20 Insanely Good and Unique Restaurants in Michigan
Looking for some unique restaurants in Michigan?
From theme restaurants that take dining to an entirely new level to iconic restaurants to simple local restaurants, Michigan has its fair share of unique eateries serving delicious dishes. Whether you’re in west Michigan, the Upper Peninsula, or southeast Michigan, these unique fun dining experiences are places every Michigander should dine.
If you’re planning some Michigan travel, a day trip, or simply looking for a fun new place to try, this is the restaurant list for you. Read on for 20 Fun and Unique Restaurants in Michigan worth a visit.
About These Unique Michigan Restaurants
As a lifelong Michigander and Foodie, I like to think that Michigan has tons of fun restaurants to grab a bite for any occasion. No, this isn’t a list of the best dining options or restaurants in Michigan. I don’t think I’ve eaten at enough establishments in this fine state to pass that kind of judgment. This is for places that offer you something different than a standard dining experience.
Some of the restaurants are themed, and some can only be classified as unique. I’m trying to showcase the places that are different but offer top-notch food and experiences, and even some of the most insane restaurants in Michigan. Now let’s jump into 20 Fun and Unique Restaurants in Michigan worth a visit.
Ghost Bar at the Whitney – 4421 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48201
One of the best places to eat in Michigan, and one of my favorite Detroit restaurants, the historic Whitney in Detroit Michigan opens its unique third-floor bar Thursdays through Sundays.
Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the elegant Whitney Mansion is said the be one of the most haunted places in Michigan. Once the home of the fabulously wealthy lumber baron David Whitney and his family, the Ghost Bar is in what used to be the family’s art gallery. More than great works of art have occupied the space: some report seeing apparitions in the building. Treat yourself to a Witching Hour Martini in this spirited lounge and see if you spot anything spooky!
More Unique Restaurants in Michigan
Old Tavern Inn – 61088 Indian Lake Rd, Niles, MI 49120
The Old Tavern Inn in Niles is recognized as the oldest business in Michigan that still operates in its original building. It was founded 187 years ago, in 1835 and it still going strong.
While the menu isn’t particularly fancy, it features some really good burgers, hot dogs, and sandwiches. It’s the history that draws you to a place like this: imagine what those walls would say if they could talk…187 years of history. This southwest Michigan spot is a must-visit.
Golden Harvest Restaurant – 1625 Turner Street, Lansing MI
This quirky restaurant serves classic diner food with a twist: think fluffy French toast with a crunchy coating of Captain Crunch cereal, amazing omelets and scramble, and more. There’s outdoor seating through the summer and beautiful fall in Michigan, too.
You have to see this place to believe it, though. The entire outdoors is covered with an eclectic mix of signs, colorful art, and knick-knacks. You’ll want to have your camera ready for this very Instagram-able spot.
Chartreuse Kitchen and Cocktails – 15 E Kirby St D, Detroit, MI 48202
Located in downtown Detroit, this award-winning restaurant sources its food from local farms with amazing results. The creative menu changes frequently, based on the availability of locally-sourced ingredients, and standout offerings include Grilled Quail with wild rice, ran berry, apple, pomegranate, delicate squash, kale, and cider honey. This is one of my favorite farm to table spots in Detroit.
Donckers- 137 W Washington St, Marquette, MI 49855
Up in the Upper Peninsula is an interesting place called Donckers. While Donckers is a great restaurant, what makes it find a home on this list is that it is also a chocolate and caramel shop. Donckers puts a huge emphasis on getting locally sourced and all-natural products to use in both the restaurant and sweet shop.
Donckers features a vast menu that has something for everyone. Everything is made from scratch, so you know it’ll have the homey feel. With tons of great-looking salads, sandwiches, and a huge breakfast menu Donckers has something for everyone. Plus, you can grab some fresh homemade chocolate for dessert. How can you beat that?
