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Best Traverse City Restaurants: A Local’s Guide to Great Food in T.C. (30+ Amazing Eateries)

best restaurants in traverse city

Best Restaurants in Traverse City, MI

by Natalie Hardy of

Welcome to Traverse City (TC for short)! While there are almost endless things to do in this Northern Michigan city, one of the most important things when visiting is figuring out where you’ll eat.

From fun dining spots in downtown Traverse City to chic eateries and breweries in outlying areas like Sleeping Bear Dunes and Suttons Bay, the Traverse City restaurant scene is quickly establishing itself among Michigan foodies as a must-visit destination.

Whether it’s street food, pizza restaurants, cornish pasties or Latin American fusion you want, you’ll find a wide variety of tasty food to satisfy even the pickiest eaters.

If you’re traveling to Traverse City for family vacations, quick getaways, or holiday events like the National Cherry Festival, be sure and save this post to enjoy some great food in Grand Traverse County.

I’ve lived here long enough to curate a list of favorite places to eat in Traverse City, and am happy to share my best restaurant guide to local food.

Read on for my list of favorite places to eat in Traverse City, Michigan. We’ve also included a handy interactive map at the botom of this post!

hamburgers at one of the best restaurants in traverse city

Family-Friendly Restaurants in Traverse City

428 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686
This downtown Traverse City eatery right on East Front Street is a great spot to grab a burger, a beer, and lots of delicious appetizers! Not to mention their boozy shakes for the over-21 members of the family. Make sure you stop in during happy hour, ½ off ALL alcohol and appetizers!

Don’s Drive-In
2030 US-31, Traverse City, MI 49685
Milkshakes, burgers, and fries, all can be ordered right from your car! Head to this classic 50’s diner and eat carhop style. A great spot for dining no matter your age!

Blue Tractor
423 S Union St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Mouth-watering BBQ in Old Town. With a large selection of Michigan-made beer and a comprehensive kids menu, this is the perfect spot to take the whole family. Make sure to check out their beer garden in the back for live music too!

Agave Mexican Grill
851 S Garfield Ave, Traverse City, MI 49686
Two locations equal double the deliciousness! For authentic Mexican cuisine in Northern Michigan, look no further. A casual, family-friendly place where you can dine in or eat on their patio at their South Airport Rd. location.

1033 E Eighth St, Traverse City, MI 49686
The perfect diner breakfast. The friendliest staff, with fast service and delicious food! They have been open for over 60 years, and hopefully for many more.

steak and wine at one of the best fine dining restaurants in traverse city

Favorite Restaurants in Traverse City for Fine Dining

14039 Peninsula Dr, Traverse City, MI 49686
Fine, waterfront dining along the Grand Traverse Bay. Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or just want an unforgettable meal in Traverse City, this is your location. Reservations are strongly recommended.

Cooks’ House
115 Wellington St, Traverse City, MI 49686
A unique and delectable experience. Head here (be sure to make a reservation) and enjoy their five- or seven-course tasting menu, unlike anything you’ve had before.

100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd, Acme, MI 49610
This gorgeous restaurant is on the 17th floor of the Grand Traverse Resort and Spa. The dining room overlooks the East Bay making it the most gorgeous spot to catch a sunset all while you enjoy a host of delicious cocktails, wines, and starters. Make sure you save room for one of the filling entrees!

Red Ginger
237 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684

Mouthwatering Asian cuisine and an intimate atmosphere make this the perfect date night spot in downtown. Share some of their many small plates or just grab some sushi to go!

sandwich wrap at a traverse city restaurant

Best Spots for Quick Bites in Traverse City

108 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Located in downtown T.C., you can grab coffee, a beer, and some light breakfast/lunch items at this cozy spot: it’s the perfect place to stop no matter what time of day. This is one of my favorite coffee shops in all of Traverse City.

Centre Street Café
1125 Centre St #3404, Traverse City, MI 49686

You will not find a better sandwich or wrap anywhere! Hours are limited to just lunch but it’s a must-visit place. The Campfire Wrap is my absolute favorite!

144 Hall St Suite 107, Traverse City, MI 49684
A coffee shop in the Warehouse District with some of the most unique, creamy, and addicting espresso drinks. They have a scrumptious menu featuring only vegetarian and vegan small bites.

The Little Fleet
448 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49686
A downtown must with outdoor seating, too! With numerous food trucks, and a taco shop around all year, everyone can find something at Little Fleet! Don’t forget to grab a drink at the bar and grab a seat inside or on their large patio. (Food trucks available May-Sep)

Slabtown Burger
826 W Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Your #1 Northern Michigan burger place and a local favorite. A variety of hand pattied burgers, fresh cut fries, and don’t forget about a shake! Grab it to go or enjoy outside on their patio.

best pizza in northern michigan

Best Pizza Restaurants in Traverse City

Charles & Reid Detroit Pizza Co
113 E State St, Traverse City, MI 49684

Don’t miss this delicious location tucked in the alley behind Front Street! With handmade pizzas, salads and sandwiches there’s something for everyone for lunch or dinner! Keep an eye out for their weekly specials too, there’s always something new and yummy!

