Woman smiling and getting ready to sample a cocktail outside Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie

📍Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie 📷 @sisterhoodbloodymarys

 


 

From a fresh-catch seafood eatery on the water to a backroad microbrewery with farm-to-table fare — even spots where food trucks fall in line to serve up local flavor — summertime in the Great Lakes Bay is primetime for seasonal goodness.

 

With award-winning barbecue joints and iconic spots serving up cool summer classics — you'll find cozy locales peppered all throughout this flavorful region!

 


 

Views of the sun setting over the waterfront through a gorgeous wall of windows at Real Seafood Company Bay City

📍Real Seafood Company 📷 @maditaylorphoto

 

Waterfront Restaurants

Real Seafood Company (Bay City) Watch boats pass by through walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, or dine on a two-level, wraparound deck with panoramic views of the Saginaw River. Order something off the day's fresh-catch list — or let oysters on the half-shell from the raw bar slide down the hatch.

 

Gorgeous, colorful paella served in a skillet at Real Seafood Company in Bay City

📍Real Seafood Company 📷 @nolanlarose

 

Frankenmuth Brewery (Frankenmuth) America's oldest microbrewery, with a two-level deck and a four-seasons patio wrapped in floor-to-ceiling glass — all overlooking the Cass River. Tuck into a local Smoked Sausage Sampler or Smothered Smoked Chicken with your Little Bavaria Pilsner.

Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie (Frankenmuth) Upscale-rustic wine bar with shareable plates, paninis, and build-your-own charcuterie boards of the finest artisanal meats & cheeses from Italy to the Netherlands... even wursts and pâté produced locally in Frankenmuth! Enjoy under a sun umbrella on the patio, or cozied up by the fire bar under the stars.

 

A glass of wine by the outdoor firebar on the patio of Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie in Frankenmuth

📍Prost! Wine Bar & Charcuterie 📷 @ashhhleysmith

 

Riverfront Grille & Lounge (Bay City) The on-site restaurant of DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Bay City - Riverfront — with a seasonal patio where you might see a tall ship set sail while you dine on Shrimp & Grits.

Tavern 101 (Bay City) Chic, beer-forward restaurant bar with beautiful vistas of waterfront Wenonah Park and elevated gastropub classics with a twist. Order some flatbreads and a beer flight and enjoy the view!

 

Chef's taco features beautifully presented next to a draft beer garnished with lime at Tavern 101 in Bay City

📍Tavern 101 📷 @tavern101restaurant

 

Signature, Summertime Classics

Molasses Smokehouse + Bar (Midland) Taste new-school, sauce-driven southern barbecue (defined by its key ingredient, molasses) and enjoy your smokehouse meats with craveable sides, sweet tea, or a Southern Peach Mule.

 

Creamy mac & cheese, chopped brisket burnt ends, a generous dusting of house rub, and fresh pico, served up on an outdoor table at Molasses Smokehouse + Bar in Midland

📍Molasses Smokehouse + Bar 📷 @minnie_bites

 

Bone Daddy's BBQ (Midland) Real-pit "Original Northern Style" barbecue, voted "Michigan's Best BBQ" (MLive, 2018). Here, the ribs are dry-rubbed and smoked five hours, glazed with homemade sauce, and cooked over hand-cut and cured woods, by a pit master with 40+ years in barbecue under his belt.

Slo' Bones BBQ Smokehaus (Frankenmuth) Soulful, southern-style barbecue, served up with live blues. Don't leave without an order of Burnt Ends, cut from the pit master's specialty brisket!

Old Town Drive In (Saginaw) A decades-long summer tradition, pull up to this 1950s-style car hop and order Saginaw's original Coney dog and an old-fashioned, original-recipe draft root beer... then grab a whole gallon to go!

 

The Three Amigos: pork, brisket, and smoked bacon piled high on a soft bun at Molasses Smokehouse + Bar in Midland

📍Molasses Smokehouse + Bar 📷 @minnie_bites

 

New + Unique Eats

MI Table (Bay City) Bay City's newest farm-to-table restaurant, serving seasonally inspired dishes rooted in our state's culinary heritage. Taste Pure Michigan on the plate at this spot highlighting Michigan produce, fish, and game (and finish with the Michigan Fudge Charcuterie Board for dessert).

 

Potpie with Michigan-shaped biscuits and a bloody Mary, beautifully plated at MI Table in Bay City

📍MI Table 📷 @candace_rose

 

ONe Eighteen (Midland) American tavern at the H Hotel with gorgeous mid-century modern digs, a seasonal menu, Chef's Premium Selections, and classic, handcrafted cocktails.