Legs Inn Restaurant – 6425 N Lake Shore Dr, Cross Village, MI 49723
One of the most unique restaurants in Michigan, the Legs Inn in Cross Village is a seasonal restaurant that is open from the summer to fall. This is a travel destination for those driving through Michigan’s famed Tunnel of Trees, known for its stunning fall colors. Named after the stove legs that line the roof, the Inn offers homemade Polish cuisine and American dishes. The menu features multiple items that have fresh locally caught Great Lakes whitefish.
Exactly how the Legs Inn finds its way onto this list is due to its unique ambiance offered thanks to its founders’ creativity. The original owner Stanley Smolak was a self-trained artist who during the construction of the Inn carved countless fantastic creatures and objects into furniture and the walls of the Inn. The Inn also offers lakeside cottage rentals with amazing views.
Churchill Pointe Inn – 5700 Bennett Rd, Hubbard Lake, MI 49747
Unlike the other Inn’s that have been on this list, the Churchill Pointe Inn in Hubbard Lake is an actual inn with a great restaurant. Located in Northern Michigan just south of Alpena, this restaurant just might be one of Michigan’s best-kept dining secrets.
The Churchill Pointe Inn offers upscale cuisine in an understated elegant setting with an amazing view of Hubbard Lake. There is also a cocktail bar featuring all your favorites and plenty of house cocktails. This is a great place to go have a great meal then stay the night and enjoy the gorgeous view. The food and the view both look great. Make sure you make a reservation if you want to eat here as it is often full, and they can’t accommodate walk-ins.
Henderson Castle – 100 Monroe St, Kalamazoo, MI 49006
The Henderson Castle, Kalamazoo’s famous “castle,” is an architectural marvel. Built in the mid 1890s, the house is a Queen Anne-style and boasts 7 bathrooms, an elevator, and a third-floor ballroom. Henderson Castle is currently a fully operational inn with 10 rooms including a guest house.
They offer breakfast, tea service, dinner, and tours. When it comes to food the Chophouse-style menu is everything you would want when eating in a castle. This is the most upscale dining experience on the list, and it is sure not to disappoint with offerings like dry-aged steaks and fresh seafood.
Trattoria Stella – The Village at Grand Traverse Commons, (Traverse City State Hospital). 830 Cottage Dr #101, Traverse City, MI 49684
If you’re looking for an upscale dining experience in Traverse City, then look no further. Located near downtown Traverse City, Trattoria Stella is open for dinner only. What makes this spot so unique is its location. Located in a former psychiatric hospital, this is truly a one-of-a-kind place to have a high-quality meal. Offering Italian-style cuisine this is a great place for a date night as odd as that may sound. The food looks delicious and there are plenty of delicious pasta options.
Vinsetta Garage – 27799 Woodward Ave, Berkley, MI 48072
Set in a former auto repair shop, Vinsetta Garage’s unique setting isn’t the only reason diners flock to this Royal Oak area eatery. In addition to some amazing and inspired dishes like the Tikka Fries (Hand-cut fries topped with chicken tikka masala, fresh mozzarella & chopped scallions) and Loaded Potato Chips with house-smoked cheddar, pickled chilies, scallions, and meat of your choice, you’ll also find one of the best gluten-free mac and cheeses around.
Rainforest Cafe – 310 Baldwin Rd, Auburn Hills, MI 48326
Located inside of Great Lakes Crossing Outlet Mall in Auburn Hills is the Rainforest Cafe. The Cafe is a rainforest theme with animatronic animals and a jungle theme covering the restaurant. This is a kid favorite and a great place to take your little ones for special occasions. Get a Sparkling Volcano and watch your little one’s eyes light up.
The food is kind of all over the map in a good way with tons of great offerings, ranging from salads to ribs to fajitas. This is a great place to go with the family and make some memories.
