Michiganders will point to Ludington on their right hand at the base of the pinkie finger since it is located on the beaches of Lake Michigan. The town offers a true Michigan Up-North experience, complete with water, sun, and lots of fresh air.
Although you could spend your whole day in Ludington sunbathing and reading the newest beach book, you’d be missing out on the Pure Michigan experience. You should also make a point of visiting the greatest eateries in Ludington, MI!
Wondering something to do in Ludington? Check out our guides on the 8 Best Things To Do In Ludington, MI and the 15 Must-Try Michigan Meals!
Visit Ludington State Park first. The park’s 5,300-acre size includes 21.5 miles of hiking paths. The Sable River has concrete trails to make hiking simpler. Also worth a look is the two-mile Lost Lake, Island Lake Route, which avoids some slopes if hiked counterclockwise.
Finally, if you’re up for the almost two-mile round-trip hike, go to the Big Sable Point Lighthouse, which is accessible through Ludington State Park.
If you don’t feel like walking, check the schedule for days during the summer when they provide bus excursions to the lighthouse. You may explore the dunes by climbing the 112-foot tower.
Although the Lake Michigan beachfront is beautiful, make sure to visit the less crowded Hamlin Lake Beach.
While I couldn’t include the Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast on the list since it isn’t a restaurant, it is widely regarded as having the greatest breakfast in Ludington. As a result, I feel compelled to discuss it here.
The only way to try chef-owner Chris Simplers’ three-course breakfast is to book a room at the Cartier Mansion Bed & Breakfast for the night. But you won’t be sorry in the morning.
They provide breakfast that can compete with any four-star establishment. If you’re fortunate, the 21-spice housemade sausage patties will be on the menu, and it’ll be a fascinating gourmet challenge to see which spices you can identify.
With so many outside activities to keep you moving, you’ll need to eat. So here are seven of my favorite Ludington, Michigan restaurants that will fulfill all your eating demands.
Please be aware that Pure Ludington sponsored my visit.
Visiting other Michigan cities? Check out our gastronomy guides to the cities listed below:
- 5 Must-Try Restaurants in Holland, Michigan & 10 Fun Things To Do In Holland
- 5 Must-Try Restaurants in Chelsea, Michigan
- 7 Must-Try Lansing Restaurants
- 11 Must-Try Upper Peninsula Restaurants & Bars
- 7 Best Traverse City Restaurants
- 10 Must-Try Grand Rapids Restaurants MI
- Best Mexican Food In Holland MI
- Best Sushi In Holland MI
- Best Thai Food In Holland MI
The Top Seven Restaurants in Ludington, Michigan
225 S. James St.
Q Smokehouse, located in downtown Ludington, serves smoked BBQ and home-style southern sides. All of the standard smoked meat options are available, as well as southern sides like collard greens and cornbread.
Sauces are an important component for me at a BBQ restaurant, and Q Smokehouse has two, the Q sauce and the Carolina sauce. The Q sauce is a sweet and tangy tomato-based red sauce prepared in-house, while the Carolina sauce is a mustard and vinegar-based yellow sauce made in-house.
Pick up your lunch at the take-out window, where they offer an Off the Bone Picnic Pack with 1.5 pounds of beef brisket, 1.5 pounds of chopped pork, 12 potato roll buns, 1 quart each of coleslaw, baked beans, and pasta with cheese. They serve it with half a pint of Q sauce and half a pint of Carolina sauce. They also have an On the Bone Picnic Bundle with chicken and ribs.
Plates and silverware are also included in the Picnic Packs, so you’ll be set. Then go to Stearns Park Beach to dine al fresco. The Ludington North Breakwater Light will be visible to you. If you schedule things correctly, then youll be in for a beautiful Lake Michigan sunset.
If you have vegetarians in your party, don’t be concerned. They’ll like the jackfruit al pastor tacos or burritos, as well as the several vegetarian side choices, such as spaghetti and cheese, coleslaw, potato salad, and candied sweet potatoes.
Pro Tip: Q Smokehouse is only open Thursday through Saturday, so plan ahead of time. Choose one of those three days for some of the greatest BBQ in Ludington.
The Blu Moon Bistro
125 S. James St.
The Blu Moon, located in downtown Ludington, serves French, Japanese, and American fusion cuisine. This is the spot to go if you’re craving sushi. They feature a distinct sushi menu where the products are made in-house in the sushi kitchen.
Another seafood dish I loved was the Bang Bang shrimp with Bang Bang sauce, which was listed under appetizers on the menu. That ended up being my entree, along with a salad with house-made Green Goddess dressing. The seven shrimp serving size made for a full entree. Chef Jason Munford tops it with a house-made sauce of mayo, sweet chili sauce, and sriracha for some heat.
Whenever you visit Michigan, be sure to sample some of the native foods, such as whitefish. Blu Moon Restaurant serves a whitefish dip prepared with fresh Lake Superior whitefish, cream cheese, and seasonings. It comes with raw vegetables, pita bread, and corn tortillas.
Rotisserie smoked products, wings, ribs, and pig will appeal to landlubbers. These products are rotisserie cooked low and slow using wood chips and charcoal. Arrive early since some things sell out quickly during peak hours.
The chef also provides various vegan choices, such as ratatouille with roasted vegetables.
