Top 4 places to eat in Traverse City

When we were in New Hampshire, we met a lovely lady from Traverse City.

We asked for what was the difference between New Hampshire and Traverse City and she blurted out without a second thought – “FOOD!”

“The food just seems to be much more full of flavor out in Traverse City. In New Hampshire it feels as though they haven’t even heard of spices.”

Cheers to good food in Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

Cheers to the good food in Traverse City!

We’re no experts on New Hampshire food but from our experience there, the food was a little bland.

That’s why we were very excited to come to Traverse City – a place some people dub the food capital of the Midwest.

But with so much choice in the town, where should you go to eat?

Luckily we’ve tried and tested a few places for you.

Pie shop in Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

Make sure you stop off at the Grand Traverse Pie Company for dessert!

Top 4 places to eat in Traverse City

1.    Xylo Bistro Café.

Not only is Traverse City known for its food, but it’s a pretty popular place for artists. If you don’t have time to visit a gallery in the town but still want to view some art work, pop in for lunch at Xylo.

Housed in the warehouse district of town, Xylo is a trendy place with its walls adorned in art work created by artists living locally. All of it is for sale, so if you see something you fancy you can take it home.

When we popped in for lunch I had the green chicken curry and Dave chose the classic reuben sandwich. After being away from London so long, I was craving a good curry but was worried the Americans wouldn’t be able to do it right.

I was pleasantly surprised by the green chicken curry. Not only did it have a kick, but it wasn’t the bright green colour you get with some curries that show they are pumped full of badness. This dish just seemed to have delicious natural flavour.

Dave’s reuben was tasty too although he ate it a little too quickly before I could get a proper taste!


221 Garland St

Ste D

Traverse City, MI 49684




There’s free wifi.

Cherry pie in Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

You can find cherry pie nearly anywhere you go in Traverse City

2.    The Jolly Pumpkin

When we set off to cycle the Old Mission Peninsula (more than 40km in one day – pretty tiring work!) I knew we’d need a feed along the way.

Luckily a local recommended we stop in at The Jolly Pumpkin because it was a heaven-sent gift by the time we’d cycled up the peninsula.

Upon entry, the brewery gives off almost a British pub vibe with its low wooden-beamed ceiling and dining nooks along the walls.

I can imagine it being a cosy place to go in winter because it has a fireplace in one corner that’d provide a nice area to escape the cold.

In the summer, which was when we visited, we had a lovely view through the windows over the garden which provided shady patches amongst the sunlight.

Upon arrival we were given some tasty crisps to chow down on while we made our decision on what to order. I thought this complimentary touch was perfect for hungry diners like us!

We were eating a large meal that night so we decided to share a sandwich and we were certainly glad of this when it arrived – it was massive and certainly large enough to share between two.

We chose the Hickory Smoked Pulled Pork and the meat was tender without too much sauce – just the way we like it.

After much debate, we also shared a side of fried goat’s cheese served with onion ragout and sliced baguette.

The goat’s cheese exploded in our mouths and complemented the onion nicely.


13512 Peninsula Drive – Old Mission Peninsula

Traverse City, Michigan 49686




There’s free wifi.

Food at the Firefly in Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

Delicious fare at the Firefly Cafe in Traverse City – that cheese fondue was to die for

3.    The Firefly Café

This was my favourite place we ate in Traverse City. Although a little more on the pricey end of the scale, it’s well worth stopping by.

The Firefly Café is a bar lounge and a restaurant and when we went it was a beautiful evening so we sat outside overlooking the river.

I started off with a martini which was well-priced thanks to the happy hour that is on everyday there until 7pm.

The menu is centered around ‘small plates’ meaning you probably should order around three dishes per two people. The dishes are slightly smaller than a main but they’re not as small as Spanish tapas style of food.

We had a hard time choosing what to order because there’s a mix of seafood, meats, Asian and Mexican food… we didn’t know where to begin!

In the end the three of us (we were eating with a friend) had the bacon wrapped scallops, crab cakes, pork dumplings, cheese fondue and whitefish. As I write this now I feel as though I’m beginning to drool!

The food might have an Asian flair but it comes with a Traverse City twist. For example, the crab cakes were served with cherry compote – cherries being the beloved fruit grown in the Traverse City area.

The cheese fondue had slices of apple in the cheese, giving it a sweet flavour that made the cheese feel even smoother as you ate it.

The service was impeccable too. The waiter had allowed our friend to sit on the outdoor table – a prime spot mind you – and reserve our table as we were late to arrive.


310 Cass Street

Traverse City, Michigan




There’s free wifi.

Steak at North Peak Brewery in Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

Dave about to tuck into his steak at the North Peak Brewery in Traverse City

4.    North Peak Brewing Company

We ate at the North Peak Brewing Company on the first night we were in Traverse City and it was my favourite place in terms of atmosphere for our whole trip.

We sat outside and even though this area fronts the car park on one side and the road on the other, the sun was setting and a two piece band was playing some great Jack Johnson style music.

It really helped us to unwind after our long drive that day.

It was only later we learned that a few days earlier there’d been an awful hit and run in which one of the staff members had lost their loves. The brewery was really putting on a brave face though and soldiering on.

The beer is brewed right on the premises and you can watch the staff at work through large windows as you enter the brewery.

Inside there is a circular bar where you can pull up a pew and watch sports on TV as you tuck in to your delicious food. Very American in that sense!

Dave was craving a steak and although it was the most expensive dish on the menu, we didn’t feel guilty about ordering it after driving all day long.

It normally comes served with both vegetables and mashed potato but he swaped it for two servings of vegetables without any fuss. The steak was cooked to his liking and was slightly pink in the middle and very juicy.

In fact all the steak we’ve had in the USA has been amazing so far, especially after living in London for five years where the meat is pretty awful.

I had the BBQ boar pizza, sounds strange but was tasty. It came with ground wild boar and cajun sausage along with cheese, red onion and red pepper. There could’ve been a little more meat on the pizza but it certainly filled the gap.


400 West Front Street

Traverse City, MI 49684




There’s free wifi.


Boar pizza in North Peak Brewery Traverse City Double-Barrelled Travel

My wild boar pizza at the North Peak Brewery in Traverse City

Have you been to Traverse City? Where was your favourite place to eat?

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About the author

Carmen has been nomadic since May 2013 and the co-founder of Double-Barrelled Travel. She loves experiencing new cultures and learning new languages. She is having the most fun when skiing down a mountain, scuba diving in the Caribbean or curled up with a good book.

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