Indian River’s restaurant menus use Michigan’s specialty ingredients, like whitefish, lake perch, and walleye. Add cherries to dinner in a salad or a pie, and you’ll have sampled some of the tastes of the Great Lakes.
Here are five Indian River restaurants you should try for dinner.
Fish Tacos at Greenside Grille
The Greenside Grille
The Greenside Grille, located at the Indian River Golf Club, offers lunch and dinner with serene views from their deck overlooking the ninth green. Their family-friendly atmosphere makes it an excellent place for the whole family to meet for dinner after playing a late afternoon round of golf.
If you’re looking to sample some local fish, like Great Lakes whitefish or walleye, you’ll find some tasty options on their menu. The Great Lakes planked whitefish dinner features fresh whitefish broiled with house-made citrus butter. Then it’s topped with fresh herbs. The dish comes with roasted whipped potatoes.
Another option is the sautéed walleye filet which the chef pan sears. They serve it with an artichoke and lemon caper butter sauce.
Landlubbers don’t despair. On Saturday nights, they offer a prime rib dinner special. Their standard dinner menu also offers steak, pork, and chicken options.
The vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options make it easy for everyone to find something to meet their needs. One example is their vegan tacos, where an order features three flour tortillas lightly spread with roasted red pepper hummus. Then they fill it with cool crispy slaw and top it with an array of grilled seasonal vegetables, including onions, peppers, mushrooms, and squash.
- Appetizer: Bruschetta
- Entrée: Fish Tacos
Cauliflower at Michael’s in Indian River, Michigan
Michael’s Tavern & Steakhouse
Michael’s Tavern & Steakhouse sits in a beautifully restored 1938 log building. While this is a historic building, it feels modern and new, providing an upscale meal in a rustic chic environment that still feels like Northern Michigan.
If you’re dining out for a celebratory occasion, then Michael’s has their steakhouse menu. You’ll find everything from a 28-ounce dry-aged Wagyu ribeye to a 72-hour short rib. Add to that one of their shareable sides, like the house-cut French fries or the roasted wild mushrooms, and you’ll have a meal for a king.
While it is a steakhouse, it may be counter-intuitive that you’d find vegan options, but the vegan tagliatelle checks all the boxes. It features house-made vegan pasta, spinach, mushrooms, asparagus, pickled red onions, and tomatoes served with a roasted red pepper coulis.
If you want something less indulgent, order from the tavern menu. The Michigan craft beef burger showcases two four-ounce patties with melted American cheese. Then they top it with iceberg lettuce, house-made pickles, sauce, and a Michigan-baked brioche bun.
The mac n’ cheese makes a shareable side, complementing an entrée. But, of course, you can also order it as an entrée. This dish features five types of cheese—gruyere, cheddar, fontina, asiago, and Parmesan, and then they bake it all together for a cheesy plate of comfort.
- Side: Cauliflower
- Entrée: Baby Back Ribs
Italian Grinder at the Thirsty Sturgeon
The Thirsty Sturgeon
Sitting on the Sturgeon River, the Thirsty Sturgeon has a casual atmosphere with a family-friendly vibe. Their patio highlights river views.
Their food showcases Michigan suppliers and ingredients whenever possible, preparing fresh food daily, including baking their homemade bread.
They smoke their pork, so be sure to try one of the dishes featuring pulled pork. Starting with a seasoned pork shoulder with a house-made dry rub, they slowly smoke and grill it in their tangy Carolina sauce. Then, they stack it on an artisan brioche bun and top it with Asian slaw. The pulled pork schmeer and pulled pork tacos also feature smoked pork.
- Appetizer: Whitefish Pâté
- Sandwich: Italian Grinder
Wilson’s Rivers Edge Restaurant
While Wilson’s Rivers Edge Restaurant is known for its wonderful breakfasts, they also serve lunch and dinner. Rivers Edge is a great place to take the kids for dinner, as they have a relaxed, family-friendly atmosphere.
One of their best sellers is the Big Bad John Burger. They start with twin beef patties cooked to order and melt American and Swiss cheese on top. Then, they top it all with lettuce, tomato, and thousand island dressing. Burgers come with a kosher pickle spear and chips, but you can add fries or onion rings for an upcharge.
They make their soups and pies from scratch. You can buy a whole pie, a quart, or a gallon of soup to take home.
- Local Favorite: Homemade Turkey Dinner
- Pie: House-Made Cherry Pie
Crab and Artichoke Dip at Vivio’s
Vivio’s offers Italian and American cuisine. They are known across northern Michigan for their salads, pizza, and pastas. In addition, the atmosphere provides northern Michigan décor featuring Michigan wildlife.
They offer a variety of pizzas, and I tried the Vivio’s Special, a traditional Italian crust topped with mozzarella cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, green peppers, and bacon. If you’d like to add onions or anchovies, they’re happy to do so for no additional charge.
If you’re looking for a fish dinner from the Great Lakes, whitefish Vivio’s style is a good option. First, they bake it in lemon juice and water and top it with tomatoes and onions for a tasty entrée. Then, they serve it with veggies and a choice of sides.
In addition to traditional lasagna, they offer a vegetarian version, layering the pasta with ricotta, mozzarella, mushrooms, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, and tomato sauce. Combine a pasta meal with crispy antipasti salad and warm house-made yeast rolls. Be sure to save room for one of their unique desserts. I particularly liked the traditional Italian tiramisu.
They don’t take reservations at Vivio’s. Although dining there may entail over an hour wait, you probably won’t mind as it’s all part of the experience. While they offer a covered patio to appreciate a pre-dinner cocktail, most families plan to spend time at the playground to let the kiddos burn off steam while the parents keep a watchful eye and enjoy a glass of wine.
If you aren’t up for a wait, they have a carry-out you can enjoy at home or in one of the local parks.
- Appetizer: Crab and Artichoke Dip
- Entrée: Vivio-Style Whitefish