Warm up this winter with Traverse City Restaurant Week

Warm up this winter with Traverse City Restaurant Week

Traverse City Tourism by Matt Vande Bunte

It happened to be Restaurant Week when Forrest and Nicole Moline vacationed in Traverse City several years ago. They dined together at Trattoria Stella, Michigan’s Best Italian restaurant, sharing a table in one of the hidden alcoves inside historic Grand Traverse Commons. The beautiful encounter is one of the reasons the couple decided to move to Traverse City.

Now this winter the Molines are taking part in Restaurant Week for the first time as restaurant owners, hoping to give their guests the same kind of memorable dining experience. Forrest: A Food Studio is one of about three dozen restaurants offering three-course meals for $25 to $35 from Feb. 23-29.

Forrest: A Food Studio

‘It’s super exciting for us to be a part of (Restaurant Week),’ said Forrest Moline, who opened Forrest: A Food Studio last fall in Traverse City. ‘The goal for the Food Studio is to resemble an Art Studio, but instead of the craft being woodwork, painting or ceramics, the medium is for the culinary arts.’ (J.Zevalkink Photo)

“There are restaurants all over (the Traverse City area) and every town has a different look and feel,” said Forrest Moline, who has worked in Cleveland and Detroit with renowned chef Michael Symon and in Birmingham with charcuterie expert Brian Polcyn.

“It’s so fun to visit each little town, dine at the restaurants and meet the locals and hear their story. That’s what drew us up here, the warm feel you get from the locals.”

Warm might not be the first word that comes to mind when describing Michigan in January and February. After all, the Mitten state is a winter wonderland where you can go skiing, snowboarding and snowshoeing, ice fishing, winter hiking and fat tire biking. But winter in Michigan also is a great time of year to warm up indoors and try new restaurants, discover new wines or sample craft spirits.

You can do it all in Traverse City and enjoy the best of Michigan’s winter, both inside and out. Not only is Traverse City the Best Winter Getaway in Michigan, but it’s also

Red snapper

Feast your eyes – and your tastebuds! – on some of the best dishes in Michigan during Traverse City Restaurant Week. ‘We built our small 1,200-square-foot space to feel more like a home kitchen and dining room than a typical restaurant,’ owner Forrest Moline said. ‘Everyone has a seat at the chef’s table.’ (J.Zevalkink Photo)

one of America’s best beer towns, one of the country’s leading wine regions and the No. 1 Foodie Destination in the Midwest.

Traverse City hosts many unique winter events that will whet your appetite for the area’s celebrated food and beverage scene. You can plan your trip around a Vine to Wine Snowshoe Tour, the annual Ice Wine Festival or one of several wine trail events such as Taste the Passion, Romancing the Riesling or the Winter Warm Up.

Michigan’s headline winter event for foodies is Traverse City Restaurant Week, scheduled this year Feb. 23-29. About three dozen restaurants in one of America’s most underrated food towns will offer three-course meals for $25 or $35 all week long.

Restaurants typically offer a few options to choose from for each of the three courses. You can find participating restaurants and menus here. Reservations are strongly encouraged.

“We’re going into our 10th year for Restaurant Week,” said Colleen Paveglio, marketing and communications director for Downtown TC. “The intent is to highlight the restaurants here in Traverse City. A lot of them are local-food focused. Long before it was trendy we were on that path just due to this being an agricultural community.

“It’s grown throughout the years and now we have people that travel to Traverse City for the event.”

While in town for Restaurant Week, you can pair delicious dinners with a tour of the Traverse Wine Coast – either self-guided or led by one of the area’s many wine-savvy tour operators. You’ll find award-winning wines at dozens of wineries nestled in Traverse City Restaurant Week - winebeautiful nooks and crannies all over the region, including the famed Leelanau and Old Mission peninsulas. Both peninsulas have been recognized as Top Wine Regions through USA Today’s Readers’ Choice Awards.

Traverse City also is home to more than a dozen microbreweries, and a growing number of craft distilleries that take the fruits of Michigan’s bountiful agricultural harvest and turn it into small-batch vodkas, whiskeys and gins for your pleasure.

When you’re not sipping spirits or sampling fine wines, you can make time to experience Traverse City’s historic movie theatres or to browse downtown shops for unique items you didn’t even know you were looking for.

Exploring Traverse CityAnd, of course, you can enjoy outdoor recreation in Traverse City all winter long, whether by cross-country skiing the rolling hills above Grand Traverse Bay, tubing down one of the area’s thrilling runs or exploring the incredible Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.

RELATED: 5 Traverse City Restaurants Sourcing Local Foods Year-Round

Whenever – and for whatever reason – you come to Traverse City this winter, you can take advantage of Traverse City Escape Packages. The seasonal special combines discounted rates on lodging with an assortment of coupons on everything from dining, movies and spa services to wine purchases and entertainment. Escape Packages are available all winter.