North Peak Brewery: Better beer, much better food
After the disappointing brewery experience the night before, I was hoping for something a little better the following evening. We arrived here right around 5:30 and were seated promptly. While many were eating outside, we were seated in the clean inside dining room, right off from the bar. Our waitress appeared promptly for a drink order - that night it was to be a delicious raspberry ale. Things were once again off to a good start. Once again, I was scanning the menu when the special of the day piqued my interest - I went with the fried perch platter and sweet potato fries. The kids settled on burgers and pizza. When the food arrived, I was relieved to see that this was going to be a good meal - the perch was tasty, the fries were great. I tried the kids pizza, which also was pretty decent. At a younger time in life, I would have tried a second beer as well, but I decided to hold back a little room as opposed to stuffing myself. Everything was good - the food arrived quickly. Highly recommended.
Bubbas: Best burgers in town
Located on the eastern end of the Front street area, Bubba's doesn't look like much on the outside. On the inside, it's got a bar feel to it - there is a large bar that runs along the side of the place. There isn't a ton of seating - but the food comes fairly quickly. We were seated quickly right around noon, but it was pretty apparent that we just beat the lunch rush, as the line at the door filled in quickly behind us. Our server was very friendly, and recommended the burgers - he proclaimed them to have won an award for the past 6 years. Having a ringing endorsement like that - we scanned the various varieties to try, and I landed on the Smokehouse burger - bacon, provolone, and a BBQ/Ranch sauce. When it came, I must say, I can see why this place gets the accolades - the burger is spectacular. Full of flavor.
The downside here is the kids menu. My son ordered a burger, my daughter a taco. Both were very small, and neither kid was overly impressed. Wish they would put just a tad more effort into that.
Also, we had another waitress (not our server) who we felt was pushing us to get out - recall there was a good size line at this point - she scooped up a few plates without asking if we were done - when my daughter put down her fork on the plate, she spun around and grabbed that one too :( A little bit of a detraction at the end of the lunch.
Overall, this is a great place for a modest meal.
Blue Tractor: Tasty pizza
The last night of our trip, we decided to not hang out at another Brewpub, but went to what pretty much amounts as just a regular pub. One of the first things Blue Tractor has going for it, is that there is ample parking, including a parking garage right behind it. When you come in from the rear, you do have to walk all the way to the front of the restaurant in order to get seated.
The waitress we had was pretty friendly and extremely knowledgeable about the beer selection (they have about 50 different beers from around the area.) In the middle of the restaurant is a large bar area - the traditional dining area sort of surrounds the bar. The lighting is a little on the dark side, but not too awful.
There are plenty of options to choose from, but we decided to go with pizza. The pizza is "deep-dish", but what that means here is that the dough is fairly puffy - it's not a real heavy deep dish dough, and many people will easily be able to handle the nine-inch version. We tried the "Big-Pig", which was loaded with four types of pork meats. Excellent flavor - a great pizza, and another great option in Traverse City.
Bardons: Ice Cream!
After trying Moomer's at two locations (and being disappointed in both), our last night brought us to Bardon's Wonder Freeze Ice Cream stand. As you pass it on Front street outside the downtown area, it doesn't look like more than your run of the mill DQ type of place. However, it is definitely worth a stop. For one - they have both soft serve and hard ice creams here, so that pleases everyone. The kids tried the soft serve chocolate and were happy - I went with a scoop of cherry ice cream - it was wonderful...full of flavors and cherries. Prices are relatively inexpensive as well.
There is a small bench on the Front street side of the stand, but there is plenty of seating on the opposite side of the stand. Be sure to just sit and savor. Get's my vote over Moomer's for sure!
Apache Trout Grill: Good Food, Good Views and Good Service
The Apache Trout Grill is decorated like an upscale log cabin. There are lots of wildlife photos, natural decorations and soft lighting. The tables have white linens, but are by no means extravagant or posh. It can be both casual or romantic depending on what you're looking for. The staff was young but attentive, with good knowledge not only of the menu and drinks, but also of the area.
The restaurant has a large wall of windows on the water side. Although the sun may set on the opposite side, it still provides a nice view of city across the water as the dusk sets in.
Favorite Dish: The menu and daily specials do favor seafood and fish. The trout was fantastic, as was the lobster bisque. We sampled quite a few things and they were all very good.
We did not try them, but the menu also does have steaks, pastas and chicken for those who do not want fish.
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
Red Mesa Grill: Bright Red Exterior, Delicious Interior
I'm usually skeptical about restaurants with bright exteriors. Experience has taught me that the brighter the outside, it is usually compensating for deficiencies on the inside. Red Mesa Grill proved me wrong.
I went there as a last dinner in Traverse City after a conference, and the place honestly astonished me. The menu was extensive, much more than typical burritos and tacos (even though that is what I opted for in the end). It ran the range of Latin food, including churrasco and other non-Mexican options. The restaurant was also in the middle of a tasting tour of Latin America, with a specials menu that included regional selections from Guatemala, Chile, Argentina, and Peru. I was impressed.
Starting on the table, the salsa was homemade, as well as guacamole. I went for the pulled pork burrito, which came stuffed into a soft flour tortilla with refried beans (beans that had a bite to them, and didn't taste like they came from a can) and smothered in tomatillo sauce and a melting cheese. Alongside was a thick crema, and small bites of rice and more beans. The food was fresh, flavorful, and had a good edge to it all. My only nitpick was a little over-reliance on lime, in the food and guacamole.
The atmosphere was lively, a lot of big tables for families and parties. A bit loud, but not so much that you couldn't have a conversation at modest levels. Complimenting their menu was a large drink selection, including an impressive number of tequila bottles. I went for a mojito, which was made with real mint and sugar. It felt a little light on the alcohol, and again there was a bit much lime, but it was refreshing overall.
I left impressed with the restaurant, it was a great experience that I would recommend to all.
- Business Travel
- Food and Dining
- Family Travel
Red Ginger: Happy Hour and People Watching
Located on Front Street, next to the great State Theatre, Red Ginger has a super Happy Hour that is appreciated all week long! Ademame Beans and Lettuce Wraps, accompanied by their famous martinis (my favorite might be the Blood Orange, if I were to choose).
Favorite Dish: The Lettuce Wraps get my vote!
Phils on Front: Different Dishes Daily
Long and narrow with a specialty gourmet chocolate "lounge" and counter in the front.
Felt very comfortable eating there as a solo female traveler.
Favorite Dish: The restaurant changes it's menu daily based on available (and mostly local) ingredients. No GM items.
Srtongly recommend anything with fresh morel mushrooms when they are in season!!
I ordered a simple undressed salad and two appetizers and every item was prepared perfectly.
Service was just a little less than perfect.
However, Phil actually personally stops at each table to "check" on satisfaction
- Food and Dining
- Business Travel
The Bowers Harbor Inn: Don't miss the Fish-in-a-bag
The food is incredible with a wide array of fish and steak offerings as well as duck. Nothing beats the ambience. Between the bay views and old mansion decor, the ambience of this restaurant is icing on the cake. Say hello to the resident ghost, Genevive...don't worry, she's friendly.
Favorite Dish: Fish-in-a-bag (like nothing you've ever experienced) and whitefish pate.
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