When you run a Michigan foodie website, people are always giving you suggestions about where to dine. Whenever we mention we are going to Traverse City, inevitably, someone will mention the Apache Trout Grill. We meant to go for quite a while, but never made it happen. When the cashier at Bed Bath & Beyond refused to let me use my coupon until I promised to go to Apache Trout Grill, I had a feeling that we needed to stop by.
We were lucky enough to sit down with Kristin Kitely, the General Manager, to learn more about this iconic Traverse City staple. She has years of culinary experience in Michigan and is passionate about making Apache Trout Grill a pure Michigan destination. We learned all kinds of fun facts about the restaurant and its owners, making us appreciate the establishment even more. We also got to see why the place has so many rabid fans (more about that in a minute).
Apache Trout Grill used to be an Italian restaurant until 1997. Mike Connors purchased the restaurant and made it his own. He dreamed of owning a place with classic “Up North” touches that would make locals and visitors feel equally at home. A place that everyone could afford amazing food while looking out at one of Traverse City’s most beautiful views.
Connors started Apache Trout Grill with a drool-worthy rib recipe, one that is his favorite dish to this day. Although the restaurant is known for their fresh fish – go figure – Connors can’t talk about his original recipe without grinning. He also recommended their Mac & Cheese, which won numerous awards including honors at The Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula’s Great Macaroni & Cheese Bake-Off in 2015.
Our meal was curated at the suggestion of Kitely. She sent out their in house-made bread and pesto, which was delightful.
Next up was the Western BBQ Shrimp appetizer that featured six plump shrimp, wrapped in bacon and topped with a barbeque glaze with a touch of horseradish. It was easily one of the best shrimp dishes we have ever tasted. How can you top shrimp, bacon and barbeque?
For the finale, we were presented with their famous Whitefish Sandwich. The filet was crispy, crunch greatness. It was easy to tell the fish was fresh; it was caught in Lake Superior.
Apache Trout Grill lived up to the hype. Stunning views, fresh fish, amazing food, and a healthy selection of Michigan beer on tap had us swooning.
What’s next for the owners of Apache Trout Grill? A new restaurant is in the works at the former Harbor 22. The new endeavor will be named the West End Tavern and will feature brick oven pizzas that are sure to please.
Check out Apache Trout Grill and tell ‘em Michigan Chews & Brews sent you!