About Traverse City 

Bubbas, Boathouse, and Sleders are restaurants in the Traverse City, Michigan area. Although this city is full of things to do, eating is one of the most important things. Traverse City boasts many "big-city" amenities, including a vibrant food scene. Whether you prefer the taste of established restaurants or pop-ups, Traverse City lets you explore and expand your taste buds. (Click here to see all Traverse City, Michigan Homes for Sale)

Downhill skiing, golfing, hiking, and dining is some of the best things to do in Traverse City and surrounding areas. The city is part of unspoiled nature. TC boasts the nation's longest freshwater coastline with golden beaches and lakes. With vast beaches that feel like oceans, picturesque sunsets and sunrises, and countless recreational opportunities, this region has it all. This region has a diverse range of trails that are perfect for cross-country skiing, biking, hiking, and, of course, golfing. Traverse City has some of the finest golf courses and ski resorts globally, with natural forests and striking landscapes. (Click here to see Northern Michigan's finest collection of Traverse City, MI vacation rentals)

As of 2010, the city produces more tart cherries than any other city in the United States. The city hosts its annual week-long National Cherry Festival during cherry season. This festival attracts approximately 500,000 visitors each year. The surrounding countryside also produces grapes, making it an important center for wine production in the Midwest. Tourism plays a vital role in the area during the summer and winter seasons.

Traverse City was named the second-best small town to travel to in 2009 by TripAdvisor. US News & World named the city one of the top ten retirement towns in the Country Report.

Traverse City Local Food Scene

The Traverse City dining experience begins with many ingredients, including fruits, spirits, sauces, and vegetables from local farms. It also has other restaurants that cater to culinary students, gardening, and private venues.

Fruits: Ah, the sweetness of the tart cherries. The semisweet flavor of the cherry makes it an ideal ingredient for pies and jam. It is no coincidence that Traverse City's food and success are closely linked to this fruit. Traverse City's most popular crops include cherries, strawberries, peaches, and asparagus, which are in season from mid-summer through late summer. There are farms spread throughout the countryside. Even better, you can go to a U-Pick orchard and pick the fruit yourself!
Fruit-Infused Spirits: The booming craft distillery scene in Traverse City owes much to the tart cherry. Michigan's oldest distillery, Grand Traverse Distillery, produces cherry vodka and cherry whiskey using the local crop. Both products are among the distillery's top sellers across the state and locally. After taking a sip of the cherry-infused nectar, it is easy to see why.
Sauces and Salsa: It is no surprise that the versatile cherry inspires many northern chefs. Many chefs who use it in seasonal cooking often pair it with rich, dark meats or fresh poultry. Summer is made sweeter with cherry salsa... pick your Scoville preference along with Great Lakes Tortilla Chips and you are all set. There is no shortage of ways to add cherries to your meals.
From Farm to Your Table: TC has deep ties with the land and the people who live and work there. Due to this proximity to farms and fields, many of the ingredients are sourced in the Traverse City area. Local farms, protein producers, and even foragers support restaurants. Local sourcing produces fewer long-distance shipments of ingredients, more flavorful recipes, and a smaller environmental footprint.
By the Handful or Forkful: There is no shortage of strawberries and cherries. You can also find them at the Secret Garden at Brys Estate. This estate has over 6,000 lavender plants, a strawberry patch, a seasonal flower garden, and more. Enjoy a burst of chewy goodness straight from the bag or box.
Teaching and private restaurant:
Lobdell's: This 90 seat teaching restaurant overlooks beautiful Grand Traverse Bay and is named in memory of Wayne and Terry Lobdell. It serves as a working laboratory for culinary students. It is open to the public for lunch during the spring and fall semesters.
Mission Table at Bowers Harbor Inn: This private restaurant has been regarded as a culinary destination in Michigan for decades. To support the region's agricultural economy, they use the freshest products from local farmers and fishermen. Beer, wine, and spirits are made by local wineries, vintners, and distilleries. Located in the heart of Northern Michigan wine country, our wine list reflects our unique and fortunate location.