Pro Tip: From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the open-air rooftop terrace and a pet-friendly sidewalk caf are great places to eat and enjoy the fresh air of northern Michigan. Take advantage of all that one of Ludington’s greatest restaurants has to offer.
Flavors of the Home
W. Ludington Ave. 231-845-5785402 W. Ludington Ave.
The Neal family, proprietors of Park Dairy, a full-service dairy, chose to discontinue producing milk, cottage cheese, and butter in 1959 in order to concentrate on ice cream. They haven’t looked back since. Currently, their restaurant House of Varieties serves 40 distinct ice cream flavors every day.
So first, select an entree before proceeding to dessert. Choose a turkey supper or sandwich instead of a burger and milkshake to highlight the ice cream. A window with two turkeys cooking on a rotisserie would persuade you to have the traditional American Thanksgiving feast even in the middle of summer. If you want something lighter, try a turkey sandwich.
Get one of the Pig Dinners for an Instagram-worthy shot, which is simply a banana split stacked high with scoops of ice cream, adorned with a cloud of whipped cream, and capped with a Michigan cherry. Consider sharing one of these. Go this Ludington eatery for a delicious lunch followed by ice cream.
130 W. Ludington Ave.
Table 14 is a downtown eclectic southern-inspired upmarket restaurant. Chef-owner Howard Iles grew up in Charleston, South Carolina, and Louisiana, and when he returned to Ludington, he took that southern culture with him. On the menu, you’ll discover southern favorites like fried green tomatoes, fried chicken, shrimp and grits, and collard greens.
I had chorizo encrusted Bay of Fundy fish, which was one of their daily specials. Chef Iles serves the meal with Parmesan risotto and asparagus, followed by a lemon pepper aioli. I propose pan-seared whitefish if you want to sample a Great Lakes fish.
Another must-try meal is the Caprese chicken. It all begins with a 7-ounce grilled chicken breast topped with tomato, fresh buffalo mozzarella, and basil. Then they sprinkle it with balsamic vinegar. It’s served with Parmesan risotto and fresh vegetables. I really appreciated the creamy Parmesan risotto, which was served in a wonderfully constructed pyramid.
Pro Tip: Make appointments to ensure you receive a table at this renowned Ludington eatery.
Jamesport Brewing Co.
S James St., 231-845-2522410 S James St.
The house-made Michigan cherry bourbon glaze that they offer on almost everything is a must-try item at this downtown Ludington restaurant. It’s on burgers, salmon, sirloin steak, and even pot stickers, according to the chef. Don’t worry, just drink it. It’s just that fantastic. It was delicious on the burger, which came with house-made kettle chips.
Other meals to try at Jamesport Brewing Co. include ones that include craft beers into the recipe. For example, the Jamesport cheese ale soup is a cheese soup with ham and red peppers made with Jamesport beer. The honey mustard pretzel garnish is what sets it apart.
A hallmark dish is a pecan-crusted perch, which is coated with toasted pecans before being fried and served with a Michigan cherry vinaigrette. Another way to consume perch from the Great Lakes is as an entree. Lake perch is lightly seasoned and deep fried before being served with brewhouse fries, your choice of side, and tartar sauce.
The patio deck has two sections, one covered and one open, both with views of Pere Marquette Lake. During your dinner, take in the breathtaking views of the lake.
Pro Tip: Their brewer enjoys giving brewery tours; just ask. This popular Ludington eatery serves burgers and beers.
Ludington Bay Brewing Co. is a brewery in Ludington, Michigan.
S James St., 231-239-6690515 S James St.
Ludington Bay Brewery, located in downtown Ludington, produces its beer on the beaches of Lake Michigan using locally sourced ingredients, resources, and abilities. Their mission is to continually create a great beer drinking experience. Every day, they have between 20 and 24 different craft beers on tap. They also sell their nine core beers throughout the Midwest.
Menu dishes using their beer are a must-try. I really like their pulled pork braised in their autumn seasonal James Street Brown Ale and served in tacos or on a pulled pork platter.
They accept dogs on their expansive terrace. This Ludington café is a terrific spot to spend a day in the summer.
Cork and Crown
425-3557502 West Loomis St.
I prefer to sit in front on the lower level facing the marina for the finest view of Pere Marquette Lake, where I can watch the boats on the glistening shoreline. Crown & Corks is a contemporary setting with a comfortable, informal attitude.
Visitors from out of state must sample the chef’s utilization of local produce as much as feasible. Beer-battered cauliflower, salt-roasted beets with fresh honeycomb, goat cheese, and arugula, and jumbo shrimp and grits are among the menu options.
In addition, the chef attentively provides vegetarian and vegan choices. Pan-seared with a buttery pan sauce, the vegetarian Red Pepper Ravioli is loaded with whipped red pepper and butternut squash filling, shaved fennel, apple, and toasted walnuts. Vegans will love the grilled Eggplant Rollatini, served with creamy spinach risotto, marinara, Parmesan, and a balsamic reduction.
If you like smores as much as I do when on vacation in northern Michigan, try the smores lava cake. The ideal campfire treat in an easier-to-eat mix of graham-flavored cake with a molten hot fudge center and fire-roasted marshmallow.
Pro Tip: The restaurant has live music and dueling pianos, which are a delightful complement to the dinner.
That concludes our ranking of the top seven restaurants in Ludington. If you can’t find anything you like at these establishments, you’re just not hungry.