20 small town Michigan restaurants worth a drive

When it comes to our definition of a “small town” in Michigan, we have to be very honest, it’s anything and everything smaller than Detroit.

If we’re being even more honest, some of our favorite “small towns” are simply college towns, frozen in time, that offer a sense of nostalgia, pride, and home (here’s looking at you Kalamazoo and Mount Pleasant).

While major cities like Detroit, Saginaw, and Grand Rapids are known for their rapidly growing dining and craft beer scenes, there are other places in Michigan that deserve the same love.

These restaurants might be in smaller cities, but they serve up big town flavor.
Scroll down to view images
Tonys I75 Restaurant
8781 Main St., Birch Run; 989-624-5860; tonysi75restaurant.com
If you have a thing for bacon, Tonys I75 Restaurant is the place you need to go. While Tonys serves everything from breakfast and burgers to Mexican inspired dishes, the one-pound BLT is the standout item.
Google Maps

Tonys I75 Restaurant

8781 Main St., Birch Run; 989-624-5860; tonysi75restaurant.com

If you have a thing for bacon, Tonys I75 Restaurant is the place you need to go. While Tonys serves everything from breakfast and burgers to Mexican inspired dishes, the one-pound BLT is the standout item.
The Stray Dog Bar & Grill
245 N. Whittaker St., New Buffalo; 269-469-2727; thestraydog.com
The Stray Dog Bar & Grill sits right near New Buffalo Beach (aka the shore of Lake Michigan). This restaurant not only offers a great beer selection, but you can enjoy views of the water from their rooftop.
Google Maps

The Stray Dog Bar & Grill

245 N. Whittaker St., New Buffalo; 269-469-2727; thestraydog.com

The Stray Dog Bar & Grill sits right near New Buffalo Beach (aka the shore of Lake Michigan). This restaurant not only offers a great beer selection, but you can enjoy views of the water from their rooftop.
Dark Horse Brewing Company
511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall, 269-781-9940, darkhorsebrewery.com
A microbrewery and taproom whose unique suds will leave you wanting a whole barrel. They also serve food to go with your beer.
Photo via Dark Horse Brewing Co./Instagram

Dark Horse Brewing Company

511 S. Kalamazoo Ave., Marshall, 269-781-9940, darkhorsebrewery.com

A microbrewery and taproom whose unique suds will leave you wanting a whole barrel. They also serve food to go with your beer.

Photo via Dark Horse Brewing Co./Instagram
Trout Town Tavern & Eatery
306 Elm St., Kalkaska; 231-258-2701; trouttowntavern.com
While this restaurant might be located on Elm St., it’s far from a nightmare. Though they do offer a trout pate, fish and chips, and battered perch, Trout Tavern is actually a smokehouse. Land or lake, you can’t go wrong with what you pick on this menu.
Google Maps

Trout Town Tavern & Eatery

306 Elm St., Kalkaska; 231-258-2701; trouttowntavern.com

While this restaurant might be located on Elm St., it’s far from a nightmare. Though they do offer a trout pate, fish and chips, and battered perch, Trout Tavern is actually a smokehouse. Land or lake, you can’t go wrong with what you pick on this menu.
Little Boots Country Diner
6633 W. Houghton Lake Dr., Houghton Lake; 989-422-3253
You have to know the days of the week, if you plan on going to Little Boots Country Diner. Though the restaurant has a full menu and serves breakfast all day, they also have themed days like Burger Bonanza on Wednesdays and Steak Night on Saturdays.
Google Maps

Little Boots Country Diner

6633 W. Houghton Lake Dr., Houghton Lake; 989-422-3253

You have to know the days of the week, if you plan on going to Little Boots Country Diner. Though the restaurant has a full menu and serves breakfast all day, they also have themed days like Burger Bonanza on Wednesdays and Steak Night on Saturdays.
Smoke Street
424 N. Main St., Milford, 248-529-6464, smokestreetmilford.com
This barbecue spot is known for smoking its meats in-house for up to 12 hours, as well as its assortment of six sauces and 15 rotating draft beers.
Photo via Smoke Street/Instagram

Smoke Street

424 N. Main St., Milford, 248-529-6464, smokestreetmilford.com

This barbecue spot is known for smoking its meats in-house for up to 12 hours, as well as its assortment of six sauces and 15 rotating draft beers.

Photo via Smoke Street/Instagram
Palms Krystal Bar and Grill
1535 Pine Grove Ave., Port Huron, 810-985-9838, palmskrystal.com
The last existing restaurant in a chain formerly known as Chicken in the Rough that was founded in 1936 and once boasted nearly 300 locations, this spot is known for its former namesake’s eponymous dish: the Chicken in the Rough, or half a fried chicken, shoestring potatoes, and a biscuit with honey.
Photo via Palms Krystal Bar and Grill/Instagram

Palms Krystal Bar and Grill

1535 Pine Grove Ave., Port Huron, 810-985-9838, palmskrystal.com

The last existing restaurant in a chain formerly known as Chicken in the Rough that was founded in 1936 and once boasted nearly 300 locations, this spot is known for its former namesake’s eponymous dish: the Chicken in the Rough, or half a fried chicken, shoestring potatoes, and a biscuit with honey.

Photo via Palms Krystal Bar and Grill/Instagram
Catch 22 Bistro
2430 Point Tremble Rd., Algonac, 810-794-4844, catch22bistro.net
The family-owned restaurant serves salads, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, and more. 
Photo via Google Maps

Catch 22 Bistro

2430 Point Tremble Rd., Algonac, 810-794-4844, catch22bistro.net

The family-owned restaurant serves salads, pastas, sandwiches, burgers, and more.

Photo via Google Maps
Stella’s Table
340 Town Center Blvd., White Lake, 248-698-2400, stellastablemi.com
Formerly known as The Root Restaurant & Bar, the new Stella’s Table specializes in Italian cuisine. They offer pizzas, salads, sandwiches, seafood, and more.
Photo via Stella’s Table/Instagram

Stella’s Table

340 Town Center Blvd., White Lake, 248-698-2400, stellastablemi.com

Formerly known as The Root Restaurant & Bar, the new Stella’s Table specializes in Italian cuisine. They offer pizzas, salads, sandwiches, seafood, and more.

Photo via Stella’s Table/Instagram
Donckers
137 W. Washington St., Marquette, 906-226-6110, donckersonline.com
Along with chocolates and caramels, Donckers specializes in natural, local, and organic ingredients in all of their scratch-made dishes. They also make ice cream, malt shakes, and pulled sodas. President Barack Obama once stopped by.
Photo via Google Maps

Donckers

137 W. Washington St., Marquette, 906-226-6110, donckersonline.com

Along with chocolates and caramels, Donckers specializes in natural, local, and organic ingredients in all of their scratch-made dishes. They also make ice cream, malt shakes, and pulled sodas. President Barack Obama once stopped by.

Photo via Google Maps