Cops & Doughnuts – 521 N McEwan St, Clare, MI 48617 (also has multiple locations in Northern Michigan)
We can thank the Clare Police Department for one of our favorite stops when heading to northern Michigan, Cops & Doughnuts. The story goes that a much-loved, historic bakery (open since 1896) was on the verge of closing, when the local police department stepped up and saved the bakery. Nine officers banded together and saved the bakery and have now expanded from the one original location to multiple locations across northern Michigan.
With a police theme and décor, this is a great spot to stop and grab one of their delicious, sweet treats or grab a cup of what they call “cops” coffee. With tons of great donuts and breads, Cops & Donuts is a great place to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Lockview Restaurant – 327 W Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
Imagine eating a delicious meal while watching massive freighters pass through the Soo Locks! That’s only part of the draw at the Lockview Restaurant, with some of the most scenic views in Sault Ste. Marie. Known for their fabulous whitefish, their pasties are pretty darn good, too. This is a fun place, with menus that look like newspapers, and two levels of seating.
PRO-TIP: If watching freighters pass by while you eat, head over to Marine City on Michigan’s Blue Thumb Coast to take in some up close and personal views of these massive ships as they travel along the St. Clair River. The Marine City Fish Company, 240 S Water St, Marine City, MI 48039, is one of the most popular spots for fish in Michigan, and with good reason. Not only do they have a wide variety of seafood, but they also make an amazing Mac and Cheese that you can add seafood, steak, or chicken to for an unforgettably delicious treat.
City Park Grill – 432 E Lake St, Petoskey, MI 49770
Opening back in 1910, the City Park Grill survived Prohibition and is still serving great meals! This historic restaurant in downtown Petoskey hosts live entertainment while offering a great menu. Open for lunch and dinner, this is an upscale dining experience with a great menu featuring many seafood and steak options.
One of the restaurant’s claims to fame is that a young Ernest Hemingway once dined here, making it a definite contender for most unique restaurants in Michigan. This is a great date night spot or a great place to have a nice meal on a trip to the Petoskey area. Be sure and take a stroll through the neighborhood surrounding this area, and take in some amazing views of Lake Michigan.
Mad Hatter Bistro- 185 N Old Woodward Ave, Birmingham, MI 48009 – Temporarily Closed
Offering an Alice in Wonderland theme, this is a fun and eclectcic dining experience with a unique atmosphere. Located in downtown Birmingham, the interior reflects the story of Alice in Wonderland.
The two-level restaurant features two different dining experiences: “down the rabbit hole” on the lower level or the up in a dining room featuring an open kitchen. The outstanding weekend brunch menu includes a full cocktail menu with some fun craft cocktails. The Bistro also offers afternoon tea which is great for meeting a friend and catching up or bringing a little one and letting them feel like a prince or princess. In addition to these more specialty services, the Bistro is also open for lunch and dinner featuring a menu that includes steak, pesto-glazed salmon, burgers, and much more.
Even More Unique Restaurants in Michigan
- Windmill Restaurant – 28 W 8th St #220, Holland, MI 49423
- The Antlers Restaurant – 804 E Portage Ave, Sault Ste. Marie, MI 49783
- Bird Creek Farms – 282 Grindstone Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467
- Clarkston Union Bar and Kitchen – 54 S Main St, Clarkston, MI 48346
Favorite Unique Restaurants – Closed
We’re waiting for these favorite, insanely good restaurants in Michigan to reopen soon, and we’ll update this list as soon as they do.
Dawson & Stevens Classic 50’s Diner and Soda Fountain
Green Dot Stables – 2200 W Lafayette Blvd, Detroit, MI 48216 – PERMANENTLY CLOSED
More Top Michigan Travel Destinations and Places to Eat
About the Author-
Cy Nardone is a Content Creator at MyMichiganBeach. He grew up in Grosse Pointe and attended Grosse Pointe South High School. He went on to attend Wayne State then Michigan State University where he majored in Sports Journalism. Cy is a lifelong Detroit sports fan who loves food. Cy looks forward to expanding our Metro Detroit content and hopes to turn you on to a new spot to adventure or eat.