We decided that we would go up into Wisconsin to start the journey around the lake. Our first scheduled stop that morning was at the Brat stop just across the IL/WI border in Kenosha, where we loaded up the cooler with New Glarus' spotted cow. One of my inpatient friends insisted we wait while he had a brat even though he knew we were just a couple hours away from the brat mecca of Wisconsin.
The brat stop's brat was the most normal tasting thing on the trip not bad just nothing like what was coming.
We took 41 up into Milwaukee and while we didn't make it to my favorite pizza place in the world, I thought it necessary to document/inform anyone taking the tour that there is a great super thin crust pie to be had at Zaffiro's, which is on the circle tour coming the other way. A simple search of the site can give you all the info you need on this place. Thanks to LTH for this find.
I had just been in Milwaukee for summerfest and so many other times that we just went thru the city. If you havent been I recommend spending a half day or day in the city, it really is a fun place to spend the weekend and its suitable for people of all ages. Oh by the way, its a great eating city.
On we rode to Sheboygan, WI. It is in this pretty little city that sits on the lake where one of my favorite roadfood stops in the land rests.
Charcoal Inn-South: Sheboygan, WI
Charcoal Inn butterfly's there brat's and cooks them on the charcoal grill, when done they are placed on a brat roll from the local bakery down the street and loaded up with mustard, onions, pickles and a insane amount of butter.
The first time I ever went here I ordered my brat with just mustard and onions. When they brought it out I looked at the amazing sandwich and thought they put a huge glop of mayonnaise on it. After a quick lick I realized it was just about a half cup of butter...mmmmmmm. Its my belief that I dont need to try any other places brats, these things just melt in your mouth and it doesnt get any better than Charcoal inn, maybe in brat heaven but not anywhere else.
The few times I have been the place is filled with locals of all ages and usually filled with smoke. The waiter immediately knew we were out of owners when my friend stood outside to smoke his cigarette. The menu also boasts that they were named to have the best steak sandwich, a Wisconsin tavern specialty, in the state. They also serve burgers, double brats and brat-burgers (brat and burger patty on brat bun) I decided to give the steak sandwich a try this time.
Up-close view of the tavern steak sandwich ordered with pickles and onions "light" on the butter.
Yes thats light, and what you dont see is the same amount on the bottom bun below the steak burger patty. This is what I would think a steak burger should taste like although I was expecting some sort of skirt steak or something it was good but I recommend sticking with a brat or three when you order.
With our stomaches filled we rode on.
Until I spotted a cool looking drive-in in Manitowoc.
The history of this old drive-in is available on their website (link below)
On we went into Green Bay and decided to take the scenic drive into the inlet up into Sturgeon Bay while listening to some Chicago Cubs baseball.
Next stop was in Green Bay, where we quickly grabbed a burger from a place called Kroll's. Sorry no pics but it was a good burger and worth the stop if your in the area. The most interesting part was watching the yocals eye me as I purposely donned a Devin Hester jersey during my visit...DAAA BEARS!
It was about 11p when we crossed the WI/MI border and got into Menominee, MI. Before calling it a night we stopped at a place for dinner. Honestly the food was so bad I cant remember the place's name but they did boast some damn good pie. Im no pie expert but we told that they won for their lemon meringue, so we tried. Day 2
Upon waking up it was time to eat. I felt it necessary that my first meal in Michigan be a pastie (pronounced pass-t). Just like in every town in MI, Menominee had a local pastie joint
Colonel K's (top L) Pastie (top R) beef & cabbage (bottom L) ham, potato and cheese (bottom R)
Im a big fan of pasties so I was ready to have my own little pastie-off. This place actually finished last but it was still good, particularly the ham and cheese. I wonder how many pastie's Joey Chestnut could down in a IFOCE sanctioned event...
After loading up on the calories in the am, it was time to drive up to the Hiawatha national forest.
Entering the forest (pic from another source)
We decided we drive from Nahma which is located on the top of Lake Michigan up to Munising, which rests at the bottom Lake Superior.
