With summer (finally) under way on the Sunrise Side, the quaint, small town of Alpena is abound with tourists seeking the best local food and libation experiences for that warm weather bucket list. Overlooking the beautiful Thunder Bay of Lake Huron, this city truly provides a warm and friendly port for all that visit. Luckily for the locals, they get to appreciate this city’s burgeoning food scene year-round.
In this second part of our three part series, I’ll detail some of the locals’ favorite haunts, so you can also find the best locally-sourced cuisine during your travels. (See part 1 here.)
Five More Locally-Sourced Food Venues in Alpena:
1. The Fresh Palate and Nucleus Lounge is a tried and true must-stop since Alpena-native Eric Peterson opened this gem in 2009. These folks understand the true meaning of local, sourcing a substantial portion of their menu with growers and producers from within a two county radius. They also feature an extensive Michigan-based beer, wine, and liquor menu, and throw incredible music and food festivals throughout the year to boot!
2. Although new to the Alpena scene, The Unlucky Cat Cafe food truck makes up for any lost time with their unique Asian-fusion kabobs, sandwiches, eggrolls, and delectable donuts. And don’t miss out on their barista extraordinaire’s stupendous nitro-cold brews and hand-crafted thirst-quenching beverages.
3. Featuring 24 flavors of hand-dipped ice cream made with Michigan milk, custom sundaes, shakes, and malts, Downtown Scoops is a staple for locals for good reason. Not only do they have the most incredible dairy desserts, but carry Alpena merchandise baskets chocked full of local goodies at their Second Avenue brick and mortar location. You can also grab a cone at their new food truck, parked behind the Hungry Hippie dome (mentioned in Part 1 of this series) during the summer.
4. Make no mistake. Art in the Loft does it all. The knowledgeable and friendly staff hold pretty much every art class you can imagine, sponsor community artwork projects and events, offer scholarships, juried art exhibits, and host cooking classes (often featuring local chefs and farmers)! As if that weren’t enough, their annual fundraiser is now a Certified Local Food Event, at which the chefs compete with local ingredients to create culinary masterpieces so all folks have access to the arts in Alpena.
5. Did you know wine was just sunlight held together by water? Well, that’s the philosophy at Thunder Bay Winery, and we do not disagree. Thunder Bay substantially sources their grapes from their own vineyard in Ossineke and their other fruit from producers across northern Michigan. They also have live music, charcuterie boards, and desserts available throughout the week. And return for their annual Harvest Festival in September; complete with a grape stomping competition, this celebration is fun for the whole family.
Stayed tuned for the Final Top Five Locally-Sourced Food Venues of Eating Like a Local in Alpena in our August newsletter.
Molly Stepanski is the Local Food Coordinator for northeast Michigan. She enjoys reading with her six year old, planting and hiking in the dirt, cooking up her own recipes, drinking farmhouse cider, and eating lots of fresh, seasonal produce (and anything deep-fried, in accordance with her southern heritage). She owns and operates Presque Isle Farm with her family and is a founding member of the Huron Shores Local Food Coalition. Contact her at [email protected].