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Saugatuck Michigan is a favorite summer playground for Chicagoans. It has lovely places to stay, fun things to do, and there are some truly impressive restaurants in Saugatuck, too. The restaurants listed here are all family-friendly, have a laid back ambiance and serve delectable farm-to-table meals, delicious desserts and the best peanut butter and jelly sandwich ever!
The writer was hosted.
When my friend Ami and I took the short drive to Saugatuck Michigan for two days of rest and relaxation, we didn’t know we also were headed for some fabulous foodie fare. But every bite we tasted — from the breakfast breads to the after dinner desserts — was better than the one before.
And we certainly didn’t expect that the very best thing we would eat would come from the kid’s menu. Lucky for us, in this case the menu was aimed at “kids of all ages.”
This is by no means an exhaustive list of great Saugatuck restaurants. It’s just the restaurants we were able to try during a whirlwind 48 hours. I’ve included a few other spots Saugatuck locals recommended as some of the best restaurants in town. I intend to try as many as I can on a return visit very soon.
TravelingMom Tip: Most Saugatuck restaurants are kid-friendly and few take reservations. During the busy summer months, plan to eat early or allow extra time for the wait.
Read More: 30+ Midwest Road Trip Ideas
Don’t Miss Stops
455 W. Center Street
This is just as much American roadside attraction as it is a place to get some good food. The restaurant is, in fact, a huge root beer barrel. Three people toiled inside in the impossibly small space turning out some remarkably interesting hot dog concoctions.
I stuck with my personal fave — a chili dog with extra onions. But Ami went for the rhino dog. That’s a hot dog smothered in rich, creamy mac and cheese and chili. It’s a hot dog you eat with a fork and knife so you don’t waste even a morsel.
And, of course, the meal is complemented by a Sprecher’s Root Beer, poured from the tap. Ami went all-in and made hers a root beer float with the addition of a scoop of ice cream.
329 Water Street
This charming spot in downtown Saugatuck serves craft beer, but it’s really a pizza place. I’m from Chicago. That means I’m a pizza snob. I very rarely eat pizza when I travel because it very rarely is better than the pizza I can get at home. To make things even more challenging, Ami is Italian and makes a mean pizza herself.
But Mitten Brewing Company has made the rarified list of non-Chicago pizza I recommend. Even better, the restaurant offers a “pizza flight” of its artisan pizzas. That means were able to sample six of the pizza choices. We ordered a Margherita pizza — a basic pizza with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil — another with chicken and pesto sauce, a veggie one with broccoli and artichoke hearts, one with sausage that the waiter said is his favorite, a Hawaiian pizza with chicken and pineapple and a Mediterranean pizza with feta cheese and olives.
They were all tasty, but the best was the light and fluffy crust. Ami is going to figure out how to make that at home.
We sat outside at a small wrought iron table overlooking a courtyard where several families sat at picnic tables eating their pizzas.
6054 12th Avenue
Located in the heart of Western Michigan farm country, the dining room of this Fennville restaurant could be featured in an I Spy book. Ask to be seated in the back room and keep the kids occupied by looking for airplanes and other images in the many varied wall decorations.
And you’ll need to keep them occupied while they wait to get their pie flight. That’s right. In Saugatuck, you can get a flight of beers, a flight of wine, a flight of pizza AND a flight of pie! Really, why did no one ever think of this before?!? (If someone has, please drop the name of the restaurant in the comments below so I can visit!)
A flight of pie means that you don’t have to choose between apple, cherry, blueberry and rhubarb raspberry. No! You just have to order the flight and get to taste all four pies. Each pie comes in a small glass and was more than enough for us to share.
Lucky for us, there was no pie of the day when we visited mid-week and before the summer season started. So no need to choose.
Grilled PB&J. Really.
But before the dessert came lunch. And lunch was a grilled PB&J on apple butter bread. Really. Who knew you could improve upon a peanut butter and jelly sandwich? The people at Crane’s!
This delectable delight is on the kids menu, but this isn’t one of those restaurants that says only kids 12 and younger can order from the kids menu. So we savored the melty smooth peanut butter, the grilled sweet bread and the warm strawberry jam.
The sandwich was huge and it was accompanied by a generous portion of chips and a pickle. Ami and I easily could have split the meal. And we should have, so we would have had more room for pie!
TravelingMom Tip: If you order this for a kid, wait a minute to two before letting your child bite into the sandwich. The peanut butter was hot and could burn a little one’s mouth.
100 Blue Star Highway
Another Douglas eatery, this deli is located in a small strip mall that disguises its wonder. Inside is a hip space with yummy retail offerings and super friendly service at the deli counter. The sandwiches we ordered — hummus with veggies in a spinach wrap for me, egg salad for Ami — were easily large enough for us to have shared.
