Michigan winters offer unparalleled experiences. The state is home to 6,500 miles of snowmobile trails, 3,000 miles of cross country skiing trails and was ranked second in the nation for number of ski areas. For many Michiganders, winter is part of the reason to live in the Great Lakes State. And for those who enjoy planning their winter adventures, factoring in where to eat becomes a must.
Consider these fine winter haunts following a day of playing outdoors.
237 E. Front St., Traverse City | eatatginger.com | (231) 944-1733
Traverse City is synonymous with cherries, remarkable wine and, of course, skiing, though it’s becoming a destination for sushi lovers, thanks to local landmark Red Ginger.
Opened in 2007 by Executive Chef Dan Marsh and his wife, Pam, the upscale Pan-Asian eatery has made a name for itself by serving small plates with big flavor and a respectable bar program that makes the most of the local wine offerings.
While options like Chef Dan’s Signature Roll, which combines butter-poached shrimp, asparagus, truffled bacon aioli, soy paper and garlic chips, draw sushi fans in, the chef/owner says his kitchen team has worked to create a menu that offers a variety of impressive dishes.
“Sushi is a big part of our program, but we have something for everyone,” Marsh says. “We keep it simple, and our service staff is well-trained in making recommendations and, perhaps, even introducing guests to something new.”
And while the food lures guests in, it’s the service that reigns supreme at Red Ginger, he says. It’s one of the few restaurants in the state that utilizes team service.
“We opened with that French/European style of service, and we’ve never looked back,” Marsh says.
Many diners rave of the restaurant’s high-energy atmosphere, where guests can watch and interact with the sushi chefs preparing the rolls and enjoy the ultra-modern ambiance and impressive signature cocktails. The dress code is elegant/business casual, although guests in casual attire are welcome to dine in the 30-seat bar area.
Elizabeth’s Chop House
113 S. Front St., Marquette | elizabethschophouse.com | (906) 228-0900
The Upper Peninsula is known more for its rustic fare than fine dining, and while it may be easier to find pasties than prime cuts of meat, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Elizabeth’s Chop House in downtown Marquette is proof of the latter, and while the “come as you are” dress code may be a break from fine dining traditions, the cuisine certainly is not.
The fare is a whirlwind of premium cuts of meat sourced from Midwest grain-fed cattle, fresh seafood and other classic dishes.
“We start with the very best and go from there,” says owner Tom Wahlstrom.
The menu sticks to traditional, protein-centric meals with a “new-age flair,” allowing the high-quality ingredients to be the stars of the show. And service is paramount. When diners arrive, coats are taken, and each party is treated to a full service experience.
“Perfect is their goal,” says Wahlstrom, as the service staff works in teams with each table assigned its own personal server.
The chophouse sits on the shores of Lake Superior, and no matter the season, offers unparalleled glimpses of the coastline from inside. Pair that with the warm ambiance, and guests find it the perfect place to unwind, relax and reconnect.
1 Wood Ridge Rd., Glen Arbor | thehomesteadresort.com/dining/nonnas | (231) 334-5150
Glen Arbor, a year-round getaway town, has been described as the most beautiful place in America, and The Homestead Resort is a popular choice for those seeking proximity to the nearby Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, an area just as breathtaking during the colder months.
For those who delight in the miles of snowshoe and cross country skiing trails in the area or the downhill skiing offered on Bay Mountain, Nonna’s Ristorante offers a place to warm up and enjoy a meal that’s “simple, unpretentious and good.”
The flagship restaurant at The Homestead offers classically inspired, yet contemporary Italian cuisine in an environment equal parts rustic and romance. The three levels of the timber-framed structure include two intimate dining areas and natural stone fireplaces, and the surrounding woods remind diners the great outdoors is only a few steps away.
From lamb chops to Italian favorites, such as linguine and risotto, the kitchen team, led by Chef John Piombo, focuses on keeping dishes simple, yet flavorful and embracing the bounty of whichever season it is. Yes, even winter. ≈
Alexandra Fluegel is a freelance writer living in Detroit.