Last month I told you about some of the terrific culinary experiences in the Petoskey Area. This month, I want to share some of my favorite places to hit when the mood is more casual and low key. These are some other ideas about where to get a bite before or after you hit the slopes, the shops, the trails, the casino or the wineries.

The Paper Station, Harbor Springs – For those who worried when Harbor Springs’ favorite Mary Ellen’s Place closed, they shouldn’t have. Though we’ll always have great memories of the former eatery, The Paper Station is filling bellies with lunch and dinner items ranging from bleu burgers, hand dipped onion rings and a terrific salmon salad.  Take it up a notch with the lobster mac-n-cheese served at 5pm.

Turkey’s Café & Pizzeria, Harbor Springs – The vegetarian sandwich or spinach salad will take care of anyone looking for a somewhat healthy option, but the pizza is where I head most often. Try the pesto pizza for something different (Olive oil with pesto, artichoke hearts, roasted red pepper, chicken and onions). Slide on in for breakfast, too – limited menu, but great tasting options.

Sassy Loon, Harbor Springs – Located inside Northern Lights Recreation Center, the Sassy Loon doesn’t skimp on the cheese on things like their nachos and potato skins. They really are one of those “something for everyone” kind of places where you can take the kids and grandpa and grandma and your picky-eater neighbor kid who tagged along on vacation. Burgers, pizza, coney dogs, fish and chips, spicy Cajun pasta – if you can’t find something to eat here, you should just stay home.

Mim’s Mediterranean Grill, Petoskey – If you’re feeling international, head to Mim’s for traditional Greek and Mediterranean goodness. You can’t go wrong with their yummy gyros, grape leaves or tabbouleh (chopped parsley with bulgar, green onion, tomato, lemon and mint) and make sure to try the fiery feta fries for a mouth-watering experience. Bonus here? Mim’s rocks the customer service!

Side Door Saloon, Petoskey – Around since 1969, the Side Door expanded and added a covered outdoor seating area to handle the summer crowds. Known for delicious burgers to fit a variety of tastes, Side Door is a good place to watch “the big game” and enjoy a cold one. Nightly specials including perfectly cooked prime rib Thursday – Saturday.

Tap 30 Pourhouse, Petoskey – Communal seating makes it fun, the food will bring you back. Tater tots never tasted so good before some genius at Tap 30 added bacon, pepperoni, scallions, tomato and jalapenos, then topped it off with their house-made smoked gouda white cheddar sauce and chipotle sour cream. And the BBQ mac n’ cheese pairs perfectly with, well, just about any beer in the extensive selection.

Indo China Gardens, Boyne City – Chinese and Thai food available including egg foo young, which is the best I’ve had anywhere. The egg drop soup is so light and not at all slimy like it can sometimes be at other Chinese restaurants. The twice-weekly buffet is family pleasing, but for the best value, order takeout at lunchtime – it’s plenty to eat as your big meal for the day.

The Whi-Ski Inn, Boyne Falls – Their claim to fame is being Boyne Falls’ oldest watering hole. The drinks flow year ‘round and the BBQ will leave you wishing that it’s polite to lick your fingers. Pulled pork pulled chicken, brisket – whatever you’re in the mood for. Ordering the ribs? Go for the full-rack; the leftovers go great with eggs the next morning.

I’m trying not to turn this into War and Peace, so I’m going to stop here. There are many other places in the area that turn out fantastic casual meals. Check them out here. You should probably visit and try a few places for yourself. Bring a companion to make it that much more enjoyable!

In the meantime, start planning your next getaway to the Petoskey Area. There’s winter fun and a room that’s right for you.

About the author

Diane Dakins is passionate about all the lakeside communities that comprise the Petoskey Area of northern Michigan: Petoskey, Harbor Springs, Bay Harbor, Alanson and Boyne City. As assistant director of the Petoskey Area Visitors Bureau, she has ‘been there — seen that’ when it comes to virtually every area attraction. Her blogs give potential visitors the scoop on planning a northern Michigan vacation.