Monday, July 11, 2016
The Definitive Guide to Really Good Food and Drink in Traverse City
Sue has a place in Traverse City so we went up there instead of West Virginia. I waited too long to start looking for places to stay along Bicycle Route 35 for a four day bike trip. We found a place to stay in Benzie County so we did a nice overnight ride from Traverse City to Frankfort. The rest of the week consisted of trips back and forth from Traverse City to North Port, Elk Rapids, around the Leelanau Peninsula, etc. Nice but not epic. the food; however, was excellent so let me change direction here.
I really like good food. From street vendors selling currywurst in East Berlin to bumblebee ravioli from a restaurant I don’t remember nor could I pronounce in San Francisco, I have had amazing food. In my humble and uneducated opinion, no city has better food than Traverse City.
Best Money is No Option Restaurants
As soon as Sue and I got to Traverse City, we went to our always excellent go to restaurant, Town Plaza. I had this pork ravioli dish but it wasn’t normal doughy pasta like I expected but rather a flakey pastry wrapped pulled pork, amazing. I laid in bed that night just thinking about it. I also had the grilled Romaine salad. This salad seems simple but I have tried making it myself and haven’t come close. I have had at one point or another almost everything on their menu and everything has been excellent. I’m not normally much of a meat person.
The next night we met friends at Georginas. Again, amazing. This restaurant normally requires reservations and since I do a piss poor job of planning, we normally miss it when we are in TC. We planned ahead this time and made reservations. It has an interesting Asian/Latin menu. I had Pollo a la Plancha. Incredible. Everything they have is amazing but some things, like the Korean Street Tacos, are a tad spicy for me.
We had breakfast at Amical, a European style restaurant. I have only had dinner there once, duck confit. I still think about it. I can’t seem to find a working website for them.
Best Money is No Option Restaurant Honorable Mentions
We wanted something small to eat one night after 9:00 pm so we went to Firefly. They have small plates and interesting food. The atmosphere is a tad too young and hip for me but the food is good.
When we are meeting friends from out of town, we usually go to Stella or Apache Trout Grill. Stella is in the basement of what was once an insane asylum. Apache Trout Grill over looks the Grand Traverse Bay. These are fun places to eat. We didn’t eat there last week but the food is very good and in any other city would be considered amazing.
Best Money is an Option Restaurants
The importance of this category cannot be over emphasized. I have had amazing meals in California, possibly made with cheese from lactating Sheath-Tailed bats cured in Texas salt caverns or some such thing but making something truly exceptional for under $20 is where Traverse City excels.
Every city has one place that claims to have the world's best hamburgers. They are wrong. Slabtown does.
The Filling Station is a train station turned into a restaurant. It is the best flat bread pizza I have ever had. We got a Cock O’ The Walk pizza and Station Salad. They brew excellent beer.
I’m not a huge fan of Mexican food but my two favorite Mexican restaurants are both in TC: Robby’s Taqueria and Taco House. Robby’s serves authentic (I assume) Mexican food. I had a Tamale wrapped in a banana leaf (forget the name) that was excellent. Taco House is like a Taco Bell, just really good.
There are two wonderful delis near Traverse City, The Redheads at Lake Leelanau and the Village Cheese Shanty in Fishtown-Leland. The Redheads make their own humus that is sold in many grocery stores. I had a turkey sandwich from The Redheads during one of our rides last week made with slices of turkey verses turkey deli meat you would find at lesser establishments. I had the North Shore sub twice last week at the Village Cheese Shanty on pretzel bread. The Pretzel bread is awesome but they seem to run out of it every day so call ahead to reserve it. They usually have a significant line so just order everything ahead of time so you can walk past all the less savvy customers to pick up your food.
If you can only choose one place to eat at, it should be Frenchies. It is a small restaurant I wouldn’t have noticed if it wasn’t for Sue. It is so small that if you eat inside, you are sitting next to the kitchen. It is typically about 100 degree in there but the food is so worth it. Sue and I were able to get seats outside. We were there for breakfast but normally go to Frenchies to share a Pastrami sandwich for lunch. I had fruit crapes. Incredible. Sue had French toast that wasn’t incredible. I think they use the same sea salt focaccia bread in their French toast as they make their amazing pastrami with. One less than amazing meal doesn’t discourage me a bit. This is a must eat at place. They close at 3:00 pm.
Best Bars in Traverse City
The only place Sue and I stopped at for drinks last week was Tandem Ciders. Normally I don't like cider but I like theirs. It is a cool little place a ways out of town and all by itself.
The Workshop and Right Brain Brewery both brew excellent beer and have a cool atmosphere. The food is good at the workshop. I don’t think I ever ate at Right Brain.
Seven Monks doesn’t brew beer but they have a huge selection. They have excellent hamburgers; possibly the second best in the world.
I don’t appreciate good wine but I understand Left Foot Charley is the place to go for those who do.
Best Coffee in Traverse City
This is important because as good as the food and beer is in Traverse City, the coffee sucks. The problem, as I see it, is most places in TC, especially the upper end places, serve Higher Grounds Coffee. Higher Grounds Coffee (aka dirty hippy coffee) believes is solving the world's environmental problems and supporting fair trade. In theory, I support both. In reality, I like good coffee. Good Harbor on Front Street not only has really good coffee but, as far as I can tell, is the only place in TC with good coffee.
When we are meeting friends for coffee, we go to Brew on Front street; it is a cool place to hang out and the Lattes are fine. I suppose their dirty hippy coffee is drinkable if you cloak it with enough cream and sugar.
For the purpose of full disclosure, I know alarming little about culinary arts and brewing beer. Opinions expressed here are for entertainment purposed only, even though I am right.