The biggest issue facing Mackinac Island restaurants is the lack of catering to clients with deficiencies (dietary not lack of brain cells) and vegans. The Island’s lack of options piss the guest off, piss you off, the manager is pissed off and I can almost see the faulty interior of your lactose intolerant intestine growing increasingly pissed off that it has developed the disorder and caused this much stress. At some point on your trip it’ll get to the point where you’ll order a huge glass of milk and let your intestine producing the nitrogen, carbon dioxide, oxygen, methane, and hydrogen sulphide gas concoction do the talking. Your frustration will be clearly felt, and smelt I imagine.
Here is a brief guide to dining on Mackinac Island:
The Must Do
The Woods Restaurant (906) 847-3699
With a unique Bavarian inspired menu, the Woods has long been treasured as a local favourite. About a 20 minute horse carriage trip away from downtown, it’s a quaint and romantic setting. Try the Chocolate Hazelnut Torte or the Veal Osso Bucco. It is not the dearest place on the island but it is expensive. Worth it. The waiters have served there for years and are knowledgable.
Best Fine Dining
The Carriage House at Hotel Iroquois (906) 847-3321
The Hotel Iroquois is the best fine dining restaurant on the Island and it’s where many Grand Hotel worker employees go for their end of season farewell dinners. It serves lobster as well as one of the most expensive menus on the island. The beautiful location and great food make it an experience.
The Sorority House & Best Dining View
Pink Pony Bar & Grill (906) 847-3341
Pink Pony is the “it” place for tourists, residents and workers alike. To me, it’s more of a lunch venue to eat out on the deck overlooking Lake Huron. By mid afternoon, it’s packed and not somewhere to take your partner for a quiet conversation. Unless you don’t particularly want to talk to them and they love to chat. It’s always bustling with girls wanting a honey with a yacht and the sailors looking for someone to take to their yacht. The back patio is where it’s at with its jacuzzi, overlooking the lake and a 2 level patio. Try the Rum Runners, late night fajita and the Pink Pony burger.
The Health Conscious
One of the few places you can get something healthy. For a large salad, expect around $10. Buy your drink somewhere else though. My Vitamin Water was $3-something. At Douds, it’s half the price. I would not plan on eating here, it lacks tables and is noisy.
Chuck Wagon (906) 847-0019
For Mackinac, its cheap, good portions and I hear rave reviews all the time. Only open Breakfast and Lunch. No dinner.
Best Wings and Street Seating.
Goodfellow’s (906) 847-0260
If your dad or boyfriend goes missing on the island, look here. There are two eating areas, street side and a sports bar. The buffalo wings and pizzas are island favourites. American and Italian; lunch, dinner and late night menus. Plays all the big games and is the place for all major sports games.
Best Dining Experience
Grand Hotel Dining Room (906) 847-3331
The five course dinner in a Carlton Varney designed room, being waited on by men in tail coats. It’s an experience in itself and the bonus is you can walk around the hotel and visit the Cupola Bar – the best bar in the Grand Hotel which offers great views of the Mackinac and a piano player at 8pm. Formal attire required.
Horn’s Gaslight Bar (906) 847-6154
Every person I know is obsessed with this place but it’s not my island favourite. It’s family friendly and the portions are good. The place comes alive on Wednesday nights for “Booty Night” and live bands almost nightly. It’s often crowded and filled with island employees by the late afternoon/night. Traditional American & Southwestern cuisine.
Island Slice (906) 847-8100
A stop in place for the infamous bread sticks. Good, but it’s around $24 a pizza. Dough is made fresh daily.
Gate House (906) 847-3772
Popular meeting place on the island and party place on Monday and Thursday nights. Gate House is a Grand Hotel Restaurant, and serves mainly American food.
Mary’s Bistro (906) 847-9911
Mary’s Bistro does a good job of filling a niche market, for those who have money to spend and don’t want to eat crap but don’t want the hassle of getting dressed up. I’ve eaten there twice and would recommend the dinner over the lunch menu. The dinner “special” was almost $40. While delicious, for one $40 special here you can eat a 3 course meal at Gatehouse or Jockey Club for $33/$38. Check out the dinner menu above as they have cheaper options available.
Cheap For Families
Millie’s on Main (906) 847-9901
This is a family friendly restaurant that sells pasties, home-made soups and have daily specials. (Try the Reuben if it’s on special, delicious.) Avoid peak season rush hour or you will be waiting.
One of My Favourites
Patrick Sinclair’s Irish Pub (906) 847-8255
This is quite possibly the only or one of the very few places selling oysters on the island. Serves some of my favourite foods like shepherd’s pie, homemade chowder, and oysters. A great draught beer choice.
Best Take Away
Seabiscuit Cafe (906) 847-3611
You’d find it hard to swing a cat in Seabiscuit, (It’s against regulations anyway but still..) but the lack of room doesn’t take away from some good menu choices. Order ahead and take the food for a quick bite by the lake or in the park, away from the noise and small seating area. Tandoori chicken, green curry and one of my old favourites – Mussels.
Breakfast on Main Street
Diner Style: Chuck Wagon (906) 847-0019
Serves breakfasts and lunch. For Mackinac, its well priced and filling.
Hearty: Village Inn 906-847-3542
Breakfast seems scarce on Main Street once you leave your hotel. The VI serves Angus Steaks and its famous Planked Whitefish for lunch, but the breakfast is also one of the best on Main Street. 2012 is the first season the Village Inn is operated and owned by the Grand Hotel and is known as Cawthorne’s Village Inn.
A stack of pancakes like the special, ‘Peaches and Creme’ will cost around $10. Mine was 2 pancakes, with a dollop of cream and what seemed to be a whole can of peaches.
Buffet: Murray Hotel (906) 847-3360
$4.95 per guest per day or $7.95 for non-guests. Full breakfast including fresh scrambled eggs, home-style potatoes, sausage, bacon, toast and yogurt.
There are a still plenty of restaurants on Mackinac Island. See here for a Dining Guide.
Have you eaten on Mackinac Island? Let me know what your favourite and least favourite restaurants are.