Throughout the Upper Peninsula, eateries offer hearty and delicious fare. They often shop from local purveyors, with freshwater fish and cherry-somethings commonplace on menus. After all, Michigan is the Number One cherry-producing state in the country. Another regional favorite is the pasty, a hand-held meat-and-potato pie popularized by Cornish miners who immigrated to the area in the 1800s.
Here are my culinary discoveries in Sault Ste. Marie from a recent media trip to the Great North Woods sponsored by Travel Michigan and its affiliates and friends:
Soo Locks Boat Tours Dinner Cruise, 515 and 1157 E. Portage Ave.
After two air flights from Chicago and a quickie check-in at the Askwith Lockview Motel, a relaxing dinner cruise on the St. Mary’s River with Soo Locks Boat Tours was the perfect respite.
Captain Richard Brawley’s narration introduced us to scenic highlights and the magnificent locking system. Our boat even went through the locks! I didn’t expect the buffet dinner to be as rewarding. It was. The menu changes daily, but our consisted of roast pork, baked chicken, mashed potatoes with gravy, veggies, tossed salad, homemade bread and many deserts. Non-alcoholic drinks are included in the ticket price, and cash bar is available.
I LOVED: Captain Rich Brawley’s smooth narrative made sure I didn’t miss any significant sights.
Cup of the Day Coffee House and Deli, 406 Ashmun St.
Now here’s a twist on the classic internet cafe: 86 different sandwiches, 24 salads AND on-site tech support! Cup of the Day is a popular rendezvous for year-round residents and visitors alike. Whether you crave a quick meal or plan to linger awhile, Chef Anthony aims to please. He’s been around, in the heart of downtown Sault Ste. Marie since 1997. Vegans and vegetarians are welcome. Coffee is brewed from Michigan-roasted beans. Smoothies are made with real fruit and fruit juices but no ice. The tea selection is ginormous. The signature soup is chicken gumbo.
To continue the eclectic feeling, there’s a beauty shop and fashion boutique at the back of the coffee house. If we’d had more time, my dark roots could use a touch-up.
I LOVED: The grilled panini with smoked chicken breast and cheddar cheese with homemade buttermilk ranch dressing, lettuce and tomato. It’s the house best seller.
Karl’s Cuisine Cafe, 447 W. Portage Ave.
Karl’s Cuisine Cafe is a family business started as catering service by Karl and Paula Nelson in 2003. The restaurant emphasizes meals made from scratch and local ingredients.
The Nelsons have their own hobby farm where they grow produce to serve in the restaurant and their own winery, Superior Coast Winery. They also buy extensively from local farmers in the Eastern UP. The menu changes frequently, but my chicken breast in cherry sauce was divine. The food is sophisticated, but the ambiance is congenial and low-key.
I LOVED: Jared’s Beer Blast Shrimp, topped with a spicy barbecue cocktail sauce. And the Southern Superior Chardonnay with oak and apple notes.
Bird’s Eye Outfitters, 107 E. Portage Ave.
Bird’s Eye Outfitters advertises itself as an emporium for “coffee, beer and gear.” It’s an apparel and gear retailer for outdoor enthusiasts but a cafe and full-service bar for all.
Buy your gear, down a brew or coffee, dine on casual fare–and simply hang out.
The savories were in experimentation when I was there, but I can attest to the slow-roasted brisket as fantabulous. Ask for Heather.
I LOVED: Cozy seating, communal seating, the patio lounge.
Fudge Du Lock Candy Kitchens, 319 W. Portage Ave. and others
Established in 1964, Fudge Du Locke fudge is available in many locations throughout the UP. You can watch the creamy sweet treat being made at the downtown flagship shop on Portage Avenue. My favorite blend is the turtle, but you might prefer the peanut butter cup or maple pecan. You don’t really need a picture, do you?
I LOVED: Fudge, fudge and fudge.