There are plenty of amazing places to eat throughout the Central Upper Peninsula, but we've selected a few of our favorites as must-stop spots.
Editor's note: This is the first of a 4-part series highlighting some of the Upper Peninsula's favorite and most satisfying restaurant stops. The Central Upper Peninsula will be features in January, followed by the Western Upper Peninsula in February, the Eastern Upper Peninsula in March, and the Northern Upper Peninsula in April. If you have favorite stops of you own, please feel free to mention them in the comments and tell us why you enjoy dining there.
There's one thing for certain -- and you know this if you're a Yooper or visit the Upper Peninsula plenty -- and that is the quality of restaurants in the U.P. just keeps getting better and better.
That's not saying there hasn't always been good food to be found. Just take a look at the wonderful pasty and all the attention it has brought to the peninsula over the decades. But these days, the level of restaurant offerings has climbed to some impressive heights, and we've picked a few outstanding restaurants in the Central Upper Peninsula that we think everyone should stop and try.
Let's just start off with a favorite of ours since back in our college days (which was so last century). Aoy's Rice Paddy is a wonderful little stop. Great food. Great conversation. Even greater prices. Looking for something cheap that will fill you up for awhile? Grab a couple of egg rolls. These fist-size treats cost just $1.50 each and are packed full of veggies and meat. The Pad Thai has been touted as extremely authentic and the entire menu has a home-cooked Thai taste -- and for good reason: Aoy makes meals for her boyfriends and girlfriends from scratch and each with a little bit of love.
Another old favorite in the area, Togo's offers two locations (Marquette and Harvey) for you to snag a sub sandwich from. They have the old classic favorites, like the #16 or the Torpedo. But our favorites? The Weapon of Mass Destruction is a true original and will satisfy almost any meat-lover's appetite, and, of course, the BLT, which just sings on Togo's homemade bread.
A relative newcomer to the restaurant scene in Marquette, the Marq offers up some very, very fresh cuisine with great taste in every bite. While the menu can come off as a bit overwhelming to some folks, the staff is always helpful and easy to talk with, and you're sure to find something you enjoy. For those who are looking for less of an upscale experience but still want the taste, stop by on Tuesday's for a burger that will hit the spot.
There isn't another place in the entire U.P. that is quite like the Langiappe. Cajun cuisine is the name of the game and Chef Don Durley has mastered it. From gumbo to crawfish to everything in between, they have something that's going to hit the right spot for everyone. The menu is immense, but not nearly as big as the taste. Our recommendation? If you're looking for a sandwich that will knock your socks off, get the Green Tomato BLT and add a couple of fried eggs. It's unbelievable.
Dia de los Tacos:
If you see this sky blue food truck out on the streets (you can check their Facebook page for locations), then stop and get yourself some street tacos. Chef Mike Walker brought a taste to Marquette that had never been here before, and those who have tried to imitate the flavors he has crafted have fallen short in their endeavors. Great food. Great flavor. Great chef. Ask for it "Getz's style" if you want a quesadilla wrapped around the shell of your taco, or you can get it with "crispy cheese" if you'd like to order off the secret menu.
Just stop what you're doing and go visit Johnny Dogs. No, we mean it. Sure, it's a "hot dog" joint, but don't let the idea that is floating around in your head right now fool you -- this is THE hot dog joint, and so much more. If it's on the menu, it has been crafted by hand. And the menu is impressively tasty, and specials abound daily. Don't miss out on the piggy fries.
Admittedly, there are a couple of places to get German cuisine in the Central U.P., but our favorite is in Au Train, just outside of Munising at a little place called Wagener's. The menu is limited, yes, but that's because they do their best to make the best meal for their customers. Have the jagerschnitzel and one of their handmade desserts. You won't leave hungry.
Cedar Street Cafe
: The first time we stumbled across this little gem was back when Jennifer Granholm was still the governor and she was in town for a dedication. It's been a must-stop in town ever since. The entire breakfast menu is worthy of praise, but, as noted in the comments section below, their cinnamon swirl French toast is to die for. It's also a great stop if you're looking for a sturdy lunch, or just a darn fine cup of coffee.
Big Spring Inn
: Stop in for the fish fry and you may wind up trying to find a place to rent nearby so you can keep coming back for more. And it's not just fish that's going to get your attention. How about one of the best prime ribs in the region? Or a huge assortment of craft beer on tap that will make sure you never have to keep slogging down the same ol' stuff.