Don’t leave without ordering dessert. We tried the carrot cake — the cashier recommended it highly, and the cream cheese frosting alone was worth the money. Not content to stop while we were stuffed, we also bought a fresh-baked banana bread to take with us. It is some of the best banana bread I have ever tasted.
TravelingMom Tip: Have DoorDash bring food to your hotel or vacation rental.
Kid-Friendly Saugatuck Restaurants for Dinner
340 Water Street
This fine dining restaurant has a casual vibe and a primo waterfront spot on the Kalamazoo River. And it serves some of the best seafood I have eaten in the Midwest. (Hey, we’re known for our red meat, not seafood. Mermaid does offer some yummy sounding red meat, but we went all in on the seafood.)
My pasta dish was loaded with seafood — shrimp, mussels, scallops and some perfectly cooked salmon. The sauce was light and tasty.
Ami went with the scallops and got three huge scallops, asparagus and some yummy roasted potatoes.
Dessert was a light and fluffy Kahlua chocolate cake that we told ourselves we were only going to taste. We lied.
880 Holland Street
The fried chicken here came so highly recommended by a local that I made this Saugatuck restaurant my first stop on a return visit. It comes as hot chicken, with the caveat that there are no returns on chicken that is too hot for you “so order with caution!”
The Southerner story is that Appalachian families moved to Michigan in the 1950s seeking work in the auto industry. And, the restaurant’s website notes, “Cooking is a serious business in the South.”
The most serious business here, as far as my palate is concerned, is how seriously the cooks here take their biscuits. I consider myself something of a biscuit connoisseur and the biscuit that came with my chicken biscuit sandwich is, without a doubt, the lightest, fluffiest, tastiest biscuit I have had yet.
This Saugatuck restaurant also offers southern favorites such as catfish po’boy sandwich, shrimp & grits and flaky biscuits. The kids’ menu includes a grilled cheese sandwich, which the little girl at the table next to us (and her dad) said was good. But this seems like the place to order kids the chicken fingers!
230 Culver St.
We did not get to try this downtown Saugatuck favorite that was recommended by a shopkeeper. But the menu at this steakhouse features some mouth watering cuts of meat and interesting bone marrow appetizers.
Like many of the businesses in Saugatuck, this restaurant is owned by a former Chicagoan who had a summer home in Saugatuck and decided to relocate permanently to the charming small town.
40 Butler Street
One of the oldest restaurants in town, The Butler has a million dollar location on Lake Kalamazoo. Locals recommend the Butler Burger. It comes with grilled ham, American cheese, lettuce and mayonnaise.
The kids menu offers mac and cheese, chicken tenders and mini corn dogs.
Like many of the downtown Saugatuck eateries, The Butler has live music on the deck during the summer months.
147 Water Street
This Italian eatery has been in the Marro family since 1971. It sits on the Kalamazoo River and offers both dine-in and takeout menus.
Appetizers include the mouth-watering baked garlic rolls covered with melted mozzarella; add a cup of marinara for a few bucks more.
In addition to pasta, chicken and seafood entrees, Marro’s serves pizza. The house special is ham, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers and onions.
The restaurant is open for dinner Thursday-Sunday during the summer season.
11 Center Street
This American bistro is located in Douglas, the sister city to Saugatuck. It’s part of the new Douglas Social District, which means patrons can buy a drink from participating restaurants and take it with them as they stroll along Center Street exploring the retail shops and galleries.
The menu includes grilled lamb chops and roasted gorgonzola pork chops.
24 W. Center St.
The menu includes sandwiches, fish tacos, stone oven pizzas and a vegan curry entrée.
TravelingMom Tip: If you’re visiting Saugatuck in the spring, consider a side trip to nearby Holland Michigan for the Tulip Time Festival.
Best Breakfast Joints
141 Blue Star Highway
This charming little Saugatuck restaurant is another Douglas discovery.
And, no, we didn’t eat ice cream for breakfast. But I had the next best thing: cinnamon French toast.
Ami had an omelet, complemented by a slice of grilled Marcie bread. That’s the house specialty bread. We asked about it, but got no details. Our taste buds told us it’s terrific.
3319 Blue Star Highway
While a local recommended Pennyroyal for breakfast, note that it doesn’t open until 9am. That seems like a fine time for breakfast when you’re on vacation. But if you got a day full of things to do in Saugatuck, it might not be early enough.
The menu includes both blueberry pancakes and gluten-free corn meal johnnycakes. On the weekend, find Boston cream donuts, my favorite.
202 Butler St.
This Saugatuck spot serves breakfast from 9am-3pm on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. Brunch on Saturdays and Sundays includes bottomless mimosas.
Breakfast items include avocado toast, corned beef hash and omelets.
127 Hoffman St.
You won’t find a Starbuck’s in this town where local, family-owned restaurants rule, but you will find Uncommon Coffee Roasters. Pick up a cold brew, espresso or smoothie and a breakfast sandwich such as a ham and gouda croissant.