See all of the nominations for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining

Amanda M. Rye

Our search for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining is off to a big start, thanks to all of you who shared your favorite restaurants that are offering fun and creative ways to dine outside. We received 130 nominations from all over the state.

Michigan restaurants have really gone above and beyond when it comes to creating some of these outdoor spaces. We’ve heard of hand made yurts, shanty towns, repurposed duck blinds, tents, igloos and greenhouses. Several downtowns have turned whole streets into outdoor refreshment areas. Over in the Bay City area, locals have formed Operation Shantyville in order to support their local restaurants that can’t afford outdoor seating. The group picks a restaurant and invites everyone to come dine outside in the parking lot, bringing whatever type of shelter you’d like. While turning to outdoor dining wasn’t a choice for our restaurants, they’ve made the best of it, and we hope that many of these new outdoor options are here to stay.

It wasn’t an easy decision for some of our restaurants to decide to offer outdoor dining. Megan Spencer, daughter of Brent & Sherry Skaggs, who own Harvey’s Grill & Bar in Saginaw, reached out and shared their original doubts. “We weren’t sure how the winter patio would go over, it felt like a big risk to purchase expensive igloos and take on the cost of heating it nightly,” she said. “But, we were shocked and delighted when people started calling and messaging us, asking how to get a reservation. The excitement our small remaining staff had figuring out the layout and hanging twinkling lights has brought joy to us. While it would never make up for the loss of sales we’ve experienced, seeing guests dine with us, and being so gracious to our staff, has made it all worth it.”

Now that we’ve gotten all of the nominations, we’ll be putting all the restaurants into regional polls, and will be sharing them with you tomorrow, January 26. We encourage you to vote for your favorites, and you can vote in as many polls as you like. Voting will close on Friday January 29 at 3pm.

How to vote for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining in our 11 regional polls.

Then, John Gonzalez and I will head out, separately, to check out some of these incredible spots first hand, and share their stories with you. We can’t wait to see some of these set ups in person, and to hear all about how these inventive restaurant owners came up with them.

To everyone who has bundled up, and went out to support our local restaurants by dining outside during a Michigan winter, we salute you, and our restaurants thank you. “We wanted to remind readers of what their support to a small business means,” Spencer said. “It goes beyond sales. It’s kept our hope alive.”

You can see all of the nominees for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining below. They are arranged by region.

The search for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining is sponsored in part by Warm Fitness.

Cocktail kits to-go

Ethanology in Elk Rapids is offering cocktail kits to-go, including this brightly colored “Healthy Glow”.Courtesy Photo, used with permission.

Upper Peninsula

Gino’s Restaurant & Cocktail Lounge

800 Quincy St, Hancock, MI 49930

Keweenaw Brewing Company

408 Shelden Ave, Houghton, MI 4993

Amy's top 10 beers of 2020

My Chest Hurts from Snowbelt Brewing is an excellent beer no matter the season.

