Southwest Michigan
Photograph: Donovan and Nathan Michel

Greenbush Brewing Co.


Any beer aficionado in Chicago is already familiar with Greenbush (or should be) — it’s one of the most successful craft brewers in the area. But its food isn’t as well known, which is a shame. Located in the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it town of Sawyer, Greenbush dominates the tiny downtown. In the summer, it can take a long time to get a table, as Greenbush doesn’t offer reservations, but grab a pint at the bar and join the party. The restaurant side is known for its fried chicken, but the place also has a well-stocked deli, featuring charcuterie and sandwiches (don’t skip the Hot Brown, with homemade bacon and white cheddar). And if you’re looking for top-notch meats and cheeses for entertaining, head to the coolers in the annex. 5885 Sawyer Rd., 269-405-1076,


Three oaks

Froelich’s is a familiar name to tourists, as versions of the store, bakery, and café have served the region since 1946. Enjoy a sit-down lunch in the dining room or get a picnic sandwich to go at the deli, then browse the extensive retail wine, beer, and spirits collection. Finally, cross the street to visit the bakery, where you can grab a huge rosemary-flavored cracker to serve as the perfect edible charcuterie plate. 26 N. Elm St., 269-756-6002,

The Hummingbird Lounge

new buffalo

Southwest Michigan came late to the craft cocktail craze, probably because of the overwhelming focus on local breweries and wineries. The Hummingbird Lounge is one of the first attempts to change that, with an elevated cocktail menu served right in the middle of downtown New Buffalo. (The bar’s take on an old-fashioned made with Diplomático Reserva Exclusiva rum may get you tipsy enough for the whole night.) But the Hummingbird stands out for its exceptional bar bites. The homemade smoked whitefish dip, marinated olives, and fried chicken tacos with hot honey are enough to soak up the booze. 9 S. Barton St., 269-231-5292,

Flagship Specialty Foods & Fish Market


It’s easy to drive right past this small gourmet store right off Red Arrow Highway. That, however, would be a serious mistake — turn that car around! Beyond the best selection of fresh and smoked fish in the area (perfect for summer barbecues), Flagship offers a constantly rotating menu of takeout dishes, including a shockingly good fish and chips. During the summer, look for weekend specials like grilled oysters or Korean-style short ribs, and if you’re going to be visiting more than once, make sure to join the fish club for discounts and flash sales. 14939 Red Arrow Hwy., 269-231-5432,

River Saint Joe


Spring 2020 wasn’t the ideal time to open a restaurant, but this brewery had the perfect setup to ride out the pandemic, since most of its space is outside. Located on a gorgeous farm, River Saint Joe has covered outdoor tables, walking paths, fire pits, games, and music — all with a scenic view of the growing hops. (In this case, the distance from farm to table is only a few feet.) The menu changes with the season and the bounty of the farm, but it’s always good, and if you’re visiting in the winter, check out the surprisingly entertaining combination of shuffleboard and curling, dubbed River Rocks, which will have your whole group laughing and cheering. 15475 Walton Rd., 269-409-8015,



It would normally be going out on a limb to call a spot the “best” restaurant in the area — unless that spot is Houndstooth. Nothing else even comes close, which is why this modern yet cozy space hiding on a dark street in Benton Harbor’s arts district has become a destination for Chicago diners. The chefs, James and Cheyenne Galbraith, are siblings who did time at Chicago spots like Elske and Boka. The cuisine is hard to categorize, so don’t think about it too hard and just order the milk bread with black garlic, the short rib tartare with crunchy shoestring potatoes, and the smoky-savory barbecued carrots with cumin cream. 132 Pipestone St., 269-252-5250,

Photograph: The Harbor Grand Hotel

Terrace Room

new buffalo

At first glance, there’s reason to be skeptical: Hotel restaurants in small towns often aren’t the greatest, and the entrance is down a dark flight of stairs from the hotel lobby. But this isn’t a basement dive — nor is it your average hotel joint. Terrace Room is one of the coziest spots around, centering on a huge fireplace and featuring big windows looking out over the harbor. The menu of modern Italian has something for everyone, from a fresh beef carpaccio to a classic rigatoni arrabbiata with local fennel sausage. Terrace Room also has some of the largest, strongest drinks in the area, so it’s worth grabbing a fireside seat at the bar to sip the night away. 111 W. Water St., 855-391-3915,

Pennyroyal Cafe & Provisions


Chef Melissa Corey’s restaurant is a spot that’s worth a trip. After driving an hour from Harbor Country (or more than two hours from Chicago), you’ll be craving a great meal — and Pennyroyal won’t disappoint. For lunch, get the savory whitefish melt with pickled peppers or the indulgent croissant Monte Cristo; for dinner, you can’t go wrong with the Instagram-worthy roast chicken. (And don’t skip Pennyroyal’s stellar breakfast.) Corey has serious Chicago connections, having honed her craft at Publican Quality Meats. Pennyroyal’s secret garden of an outdoor patio is the optimum spot for losing a few hours over a bottle of Michigan rosé. 3319 Blue Star Hwy., 269-455-5133,

Salt of the Earth


This is probably the most recommended restaurant in the region — it’s been at the top of every local’s list for over a decade. The warm hospitality and excellent food, mostly from regional farms, explain why it has remained so popular for so long. Even if you’re staying as far south as New Buffalo, it’s worth the hourlong drive for a taste of freshly baked bread (the restaurant also runs a bakery business, where loaves are available), crisp pizza, and homemade pastas. 114 E. Main St., 269-561-7258,

Farina’s Supper Club


No, it’s not technically in Michigan, but it’s mere steps from its southern border. (When you make a reservation, don’t forget you’re going back into Central time!) Farina’s isn’t really a supper club in the Midwestern sense, but if an Italian grandma took over a traditional one, this would be the result. The menu features red-sauce Italian classics, including the largest chicken parm you’ve ever seen, dripping with browned Parmesan and mozzarella, and a classic crisp Italian salad topped with ricotta and massive meatballs. Chicago diners may know chef Joe Farina from his many stints at Rosebud restaurants like Carmine’s and Centro. 3311 Pottawattomie Trl., 219-874-7729,

Eyes on the Pies

Make the most of your time in Michigan’s fruit belt by visiting these must-try spots.

Black Currant Bakehouse
When in stock, the fruit pies at this boutique bakery are essential indulgences. So are the scratch-made strawberry cobbler and wildberry crumb bars slathered in locally made preserves, both vegan. 9911 Town Line Ave., Union Pier,

Harbert Swedish Bakery
Opened in 1912 and run by a mother-daughter team from Illinois who bought it in 2001, this Swedish-influenced shop’s peach-berry and caramel-apple-walnut pies aren’t to be skipped. 13698 Red Arrow Hwy., Harbert,

Photograph: Whistle Stop Grocery

Whistle Stop Grocery
Sure, this well-stocked boutique grocery has great coffee, daily kombucha on tap, and unforgettable sandwiches. But you don’t want to miss the cherry and strawberry-rhubarb pies. 15700 Red Arrow Hwy., Union Pier,