The Best Restaurants in Traverse City.

Traverse City has a reputation as a foodie town. There are plenty of things to do in TC when it comes to eating, with its family-friendly restaurants, pizzerias, delis, bakeries, and wineries. There are dozens of unique local eateries in Traverse City worth checking out.

Family-Friendly Restaurants

Bubba's: This eatery is located downtown on East Front Street. You can enjoy burgers, beer, and delicious appetizers here! Not to mention the boozy shakes they serve to guests over 21.
Don's Drive-In: From your car, you can order milkshakes, hamburgers, and fries! You can eat carhop style at this classic 50s diner. It is a great place to dine no matter your age!
Blue Tractor Barbeque: Old Town offers mouth-watering BBQ. You can take the whole family here because there is a comprehensive kids' menu as well as Michigan-made beer. You can also enjoy live music in their beer garden.
Rounds Restaurant: Diner breakfast at its best. Fast service, delicious food, and the friendliest staff! This restaurant has been around for 60 years, and hopefully many more to come.
Sleder's Family Tavern: The oldest saloon in Michigan, this tavern has an old-fashioned rustic interior with taxidermy. This family restaurant, which opened in 1882 in historic Slabtown, offers casual dining for families. A variety of dishes are available, including fish, steak, burgers, Mexican dishes, fresh fries, and other sides. Before you leave, you can kiss Randolph, the moose.
Cousin Jenny's Cornish Pasties: The most underrated Traverse City restaurant is Cousin Jenny's, which is a fan favorite. The family-owned eatery has been serving Cornish pasties since 1979. The ingredients are never frozen, and there are various filling options. There are soups, salads, sandwiches, wraps, and breakfast Bobbies available.
Scalawags Whitefish & Chips: This restaurant place to go for fish and chips with the kids. The owner filets the fish fresh to remove the gamy taste using a special technique. There are also a variety of sandwiches, soups, and salads available.
The Bistro at Delamar: Fresh and locally sourced meats and produce are available for breakfast at the Bistro. Enjoy a breakfast buffet with local favorites such as our hash browns.
The Shed Beer Garden: Located in Traverse City's Old Town, this restaurant has a 1955 Chevy beer truck and food truck, a large screen TV out in the open. It has fire pits, picnic tables, and game nights for the whole family.
Other Family Restaurants: Cracker Barrel, Denny's

Best Local Pizza Restaurants in Traverse City
Are you looking for a good pizza in Traverse City? Below you will find a list of some of Traverse City's favorite pizza restaurants.