Northern Lower Michigan

Snowbelt Brewing

132 W Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735

Ludington Bay Brewing Company

515 S James St, Ludington, MI 49431


127 Ames St, Elk Rapids, MI 49629

Austin Brothers Beer Company

821 W Miller St, Alpena, MI 49707

Riverwalk Grill at Riverwalk Place

777 W Cedar Ave, Gladwin, MI 48624

Shepherd Bar and Restaurant

324 W Wright Ave, Shepherd, MI 48883

Corner Bistro

102 N Bridge St, Bellaire, MI 49615

Palette Bistro

321 Bay St, Petoskey, MI 49770

Alpine Tavern & Eatery

220 S Otsego Ave #1, Gaylord, MI 49735

Mammoth Distilling

221 Garland St D, Traverse City, MI 49684

Porter Haus

3885 Old Hwy 27 S, Gaylord, MI 49735

Northern Trails Bar and Grill

7242 E 88th St, Newaygo, MI 49337

Hop Lot Brewing Company

658 S W Bay Shore Dr, Suttons Bay, MI 49682

Kegger Campground at Short’s Brewing Company

121 N Bridge St, Bellaire, MI 49615

Pond Hill Farm

5699 S Lake Shore Dr, Harbor Springs, MI 49740

Big Hart Brewing

4086 W Polk Rd, Hart, MI 49420

Dead Bear Brewing

2552 South, I-75BL, Grayling, MI 49738

Big Buck Brewery

550 S Wisconsin Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735

The Swamp II Bar & Restaurant

6549 N Old 27, Frederic, MI 49733

Iron Fish Distillery

14234 Dzuibanek Rd, Thompsonville, MI 49683

Otsego Resort-Duck Blind Grill

696 M32 E, Gaylord, MI 49734

Michael’s Tavern & Steakhouse

4653 S Straits Hwy, Indian River, MI 49749

Cut River Grille on Higgins Lake

1136 E Higgins Lake Dr, Roscommon, MI 48653

Paddle Hard Brewing

227 Michigan Ave, Grayling, MI 49738

Tinker’s Junction

6811 W M-72 Hwy, Grayling, MI 49738

Blue Lake Tavern

9965 11 Mile Rd, Mecosta, MI 49332

Faull Inn

206 N Williams St, Rose City, MI 48654

Wangler’s Wagon Wheel

3480 Lehman Rd, West Branch, MI 48661

Rolling Oak Brewing

509 Norway St, Grayling, MI 49738

Michigan's Best Burger 2020

The 6FT Separation Burger was created during Covid-19 and is now one of the top sellers at O’s Pub and Grill in Auburn. It is topped with smoked gouda cheese, bacon jam, onion straws, lettuce, tomato and bacon aioli.John Gonzalez

Midland, Bay City, and Saginaw regions

Midland Brewing Company

5011 N Saginaw Rd, Midland, MI 48642

Operation Shantyville

Throughout the Bay region

Harvey’s Grill & Bar

3055 Tittabawassee Rd, Saginaw, MI 48604

Saginaw Old Town Junction

410 Mackinaw St, Saginaw, MI 48602

O’s Pub & Grill

123 E Midland St, Auburn, MI 48611

The Creek Grill

1259 S Poseyville Rd, Midland, MI 48640

The Maple Grille

13105 Gratiot Rd, Hemlock, MI 48626

See all the nominations for Michigan's Best Outdoor Dining

Prost! in Frankenmuth offers up some amazing charcuterie boards, as well as cozy dining outside by the fire tables.

Flint and the Thumb

Anchor Point Bistro

201 N Riverside Ave, St Clair, MI 48079

Prost! Wine Bar and Charcuterie

576 1/2, S Main St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734


628 Huron Ave, Port Huron, MI 48060

Lake Inn

3711 Hunt Rd, Lapeer, MI 48446

Bird Creek Farms

282 Grindstone Rd, Port Austin, MI 48467

Barley & Vine

1072 Elms Rd, Flint, MI 48532

Fenton Fire Hall

201 S Leroy St, Fenton, MI 48430

Four Star Grille

1835 Gratiot Blvd, Marysville, MI 48040

War Water Brewery

201 N Riverside Ave Suite C1, St Clair, MI 48079

Slo’ Bones BBQ and Smokehouse

175 E Jefferson St, Frankenmuth, MI 48734

The Gathering Place

898 N Van Dyke Rd, Bad Axe, MI 48413

Grayling Outdoor Dining

Greenhouses at Rolling Oak Brewing Co. in Grayling, Michigan.Courtesy of Radel Rosin

Lansing and Central Michigan

The Watershed Tavern & Grill

5965 Marsh Rd, Haslett, MI 48840

Charlotte Brewing Company/ Eaton Pub & Grill

214 S Cochran Ave, Charlotte, MI 48813

Brookshire Inn & Golf Club

205 W Church St, Williamston, MI 48895

The English Inn

677 S Michigan Rd, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

Lansing Brewing Company

518 E Shiawassee St, Lansing, MI 48912

Fabiano’s River House Bar & Grill

104 W Grand River Ave, Portland, MI 48875

Block Brewing Company

1140 S Michigan Ave, Howell, MI 48843

Knight's Steakhouse in Ann Arbor

Knight’s Steakhouse is one of many stops for the search for the best chili in the state of Michigan.Jenna Kieser

