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Petoskey, Michigan: The Land of French Toast, Coffee and Pie

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Found along the coast of Lake Michigan, a visit to Petoskey’s restaurants is full of culinary experiences

Food is my passion. I’m not a chef and I’m not an at-home-cook (for the most part). I’m just a food consumer. I like to try everything – whether it’s squid or apple crumb cake made by my co-worker’s grandmother. This interest fits well into my travel passion, where I can combine the two and see what I find. Keeping up with my plan to visit more of the United States in search of food this year, I recently ventured to Petoskey, Michigan, and found in its restaurants a few culinary surprises.

Kelly enjoys a warm drink at Roast & Toast in Petoskey, Michigan

Located in the northern part of the state, Petoskey is a small, coastal city with a cute downtown area, complete with many shopping and restaurant options. An artsy coffee shop, Roast & Toast, can be found on the main drag. You’ll know you’re at the place by the coffee cup mosaic, which lines the outside of the building’s entrance. Walk inside and find a nice selection of seating, as well as interesting bakery selections (try the Rice Krispy treats with Fruit Loops) and some of the best self-serve coffee. While some of the food options are self-serve, others are made up to order. Drop by during lunch on the weekends and you’ll face a line, but it will be well worth the wait.

If vegetarian and vegan options are more your thing, Petoskey’s co-op, The Grain Train, is just a block and a half away. Offering self-serve coffee and pastries (including an interesting pear and Gruyere scone), the store also carries a full-line of grocery items and even beer and wine. Try the Kombucha wine if you’re a beverage lover in search of something entirely new.

A perfectly powdered French toast breakfast at Twisted Olive Cafe

Likewise, if you find yourself in Petoskey during breakfast, the Twisted Olive Café is an upscale, yet affordable treat for discerning palates. They offer French toast made with challah bread, complete with fruit compote, butter, and syrup. Other options include quiche, which you can see in the case when you walk in the front doors. Decorated outside in a stucco-like pattern, the restaurant also sells pastries at the front door.

Other dining options include a Thai restaurant, a pizza place and a gelato shop, which is closed during the winter season. This town definitely has many picks for a successful “foodie vacation.”

Twisted Olive Cafe is just the place to indulge in breakfast or brunch

Another notable Petoskey restaurant (in fact, a must-see) is Jesperson’s. At the condo where I stayed during my trip, the owners wrote in the food suggestions book “arrive early” when noting Jesperson’s. I did just as they said and arrived half an hour after they opened, around 11:30 a.m. Ready for lunch, I had the Italian wedding soup and finished it off with a slice of lemon meringue pie. They make the pie on-site and you can even watch them slice the pieces if you get there early enough. My boyfriend, who happens to be a pastry chef, said the meringue was the “most beautiful” he has ever seen.

The waitress warned me the pie was “extra lemony” when she dropped my plate off at the table. I took a bite and downed one of the most delicious pieces of lemon meringue that I have ever tasted. It was full of lemon flavor and the crust was done to perfection and still warm.

One of the really neat things about Jesperson’s is the restroom’s location. When she saw me looking around for the facilities, the waitress came over and explained that since the building is so old (around since the early 1900s), the bathroom was located through the kitchen and into the basement. While I felt awkward walking through the kitchen (they were still cooking!), I enjoyed the experience because I got to see how things looked behind the scenes.

Remember the old saying about judging a restaurant’s kitchen cleanliness by how their bathroom looks? Doing this is entirely possible at Jesperson’s. I was pleased with what I discovered, venturing into the basement and finding the old restroom.

If history and food interest you, visit Jesperson’s. And make sure to get a piece of the pie.

Photos property of and by the author.

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About the author

Kelly McLendon is a freelance journalist and editor based out of Austin, Texas. She is also a yoga instructor and Pilates instructor. She has written for several daily newspapers and magazines, including The Toledo Blade and Pilates Style Magazine. With an interest in writing about healthy food and travel, her work can also be found at her yoga website, Kelly McLendon Yoga.

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