The executive team at Stafford’s Pier Restaurant, knew the area had ‘made it’ as a food destination when one of them stopped at a BP gas station near Pellston and saw that they could make a spectacular meal from their wide variety of greens, fresh asparagus, smoked Gouda, butcher-cut tenderloins and homemade bacon. They noted that they could even buy a just-released beaujolais nouveau.

Like many other local foodies, the team over at Stafford’s really enjoys eating out, and increasingly so. They found it hard to pick a favorite single menu item from area bistros, microbreweries and coffee shops, but here are a few gastronomic experiences that stood out as personal craving favorites:

Rack of Lamb with a Fois Gras Starter
The Franklin, Traverse City

The food is divine, Chef Beaumont
 says, and the service is impeccable. The second-floor patio pavilion is a perfect place to graze through a tasting menu with a bottle of wine and take in the view.


Sweetbreads, Lamb or “Anything”
Chandler’s, Petoskey

This place is Chef Beaumont’s pick for the place you go when you’re on a first date or have somebody coming into town and want to impress them. “It’s simple, rustic and unpretentious, and their food’s to die for.”

Lemon Curd Tart
Dripworks, Petoskey

That’s the pick from Chef Matt Bugera of The New York in Harbor Springs. “Anything they make is worth putting in your mouth. This has a very thin crust and a super tart lemon filling. It’s everything you would imagine a lemon tart should be.”

Lake Michigan Whitefish Sandwich
American Spoon Café, Petoskey

Nate Morton, the brewer at Petoskey’s Beard’s Brewery, finds himself craving
 this pan-seared sandwich with any of his brews. It’s served with cucumber-dill slaw and housemade mayo.

Salmon Cakes
Hack-ma-tacK Inn, Cheboygan

The inn has a fishing lodge atmosphere and gourmet menu. Bob Vala, owner of the Crow’s Nest Restaurant and Catering near Cross Village calls this “a great dish at a great place in a historic building—one of a kind.”

Marshmallow S’Mores Ice Cream
Kilwin’s, Petoskey and Other Locations

The remake of the campfire treat, another Chef Vala favorite, starts with a marshmallow base and adds fudge swirls and chocolate-covered graham cracker bits.

Pecan-crusted Whitefish
The New York Restaurant,
Harbor Springs

Inside the historic hotel that opened
in 1904 as the Leahy’s New York Hotel (gentlemen-only bar on one side, a bowling alley on the other), now order your locally-caught fish broiled or sautéed with capers, too, but Chef Vala likes it baked with a pecan crust.

Keyhole Bar and Grill,
Mackinaw City

They use a brioche bun with a third- pound patty and have the best onion rings, Chef Beaumont says. “When you grab the burger, it gets all buttery. And you’re in a tavern. The place is great.”


Great Lakes Yellow Perch with Housemade Tartar Sauce
The Crow’s Nest, Harbor Springs

It’s fried to a golden hue—and delicious, Chef Vala says.

Horny Monk Belgian Dubbel
Petoskey Brewing, Petoskey

New but historic Petoskey Brewing itself is “a lot of fun,” making it a Chef Vala favorite. The Belgian-style ale is made of six types of malted barley, candied syrup and Belgian yeast.

Chicken Hemingway
The Terrace Inn’s 1911 Restaurant, Bay View

This signature dish features Michigan dried cherries in cream sauce, surrounded by garlic mashed potatoes and truffled mushrooms. “I love the savory mushrooms marinated in white truffle oil combined with the sweetness of the cherry marinade,” says Jim Milligan, founder of Fustini’s Oils and Vinegars.

Vienna Pancakes for breakfast or charcuterie anytime

Cafe Sante, Boyne City

This breakfast is worth driving for, says
 Chef Beaumont.

Cafe Sante’s Chef Kyle is
 a “phenomenon” with charcuterie, he says, and the pancakes? “They’re like little layers of air. They put pistachio butter on top, and it has Grand Marnier in it.”


Small plate Gnocchi and Seafood Paella

Palette Bistro, Petoskey.

The house-made gnocchi is a perfect twist on comfort food, says Milligan, with the lobster and brussel sprouts mixed in; the paella has the perfect amount of heat.

Carrot cake with cream cheese frosting
Julienne Tomatoes, Petoskey

It’s perfectly moist with the best cream cheese frosting ever, says Milligan.


With so many delectable tastes available here in Petoskey, and in the surrounding areas, you will certainly need to spend a lot of time travelling around – why not make Hearthside Grove your home away from home?