If you are a foodie, then Traverse City is one of the best places to visit in Michigan. There are so many amazing restaurants in Traverse City that offer locally-sourced dishes. It can become dizzyingly overwhelming to choose one!
Don’t worry, we have you covered! One of the best things about this city is that the food here is season-driven so, there is a diverse menu to be found here in every season. That’s not all.
Since Traverse City produces 75 percent of tart cherries in America, a lot of Traverse City restaurants make use of this delicious fruit in their dishes and cocktails.
Honestly, the food in Traverse City is absolutely delicious and words don’t do it justice. This is why this city is a favorite of all foodies and wine connoisseurs. Confused about where to eat in Traverse City?
Well, then our guide on the best Traverse City restaurants can help you out.
Here are 15 of the best restaurants in Traverse City you must consider.
15 Best restaurants in Traverse City MI You Must Try
Mama Lu’s – A Modern Day Taco Shop
Are you craving some Mexican tacos? If yes, then one of the best downtown Traverse City restaurants to try is Mama Lu’s. Chef John Larson named this taco shop after his grandmother Lu.
One of the best things about this taqueria is that they offer a taco kit that can easily feed five to seven people at a time. You get an assortment of salsa, meat, chips, and so on to go with it.
Furthermore, it is one of the top restaurants in Traverse City and offers six varieties of tacos – chicken, steak, pork, shrimp, fish, and black beans.
Apart from tacos, you should also not miss out on churros with Mexican chocolate and street corn with lime mayo and chile cotija cheese.
So, if you are looking for an authentic downtown Traverse City restaurant that serves delicious Mexican food, then look no further than Mama Lu’s.
This would be a great stop to add when planning a weekend getaway in Michigan!
One of the best Traverse City restaurants for briskets and baby back ribs, Sparks BBQ is a popular barbecue restaurant in the city.
This tiny smokehouse includes a side-yard seating area where visitors can enjoy both the food and the ambiance.
One of the best things about this Traverse City restaurant is that it offers authentic BBQ using wood-powered smokers and no oven or stove.
It was founded in 2015 by Pitmaster Dean Sparks who named this premiere restaurant after his family name. Located in downtown Traverse City, this place serves pulled pork nachos, briskets, and mac and cheese.
So, if you are craving authentic BBQ when visiting this Michigan unique small town, then Sparks BBQ is a perfect choice.
Sleder’s Family Tavern Is One Of The Best Restaurants In Traverse City MI
Opened in 1882, Sleder’s Family Tavern is one of the oldest and best restaurants in Traverse City Michigan. The restaurant has a charming history and features a homey and historic vibe.
You will still find old-school wooden booths and the 21-foot mahogany bar inside the restaurant. In terms of food, they serve a large variety of fried fish, including cod, perch, and more.
If you aren’t big on fish, then they also have amazing beef burgers, sandwiches, soups, and salads that you can order.
For amazing Traverse City food, try Sleder’s Family Tavern in the city.
Oakwood Proper Burgers
Oakwood Proper Burgers is a Traverse City MI restaurant that was opened recently in 2021. Located in a mid-century modern building on Eighth Street, Oakwood Proper Burgers serves the best burgers in Traverse City.
Here, you get six enormous burgers to select from. However, one of the top burgers to try is the namesake burger which features beef, cheddar cheese, bacon, house ranch, and an Old Missionary Bakery bun.
You should also not miss out on the garlic parmesan fries or the handmade peanut butter milkshake here.
Honestly, for burgers, Oakwood Proper Burgers is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City Michigan.
One of the best Traverse City restaurants, Trattoria Stella is located in the cellar of a 100-year old building that was earlier used as a hospital.
The restaurant serves Traverse City food made from locally-sourced ingredients.
Plus, the menu changes every day and lists the farm from where they have sourced the ingredients. Their house-made burrata, bruschetta, etc. are simply to-die-for.
This family-friendly Traverse City restaurant is perfect for large family dinners or romantic dates. One of the dishes that you cannot miss out on here is Spanish octopus with calabrese sausage, rice beans, and smoked shallots.
This is one of the top-rated restaurants in Traverse City that you cannot afford to skip.
Amical Is A Great Traverse City Restaurant
Another top downtown Traverse City restaurant to try, Amical overlooks West Grand Traverse Bay and offers both indoor and outdoor dining options.
Here, they serve eclectic European dishes prepared from seasonal ingredients, which is why the menu keeps changing here.
A few dishes that you must try, if available, are stuffed acorn squash, corn cakes, and the ravioli pumpkin cream.
That’s not all, this is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City MI for breakfast, and Starbucks too.
So, if you are looking for good downtown Traverse City restaurants to try, then this is one place that you cannot miss out on.
Red Mesa Grill
Red Mesa Grill is one of the coolest restaurants in Traverse City Michigan that is famous for serving Latin food.
Here, you can get delicious, Mexican, Central American, Caribbean, and South American fares.
The best thing about this Traverse City restaurant is that it offers vegan, gluten-free, and vegetarian options as well. In fact, the menu marks these items clearly so that there is no confusion for the visitors.
You can begin your dining experience here with house-fried tortilla chips with flavored margaritas. After that, you may want to select Mexican enchiladas, tacos, burritos, etc., or indulge in some Latin American dishes.