The Filling Station Microbrewery: Nothing can compare to the uniqueness of this restaurant when it comes to Traverse City eats. Located just off the Traverse Area Recreation Trail, this is a great place for pizza. The Filling Station serves microbeers and pizzas in a restored train depot. It is housed in a historic train depot that has been renovated. There are picnic tables in the former waiting shed of the station or near the bar, with a view of the railroad. With several craft beers on tap, the casual pub-style joint always has fresh salads and wood-fired flatbreads to pair with its beer selection. What to look for? The restaurant feature a flatbread pizza that is unquestionably the star. Oyster lovers will love Stump Jumpers. However, adventurous types should definitely try the Firebox (spoiler alert: it is spicy).
Paesano's Pizza: This restaurant promises to serve the best pizza in Traverse City in a laid-back atmosphere. As a result, it uses only the freshest ingredients and makes the pizza dough from scratch. A gourmet twist on a classic dish makes it cheesy and full of rich flavors. In addition to standard and deep-dish pizzas, the restaurant serves salads, breadsticks, and sub sandwiches.
Pangea's Pizza: Get a slice of pizza at the coolest place in town, featuring a rooftop restaurant! There is such a wide variety of artisan pizzas that it will be impossible to select a favorite. Located on East Front Street, this restaurant features craft pies with creative toppings. The restaurant uses fresh ingredients and homemade dough. Menu items include appetizers, wine, salads, craft cocktails, and beer. From its two-tier rooftop deck, which offers a full bar, you can see downtown and Grand Traverse Bay.
Pleasanton Brick Oven Bakery: This bakery is located in The Village at Grand Traverse Commons. For over 20 years, the rustic restaurant has been making fantastic wood-fired pizzas. Additionally, it offers freshly baked bread, pastries, and cookies. With its special leavening technique, the bread is easier to digest and more nutritious.
Charles & Reid Detroit Pizza Co: You will not want to miss this tasty gem tucked away behind Front Street! They have something for everyone for lunch or dinner, with handmade pizzas, sandwiches, and salads! Check out their weekly specials, too. There is always something tasty and new!
Taproot Cider House: Delicious appetizers, flatbreads, and salads are served at this cider house located in downtown Traverse City! They also serve ciders and craft cocktails. You will find many vegetarian and vegan options on the menu, as well as locally sourced ingredients!
Jolly Pumpkin Restaurant brewery and distillery: Local fish, artisan pizzas, unique sandwiches, and house-smoked ribs are on the menu at the Jolly Pumpkin. Most of the spirits and beers are produced on-site at the distillery. The 19th-century historic house is located in Old Mission Peninsula's West Grand Traverse Bay area.
Other Pizza places: BC Pizza, Cicero's Pizza, Charles and Reid Detroit Pizza, Dino's Pizza, Jet's Pizza, Mancino's Pizza & Grinders, Pizza Hut, and Cicero's Pizza - Traverse City.

Best Traverse City Restaurants for Fine Dining
Are you looking to dine in a fine Traverse City restaurant? Look no further than these fine Traverse City restaurants for delicious Traverse City food and drink.

Boathouse Restaurant: This is one of the finest waterfront dining experiences overlooking the Grand Traverse Bay. Whether it is an anniversary, a birthday, or you just want an unforgettable meal in Traverse City. This is the place to go. With its romantic decor and views of the bay, the cottages blend well into the scenic waterfront panorama and quiet atmosphere. It sets an intimate, relaxing tone that is perfect for dates with your loved one. Traverse Bay's best seafood can be found here. They also serve beef, lamb, and fresh vegetables. Among their best dishes are their walleye served with roasted vegetables and their half-shell oysters. The restaurant also offers Sunday cocktails and brunch by the fireplace. Reservations for the boathouse are highly recommended.
Bourbons 72 at Turtle Creek Casino: Located in Turtle Creek Casino, off of M-72, east of Traverse City, Bourbons 72 is one of Northern Michigan's finest steakhouses! They serve chops and hand-cut steaks seared over an open flame. They invite you to savor a meal you will not soon forget at the finest fine dining establishment in Northern Michigan.
Amical: European cuisine is served at this posh restaurant overlooking West Grand Traverse Bay. Its chic dining room or its funky street-side patio will appeal to urban explorers looking for a relaxing break from the bustle and noise of the city. There is no better dinner spot for a traveler eager to explore the city right after dinner. It is like traveling to another country without having to leave the area, plus you get to eat delicious European food. What is good?
Start off your meal with a cheesy French onion soup. Next, enjoy the juicy grilled hanger steak, and end with the tasty fruit cobbler.
Red Ginger: Delicious Asian cuisine and a cozy atmosphere make this the perfect date night spot on East Front Street in downtown Traverse City. Founders' chef Dan Marsh and his wife Pam created this great restaurant to celebrate the allure of Asia and to sample Asian flavors. The restaurant uses local ingredients to prepare fusion dishes, sushi, and small plates. You can also grab some sushi to go here, along with signature cocktails and many small plates.
Trattoria Stella: Traverse City pasta lovers will enjoy a great dining experience at this relaxing restaurant. Myles Anton is the Executive Chef at this Grand Traverse Commons restaurant, which has been a James Beard Award semifinalist five times and has been in business since 2004.
With this kind of talent in the kitchen, you will not want to miss out on his daily changing menu of house-made pasta, desserts, bread, and more. Every ingredient he uses is sustainable, local, and organic. Additionally, the restaurant offers a wide array of innovative wines from Italy, the Leelanau, Peninsula, and Old Mission. Inside the elegant but relaxed dining area, you can enjoy authentic Italian meals paired with flavorful cocktails and wines. What is good to eat? Enjoy charcuterie and cheese boards with your friends. After that, order an individual portion of pasta and enjoy. Also, the Maltagliati is an easy but yummy option.
The Cooks’ House: In an underrated location near downtown, The Cooks' House offers authentic Northern Michigan food and artisanal products. Modern paintings by local artists adorn the interior, and white linens and quality crystal make up the tables. The menu features simple and complex dishes based on seasonal ingredients. You will have a unique dining experience with their five- or seven-course tasting menu, unlike any other.
PepeNero & Ballaro Wine Lounge: Located inside Kirkbride Hall at The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, This restaurant serves everything Italian. There is an elegant atmosphere in the restaurant, which serves authentic southern Italian dishes. The lounge side serves Italian tapas and small plates in a stylish, upscale setting. No matter where you dine, there is a great selection of Old World wines, scotches, and whiskeys.
7 Monks Taproom: In front of East Front Street, the Monks Taproom features an impressive beer selection. The menu is small, but the items are quite good. Their menus include spicy chicken, beets salad, chicken sandwiches, and burgers.