Ann Arbor and Southeast Michigan

Knight’s Steakhouse

2324 Dexter Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48103

TAQ-Taqueria Restaurant + Bar

106 E Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

The Beer Grotto

303 S Ashley St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Red Rock Downtown BBQ

207 W Michigan Ave, Ypsilanti, MI 48197

Salt Springs Brewery

117 S Ann Arbor St, Saline, MI 48176

Black Pearl

302 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Paesano Restaurant and Wine Bar

3411 Washtenaw Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Danley’s Country House

8495 N Adrian Hwy, Tecumseh, MI 49286

Pacific Rim by Kana

114 W Liberty St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

The Grateful Crowe

420 N Main St, Chelsea, MI 48118

Chateau Louise

4320 Luna Pier Rd, Luna Pier, MI 48157

Here’s To You Pub & Grub

45 North St, Hillsdale, MI 49242

Miss Kim

415 N 5th Ave, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

York Food & Drink

1928 Packard St.Ann Arbor, MI, 48104

Local Eats: Oak Tree Lounge

The heated tent at the Oak Tree Lounge, 617 Oak Street in Jackson, on Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2021. The restaurant has an outdoor tent to enjoy takeout food and drinks during the pandemic.J. Scott Park |

Jackson and Central Southern Michigan

Chateau Aeronatique Winery/ Blue Skies Brewery

12000 Pentecost Hwy, Onsted, MI 49265

Night Light/Nite Lite

145 W Pearl St, Jackson, MI 49201

Boss Cider

139 S Main St, Leslie, MI 49251

Oak Tree Lounge

617 Oak St, Jackson, MI 49201

Over the Edge Sports Bar & Pizzeria

230 East Main Street shop 1, Manchester, MI 48158

Cherry Creek Cellars

11500 Silver Lake Hwy, Brooklyn, MI 49230

Michigan's Best Winery

Round Barn Winery, Brewery and Distillery is based in Baroda, Michigan, and has tasting rooms in other areas of the state. It also owns Tabor Hill Winery.John Gonzalez

Kalamazoo and Southwest Michigan

Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe

355 E Kalamazoo Ave, Kalamazoo, MI 49007

The Grill House

1071 32nd St, Allegan, MI 49010

River Saint Joe

15475 Walton Rd, Buchanan, MI 49107

One Well Brewing

4213 Portage Street, Kalamazoo, MI 49001

Jac’s Cekola’s Pizza, Portage, Kalamazoo

3112 S 9th St, Kalamazoo, MI 49009

The NODE-Downtown Niles

Bird Dog

57649 Murray St, Mattawan, MI 49071

Cove Lakeside Bistro

9110 Portage Rd, Portage, MI 49002

Round Barn Estate

10983 Hills Rd, Baroda, MI 49101

North Pier Brewing Company

670 N Shore Dr, Benton Harbor, MI 49022

Michigan's Best Chili Dr. Rolf's BBQ Muskegon

Dr. Rolf’s BBQ in downtown Muskegon was picked by John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman as Michigan’s Best Chili in November of 2019. They serve three distinct chilis: red, white and green.John Gonzalez

Muskegon and the Lakeshore


73 E 8th St, Holland, MI 49423

Dr. Rolf’s BBQ

477 W Western Ave, Muskegon, MI 49440

RAD DADS’ Tacos and Tequila Bar

470 W Western Ave suite a, Muskegon, MI 49440

The Hearthstone Bistro

3350 Glade St, Muskegon, MI 49444

Outdoor dining

One Twenty Three in Grand Rapids at Studio Park has an outdoor tent to dine in, and movies playing on the big screen outside.Courtesy Photo, used with permission.

