It's hard to say that Sault Ste. Marie has just one thing that is a must-see when you're there visiting. There are the Soo Locks, which are an engineering marvel, and then there's the International Bridge. And, of course, all of the historic presence of Michigan's oldest settled area.
But, for those with a growl in their stomachs, the one must-visit location is actually a little out of the way but well worth the trouble--Clyde's Drive In. Clyde VanDusen opened the first of his namesake drive ins in 1949 and, in case you're wondering, is still the owner today. He even stops in for a burger now and again and to check in on the joint. And who can blame him? From amazingly tasty hamburgers to darn-good fries and wonderful shakes, Clyde's brings you back to an era when hamburgers were still the cat's meow. The quality is amazingly good as each burger is cooked to order and made right there with fresh hamburger. There are no frozen patties or thawing that happens at Clyde's when it comes to your burgers. The same practice that has made chains like Five Guys so popular is the same thing that Clyde's has been doing since it first opened its doors.
And Clyde's goes above and beyond just fresh burgers, too. If you really want to be reminded of the 1950s, then pull up to the first row in the parking lot and wait--Clyde's also offers curb service.
You have a fairly typical selection off the menu and nothing really jumps out as a surprise. There are burgers, fries, onion rings and homemade chili as well as a fish sandwich, pulled pork and more. The pride and joy are the burgers, which come in junior, regular and in a double-patty form known as the Big C. The latter is three-quarters of a pound, so either come hungry or prepare to split it with someone.
Clyde's is a bit of a hidden gem, however, and you're not likely to accidentally stumble across it while exploring Sault Ste. Marie. Instead, head to the Sugar Island Ferry dock on Riverside Drive, which is about two miles east of Ashmun.
Now is a good time to visit, too, because the tourists haven't started flocking across the bridge yet and Clyde's is just opening its doors. The restaurant is open from 9 a.m. until 10 p.m. every day and curb service starts at 11 a.m.
The location is great to enjoy some eats at, too, as the freighters come rolling on past down the St. Marys River.
Clyde's is only seasonal, so don't plan on stopping in after mid-October, though you can always keep tabs on them via their Facebook page
in order to know for sure when they're opening and closing each season.
Be it April, May, September, October or anything in between, Clyde's Drive In is a sure bet for a quick way to satisfy even the most demanding hunger.Sam Eggleston is the managing editor of the U.P. Second Wave and a full-time freelance writer. He was born and raised in the Upper Peninsula. He suggests trying a Big C burger with cheese, onions, pickles, ketchup and mustard. Eggleston can be reached via email.