Eating Local in the Western U.P.

The Western Upper Peninsula is known for its beauty and remoteness. It’s there where you can see the Porcupine Mountains, the Keweenaw Peninsula, miles of beautiful, tree-lined roads and stunning views of the water. But did you know that the Western U.P. also offers a plethora of unique opportunities to find local food? Whether you’re in the mood for some fresh Lake Superior whitefish, a refreshing cold-pressed juice, maple syrup, produce from a farmers market, yummy pizzas, or an excellent multi-course dinner on the shores of Lake Superior, you’ll be able to find it here.

Up the Coast

In L’Anse, Herman Hills Sugarbush offers maple syrup and honey in their farm store. They harvest the maple syrup from trees on their farm and raise bees to make the honey. Both are crisp, sweet and delicious! And, exciting news for those who aren’t local and don’t have a trip planned to the Western U.P. anytime soon: Herman Hills Sugarbush offers online ordering so you can purchase from them no matter where you are. Their brandy barrel aged maple syrup makes a great gift–for yourself, or someone else!

A favorite stop for many in the Houghton-Hancock area is Four Suns Fish & Chips and the adjoining Peterson’s Fish Market. At Four Suns, you can grab seasonal dishes including Lake Superior whitefish baked, fried, parmesan-crusted, or in a sandwich. On a chillier day, maybe their smoked fish chowder will hit the spot. For breakfast, snag a bagel with salmon. Want to prepare the fish yourself? Right next door at Peterson’s Fish Market you can find Great Lakes fish to cook yourself, a variety of fish pates and smoked fish dips and more. Located just outside Hancock across from Quincy Mine, you can place your orders and enjoy your meal on the large grassy expanse of lawn adjacent to the restaurant.

Also in the area is b.well cafe + juice bar, which offers a variety of juices that feature whole, organic unprocessed foods. Try their “b.radiant” juice, which includes pear, rosewater, spinach, cucumber, lemon and chlorophyll. Or maybe you’re in the mood for a “b.grateful,” a bright orange colored juice that includes carrots, turmeric, oranges and ginger. B.well also offers coffee and light food options, all of which are dairy-free. This is a great place to stop if you’re looking for something quick and healthy before continuing up the Keweenaw!

Feeling too hungry for just juice? A stop at Milly’s, in Hancock, might be in order! Milly’s offers sandwiches and salads featuring lots of fresh and local ingredients, but they’re especially known for their specialty pizzas. Things like homemade sausage, pickled jalapenos, Vollwerth’s pit ham and bacon, roasted cherry tomatoes and chili oil are just some of the unique pizza toppings Milly’s has to offer. 

A Cocktail on the Patio at Fitzgerald’s overlooking Lake Superior

Those who have been to Fitzgerald’s, in Eagle River, know what a treat it is. Fitzgerald’s Restaurant is part of the Eagle River Inn and is known widely in the area for its smoked meats and barbecue. Both are excellent, but even if that’s not what you’re interested in, there’s something for everyone at The Fitz and their menu varies often. Recent additions included a chilled soba noodle salad, black eyed peas and dirty rice with andouille sausage, and risotto fritters. The best advice about The Fitz is to come hungry! And while you’re there, enjoying a cocktail or two on their lovely deck overhanging Lake Superior is an absolute must.

Keweenaw Farmers Markets

You can find farmers markets here, too! Check out the Downtown Houghton Farmers Market (Tuesdays from 4-6pm), the Hancock Farmers Market (Thursdays from 3-6pm) and the Main Street Calumet Farmers Market (Saturdays from 10am-2pm) to grab local produce and other local goods. And visit the L’anse location of the Baraga County Farmers Market on Saturday mornings from 9am-noon.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor (and it’s certainly not too late this fall to make a trip!), enjoy eating local in the beautiful Western U.P.!

Elizabeth Pearce is TLD’s Operations Assistant. She lives in Ann Arbor but just enjoyed a two-week road trip all around the Western Upper Peninsula!

Photos: Elizabeth Pearce