Best Steak and Burgers in Traverse City

Hofbrau Steak House & American Grille: Whether it's lunch with that special someone or an intimate dinner, The Hofbrau in Interlochen offers something for everyone. A visit to Hofbrau means enjoying succulent ribs, fresh seafood, tender steaks, delicious pasta dishes, juicy chicken, stunning salads, homemade pizzas, hearty sandwiches, and creative appetizers! Hofbrau offers indoor and outdoor seating.
Slabtown Burgers: If you want an affordable burger and fries, stop by Slabtown Burgers. It has a casual family atmosphere and indoor and outdoor seating at the corner of Spruce Street and West Front Street. There are fresh beef patties, and fries made every day. Besides soups and salads, they also offer sandwiches and hot dogs. Veggie, gluten-free, and low-carb options are also available.
Bergstrom's Burgers: Hamburger and side dishes are made from scratch daily. Ingredients are sourced locally. Stop in for a unique and delicious dining experience.
Dillinger's Pub: Looking for a great place to get American cuisine in Traverse City? Look no further than Dillingers. Located in the heart of downtown TC, it has a varied menu of hamburgers and offers all the fun of a neighborhood pub, a sports bar, and terrific local dining!
Art's Tavern: This legendary pub is located on the corner of M-22 and Lake Street in Glen Arbor and has been in business since 1934. Its famous burgers, craft beer, and tasty tots make this tavern a must-visit.
The Little Fleet: With outdoor seating, this is a downtown must! There are numerous food trucks at Little Fleet, and there is also a taco shop available all year round!
It is a popular place, with throngs of visitors and locals flocking to:
-Smoked potato tacos from Happy's Taco Shop,
-Smash burgers from Glendale Avenue
-Pulled pork sandwiches from Cordwood BBQ.
The bar and large patio offer plenty of space to enjoy a drink.
Jonathon B Pub: This is an owner/manager old English theme pub that serves fabulous homemade soups, robust sandwiches, scrumptious pasta, ribs, and sizzling steaks. It also has a great selection of imported beers.
Other great restaurants: Outback Steakhouse, Applebee's Neighborhood Grill & Bar,
Dancing Donkey Burgers.

