Want an affordable vacation dining experience? If you’re tired of the same old breakfast McMuffin and boring morning eats at your hotel or a special guest is in town, plan on brunch at some of the best brunches in the Mackinac Strait’s Triangle of History. We’ve got everything from Four Diamond elegance at Grand Hotel to traditional Mom and Pop stops for memorable meals, good times, and great variety. Millions of visitors come for the Straits Area’s natural beauty and history. Here’s five exceptional choices to jump-start your day with a fantastic buffet of food prepared by outstanding chefs and caring professionals who demonstrate great talent and world class standards.
Grand Hotel’s Breakfast Buffet Mackinac Island’s world famous Grand Hotel is the perfect setting for a dining experience at any time. Get there early for breakfast (7-9 am) and you’ll elude the $10 admission fee for non-guests and still enjoy all the impressive service, rich history, and expert cooking in their immense kitchens. The Grand has an entire staff devoted to their unique pastries and a huge line of chefs create omelet (omelette at those prices!) masterpieces. It’s all fine linen, impressive place settings, and the traditional red geranium motif paired with any breakfast food your heart desires: oatmeal, fresh fruit, made-to-order egg dishes, and even salmon as a meat selection! Even the syrup is Michigan-made! Mother’s Day Brunch at the Grand is their most spectacular brunch of the season, running noon until 2 pm. I hosted my mother-in-law, who delighted in the special treat and it highlighted her conversation for many years. (With parties of four, mom eats free.) The Grand is the number one choice for a fancy, top drawer brunch, so dress with some pizazz to impress that significant someone in your life. You’ll never forget the results! (The Grand’s Lunch Buffet is a great choice for dining later.)
Audie’s of Mackinaw City Below the Mighty Mackinac Bridge, Audie’s is a well-established, traditional favorite with locals, regional guests and tourists alike. While I usual prefer to be waited on, my husband Warren makes a beeline over to their expansive breakfast buffet. We both enjoy the home made sausages, ground right in their own kitchen! I’m a bit of a food snob, and what endears me about Audie’s is that they’re not into serving packaged food, trying to pass for home-style cooking. The “Family Room” offers a nice setting and the prices are reasonable. Actually, when Warren eats breakfast, they might be losing money on the deal! Be sure to try their pancakes, fluffy and cooked to perfection. The signature scrambled egg dish, baked with ham & cheese is Warren’s favorite. While you’re there, take a peek at their Chippewa Room with its unique Native American highlights, and remember to come back for dinner, too!
The Hillside House Restaurant Sharing their Mother’s Day Grand Opening with the Grand, The Hillside House tops our traditional buffet list on the North Side of the Bridge. You’ll never miss a great meal at affordable prices. As an added bonus to breakfast, their perch on the edge of a ridge guarantees the best possible view of the Straits. Remember your camera for some keepsake photos. If you can’t make it to the Island on Mother’s Day, mom won’t be disappointed here. During slow weekdays, the breakfast buffet isn’t always available; call ahead or simply try one of the specialty omelets, scrambles, or Belgian Waffles. There’s a special flap jack, stacked with fruit on the menu, too. Owners Jeff and Judy Childs are interesting and personable folks and boast an impressive array of delightful choices on their buffet.
Java Joe’s Cafe of St Ignace and Jeannie’s Reach in Brevort Serving buffet-SIZED breakfasts, Java Joe’s is unsurpassed in selection, quality, cleanliness and hometown charm. Similarly,Jeannie’s Reach invites a short drive west, sporting super-sized portions with a heavy helping of home cooking for taste! Java Joe Durm was the first guy offering espresso and fancy breakfast beverages in our area. They’ve gone on to expand their menu and drink selection to the utter amazement of anyone who’s seen the tiny headquarters of a kitchen. Coordinate well in advance with Sandy Durm via their website, and a large sized group can negotiate buffet style meals on a case by case basis. But the true charm of Java Joe’s is coming in early and meeting the owner, while hard-working Sandy slaves over your meal. You’ll get political perspective, travel information, and insider tips for free. Breakfast is served all day; however, call for hours during the winter months, as they tend to close earlier in the afternoon. West of town, Jeannie’s Reach is our newest favorite breakfast spot, and the owner’s pony tail is even longer than Java Joe’s! They serve up serious pancakes, with wild blueberry among the choices. The coffee is particularly impressive, and our host never keeps us waiting on refills. He’s at least as charming as Java Joe. Although the menu is not as expansive, the flavor is guaranteed. Rest assured, the home made strawberry jam can’t be beat. Be sure to take home some fresh pie for later in the day. Like Java Joe’s, the breakfast choices are available throughout the day.
While my list isn’t exhaustive, it’s important to note one key spot missing from the itinerary, the Kewadin Shores Casino in St Ignace. While their food can be nicely prepared on the odd occasion, it’s more likely left unattended, cold, tasteless and boring. For the price of their buffet, eggs should be available to order, meats hot and freshly cooked, a fresh selection of pastries baked on site, and a much wider variety of fruits. If you earn a free meal, discounted fare for your birthday, free breakfast package or other chance at the Casino, I strongly recommend a close look at the buffet before you order at that location. Go with the menu and order a fresh breakfast if it looks suspicious. Complain to a manager if your food is unacceptable. With so many better choices in the area, just be careful. Sometimes you get what you pay for, and other times you don’t.