocations that he has worked hard to bring to northern Michigan for the summer season. Pour is offering curbside pickup and indoor and outdoor seating this year.
9. Sam’s Graces Cafe
Mid-pandemic, Sam’s Graces made the move from Harbor Springs to Petoskey and residents of Little Traverse Bay’s south side could not be more thrilled. While the café offers everything from brick-oven pizzas at lunchtime to cocktails in the evening, it’s breakfast at Sam’s Graces that fans seem most excited about. Try their eggs benedict, which includes a house-made English muffin and smoked ham from northern Michigan’s beloved Plath’s.
10. The Back Lot Beer Garden
This collection of food trucks off of an alley between Mitchell and Michigan streets is Petoskey’s answer to Traverse City’s wildly popular Little Fleet. This summer, visitors can make the tough call between gyros from Mim’s Mobile Grill, fish and chips from the Reel Deal, or the Lamb Cheeseburger taco from Happy’s Taco Shop. As in Traverse City, Happy’s is located indoors and anchors this collection of trucks all winter. Any of their tacos might just be the most delicious meal in Petoskey.
11. Julienne Tomatoes
Petoskey residents have been loyal fans of Julienne Tomatoes since the sandwich shop first opened an impressive 25 years ago. Beloved for their turkey club sandwich, tomato basil soup, and commitment to area farms such as Bear Creek Organic, the Howard street icon won’t lead you wrong if you stock up for your picnic here. This summer, Julienne Tomatoes is offering indoor and outdoor seating, as well as frozen foods and curbside pickup.
12. Vintage Chophouse & Wine Bar
The Inn at Bay Harbor, which opened in 1998 just four miles west of downtown Petoskey, feels like its always been there. The resort mirrors San Diego’s historic Hotel del Coronado, an iconic property that dates to the late 1800s—the same vintage as the dawn of Petoskey tourism. For those who didn’t nab a room, booking a table at the Vintage Chophouse is another great way to experience this stunning hotel. Whether you are in the mood for a burger, which comes with truffle jack cheese and Vidalia onion jam, or a full on 20-ounce bone-in cowboy ribeye, don’t miss the wine list—which includes two different vertical offerings. Vintage is offering indoor and outdoor seating this summer, as well as cocktails to-go if you just want to wander the docks, which are home to some of the most jaw-dropping yachts this side of southern California.
13. Villa Ristorante Italiano
Most people whiz right past this unassuming building at the busy intersection of 31 and 131. If you’re a fan of grappa, however, hit the brakes. This old-school Italian eatery known to locals simply as “the Villa” has an extensive Italian wine list that includes a five-page selection of grappa, a brandy that is made from residual grape skins and seeds after wine is pressed. Grab a seat at the bar, order an appetizer, and sip on a Grappa di Barolo, Grappa di Moscato d’Asti, or an aged grappa while you wait. The Villa is offering inside dining and a select carryout dinner menu at this time.
14. Walloon Lake Inn
The Walloon Lake Inn has been a special culinary destination for decades—but a change in ownership and related remodel in 2014 made the historic inn “next level.” Now one of the most sultry (and most expensive) dining rooms in northern Michigan, this lakeside gem might just be the hottest reservation in town…er, 15 minutes south of town. While the space screams steakhouse, it’s the John Cross whitefish that is most popular. With a panko parmesan crust, summer squash, a lemon beurre blanc, and capers it’s a lovely taste of the Fresh Coast and this storied Charlevoix-based fishery. The Walloon Lake Inn is offering indoor and outdoor seating this summer, and recently expanded the size of its patio for those who still prefer to be outside.