Caribbean shrimp tacos, Cuban black bean cake, and the Brazilian hanger steak are a few Latin dishes that are a must-try here!
Bubba’s was opened in 2000 on East Front Street and has become a local favorite ever since. This Traverse City restaurant is famous for its battered fish and chips combo.
However, that’s not what most people visit this food joint for. Most people visit this restaurant for its delicious grilled burger which is known to be the best in entire Northern Michigan.
It is one of the top restaurants in Traverse City that uses local ingredients and makes delicacies such as tacos, fried mac and cheese bites, chiminis, and more.
You can visit this Traverse City Michigan restaurant for a quick breakfast or for snacks in the evening with your family. This is one crazy0good food joint that won’t disappoint you!
Don’s Drive-In Is A Fun Restaurant In Traverse City Michigan
Located on Highway 31, Don’s Drive-In is the best Traverse City MI restaurant to try if you are in a hurry. This is a 1950’s style drive-in that has been operating since 1958 and features cute neon signs and carhops.
Here, you can dine outdoors on the picnic tables if available, or take advantage of the carhop service in the summer months along with an indoor dining option. This eatery is perfect after visiting one of the fun beaches in Traverse City, or a short day out with your family and friends.
Frankly, this is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City for milkshakes and burgers. Their fruit milkshakes and malts are a must-try, especially the cherry ones.
The Little Fleet
Are you looking for street food in Traverse City? Then you should pay a visit to The Little Fleet. This place started out as a bar but now is home to all kinds of food trucks.
From tacos to BBQs, you can find everything here, especially during the summer. It is a popular dining place for both tourists and locals.
A few things to try here are potato tacos from Happy’s Taco Shop, pulled pork from Cordwood BBQ, smash burgers from Glendale Ave, and more.
Don’t forget to try the milkshakes from milkweed that is available throughout the year. In the summertime, you can sit outside and enjoy your food in Traverse City.
If you are looking for Asian food in Traverse City, then I recommend Red Ginger. This contemporary restaurant features a lounge, a restaurant area, and a sushi bar.
It is one of the best Traverse City downtown restaurants. You might have to wait a bit for your turn but the food is definitely worth the wait.
This is an upscale restaurant that was opened for the public in 2007.
Everything prepared here is made using locally sourced ingredients. A few dishes to try are the sea bass, Vietnamese shaking beef, beef Ishigaki.
So, if you are craving Asian fusion dishes, then Red Ginger is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City that you must try.
The Cook’s House
Started by chefs Eric Patterson and Jen Blakeslee, The Cook’s House is another amazing Traverse City downtown restaurant that you cannot miss out on.
This place offers dishes made from locally-sourced ingredients and has a French-influenced menu to charm the customers. Braised rabbit and oyster mushroom soup are the highlights of this restaurant in Traverse City.
They have a cute and intimate décor and can manage only 26 guests at a time. This is why it is suggested that you reserve a place in advance.
If you are looking for restaurants in Traverse City for a romantic evening or an intimate gathering, then The Cook’s House is a perfect choice.
Are you looking for amazing burgers in Traverse City? If yes, then one of the top restaurants in Traverse City to try is Slabtown Burgers.
Located at the intersection of West Front Street and Spruce Street, Slabtown Burgers is a casual, family-friendly restaurant that offers both indoor and outdoor sitting areas.
Plus, the best part about this Traverse City restaurant is that you are able to get an affordable burger and fries here.
You get fresh burger patties and fries which makes the experience even more amazing. Apart from burgers, you also can get sandwiches, hot dogs, salads, soups, and so much more.
Another good thing about this place is that they offer gluten-free, vegetarian, and low-carb options to the customers too. If you are craving good burgers, then you should give this place a try.
Milk & Honey Is One Of The Best Restaurants In Traverse City
If you have a sweet tooth, then one of the top Traverse City restaurants to try is Milk & Honey. It is one of the best restaurants in Traverse City for dessert options.
And who doesn’t love dessert when visiting Michigan?
You can order freshly made ice creams here which are available in both sugar-free and vegan flavors. So, visitors can order any flavor that they want here.
Apart from desserts, this café also serves the most delicious salads and deli sandwiches. Plus, they have an amazing coffee bar for you to try.
Basically, this place is great for a quick visit or for something sweet to enjoy.
For those who love pizza, Pangea’s Pizza is one of the best Traverse City restaurants to check out. This artisan pizzeria on East Front Street makes the most delicious craft pies with interesting toppings.
Opened in 2006, this pizza parlor uses homemade dough and fresh ingredients to make everything. From appetizers to salads, you will find a lot of options available on their menu. Apart from the food, they also serve drinks including beer, craft cocktails, wine, and more.
This is one of the top restaurants in Traverse City for romantic outings as well. You can sit on the two-tier rooftop deck to enjoy a panoramic view of Grand Traverse Bay.
Here are 15 mouth-watering restaurants in Traverse City to tempt even the most serious foodie. Visiting Traverse City Michigan for its food scene would make a fun Midwest weekend getaway.
If you have any more eateries to suggest please add them to the comment section below so everyone can benefit from the recommendations.