Artisan Urban Bistro (Saginaw) Cozy, European-inspired bistro with an open kitchen, a menu that shifts with the seasons, and lots of locally sourced ingredients. Try traditional Naples-style pizza — on dough handcrafted daily using the whey from house-made mozzarella — or local, heritage bone-in pork chop, braised in lavender and honey.

 

Roasted chicken and tri-colored carrots, perfectly plated at Artisan Urban Bistro in Old Town Saginaw

📍Artisan Urban Bistro 📷 @riverfrontsaginaw

 

Gratzi (Midland) A dramatic dining experience with a chef-driven menu inspired by the various regions of Italy. Try dishes like Spigola Cilena — seared Chilean sea bass atop a crispy asiago risotto cake — or Alfredo da Tavola, tossed table-side in a hollowed-out wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Costela Brazilian Steak House (Bay City) Authentic Brazilian churrascaria in Uptown Bay City, serving fresh cuts of beef, pork, poultry, and freshly-made sausages — all cooked churrasco style on wood-fired grills brought in from Brazil.

 

Locally Sourced + Seasonally Inspired

The Maple Grille Restaurant and Microbrewery (Hemlock) Microbrewery meets farm-to-table hideaway, utilizing whole animals from area farms and organic produce, grown mostly in the garden out back. You won't find a freezer or a microwave here — not even printed menus — so, swing by the chalkboard to see the day's specials. Grab a seat at the outdoor, wood-fired grills to see your food scratch-cooked — and enjoy a wood-fired pizza and a wood-fired craft brew with it.

WhichCraft Taproom (Midland) Serving only made-in-Michigan beer, cider, wine, and mead (but committed to local food vendors, too) try specialties like shawarma made with Michigan organic lamb.

Honey B's Eatery (Frankenmuth) Sustainable food and scratch-made goodness, delivered in dishes like Honey's Hash — sweet potatoes and local sausage crumble, topped with fried egg and honey-spiced cream.

Michigan on Main Bar & Grill (Frankenmuth) Bar and grill inside Bavarian Inn Restaurant, where seasonality and local sourcing are the sweet sauce. Dig in to favorites like the Michigan Black Bean Burger, knowing the food on your plate hasn't traveled far.

 

Fresh Sushi + Poke

Beautiful sushi platter at Maru Sushi & Grill in Midland

📍Maru Sushi & Grill 📷 @_simply_nourished

 

Maru Sushi & Grill (Midland) Chef-driven restaurant with sushi that's almost too beautiful to eat and traditional dishes reimagined through a modern lens.

Fusion 1 Café (Bay City) See Chef Craig Fiebke hand-roll edible art before your eyes and try all-you-can-eat sushi on Thursday and Friday nights!

Sushi Remix (Bay City) Healthy, fresh, fast-casual spot serving up poké bowls and bubble tea in Uptown Bay City.

 

Food Truck Flavors

Makin' Bacon Truck (Saginaw and on-the-move) Big-time bacon truck with favorites like the Pulled Pork Street Bowl (mac 'n cheese topped with pulled pork, caramelized onions, and crispy bacon crumbles).

Bavarian Inn Cluck Truck (Frankenmuth and on-the-move) World-famous Frankenmuth Bavarian Inn Chicken, plus Hausmade Smoked Sausage, Buttered Noodles, Bavarian Pretzels, and cold draft root beer to wash it all down!

The Cheese Trap (Frankenmuth and on-the-move) Gourmet grilled cheese, made fresh-to-order, with Frankenmuth Cheese Haus cheeses on Bavarian Inn breads. Pairs perfectly with summery treats like their flavored iced tea or freshly squeezed lemonade!

5-2-oh (Bay City and on-the-move) Try Shrimp Tacos tossed in a sweet chili sauce and topped with cilantro lime slaw, or pulled pork bulgogi Korean Tacos with house-made Korean slaw!

Food Truck Festivals (Multiple Cities) Find these flavor-filled rides and more at festivals like Frankenmuth's Funtown Chowdown and Birch Run's Firkin Food Truck Festivals, or all over the region at other hotspots — from Larkin Beer Garden to the Midland Area Farmers Market and SVRC Marketplace!

 

World-Famous Favorites

Little boy sitting in the flowers in front of the Zehnder's Famous Frankenmuth Chicken Dinners sign

📍Zehnder's of Frankenmuth 📷 @mrstarabryant

 

Zehnder's Restaurant (Frankenmuth) A tradition of good taste since 1856, try premium Frankenmuth golden fried chicken and traditional sides, served up in world-famous, family-style chicken dinners.

Bavarian Inn Restaurant (Frankenmuth) World-famous, all-you-can-eat, family-style chicken dinners — and over 20 million guests served since 1888!

 

Summery street views of Bavarian Inn Restaurant in Frankenmuth, with beautiful flowers in bloom

📍Bavarian Inn Restaurant 📷 @gone.journaling