Pangea’s Pizza
135 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
The coolest place to grab a slice, featuring a rooftop space to eat! They have an incredible variety of artisan pizzas, it’s hard to pick which one is my favorite!

Taproot Cider House
300 E Front St #104, Traverse City, MI 49684
A cider-house, located downtown with delicious flatbreads, salads, and other appetizers! They have a large variety of ciders and craft cocktails. With their locally sourced ingredients and a large variety of items on the menu featuring numerous vegetarian and vegan items, anyone can find something to eat here!

The Tasting Room
155 Garland St, Traverse City, MI 49684
A new edition to Traverse City in 2021 this restaurant features a variety of small plates, both hot and cold, along with many woodfired oven pizzas! They have a delicious Sunday brunch menu as well!

Traverse City Breweries/Wineries with Food

North Peak Brewing Company
400 W Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
A brewery located in a historic candy factory in Traverse City’s Warehouse district. They have a nice variety of hand-crafted beers, appetizers, and entrees. Enjoy this all inside or on their patio!

Rare Bird Brewpub
229 Lake Ave, Traverse City, MI 49684
My favorite restaurant in all of Traverse City! Even before I lived in TC, this was one of my favorite places to eat at. Delicious brews, foods, and atmosphere. I absolutely love their year-round patio to grab a drink! During peak times be prepared for a wait (but it is well worth it!). Try to Rosé the Riveter when you stop in if you’re a fan of blonde ales!

Workshop Brewing Company
221 Garland St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Another awesome brewery and restaurant, located in the Warehouse district. With burgers, mac and cheeses, and other delicious sides from Archie’s Food Truck there’s no shortage of eats! Not to mention their large selection of beer and events from open mic night to trivia and lots of live music!

best ice cream in traverse city

Best Spots for Ice Cream/Dessert in Traverse City

Grand Traverse Pie Co.
525 W Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
With two locations and a food truck in the city there’s no shortage of delicious homemade made pies and desserts from locally-sourced ingredients.

7263 N Long Lake Rd, Traverse City, MI 49685
Did you really visit Traverse City if you didn’t grab an ice cream cone from Moomers?! The infamous homemade ice cream shop featuring endless flavors of delectable ice cream. There main location is closed in the winter but there are many places throughout TC to purchase this heavenly ice cream!

Milk & Honey
240 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684

A tasty and unique ice cream (featuring vegan ice cream) experience! With an endless list of ingredients they put together whatever flavor of ice cream or type of dessert you wish to try!

More Don’t-Miss Restaurants in Traverse City

Mama Lu’s
149 E Front St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Hands down the perfect modern-day taco shop! Scrumptious and unique tacos, along with delicious sides and margaritas. Make sure you end the night with one of their mouth-watering chocolate drizzled churros!

7 Monks Taproom
128 S Union St, Traverse City, MI 49684
Perfect spot to grab a burger and a local Michigan-made beer! Make sure you start with their homemade pretzel bites. This is also the unofficial MSU bar of TC (Go Green!)

H&L Social
263 W Grandview Pkwy, Traverse City, MI 49684
A rooftop bar with exceptional cocktails, and a large variety of small plates, you’ll never want to leave! Located on the top of Hotel Indigo in the Warehouse district, you can enjoy your food and drink while overlooking the west bay.

Red Spire Brunch House
800 Cottageview Drive Suite #30 Mercato, Main Entrance, Traverse City, MI 49684
My favorite Sunday brunch place in all of TC! Located in the Village at the Grand Traverse Common’s this quaint brunch spot has the perfect menu for anyone looking for some delicious breakfast. Bonus points go to it being budget-friendly as well! If you stop in you MUST get a homemade cinnamon roll (large enough to split, but you may want to eat it all yourself)

Favorite Restaurant in Near Traverse City

Marthas Leelanau Table in Suttons Bay
413 N St Joseph St, Suttons Bay, MI 49682
This charming, Suttons Bay farm-to-table eatery offers lunch and dinner and never disappoints. A European-style bistro housed in a red, century-old farmhouse, you’ll find some of the best dining in the area.

More Favorite Restaurants in Traverse City

  • Sleder’s Family Tavern
  • Trattoria Stella
  • Firefly Restaurant
  • Taqueria T.C. Latino
  • Filling Station Microbrewery
  • Jolly Pumpkin Brewery and Cafe
  • Omelette Shoppe
  • Apache Trout Grille
  • Harringtons by the Bay
  • Green House Cafe

Traverse City Michigan Restaurant Map

traverse City Restaurant Map

Gluten-Free Restaurants in Northern Michigan

Many of these restaurants, incuding Red Mesa Grill and Prost, offer gluten-free choices. Check out our guide to gluten-free dining in Michigan for more information on where to find GF menus.

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About the Author-

Natalie Hardy is a writer and photographer living in Northern Michigan. She has been an avid camper and hiker for over 5 years and is the owner of Travel Over MI Way; a website focused on travel, hiking, and many other outdoor activities throughout Michigan and beyond. She is also a photo ambassador for the Michigan DNR State Parks.

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