Fresh white fish, pasties, gourmet hot dogs and more are among the choices for great and affordable eats at Munising in Michigan's Upper Peninsula.
Here's a sampling of places we ate when we visited this scenic little town on Lake Superior's south shore earlier this summer:
Sydney's Shark Bay Bar-Our server at Sydney's Shark Bay Bar assured me that "The whitefish were swimming in the bay this morning" when I ordered the quintessential northern Michigan entree for dinner. He also helped me select a local brew to enjoy with my fish as we settled in for our first meal on our two-week trip to the U.P.
I found the restaurant's vaguely Australian theme a bit confusing, but the server's enthusiasm for the food and drink made me feel as if he truly wanted us to enjoy our meal and sample some real local cuisine.
We returned to Sydney's a couple of days later so we could enjoy Munising's famous Muldoon's pasties. Sydney's is one of a couple of places around town where you can enjoy Muldoon's version of this Upper Peninsula favorite with a beer (Muldoon's also has a pasty shop where you can pick up one of these meat-and-vegetable filled pastry shells as a take-out order or to eat at the store's roadside picnic table.
The Brownstone Inn-This classic roadside inn is about a dozen miles west of Munising in Au Train, Michigan.
White fish is always one of my top menu choices when I travel Up North, and the Brownstone's Jamaican-spiced version of this northern Michigan classic had a bit of a kick, but the spice complemented, rather than overwhelmed, the mild fish.
Classic choices like the 8-ounce rib eye steak Tim had and an exceptionally fresh-tasting Caesar salad with a large selection of Michigan micro brew beers are other menu highlights.
The Brownstone traces its origins to 1946 when a retired Detroit police officer opened the restaurant in a building largely constructed of locally harvested and salvaged materials.
The restaurant closed in the late 1980s and the current owners revitalized the inn, purchasing it and reopening it in 1989 after a two-year closure.
Johnny Dogs-We often rely Yelp to find a place to eat when we're on the road, and I have to credit Yelp with this fun find.
This little hot dog stand may seat a half dozen people inside and another 8 or 10 on its tiny deck in the summer, but it seems like a really popular stop for locals and tourists alike.
Meaty all-beef hot dogs serve as a platform for an imaginative menu of decorated dogs ranging from a classic dog with maybe a little mustard and pickle relish to spicy treats like a Piggy Dog (topped with pulled pork, barbecue sauce, Ranch dressing and cheese), a South Carolina Dog (with brown mustard, Cole slaw, dill pickle and celery salt) and a Bob Marley dog (with Jamaican jerk chicken, sirachi mayo and pineapple salsa).
You can always order chili fries or Piggy fries but it's probably best to split these massive piles of fries with a friend if you want to save room for a hot dog as well.
Want a beer with your hot dog? Johnny Dogs has an agreement with the neighboring Barge Inn, where order your dogs with Johnny and walk over to the Barge inn where you can sit down and order your beer while waiting for someone from Johnny Dogs to deliver your hot dogs to you there.
Dogpatch-OK, so I'm old enough to remember the Li'l Abner cartoons, which ran in funny papers (remember those?) across the country for more than 40 years.
The cartoon was supposedly the first comic strip based in the American South and, even in my memory as a young child, it was an extremely stereotypical portrayal of the residents of the impoverished Southern town of Dogpatch.
Dogpatch Restaurant in Munising opened before the comic folded in the 1970s, and it remains here today as a curious time capsule of the supposed Southern lifestyle in downtown Munising along Lake Superior shores, where its Web site assures customers that there is ample parking to accommodate snowmobile trailers.
We've eaten breakfast at Dogpatch a few times over the years, and I think the restaurant may work best for folks looking for a huge breakfast before hitting the road for a full day of activity like hiking or snowmobiling.
© Dominique King 2013 All rights reserved