Best Spots for a Quick Bite

Brew: This cozy spot is located in downtown T.C. where you can get coffee, beer, and light meals, and snacks are available throughout the day. It is one of Traverse City's most popular coffee shops.
Centre Street Cafe: There are no better sandwiches or wraps anywhere! There are only lunch hours, but it is a must-visit spot. Definitely try the campfire wrap!
Hexenbelle: This specialty cafe is one of the most popular places to try in Traverse City if you are looking for healthier options and special diets. It is a chic cafe in the Warehouse District with some of the most creamy, unique, and addicting espresso drinks. Their small bites menu features healthy but not sinful, vegan, and vegetarian-only dishes. Get either the Palestinian rice bowl or the coconut or curry fried rice. Those who want a simpler meal can opt for the galette and honey lavender latte (bee change).
Rad.ish Street Food: Can you imagine being able to eat vegan Mexican food from the back of a liquor store in the East Bay, made by a Mexican American originally from a suburb of Los Angeles? She serves jackfruit taquitos, street fries smothered in avocado and salsa verde, and a loaded burrito that combines Mexican roots and Southern California childhood. As you enjoy her spicy selections with Stonehound's Arbutus Triangle Hoppy Lager, you will not even realize you are eating an entirely vegan meal - unless, of course, that is precisely why you are there.
Detroit Wing Co.: There are no preservatives or artificial flavorings on this restaurant's menu. In every restaurant, the sauce is made fresh every day.
Silver Swan Restaurant: The restaurant is located on M-22 in Traverse City, and it offers delicious, homemade, high-quality, and affordable foods, along with gifts from around the world. A variety of specialties are served daily, with many recipes found in old family cookbooks.
Poppycocks: Located downtown, this casual restaurant serves New American cuisine. Serving salads, sandwiches, vegetarian specialties, pasta, fresh seafood, and award-winning desserts. The emphasis is on fresh, local ingredients. Friday and Saturday there is live jazz. A full bar with craft beers, an extensive martini menu, and wines by the glass are available.

Traverse City Pubs, Breweries& Wineries with Food

Rare Bird Brewpub: This restaurant is an all-time favorite in all of Traverse City! It has delicious food, good beer, and a great atmosphere. You can grab a drink on the patio all year round! Be prepared for a wait during peak times (but it's worth it). Those who love blonde ales should stop in and try Rosie the Riveter!
Mulligan's Pub & Grill: Feel the cozy rustic charm and the friendly and inviting ambiance of this pub. The owners of The Crown Golf Club opened Mulligans in 2005. The club offers a welcoming environment for golfers and locals alike. They serve their famous stuffed burgers, sandwiches, and homemade soups daily. It is the perfect place to dine and play golf!

Bonobo Winery: This winery is a premier destination in Northern Michigan for delicious wine and delicious small plates. Share a glass of wine or a small plate and stay for a while.
Cherry Public House: There are 12 taps at Cherry's providing a variety of lagers, beers, and ciders, along with four cherry beers. Besides the lunch and dinner menus, they also offer a variety of delicious entrees, including cherry BBQ ribs, smoked pork chops, hand-cut steaks, and fresh whitefish.
Kilkenny's Irish Public House: This is a traditional Irish pub with ales, corned beef, shepherd's pie, and more. It is best known as a place where people gather at night for live entertainment, games, a pool, and a fireplace.
Fuji Sushi & Steakhouse: The premier Japanese steak house in Traverse City is Fuji. At Teppanyaki restaurants, the chefs prepare teppanyaki dishes, Asian fusion cuisine, and sushi.
Apache Trout Grill: The restaurant's signature dishes include award-winning BBQ ribs, fresh seafood, hand-cut, aged, choice steaks, and a dessert featuring an amazing key lime pie.
Other Restaurants: Mackinaw Brewing Company

