The peak fall color season is almost here, and there’s no better time to experience Michigan than getting out and about now — except for when you combine noshing on some great food while taking in the explosion of red, yellow and orange.
And you can do exactly that in and around Mt. Pleasant, which is home to both the unique natural resources for sight-seeing and the locally owned and sourced restaurants that will be a bounty for your belly.
The Mt. Pleasant Area Convention and Visitors Bureau recently blogged about the best spots to take in colorful scenes by foot, by water and by wheels. The bureau pinpoints Oct. 17-21 for the bursting fall colors and the center is running its annual social media contest #FeelsLikeFall on Instagram. Enter by posting fun fall photos using the hashtag and tagging @mtpleasantcvb.
Here are 12 suggestions on where to grab a bite to eat whether you live in Mid-Michigan, are passing through or making Mt. Pleasant your destination. The ideas are broken out by breakfast, lunch and dinner so you can plan your dining stops based on your itinerary.
In a strange off-the-beaten path, but not far away setting in Rosebush, a short drive from U.S. 127, Roz’s Diner is a one-of-a-kind find. The farm fresh ingredients are superb, the portions are generous and the environment inside a converted bank is unique. Roz’s is a microwave-free zone, meaning everything is timely prepared just before serving. The stuffed breakfast wrap, with eggs and a host of vegetables, is perfect with the side of salsa. Weekends are busy and the seating is relatively small, so be prepared for a short wait.
Ponder’s exposed brick walls and rustic wood give the downtown Mt. Pleasant coffee, breakfast and lunch shop a natural, earthy vibe. But we came here to talk about food, and Ponder excels with waffles that are available all day and are out of this world. There are multiple daily offerings and the menu expands on Sunday mornings. Since this is fall, you’re missing out if you don’t try the Caramel Apple waffle that is topped with Granny Smith apple slices, a baseball-sized scoop of house-made whipped cream and a side of syrup.
The quintessential downtown diner that earns its reputation as a destination for locals as well as college students and their visiting parents. The menu makes it clear Stan’s is a no-frills joint that prides itself on homecooking and solid service. Traditional egg and meat combos supplement omelets and the restaurant’s famous crispy hashbrowns.
Another homestyle restaurant, The Diner, which feels old-school with its promise of good food, good friends and good times, delivers quality dishes at affordable prices while still routinely earning 5-star reviews from guests at TripAdvisor, Google and Yelp. There’s no wrong order on the menu, but the Stacker Skillet is original with its paring of a piece of Texas Toast, country friend steak, sausage gravy and two scrambled eggs. Might be a good idea to hit the color tour by walk after that feast.
“Hidden” inside the Ginko Tree Inn bed and breakfast on the edge of downtown, this comfort food favorite is a well-known in Mt. Pleasant. Chef Pete Lieber crafted a delectable menu that features innovative soups, salads and sandwiches. On a recent cold day, a cup of Chicken Pot Pie soup was followed by a toasted vegetarian panini. The sun came out just afterward, and it probably wasn’t a coincidence.
Max & Emily’s
If you’re looking for a sandwich, Max & Emily’s will make your head spin with more than 60 concoctions that can make it hard to choose which one to settle on, whether it’s your first or 100th visit to the downtown shop. All the meats, or none of the meats, the authentic baked breads and hand-cut ingredients will hit the spot for a mid-day lunch break.
In the 49th year of making pizza fans happy, Pisanellos produces a perfect thin-crust pie that outshines anything a chain can offer. The full spread of a lunch buffet wows crowds on weekdays, but a weekend visit to the low-key downtown café also gives diners choices for subs, salads and what could be award-winning buffalo wings. The Detroit Free Press included Pisanellos among its top 27 pizza places in Michigan.
The legend of Dog Central is so vast that it attracted the Travel Channel’s Man vs. Food show to try conquering the DC Challenge — eating 3 foot-long chili dogs, a mountain of fries (more than 1 pound), onion rings, and a 20-oz. Drink — in under 25 minutes. If you’re not up for that, and how many really are, the counter service eatery has a long and creative menu of dogs. It’s an inexpensive and quick way to treat yourself to something new. There are also 50+ varieties of cold beer to help you wash those dogs down.
Mountain Town Station and Camille’s on the River
The adjacent restaurants along the Chippewa River can be a night out for an upscale, intimate entrée-driven dining experience at Camille’s or a kick back in a come as you are craft brewery with a better than just bar food menu. Either way, guests of the eateries win. Camille’s is the spot to go for a glass of wine or a specialty cocktail to pair with seafood or steak. Mountain Town features special themes that include create your own pasta, taco and tequila, sushi and pint nights during the week. Chef specials take over on the weekend evenings.
Midori Sushi and Martini Lounge
The rustic-chic atmosphere sets the stage for a night of fresh sushi with environmentally friendly fish that is flown in daily from the West Coast. Whether you’re seeking a bit of heat or something light, Midori nails it with shared plates and specialty rolls for yourself or to pass around the table. The fire up! roll brings the spice with shrimp, tuna, serrano and a tasty eel sauce while the rainbow rolls cools it off with crab, cucumber and a selection of fresh fish. The creative martinis will top the night out downtown.
The Brass Café
Long considered the gold-standard of fine dining in Mt. Pleasant, the Brass Café shows no signs of losing the title with perfectly prepared steak, seafood and pastas. Using locally sourced in-season meats and produce, the ever-changing menu is reliably inventive. The loaded Big Brassy stuffed burger will redefine the Angus beef you toss on the grill at home.
Hunter’s Ale House
Craft beer may be a primary draw for this bar and restaurant at the edge of CMU’s campus and an abundance of student housing, but it’s the variety on the menu that will satisfy the appetites of all who hop in to the popular hot spot. There’s tavern fare, pizzas and entrees in addition to 10+ sandwiches and build your own burgers. The hop-growing patio offers outdoor dining option on a crisp fall night.
Here’s how to learn more about dining options in Mt. Pleasant, and while you’re here, stay at these overnight accommodations.