The drive is a very scenic one that takes you thru the forest on local highways.
Upon arriving in Munising which lays on Lake Superior we decided it was time for some food. Muldoon's pasty shop had signs directing us to the "best pasty in the U.P".
It was a good pasty and at the time ranked as #1 on my list.
Back on the road but this time we weren't on the Lake Michigan circle tour.
When it comes to food on the circle tour, fresh/smoked fish runs abundant. You wont make it thru a town without seeing a fishmonger or four. Usually they offer up fresh fish and smoked fish along with homemade beef jerkey.
Captain Ron's smoked fish in Munising, MI sits right on the lake (top pic). There are no listings that I can find on the internet but if your up there im sure youll find it (drive towards lake) The smoked whitefish was outstanding and highly addictive, unfortunately it wasnt something you pack in the car to eat later.
After talking to some people about what to do up in the U.P, we were told that the best town for some drinking and fun was Marquette and there wasnt any other towns that would have any action close to Marquette, home of Northern Michigan U. So we headed up there to stay the night.Day's 3+4
Marquette was my favorite stop on the trip. It was a a real scenic little city that had good eating and a fairly wild nightlife during the summer. It seemed everyone I talked to that lived in the area loved it and wasnt planning on leaving anytime soon...I could see why. We stayed at the Ramada Inn which was a few blocks from the water located on Washington St, the towns main drag.
Marquette had a really nice dining scene and the beaches were packed by day and the bars were packed into the night. I really like the ladies up there, great time in a great town. The first place we got to check out for food was one of my favorite stop's on the trip. The coney joint
was within a stones throw from the Ramada entrance and they served coney
dog's and sliders along with shakes and some really good thin cut fries. I ended up eating here a total of four times during our time spent...really good roadfood type place, which is what im all about.
dog with a slider.
Two Chicago Style dogs
a coney joint
slider ($1 after 7p everyday)
Me being the junkie that I am for food, I decided to take a walk around town after the Coney joint
and see where we could catch dinner at and maybe find a spot that was showing the Cubs-D-Backs game later.
Mission accomplished: Vierling's and Lagniappe both looked great
After a rest at the hotel pool/spa we geared up for dinner at Lagniappe. When I walked by this place earlier that day I remember a post I read here on the almighty forum
There is a cajun restaurant up there that's supposed to be good but for some ridiculous reason it is closed on the weekends so we've never been there.
When I read that they were closed weekends I knew this was that place and I was very excited to try it. I love cajun and in Chicago there really isnt anything good so I always jump on the chance when I see a spot on the road. We ate at the bar where the bartender was very friendly in giving us advice and tips on what to do around the area and where to go at night, this was my favorite restaurant of the trip. Everything was really good including the live music and atmosphere each time we were there.
The bartender who's name escapes me poured some damn good Hurricane's. Unlike the Pat O'Brians version these were a different recipe that were made by pouring dark rum into the bottom of the glass, fresh squeezed mix of juices in the middle and light rum on top. The reason I cant remember the name of the dude bartending was b/c I had three category five hurricanes before we ate. Hurricanes were served category 3, 4 or 5. Higher the number the more liquor.
The beginning of a night with my buddies, Bell's, Jameson, Patron, Jager and the toilet.
fried boudin ball's
bowl of gumbo with the basket at the bar's selection of hot sauces.
hot sauce bar for your food.
We also got introduced to the owner who was a nice super nice lady who wanted to know all about our trip and how we liked the UP and her place, turns out she has a daughter who graduated from cordon bleu in Chicago and is now working at a restaurant down in New Orleans and will one day move back home with some new recipe's and knowledge of the cuisine and take over the family spot.
Lagniappe was a very satisfying spot all the food was really good each time and at 9p upon closing our first night there, a local Cub's fan directed us to "The dog house" directly across the street where they carry the MLB season ticket and show all the Cubs games. After that we stumbled over to the up-front which was the spot on Wednesday's. Very fun although I dont remember much.
The first night was so satisfying and brain damaging that we decided to stay another night in Marquette. We got great weather the whole trip and spent the day at the local beach checking out the scene.
