Top 12 Memorable Experiences of 2016

What a year it’s been. Depending on who you ask, 2016 has meant a lot of different things. For us, it’s been a celebration of independent Michigan restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, and distilleries. We did our best to visit as many of them as our schedule (and stomachs) would permit.

From enjoying a meal at a hidden gem to chatting with the owners of an iconic Detroit restaurant, 2016 has been a pivotal year in our culinary journey. Attending Michigan beer festivals, chatting with people about their favorite local restaurants, and learning about how some of the most iconic restaurants came to be helped make this a year that we will never forget.

What does the future have in store? Well, we can already say that we have a lot of great adventures and projects lined up for 2017 that will tickle your taste buds. We look forward to sharing another year with you, our wonderful readers and supporters. Until then, here’s a list of our most memorable experiences from 2016.

1. Olives & Wine (Traverse City)

Olives & Wine Traverse City

Self-serve wine machines? An innovative cocktail list? Lebanese cuisine made from scratch? No, we didn’t die and go to heaven, we went to Olives & Wine in Traverse City.

Olives & Wine debuted in 2016 and was featured in our new restaurant round up for Traverse City. Not only did we sip fantastic cocktails while snacking on hummus and baked kibbe, we had a memorable evening hanging out with owner Ari Mokdad and Chef Jessica Korson. Based on our experience, we are confident that Olives & Wine will thrive for years to come.

2. Red Hots Coney Island (Highland Park)

Red Hots Coney Island Victor St Highland Park

During our visit to Red Hots Coney Island in Highland Park, the Coney Dogs and Loose Burgers were as memorable as the characters and conversations. Richard and Carol Harlan shared the secrets to their success, but we couldn’t get them to share the recipe for their legendary chili!

3. Food Factory (Lake City City)

Food Factory & Pub Lake City Michigan

Tucked away in tiny Lake City, Michigan, the Food Factory & Pub turns out delicious fare with a relaxing view of Lake Missaukee. We were lucky to stumble across this gem on our jaunt across mid-Michigan over the summer.

During our chat with owner John Miller, he noticed that our table was missing an order of their famous Frickles. He sent some out for us to try and explained that they’re so popular over the 4th of July weekend, the restaurant has one employee dedicated to making them.

4. Troi Burger (Dearborn)

Troi Burger Dearborn

Troi Burger is blazing a trail with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients in the food court at Dearborn’s Fairlane Mall. Guided by the vision of owner Mansoor Isa, Troi Burger’s menu is focused and extremely delicious.

Satisfy your burger craving with one of their delicious creations. Be sure to get an order of Garlic Parmesan Fries, too. If there’s any room left in your tank, top off your experience with one of Troi Burger’s hand-made milkshakes.

5. Grey Ghost (Detroit)

Grey Ghost Detroit

Rarely do we venture out for a restaurant opening. We prefer to wait for the hype to die down before experiencing the latest and greatest that Michigan has to offer.

Going against our rule of thumb, we visited Detroit’s Grey Ghost on opening day. It was one of the best decisions we made all year.

Their cocktails were fantastic, especially Grandma’s Garden, one of our favorite summer drinks in Detroit. Grey Ghost’s Fried Bologna was truly divine, making this one of our top restaurants of the year.

6. Fish Lads (Grand Rapids)

Fish Lads Grand Rapids

After stalking the Instagram feed of Fish Lads, we pulled the trigger and visited them at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market. Their fabulous Lobster Rolls made for one of our favorite bites of the year. If you love fish and seafood, a visit to Fish Lads is a must.

7. The Peterboro (Detroit)

The Peterboro Detroit

The cocktails and small plates at The Peterboro are what dreams are made of. The Skeleton Key is one of our favorite cocktails in the city and their Salt & Pepper Calamari is some of the best we’ve had anywhere. We had a blast at their Pig Roast on the Patio this summer and look forward to many more memorable experiences.

8. Scotty Simpson’s Fish & Chips (Detroit)

Scotty Simpson's Fish and Chips Detroit

There is a magical restaurant in Detroit that serves heavenly fried fish and seafood. Our Scotty Simpson’s Fish & Chips experience came during Lent this year, so you know the place was packed. As you’d expect, the fried fish was a home run, but we also fell in love with their fried shrimp. The flavorful, crispy batter makes our mouths water just thinking about it. Scotty Simpson’s is a true Detroit legend.

9. Donkey Taqueria (Grand Rapids)

Donkey Taqueria Grand Rapids

Named the Best Latin American Restaurant by Grand Rapids Magazine, Donkey Taqueria did not disappoint. From their margarita mixes down to their corn tortillas, Donkey’s commitment fresh ingredients shows in everything they do.

10. MI.Mosa (Farmington)

Mi.Mosa Farmington Michigan

Two words: Rosemary Potatoes. Crispy and flavorful, MI.Mosa’s perfect potatoes pair wonderfully with everything from their Sockeye Salmon Benedict to Veggie Goat Cheese Omelet.

MI.Mosa is one of our underrated breakfast gems around Detroit, so be sure to check them out.

11. Lake Brothers Brewing (Detroit)

Lake Brothers Beer Company

In their own little corner of the world, Lake Brothers Brewing is plotting a takeover with their loveable Lager. Their goal: Make a beer that both novices and connoisseurs can enjoy.

Lake Brothers’ commitment to a quality product and the character of their staff really stood out as we toured the Brew Detroit facility in Midtown. Look for their beer to invade your locally watering hole if it hasn’t already.

12. Pop’s for Italian (Ferndale)

Pop's For Italian Ferndale

Pop’s for Italian in Ferndale won us over with their handmade Gnocchi and Neapolitan pizzas fresh from the oven. We love the atmosphere, especially in the summer with the indoor/outdoor appeal. While the neighboring Daily Dinette has shuttered, Pop’s for Italian continues to garner praise from customers and critics.

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