Grand Rapids metro area nominees

Timbers Inn Restaurant & Tavern

6555 Belding Rd NE, Rockford, MI 49341

Brewery Vivant

925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Gravity Taphouse Grille

3210 Deposit Dr NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49546

Nonna’s Trattoria

584 Ada Dr SE, Ada, MI 49301

One Twenty Three at Studio Park

123 Ionia Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Margaux on the Deck, at the JW Marriot

235 Louis St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Winchester

648 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Zivio Modern European Tavern and Grill

724 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503


701 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Outdoor Coffee Company

734 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Welcome Center at City Built Brewing

Brass Ring Brewery

2404 Eastern Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507

Sand Bar and Grill

11368 M-179, Middleville, MI 49333

RORA-Rockford Outdoor Refreshment Area

Downtown Rockford

Bier Distillery

5295 W River Dr NE, Comstock Park, MI 49321

Rose’s Restaurant

550 Lakeside Dr SE, East Grand Rapids, MI 49506

The Friesian Gastro Pub

720 Michigan St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Lucy’s Cafe

1747 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49505

Cedar Springs Brewing Company

95 N Main St NE, Cedar Springs, MI 49319

Third Nature Brewing

7733 Childsdale Ave NE, Rockford, MI 49341


146 E Main Ave, Zeeland, MI 49464

Outdoor dining

The aptly named Fauci Fieldhouse at Batch Brewing allows for comfortable outdoor dining.Courtesy Photo, used with permission.

Detroit Metro Area

Karl’s Cabin Restaurant & Banquets

6005 Gotfredson Rd, Plymouth, MI 48170

San Morello

1400 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI 48226

Detroit Shipping Company

474 Peterboro St, Detroit, MI 48201

Heat in the Street-Downtown Northville


23839 John R Rd #1, Hazel Park, MI 48030


23839 John R Rd #2, Hazel Park, MI 48030

Batch Brewing

1400 Porter St, Detroit, MI 48216

Bobcat Bonnie’s

locations in Corktown, Wyandotte, Ypsilanti, Partridge Creek and Ferndale

East Eats

1018 Navahoe, Detroit, MI 48215

Berkley Common

3087 Twelve Mile Rd, Berkley, MI 48072

Poole’s Tavern

157 E Main St, Northville, MI 48167

Northville Sports Den

133 W Main St, Northville, MI 48167

Amici’s Kitchen and Living Room

3249 Twelve Mile Rd, Berkley, MI 48072

Penny Black Grill & Tap

124 W 4th St, Rochester, MI 48307

s Bar

31660 John R Rd, Madison Heights, MI 48071

Table 5

126 E Main St, Northville, MI 48167

White Horse Inn

1 E High St, Metamora, MI 48455

Draught Horse Brewery

57721 Grand River Ave, New Hudson, MI 48165

John Gonzalez Amy Sherman Michigan's Best

John Gonzalez and Amy Sherman cover the craft beverage industry for

More Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining:

See the first 62 nominations for Michigan’s Best Outdoor Dining

Igloos, shanties, huts and more: where to dine outdoors this winter in Michigan

How you can enjoy the cozy ‘hygge’ lifestyle at this Grand Rapids spot

Kalamazoo brewery tucks heaters under tables to create outdoor “Campground Patio”

This Northern Michigan town has transformed into an outdoor village

“Kegger Campground” debuts in Northern Michigan town with help from Short’s

Where Michigan snowmobilers can get a ‘turn and burn’ special on this Northern trail

Follow our Michigan’s Best adventures on social media:

@mlivemibest on Twitter

@mlivemibest on Instagram

Facebook at MLiveMIBest.

Join in by using the hashtags #mibest

In addition:

Amy Sherman is on Twitter @amyonthetrail, as well as Facebook and Instagram @amyonthetrail.

John Gonzalez is on Twitter @michigangonzo, as well as Facebook and Instagram @MichiganGonzo.

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