The beaches of Marquette on Lake Superior are beautiful as are the young females that flood it.
Now I know why they call it Lake Superior. I was really impressed with the great great lake. The water was cold and I saw lots of ships transporting whatever they do and it just seemed so much more great then lake Michigan.
Dinner that night was at Vierling's downtown about a block from the lake.
The day before at the Cajun joint
my friend had said to me "goddamn you werent kidding, are you going to take a picture of every thing you eat?" "if we go somewhere and you dont take a picture im paying". Sorry folks, no pic's. As expected the super fresh whitefish was awesome. They get it fresh from Thill's daily. The local monger is located just down the block on the lake. We each had it a different way, grilled, blackened and baked, all were exceptional.
For those of you reading this post and wondering about the nightlife in Marquette, its pretty fun in the summer and there is usually a spot all the younger people go each night, just ask around. Day 5
After spending wed. and thur. night in Marquette it was time to continue our Journey although we didnt want to leave. We drove back into Munising and decided to take the closest roads to the lake along the lakeshore to see some of the fall's and beaches along the pictured rocks national lakeshore.
as you can tell by the unpaved dirt roads, we were way up there. People must ride around on snowmobiles instead of cars in the dead of winter, the roads are bumpy and rough.
Dat Niz Piz (L) Da Beef (R) millions of bugs (not visible)
Most of the fall's are a mile or more away so you need to hike thru the forest to get to the lakeshore or to see many of the fall's. The picture above shows us crossing one of the bridges on our way to Mosquito fall's. We took the shortest safer route and it wasnt what I was expecting, it was a workout that included some jumps, both uphill and downhill paths and alot of bugs, alot of sweat and what would of been a few bottles of water, had I thought to bring any. I was really surprised to have seen a family with two younger ones arriving back from the harder 3-mile trek, I felt like a pussy, when the young boy said "boy daddy my legs are going to hurt tonight", mine were already aching and we hadnt even set foot on the trail
Mosquito Fall's...we didnt make it to the beach, it was 2 miles further the opposite way of the car.
On the road again. Now we headed towards Whitefish Point to take a look at the Great lake's shipwreck museum.
Christmas, MI. Home of the worlds largest x-mas store...and a bunch of other x-mas themed places...for the kids amusement, the kids!
We stopped for food/gas in Grand Marais, MI.
This ended up being a blessing. One of the things I try to do on a roadtrip is not plan to eat at too many places. this way you always stumble across a gem tucked away somewhere or something unexpected...the Stern's would really love this place.
West Bay Diner- "This rare 26-seat 1949 Paramount "Road King" diner car is the former Matamoras diner from the Pocono Mountains of eastern Pennsylvania. The diner came across the Mackinac Bridge to the shore of Lake Superior in 1997"--from a postcard the waitress gave me.
This is a real small spot and if busy your order may take a while but its all worth it. On top of the diner fare they also have a ice cream station, deli, pop shop and a bunch of other things to keep you busy during your wait. Also featured on the menu is the days selection of burgers. On any day you may have a choice between beef, elk, buffalo and venison.
One of the two pop coolers where they feature a nice selection of bottled pop.
Sounds great, fish and chips, chunks of whitefish, fried whitefish sandwich.
Some pop for the cooler.
Back in the car to head to the museum.
"Whitefish Point is the home of a former Coast Guard station and Whitefish Point Lighthouse is the oldest active light on Lake Superior. Part of the lighthouse station houses the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum, which includes information on the wreck of the SS Edmund Fitzgerald."--from Wikipedia
The shipwreck museum was an interesting place to learn about all the shipwrecks that have happened through the years.
Time to head down to to Mackinaw City and cross the bridge.
Where we were greeted by our first bad weather on the trip down...
...and then greeted by a double rainbow upon crossing the bridge
Our third great lake driven alongside
They call us "fudge" up there in Mackinaw city
Of all spots visited on the trip, here was my least favorite. Mackinaw city reminded me of Cape Cod or some east coast ocean town with all the touristy attractions, games/arcades, etc...we decided it didnt really fit the bill so after convincing my friends to stop so I could get a pastie (they had enough for the year they said) we would head down to Petoskey, MI and visit there casino's.
