Fresh Fish | Waterfront Dining | Ice Cream Tour | Coffee Shops | Picnic Foods
The Bays de Noc area is a natural hub for seeing some of the most spectacular scenery and historic attractions in the U.S. It is also a foodie destination. To find a good place to eat, ask a U.P. local. That’s what we did. Their suggestions are as varied as the tasty choices.
Are you hungry for a fresh-cut, juicy steak and house-brewed beer? Make your way to Hereford & Hops Steakhouse and Brewpub where you can opt to cook your meat selection on an open pit. Vegans and vegetarians will gravitate to the fresh fruit, vegetable, and sauce selections they can use to customize their fajitas and stir fry at The Other Grill.
Craving Italian? Locals recommend the long-time family recipes at Crispigna’s Restaurant. For come-as-you-are casual dining, The Stonehouse has been voted the “Best in the County” for the past 30 years. And if you still can’t decide what to try, locals say to head over to the Island Resort & Casino where there are six different styles of dining to choose from, serving everything from signature steaks and seafood to pub burgers to made-to-order subs and pizzas.
Try these U.P. favorites
Several regional specialties put our area on culinary maps. For generations, we have followed family recipes, plus tweaked a few to leave our mark on these tasty U.P. traditions:
This iconic U.P. food was the original fast-food of miners and lumberjacks. It was brought to the region from Cornwell, England when experienced Cornish miners arrived to make their livelihoods in the iron and copper mines. Legend says the miners’ wives took everything left over from Sunday dinner and wrapped it in pastry dough. Their husbands and sons would carry them into the mines and heat them on a shovel over their lantern candles.
A traditional Cornish pasty wraps beef, onion, potato and swede (rutabaga) in a light flaky pastry, crimped at the edge to form a half-moon or “D,” The Finnish version supplements carrots for swede. And the Irish, Scottish, Polish, Swedish, German, Italian and French miners modified the Cornish recipe with their choice of ethnic spices and ethnic ingredients. Restaurants and specialty pasty shops throughout Delta County use family recipes and some have added newer breakfast, cheesy broccoli chicken, pizza and ham and vegetable versions. Both Dobber’s Pasties and Gram’s Pasties boast making the best. See if you agree.
The Swedish Pantry in Escanaba uses favorite recipes from our Swedish settlers’ kitchens. Arrive early at the bakery for fresh-baked cardamom (car-da-mom) twist bread. This wonderfully moist sweet bread’s heady cardamom aroma will tantalize you to buy more than one loaf. Or try the Limpa Rye Bread, a light brown loaf that blends the unique characteristics of rye flour with the sweet smoky flavor of molasses, aniseed and orange peel. At the restaurant, you will discover how delicious homemade Swedish pancakes with imported lingonberries, potatiskorv (potato sausage), köttbular (Swedish meatballs), Swedish rice-raisin pudding and more Scandinavian choices are.
Visitors and locals alike are very happy that in 1906, a young Lebanese immigrant named Joseph Sayklly opened a candy shop in Escanaba. Together with his wife, Mary, and their nine children, Joe built Sayklly’s into a thriving local landmark. Stop in to take home (if it makes it that far) their hand-dipped chocolates, peanut clusters, fudge, taffy and peanut brittle made from carefully guarded recipes. You will be back for more.
Friday fish fry
Reeling in walleye, perch or whitefish from the Big and Little Bays de Noc, then cooking it that day is an unsurpassed food pleasure. But you don’t have to catch your dinner. Many local chefs prepare fresh fish with their seasonings and sauces that will leave you craving more. A favorite tradition in our area is to feast on lake perch, walleye, whitefish, salmon, cod, and when available, bluegill, at a Friday Fish Fry. Ask locals where they like to go. Chances are these restaurants will make their lists:
- Buck Inn, Wells
- Bungalow Depot, Gladstone
- Delona, Gladstone
- Ford River Pub & Grill, Escanaba
- House of Ludington, Escanaba
- Irish Oaks Bar and Restaurant, Gladstone
- Jack’s Family Restaurant, Rapid River
- Log Cabin on the Bay, Gladstone
- Swallow Inn, Rapid River
- The Family Inn, Escanaba
Gaze out at the water
The Big and Little Bays de Noc are a perfect place to pull up chairs around the table and eat while the sun-dappled waves roll toward shore. Our waterfront restaurants make mealtime a highlight of your day.
- Freshwater Tavern in Gladstone overlooks Lake Michigan and serves regional craft brews and comfort foods with a flavor twist. Choices include grown-up macaroni and cheese, bison meatloaf and paper bag-baked whitefish.
- Log Cabin on the Bay Grill & Bar is between Escanaba and Gladstone. Its beautiful view of the water complements their grilled prime rib, buttermilk-battered chicken breast and grilled Cajun pork chops.
- Nahma Inn (circa 1906) is located on Lake Michigan’s Big Bay de Noc in Nahma. It offers both overnight accommodations as well as delicious lunches and dinners (breakfast on Sundays). The Arrow Lounge is a friendly, trendy place for listening to live music with friends. Boaters can come and go from the Inn using the DNR launch next door.
- The Dock Grill and Bar in Garden lets you dock your boat or seaplane right outside the restaurant. Outdoor seating adds to its charm. Views of the Bay and specialties such as fresh whitefish, shrimp, black Angus steaks and prime rib will bring you back.
Go for an ice cream ride
Pile the family into the car and begin your search for the best ice cream flavors in Escanaba, Gladstone and Rapid River. If you get a cone in downtown Escanaba, you can walk to nearby Ludington Park beach, borrow one of the free bikes at the marina and pedal the mile-long path along the Bay. Or in Gladstone, take one of the available kayaks. It’s easy to justify the extra calories when you can burn them off!
- Culver’s in Escanaba dishes up frozen custard in cones or cups (there’s always vanilla, chocolate and a flavor of the day) or add your own mix-ins.
- Dairy Flo in Gladstone and Rapid River scoops up ice cream and frozen yogurt, plus makes thick shakes and a popular donut sundae.
- Happy Place in Escanaba has the biggest hula hoop in Delta County to help you burn off the extra calories!
- Jim’s Dari Creme in downtown Escanaba claims the biggest soft-serve cones in town. Choose from cones, sundaes, slushes, shakes, malts, smoothies and more.
Bring a picnic
Going on a picnic is fun year-round at the Bays. Just dress for the weather. Then sit at one of our many public picnic tables or spread a blanket on the sand, grass … or yes, snow. In the summer you can listen to live concerts. In the fall, watch blazing orange and red leaves flutter overhead. Listen to the rush of our rivers and streams in the spring. Or in winter, relish the silent beauty of the frozen Bays or snowy woods. You can grab deli and picnic foods at:
- Delta Deli, Gladstone
- D&M’s Subs, Gladstone & Escanaba
- Elmer’s Country Market, Escanaba
- Pat’s Foods, Gladstone
- Meijer, Escanaba
- Stone’s Deli, Escanaba