Spilling the Beans

Where There’s a Line...It Must Be a Good Place to Dine

By Jane Simon Ammeson | May 12, 2015
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Favorite places to eat in Michigan
Illustration by Wendy Simons

Waiting in line makes me grumpy. Being hungry makes me even grumpier. Just imagine putting the two together—not a pretty picture, is it?

So why would I ever spend long periods of time hanging around to snag a table at a way-too-busy restaurant? Well, the answer is simple: The food is totally worth it. I’m willing to share my favorites, but please don’t let me see you standing ahead of me in line.


When Colleen Froehlich bought a wreck of a Victorian-era building in downtown Three Oaks almost two decades ago, there were few viable businesses around. Now the charming storefronts are filled with eclectic art galleries, restaurants and boutiques and Froehlich’s (named after her grandparents’ grocery store in St. Joseph, Michigan) has had a turn on the Food Channel’s “Food Finds” and been featured in national food magazines. No wonder it’s hard to get an order in quickly during busy summer months. But who cares? The shelves are lined with a delightful assortment chutneys, preserves, soups, pickles, candies, cookies and cakes made by Froehlich and her staff and there are always people to meet and greet.

“I wanted to create a small-town grocery store,” says Froehlich as she kneads bread in her large kitchen in the back of the deli counter.

And so she did.

26 N. Elm St.
Three Oaks, MI 

Jackie’s Café

The famed Chicago chef and restaurateur may have moved from Chicago to the much more laid back town of New Buffalo on the shores of Lake Michigan, but she still seems like a Type Triple A as she moves between kitchen and dining room of her cozy and cute café. 

She may be whipping up one of her egg foo young sandwiches, which she serves on a toasted brioche spread with a blend of mayo and sriracha and serves with a side of her own pickled veggies. But then again, one might find her piping white chocolate mousse into tempered chocolate shaped like a shopping bag—the upscale signature dessert she created for her own restaurant and then served at Lawry’s in Chicago when she was executive chef there.

“It’s all easy, it’s all easy,” she tells customers. Maybe it is, but only if you’re Jackie Shen.

Jackie’s Café
801 W. Buffalo St.
New Buffalo, MI 

Soda Dog

Growing up in Michiana Shores, a series of beach enclaves stretching along Lake Michigan’s shoreline, Chris Bardol remembers such small-town delights as ordering hot dogs at a drive-in and riding his bike to the small neighborhood grocery store.

Most of us savor those memories, but Bardol and his wife, Kristy, were determined to reimagine those times, buying the closed drive-in they frequented as youngsters and turning it into the popular Soda Dog. The menu is simple but the quality supreme: house-crafted sodas, hand-patted burgers from freshly ground beef, beef and pork hot dogs, several different style sandwiches including a local favorite—fried bologna (we kid you not) served with hand-cut French fries. 

“Whenever we traveled we’d always stop at local places instead of chains,” says Bardol. “And we decided this area needed such a place for great food served in a fun way.”

Soda Dog
171 Hwy. 212 
Michigan City, IN
219) 872-7632

Silver Beach Pizza

Waiting for your table at this popular pizza restaurant located in a vintage railroad station below the bluff in downtown St. Joseph, there’s plenty of time to check your messages and snap photos of the sunset.

“It’s Wednesday, how can it be so crowded?” someone always asks.

The answer, of course, is the food, though the ice-cold schooners of craft beer certainly add to the appeal. Regulars know to call ahead and put their names on a wait list while soaking up a few last rays at nearby Lake Michigan.

Silver Beach Pizza
410 Vine St.
St Joseph, MI 

Wendy Simons is an illustrator, writer and avid gardener. Having lived all over the country, she says nothing compares to Lake Michigan. A fourth-generation native of St. Joseph, her roots are firmly planted in Stevensville, MI.

Article from Edible Michiana at http://ediblemichiana.ediblecommunities.com/eat/where-there-s-lineit-must-be-good-place-dine
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