Home to some of the most picturesque scenery in the whole of Michigan, Traverse City is known as the cherry capital of the USA. Also highly regarded for its colorful culture and array of exquisite dining establishments, Traverse City is so full of tempting restaurants that we have highlighted the top 10 favorites for you to try out.
Restaurant, American, $$$
Courtesy of Amical
Offering eclectic European dishes to its diners, Amical is located downtown and overlooks the West Grand Traverse Bay. Weather dependent, guests can choose to dine in the cozy, atmospheric indoor dining space or al fresco on the European-influenced patio area. The menus change regularly in keeping with the seasons and the chefs’ whims, but some dishes to look out for include the ravioli with pumpkin cream, stuffed acorn squash and corn cakes. Sunday brunch is also hugely popular at Amical, with dishes such as eggs Milano, Belgian waffles and cracker crust pizzas served until 3pm. Amical also brews Starbucks coffee.
Serving homemade Latin American and Chinese cuisine, Georgina’s may have an unusual blend of dishes on its menu but it certainly does well in terms of flavor. Reservations are highly recommended at this tiny 18-seat haunt, although lucky visitors will occasionally be able to get seated straight away without a booking. There are two menus at Georgina’s, one that focuses on Latin American dishes and the other on Asian fare. Choose to dine on Thai seared ahi tuna, Asian BBQ pork and peanut Thai chicken, or opt for a dinner of carne asada, chorizo con queso and taquitos. Or, of course, you could be really adventurous and mix and match between continents and cuisines.
Green House Café | Courtesy of Martha's Leelanau Table
Having won many awards locally, the Green House Cafe is a firm favorite for a tasty breakfast or lunch in the city. Each day the cafe makes eight different homemade soups for diners to choose between, as well as a range of other dishes, including made-to-order breakfasts. Early morning diners are spoiled for choice due to the huge variety of omelettes, pancakes and egg options, as well as the traditional and local favorite of biscuits and gravy. At lunch the homemade soup specials served with a choice of fresh bread, oyster crackers or homemade croutons are the most popular dishes, but Green House Cafe also offers a wide selection of salads, sandwiches and burgers too.
Martha's Leelanau Table | Courtesy of Martha's Leelanau Table
Martha’s feast of delights doesn’t just stop at the Leelanau Table restaurant: Martha also hosts cookery classes to teach her loyal customers how to recreate their favorite menu items at home. The cuisine at Martha’s is European and is inspired by her own travels around the continent. Each of the dishes are made from scratch to be enjoyed within the cozy, atmospheric restaurant. The Swiss raclette and authentic paella are both firm favorites among locals and for those with a passion for travel as well as for food. Martha also leads foodie tours to Europe every year.
Exhibiting exquisite artworks as well as serving fine foods, the Old Mission Tavern and the Bella Galleria provides its guests with a hearty helping of culture each time they walk through its doors. Located in the pretty surroundings of Lake Michigan, the tavern offers visitors a space in which to relax in whilst being wined and dined. The Bella Galleria is home to a number of beautiful artworks created by both local and regional artists, whilst the Old Mission Tavern specializes in a fusion of Italian and American dishes. Nestled between orchards, vineyards and farmland, there’s nowhere quite as picturesque as the Old Mission Tavern to enjoy a plate of linguine puttanesca or giant sea scallops.
Featuring a lounge, a sushi bar and a restaurant area, Red Ginger is a contemporary Asian restaurant located along one of Traverse City’s most foodie-friendly streets. A hugely popular establishment, the wait for a table can be long but staff are happy to take guests’ mobile numbers and will text them when their table is ready, giving them the option of going for a wander rather than waiting at the bar. Once seated the service is impeccable as there are two waiters to every table, ensuring that diners are never left wanting for anything. Groups should order a selection of small plates to share as a starter such as the calamari, grilled Indian flatbread or beef ishiyaki. For the main course, the sea bass and the Vietnamese shaking beef are both excellent.
A restaurant on wheels, Roaming Harvest is a mobile food truck highly reputed among locals for its emphasis on sustainably sourced ingredients and for supporting local businesses. The variety of food items on offer vary depending on what ingredients and produce are in season. The Roaming Harvest food truck roams around the city, serving a different part of town each day, so foodies should always be on the look out for it as they wander around. When the truck’s not conveniently located for you, visit Roaming Harvest’s sister stationary restaurant Harvest instead. Harvest is committed to all of the same food philosophies as Roaming Harvest, and the dishes on offer never disappoint.
Treasured by Traverse City’s loyal locals, Sleder’s Family Tavern has been lovingly preserved for over 100 years. Many of the original characteristics from its opening in 1882 are still in place, creating a historic and homely setting in which guests can enjoy a wide selection of simple yet extremely tasty food. Order the baked brie with a cherry sauce to start, and follow with either the lightly dusted and deep fried lake perch with fries and coleslaw or the buffalo burger with Swiss cheese for an entree. Sleder’s also offers a fantastic range of drinks, making it a great destination for a fun night out with friends.
Once a mental institution, the cellar of this 100 year old building has been thoughtfully converted into an award-winning Italian restaurant. A family run establishment, Trattoria Stella is a true favorite among locals due to the chef’s emphasis on home-style cooking and the staff’s welcoming of large families and children. The menu changes daily but always features dishes crafted using responsibly sourced ingredients and produce from local farms, as well as pasta, bread and cheese freshly made in house. Trattoria Stella also boasts an extensive wine list with over 200 bottles for guests to choose between.
Both a restaurant and a brewery, The Jolly Pumpkin gives guests the excuse to indulge in a delicious hearty meal, home-brewed beer and a slice of sweet homemade cherry pie in the most beautiful of settings. Situated within a historic site surrounded by cherry orchards, The Jolly Pumpkin has taken inspiration from its panoramas to create a pretty and rustic decor inside the restaurant as well as out. On a cold winter’s day, diners can snuggle up in front of the fireplace whilst tucking into a wild mushroom artisan pizza, a farmhouse ale marinated hanger steak or a good old fashioned portion of mac ‘n’ cheese.