Pastie grande, pastie stroganhoff, pastie Italiano, pastie de jonge, fried pastie, coconut pastie, nawlins style BBQ pastie, pastie combo, pastie n' grits, lemon pastie, pastie soup, pastie sandwich, sweet & sour pastie, salt & pepper pastie, jerked pastie, pastie fajita's...
Mackinaw pastie co. won the gold medal on the trip. These were really good and the gravy only enhanced the favor, I would eat these for lunch every day in the winter.
Back onto the lake Michigan circle tour and a night cruise for some gaming at the local casinos (Odawa, Victories) in Petoskey, MI.
We got into Petoskey around 8p and immediately hit the casino floor. Mistake or not we forgot to get a room and didnt realize it until 2a, so we decided to stay at the casino and leave when the sun rose.Day 6
We left the casino at sun up and rode into Traverse city. I thought that it was a little nicer than mackinaw but still very touristy, we had a great breakfast at Ham-Bonz, where they had a bunch of dishes with ham cut off the bone. No pics again but I would recommend this place for a good breakfast in Traverse City.
Prices were so high and room's werent available for another 5 hours since it was so early, so we left. We ended up cruising to the beach and after soaking up some sun, we decided that it was time to head to my buddy's summer home in Michigan City for some boating. Since it was the weekend it was so packed and booked everywhere we just decided that we would head down the lake and spend the next few days in Long Beach, IN.
Harbor country is a place that i will document another time but on this particular trip I stopped in Union Pier to pick up some pop/beer from two of my favorite little country stores.
Milda's corner market is a nice little grocery store/deli that has a great selection of bottled pop.
Right next door is Bud & Elsie's where they carry a great selection of micro brews.
View from outside the beer fridge...view from inside.
Frosty's Cajun BBQ has become one of my favorites. They smoke ribs and serve Cajun sides like succotash gumbo, red beans and rice and Cajun sausage. The star of the show are some of the best rib tip's you can consume. when this is place is on they are real on.
Rib tip's with hot BBQ sauce on the side is the way to go...Im not really big on sauce with my smoked pork but I love their hot stuff.
The best part about the Lake Michigan circle tour is it fits the description of fun for all. It doesnt matter if you go with the family, a group of friends, boyfriend/girlfriend, you can find a way to have a good time. I will update this page with others places I have found within the tours limits thru the years and I will also update with anything else I may have found recently. There are so many little towns and eateries along the tour it would take quite a few trips to try them all. Big thanks to everyone for their tips, I printed out each rec'd spot and tried to do as many as I could. More places to come as the days go by.
12304 75th St
Kenosha, WI 53142
1724 N Farwell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Charcoal Inn South
1313 S 8th St
Sheboygan, WI 53081
The historic Penguin drive-inhttp://www.thepenguindrivein.com/
Krolls- Green Bayhttp://www.krollswest.com/
1229 10th St
Menominee, MI 49858
Phone: (906) 863-5315
1246 W State Highway M28,
Munising, MI 49862
captain ron's smoked fish
The Coney Joint
500 W Washington St
Marquette, MI 49855
(906) 225-5570 http://www.coneyjoint.com
145 Jackson Cut Alley,
Marquette, MI 49855http://www.marquettecajun.com/
the dog house pub
154 W Washington St
Marquette, MI 49855
119 S Front St
Marquette, MI 49855
West Bay Diner
P.O Box 218
Grand Marais, MI 49839
Mackinaw Pastie Co. (two locations)
514 S Huron
PO Box 766
Mackinaw City, MI 49701
1108 E 8th St
Traverse City, MI 49686
9901 Townline Rd
Union Pier, MI 49129
(269) 469-9980 http://www.milda.us
Cant find it listed tbut I can assure you it has reopened and its on 12-20 in Michigan city, IN around the blue chip casino.