Best International Cuisine in Traverse City

Agave Mexican Grill: Delicious food at two locations! Enjoy authentic Mexican food in Northern Michigan. A casual, family-friendly restaurant on South Airport Rd., where you can eat inside or on their patio.
Spanglish: Spanglish at Grand Traverse Commons serves authentic Mexican food and is a fun, casual restaurant for families. These tacos were voted the best in Northern Michigan, and the restaurant is certified green. Spanglish serves quesadillas, tostadas, burritos, and more, all made from locally sourced ingredients.
Robby's Mexican & Spanish Cuisine: The restaurant offers favorites from other Robby's locations, as well as Spanish dishes like paella and tapas, along with an emphasis on seafood dishes from Mexico. Dine-in and carryout are available.
Habibi Middle Eastern Coney & Curry: Providing fresh, flavorful, and healthy Middle Eastern food using spices like harissa, cardamom, and za'atar to expand your culinary horizons.
The Flying Noodle: In the heart of Traverse City's downtown, this restaurant offers freshly prepared pasta, delicious appetizers, seasonal and traditional salads, and tasty desserts.        

Best Spots for Ice Cream or Dessert in Traverse City

Grand Traverse Pie Company: There are two eateries and a food truck in the city serving up delicious pies and desserts made from locally sourced ingredients. This local pie shop is located in the heart of Traverse City. This is a must-visit for true blue pie lovers if you're looking for restaurants in Traverse City that are good for any time of day. You can eat pie as a main meal and as a dessert, so it's like nirvana for any pie fan. If you are interested in a fancy omelet with a flaky crust, try the Mediterranean Veggie Quiche. After that, enjoy an Old Mission Cherry pie, a local favorite.
Moomers Homemade Ice Cream: Would you consider yourself a true Traverse City visitor if you did not grab an ice cream cone from this restaurant?! The ice cream shop has endless flavors of delectable homemade ice cream. The main location is closed in the winter, but you can still get it at many places around TC!
Milk & Honey Cafe & Ice Creamery: This is a unique, tasty, and unique ice cream experience (with vegan ice cream!). The endless list of ingredients lets you create any flavor of ice cream or dessert you like!
Mama Lu's: Tacos to die for! It is easily one of the best taco shops of modern times! A delicious assortment of tacos and sides, as well as margaritas. Make sure to end your night with one of their delicious chocolate-drizzled churros!
Red Spire Brunch House: One of the best Sunday brunch in all of Traverse City! This quaint brunch spot at the Grand Traverse Commons has everything anyone looking for a good breakfast needs. Plus, it is budget-friendly too! Get yourself a homemade cinnamon roll (big enough to share, but you might end up eating it all yourself) when you stop by.

Other Restaurants in Traverse City

Randy's Diner
S2S Sugar 2 Salt
Rolling Farms Café
Red Mesa Grill
Right Brain Brewery
123 Speakeasy
Bad Dog Deli
Barrio Tacos
Big Apple Bagels
Big Boy Restaurant
Bob Evans
Boone's Long Lake Inn
Brady's Bar
Brasserie Amie
Buffalo Wild Wings
Centre Street Café
Chef's In
China Fair
Crepes & Co.
Dickey's Barbecue Pit
Flap Jack Shack
Frenchies Famous
Gemini Sandwich Co.
Grand Traverse Salad Co.
Green House Café
The Green Onion
Harrington's By The Bay
Hayloft Inn
The Honey Baked Ham Company
Hopscotch Brick Oven and Taproom
Jersey Mike's Subs
La Señorita
Little Bo
Low Bar
McGee's No. 31
Mary's Kitchen Port
Ming's Garden
Morsels Espresso + Eatables
Olive Garden
Omelette Shoppe & Bakery
Opa Grill & Taproom
Panera Bread
Panda North
Park Street Cafe
Parkshore Lounge
Love and Little Donuts
Peninsula Grill
Pigs Eatin' Ribs
Potter's Bakery
Red Lobster
Posted by Brook Walsh on


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