4 Hidden Gem Restaurants Worth the Trip to Southern Michigan

Photo via The Henderson Castle on Facebook

By Maddison Hill

June 28, 2023

From date night to beers and burgers, these culinary hotspots are worth the drive down south.

MICHIGAN—Southern Michigan is known for its beaches and outdoor adventures. However, it’s also a hidden gem for lip-smacking eats.

Check out these southern Michigan restaurants that you’re sure to enjoy.

Old Tavern Inn

61088 Indian Lake Rd., Niles 

Courtesy/Old Tavern Inn

If you’re a history lover, or if you’re just in the mood for a memorable meal between two buns, visit the Old Tavern Inn, one of Michigan’s most tried-and-true bars. Founded in 1835, Old Tavern Inn began business while Michigan was still a territory. The Old Tavern Inn sat between the trail that connected Chicago and Detroit and offered stagecoach travelers a bed and a meal. 

The history isn’t the only savory part of the experience. The restaurant is also famous for its hot ham and cheese sandwiches. 

If you visit in the winter, be prepared for a wait and good conversations. The tavern sits by a well-known snowmobile trail and still attracts many travelers, just like it did back in 1835. 

Old Tavern Inn is located between Niles and Dowagiac on M-51.

The Henderson Castle 

100 Monroe St., Kalamazoo 

Courtesy/ The Henderson Castle

On West Main Hill overlooking downtown Kalamazoo sits a castle. Built in 1895, the Henderson was originally the home of Frank Henderson, one of Kalamazoo’s most successful early businessmen. After Henderson’s death, the house was left to his wife, where she remained until 1908. After she moved, the castle switched ownership nine times. 

In 2011, master chef Francois Moyet bought the castle and turned it into a luxury bed and breakfast. 

Dining at The Henderson Castle is an experience. The castle offers a variety of dining options. You can enjoy breakfast or dinner at the castle’s restaurant, H Prime Chophouse. The restaurant features a variety of fine dining choices for dinner, including seafood and aged steaks. The breakfast menu at The Henderson is small, but features classic items like french toast and waffles. If breakfast and dinner aren’t enough, guests can also join a high tea service at noon. Guests can also enjoy a drink in the castle’s spirit lounge. 

Those looking to stay at the castle might have to book a room months in advance. Although the castle is quite large, there are only 12 rooms available. Each room has its own theme, adding to the charm. 

The Henderson also offers wine tasting, a day spa and a boutique. It even serves as a wedding venue. 

Stray Hen Cafe

403 E Washington St., Ann Arbor

Courtesy/ Stray Hen Cafe

You’ll find yourself a delicious brunch and perfect Instagram opportunity at the Stray Hen Cafe. The cafe is filled with botanical beauty, featuring a flower wall and various plants throughout the building with flowers even hanging from the ceiling and vents. 

The cafe is filled with art and comfortable lounging to make you feel more at home during brunch. 

This is a casual experience. Customers order their food at the counter, then receive a number and sit until servers bring them their food. 

Stray Hen has an extensive brunch menu that includes tea, coffees, scramblers, breakfast bowls, a variety of toasts, and traditional sweet breakfasts. The cafe also offers vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free options. 

The Mason Jar Cafe 

210 Water St., Benton Harbor 

Courtesy/ The Mason Jar Cafe

The Mason Jar Cafe is an electric cafe filled with small-town charm in the Benton Harbor Arts District. 

Upon entering the cafe, you’ll immediately be drawn to its rustic decor, lounge areas, and locally sourced artwork. Its outside seating area boasts colorful umbrellas and statues. 

There’s something for everyone at this breakfast and brunch spot. You can get classic breakfasts with a twist, like their homemade stuffed French toast with fresh fruit. Or you could try their savory breakfast, with meals like goat cheese and grits. Don’t worry if breakfast isn’t your calling. The cafe also has a lunch menu filled with craft sandwiches and salad options. 


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