Marley's Bar and Grill
: Sure, this might not be the most popular pick in the Central U.P., but it's a favorite of our editor, Sam Eggleston, who has been stopping at Marley's since he first heard about their burgers. Yeah, you can get a burger in just about any joint across the country, but how many times have you had a boiled
burger? Sounds different, right? Well, different is welcome in the culinary world, and the Marley Burger is a great addition to the foodie landscape. The burger is nice and juicy with plenty of flavor and served on a great crusty bun that adds to the flavor.
Don't let the appearance of the Stonehouse fool you -- you don't have to be fancied up to stop in for a bite. Heck, they don't even flinch at a t-shirt and blue jeans in the dining room. But the food? You'd swear you were dining on the best food in all of Delta County -- and you might just be right. Outstanding service adds to the experience. Looking to avoid costly dinner? The Stonehouse also offers up daily lunch specials that are easy on the wallet and a pleasure to eat.
Maybe a little bit of nostalgia plays into this selection, or maybe it's just the awesome subs you can get at either the Escanaba or Gladstone locations of D&M. This was THE place to stop and grab a bite when we were sporting the letterman jackets of our local high school, and even now it doesn't disappoint. Whatever kind of sub you enjoy, they have, and they do a fine job of making it. Beyond their regular menu, they also have a sub of the month as well as soup specials.
There are plenty of little cafe's in Escanaba and the surrounding area, but none quite catch the tastebuds like good ol' Bobaloon's. We may be wrong here, but we're pretty sure this is the ONLY place in all of the Upper Peninsula to get a true Chicago dog, complete with the neon green relish and the poppy-seed bun. Even if that's not your thing, you're going to love SOMETHING on this eclectic and very enjoyable menu. Stop in and see for yourself.
If there's one thing that Negaunee has always seemed to be missing, it was a restaurant that could pull folks off the highway and to the downtown area. Jackson's Pit is that restaurant and is shining in the spotlight. Great food is paired with a nice selection of drink specials, and the burgers are some of the best in all of Marquette County. It can get a little boisterous at times, but if you're hitting it for lunch or early dinner, there won't be a problem. Try the Third Shift Burger and some beer-battered onion rings for a treat.
When it comes to pizza, we try our best but we're far from experts. That's why we tend to listen to Uncle Pizza
and where he likes to snarf down some pie. His first choice? The Congress in Ishpeming. There's no doubt that the locals love the place, and on a nice day it's hard to get a seat inside or out of the downtown location. Be prepared to wait a bit on a busy night because each pizza is handmade and there is plenty of attention to detail. But don't be shy to call ahead for a pickup, either -- this pizza is good to go no matter where you plan to dine.
There's something to be said about a hole-in-the-wall diner that offers up an eclectic selection of breakfast, lunch, dinner, and dessert items. There's even more to be said when that little diner is affordable and darn tasty, too. Sherri's is one of the few spots in the Upper Peninsula you're going to be able to order potato sausage off the menu (Escanaba's Swedish Pantry
is another and is very good in its own right). It's also one of the few places you're going to find a very outstanding sandwich called the Missouri Sandwich. Fish fry? Pretty solid. Breakfast? Top notch. Homemade pies? Excellent. Everything else? You won't hear us complaining.
This little gas station at the bend of M-35 in Perkins is a nice little stop if you're looking for a nice bite of broasted chicken. They've been making some of the best chicken in the central U.P. since the mid-90s, but most people don't glance at the gas station and think that they're going to find a delectable delight in there. Don't let the gas station and convenience store fool you -- this is a great stop for some tasty, juicy chicken.
While the Throttle is "primarily" a bar, the majority of the patrons who stop by are there for a bite to eat, and for good reason. Quality hamburgers made from beef ground right next door at Brown's Store, outstanding homemade soups, and even broasted pork chops as a special every Thursday night. While we really do enjoy the first two items we mentioned, it's the third that keeps us going back for more and more. So juicy. So tasty. Order two. You're definitely going to want to eat the second chop.
If you're traveling along U.S. 41 through Trenary, you're going to have to turn off the highway, go to the first intersection and then turn right. That's where you'll find the Trenary Tavern. It's what some might consider a greasy spoon, but the result of the meals they cook up is always the same -- yummy, yummy, yummy. From breakfast to lunch to one of the best fish fries around, the Trenary Tavern has something that is going to catch your attention and satisfy your tastebuds.