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Our Favorite Restaurants in Traverse City: Introducing a New Field Guide

With its creative chefs, diverse menu options and farm fresh, locally sourced ingredients, it’s no wonder that Traverse City is renowned as a dining destination. And the accolades keep coming.

Bon Apetit has named Traverse City one of “America’s Top Five Foodie Towns.” Chef Mario Batali has repeatedly extolled the excellence of the Traverse City food scene. Conde Nast Traveler has named Traverse City an “Up-and-Coming Food City.”

Whether it’s on our weekly Thursday date night or Sunday brunch with the kids, we try to sample as many of Traverse City’s restaurants as possible. We love to eat.

While you can hardly go wrong when choosing a place to dine in Traverse City, we have our favorites and want to share them with you. From family friendly to a bit more fancy, our new Field Guide profiles some of the best restaurants that Traverse City has to offer.

So whether you live in the Traverse City area and you’re looking to try something new, or you’re planning a trip up on Memorial Day weekend or later this summer, check out our new Field Guide to get the inside scoop about where to dine. Click here to visit our Field Guides page in order to download your copy.


We profile over 30 restaurants in this Field Guide – here’s a snapshot of what you can expect.

Family Friendly

North Peak Brewery
North Peak Brewery is one of the most architecturally stunning restaurants in town. It’s located in an old candy factory and the interior features soaring ceilings, exposed brick and reclaimed wood. It serves great sandwiches, soups, salads and entrees and has an affordable kids’ menu. Make sure to sample one of North Peak’s handcrafted beers or root beer while you’re there. North Peak also has a nice outdoor patio which often features live music performances during the summer.

MUST HAVE: Cheddar Ale soup topped with crumbled pretzels.

Slabtown Cafe and Burgers
Delicious burgers, shakes and fries (and some pretty good salads, too) – need any more be said? Slabtown Cafe and Burgers is located a little off the beaten path on West Front Street across Division, so if you’re visiting Traverse City you’ll have a chance to dine in a neighborhood (Slabtown) that you may have never checked out before. Order your burger, grab some napkins, and enjoy the beautiful Traverse City weather at one of the restaurant’s outdoor tables.

The Filling Station
The Filling Station is a family friendly spot that offers delicious flatbread pizzas and salads, as well as house-brewed beers. It’s located in an old train depot, just south of downtown, on the north shore of Boardman Lake. If the weather is nice you can eat outside along the train tracks and the kids can play in one of the sandboxes located on the patio.

MUST HAVE: The Wolverine is our favorite pizza. It’s topped with pepperoni, fresh pineapple and jalapeno peppers. Fear not MSU fans – there’s a Spartan pizza, too!

A Bit More Fancy

The Boathouse
Stunning sunsets and scrumptious seafood and steaks (Wagyu if you care to indulge) highlight this Old Mission Peninsula gem’s menu. Grab an Adirondack chair and enjoy a cocktail on the lawn before dinner and sample from the extensive oyster and other raw bar options that The Boathouse offers.

The Cook’s House
Mario Batali has named The Cook’s House one of his favorite restaurants – not just in Traverse City, but in the world. We don’t have Mario’s refined palette, but we certainly agree with his opinion on this one. The Cook’s House features delicious farm-to-table cuisine, impeccable service and an intimate dining experience. Make your reservations early, especially in the summer!

SUMMER FUN: Grab a drink at The Little Fleet before or after dinner – it’s right across the street!


We typically hesitate to recommend recently opened restaurants, as most need substantial time to work out the kinks, but we confidently and enthusiastically encourage you to visit Alliance. Alliance is a new venture by Pete Peterson of Tapawingo fame. The food is creative, fresh and delicious. Alliance describes its food as “vegetable forward” but there are also lots of great protein dishes on the menu. The decor, as well as the service, won’t disappoint.

SUMMER FUN: Catch a beautiful view of the bay by grabbing a cocktail at the new, nearby rooftop bar at the Indigo Hotel.

Click here to visit our Field Guides page in order to download your copy of our newest Field Guide featuring some of the best restaurants Traverse City has to offer. Cheers!

A note for our readers: Just because a business isn’t featured it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try it. We simply can’t include all of the awesome establishments in town. So use this Field Guide as a starting point for your adventure and explore!

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