Petoskey is a century old, year round resort
which was catering to the sailing, fishing and beach crowd long before
skiing evolved. It is one of America’s wealthiest small towns, a
second home to many auto executives and other high rollers from as far
away as Chicago, Cleveland and Louisville. Because of this unique history, the only American ski resorts which can
match Petoskey’s array of restaurants are Vail and Aspen, and theirs
are far more expensive for the same quality of food, service and ambience. As usual, slopeside dining is not exactly state of the art, but it does
beat most of its regional rivals. Seven Springs and Snowshoe,
with their arrays of full scale restaurants positioned along the snow’s
edge, are the only resorts outdoing the Mountain, Highlands and Nob, and
their prices are higher. The soups, salads, chile, pizza and deli selections
provide a better lunch for cost than other lodge counters, and a limited
version of the menu is available top slope at warming huts
|. The Mountain and Highlands have their huge,
old rambling lodges with almost unlimited seating. The Nob has a much newer
and well designed facility, but it is grossly undersized given the huge
crowds it tries to service. At the Highlands you can savor your chile or
salad at one of the big picture windows, and at the Mountain you can sit
at your table and watch the action on the big screen, but at the Nob figure
on enjoying the beef barley soup balanced on your lap in front of the fireplace
or in one of the hundreds of soft lounging chairs.
Most of the hotels and motels in the area offer some sort of complementary breakfasts. So dinner becomes the key dining decision each day.
Skiiers staying slopeside may settle for the dining rooms at the Main Lodges. They're reasonably priced with a typical ski lodge menu. And on a snowy night, with tired legs from a day’s skiing and roads icing over, they're a reasonable choice.
But the real dining experiences are in Petoskey.
Several Detroit natives we talked to consider
Petoskey’s Villa Ristorante Italiano the best Italian restaurant in Michigan.
They come up a few times every summer just to eat there. It’s a
little pricier than most Italian eateries, with tabs in the teens and
twenties. But the Cinghiale and Ossobuco make it worth the trip.
But that would mean you wouldn’t make it to Tapperooney’s, which you’ll pass on the way to and from the Highlands and the Nob every day. And missing this great moderate cost restaurant would be a shame. They don’t take reservations, so you might want to stop on the way back from the slopes, before the evening crowd builds. But even a wait is worth it. The crab cakes, wings and artichoke dip only hint at what’s to come. For prices in the low teens, you can enjoy great seafood and barbeque. Or you can try their homestyle meals. Tapperooney’s offers three different kinds of macaroni and cheese, each coming in a large deep dish. Abby Leigh has eaten macaroni and cheese all across the country, and thought this was the best anywhere. Their chicken pot pie, meatloaf and wolverine fire steak are also memorable. The management and waiters here are outstanding; they should conduct seminars in customer service for other restaurants.
And finally there is the Mitchell Street Pub & Cafe, with a great menu of appetizers and sandwiches but, most famously, the best Walleye in town. They list it as fried but if you're real persuasive you can get it grilled or broiled. It doesn't matter how you get it, it's outstanding.