As promised, Near North Now will be offering up some information and tips on a variety of topics for travelers, part-timers and, of course, those who call our region home.
These venturing vignettes begin with the N3 Nibbler, our collaborative collection of the epicurean adventures to be had in our region. While not meant to be a comprehensive list of all area restaurants, nor intended to serve as reviews, we will endeavor to capture the flavor of food options available to folks seeking sustenance.
Contributors to this gastronomical guide include N3 regulars Marianne Boerigter (MB), Charles Chandler (CC), Alexis Mercer (AM), Mollie Jo Swendrowski (MJ), Megan Wirts (MW), Ken DeLaat (KD), and Mike Gesler (MG) along with occasional guest appearances by friends who favor fine food.
Future additions and updates to this page will also include expanded articles on selected options both near and not so near.
Hamp’s County Line Barbecue
If y’all hankering for some good ’ole Southern barbecue, head west to Hesperia and Hamp’s County Line Barbecue. This quaint little stop offers up some mighty good pulled pork, pulled chicken, and Andouille smoked sausage. With seven different homemade sauces from Hot and Tangy to Carolina style, y’all can bet that each visit will be just what your barbecue craving is fixin’ for. But Hamp’s doesn’t just make lip smacking barbecue, their six different homemade sides are worth the trip alone. From spicy red beans and rice to macaroni and cheese, BBQ baked beans, potato salad, cheesy potatoes, and creamy coleslaw, y’all have a tough time deciding which to get. Of course, no Southern barbecue would be complete without a serving of cornbread, and Hamp’s cornbread is granny-slappin’ good. Hamp’s County Line Barbecue is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 12:00 – 8:00 pm, and Sundays 3:00 – 8:00 pm. (MG)
Jimmy's Roadhouse A favorite spot for travelers as well as locals, Jimmy's has a full menu, a full bar, and a large deck for those who prefer dining al fresco. The burgers are outstanding and they put out what are perhaps the best homemade potato chips in the area. Entertainment at Jimmy's has run the gamut from concerts to corn hole competition to cage fighting and owner Jim Corey always seems to be offering a new twist or two for folks who want a little fun with their food. KD
Newaygo Brewing Co.
If you're looking for a fun brewery environment, but don't want to make the trip to Beer City USA, check out Newaygo Brewing Co. One of Newaygo County's newest residents, Newaygo Brewing pumps out delicious and unique brews that rival their equally delicious and unique artisan pizzas. Fear not, non-beer lovers! Their drink menu also includes hard cider and wine as well as root beer that is dangerously good with vanilla ice cream. MJ
River Stop Cafe
River Stop Cafe in downtown Newaygo has been a staple in its current location for nearly two decades. From salads to soups to sandwiches, enjoy traditional coffee shop fare with a small town flare. While you're there, be sure to try one of the specialty coffees or enjoy the not-as-recent-as-we-like-to-think bar for a local beer or a worldly glass of wine. MJ
A familiar site to those who frequent the waters of Hess Lake, a recently renovated Smuggler's Cove offers an intimate nautical environment for landlubbers and water voyagers alike. Arrive by land or sea (er, lake) and help yourself to a hearty plate of nachos or choose from one of the largest and most unique seafood selections in the area, all while enjoying a stunning view of Hess Lake during summer or winter. MJ
Shamrock Bar and Grill
Under new ownership and supported by a great kitchen and wait staff is the byword at the Shamrock Pub and Grill located at 1300 E 8th St. White Cloud. Modern new furnishings, large screen TVs and new carpet complete the makeover for this large, bright Michigan style roadhouse. The Shamrock has an attractive, well-stocked back bar, a good selection of beers on tap or by the bottle and new menu of your favorite pub grub. Try the pot of tots for a trip down memory lane. For a special dinner you can choose from a nice selection of interesting entrees or the daily special. A great place to turn off M37 as you are going to and from your up North weekend retreat or to while away those cold winter evenings arguing over your favorite Michigan team or discussing the political plot du jour. The Shamrock has a bandstand and nice size dance floor so check for the next booking. CC
Fuego: A Fusion Kitchen
If you are looking for somethng new and exciting for your taste buds, look no further than Fuego: A Fusion Kitchen located in downtown Grant. With one of the most unique and tantalizing menus in the county, you will find something for everyone. Fill your bellies with sushi that is full of flavor and out of this world, or go for the famous street tacos that are mouthwatering delicious. Try one of everything and then try it again! Fuego: A Fusion Kitchen is a gem! With a fun atmosphere, friendly staff, and amazing food, you can't go wrong. MW
The Grant Depot
The Grant Depot is located in the historical train depot that served the area beginning in 1891 and was turned into the popular dining destination it is now in 1979. Stop in for breakfast and fill up on classics like the Train Wreck, a mix of eggs, hash browns and veggies, or a plate of fluffy pancakes. Lunch and dinner options abound as well, with giant homemade sandwiches and daily dinner specials, and don't forget about the deep fried pickles that are to die for! You will find something for the entire family. With a quaint, warm and family-friendly atmosphere decorated with train memorabilia and historical photographs, you can learn about the history of The Grant Depot and get a wonderful home cooked meal. Don't forget to grab a homemade pie or giant cookie on the way out! MW
Decorated inside with Newaygo County memorabilia and curios, Koffee Kuppe is a great stop for a caffeine fix, ice cream craving, or casual lunch or dinner in downtown Fremont. A friendly spot with specialty drinks and coffees, soups, salads, wraps, sandwiches and best of all....serving Hudsonville Ice Cream, a West Michigan finely crafted ice cream! MB
Lakes 23 Restaurant and Pub
Located between 2nd and 3rd Lakes (hence the name) at Waters Edge Golf Course in Fremont, Lakes 23 Restaurant and Pub has a full menu for dining, as well as tasty appetizers and drinks for a fun happy hour or get-together with friends. Enjoy a stunning view of the lake and luscious green golf course while dining on steaks, salmon, perch, shrimp tacos, artisan burgers and sandwiches such as my favorite "Walleye Sammie"...a fun dining adventure! MB
An area favorite for their breakfast items being served all day, Moondance Cafe also offers appetizers, soups, salads, stuffed hash browns, paninis, burgers, Mexican cuisine and unique dinner entrees. Outdoor seating is available for those nice weather days! Located on the west side of Fremont. MB
Hit the Road Joe
Try the stuffed French toast. It really is unlike anything else you'll ever eat. There are other things on the menu, of course. For breakfast you could enjoy a sandwich, Eggs Benedict or old fashioned oatmeal to name a few. For lunch you could choose from paninis, Rubens, and wraps, all with fresh garden ingredients. Drinks are just as fun, with Italian sodas, lattes and juices to round out your meal or to be enjoyed alone while you soak in the homemade jewelry and artisan goods that adorn the walls. You can sit for hours enjoying the relaxing views and local feeling. But don’t forget your checkbook or cash as they do not accept credit cards. AM
One of the most popular bar and restaurant combinations in Newaygo County, Northern Trails offers a wide variety of food and beverages. The menu offers everything from burgers to fish and shrimp as well as salads and pasta dishes. Karaoke starts at 9:00 every Friday and Saturday evening, providing entertainment for those who come from far and wide. When a fire destroyed the original building years ago, it was rebuilt to provide plenty of room in the new, larger building, making for quick seating with friendly and efficient wait staff. AM