As one of the largest cities in the northeast corner of the state, Alpena has become a tourist destination in and of itself. Not only is it home to some of the best beaches on Lake Huron, but it also is located within close proximity to the Presque Isle lighthouses.
If you are planning on taking a trip to Alpena, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many top-notch Alpena restaurants to try. Many of the restaurants in this community are locally owned and operated, which gives tourists an authentic taste of the town.
These are some of the best local Alpena restaurants to try…
Enjoy Fresh Flavors at The Courtyard Restaurant in Alpena
The Courtyard Restaurant has been a mainstay in Alpena since the 1980s. In fact, many locals consider it one of the best places to grab a meal in the northeast region of the state. However, this restaurant has been owned and operated by a local couple since 2006, and ever since they have taken it over, they have made it a priority to make sure that every patron receives a fresh, delicious meal in front of them — no matter what.
The indoor dining area inside the Courtyard Restaurant is both elegant and welcoming. It has a cozy atmosphere, and the wood kitchen tables that are used as dining tables help people to feel right at home when they dine here.
In addition to having a delightful atmosphere that is perfect for couples seeking romance or families searching for a fun place to have a meal, this restaurant also offers seasonal menus. The menu changes completely four times per year, and each option on the menu is created based on what is available during that season.
The restaurant also has a fresh fish program, which allows them to receive fresh fish six days per week. It’s one of the best places to have seafood in Alpena.
Experience Galactic Dining with The Fresh Palate
The Fresh Palate is another locally-owned restaurant in the city that is run by an Alpena native. The owner of this restaurant grew up in Alpena and discovered his love of cooking in his grandma’s kitchen.
In fact, he still has his grandma deliver her fresh, home-baked cookies to the restaurant once per week, so everyone can enjoy the love that she puts into her treats.
Largely known as an American fusion restaurant, The Fresh Palate features an eclectic menu that is perfect for anyone who is searching for a casual meal that is still full of flavor. The menu is so varied, that anyone who is craving any type of food is sure to find what they both want and need on it.
From gourmet burgers and stone-fired pizzas to burritos, rice bowls, sushi, and more, there are endless options available to diners.
With its space-age theme, this restaurant is known as the place to go when you are searching for a cosmic experience. There is both indoor and patio dining available, and there also is free delivery to anywhere in the downtown area.
Spice it Up at Mango’s Tequila Bar and Mexican Restaurant
If you are in the mood for Mexican food in Alpena, then Mango’s Tequila Bar is the place to go. This downtown restaurant is a favorite among Alpena locals and visitors alike, and it is known for having a menu that includes everyone’s favorite Mexican dishes as well as authentic specialties that can’t be found at typical quick-service Mexican restaurants.
The dining space inside Mango’s Tequila Bar is bright, colorful, and festive, and it sets the stage for a lively meal that is full of fun. The owners of the restaurant are constantly coming up with creative dishes and vibrant cocktails to try, which means that everyone can try something new when they visit.
In addition to having an indoor dining area, this restaurant also has a patio area that allows people to enjoy al fresco dining. While dining outside, you can soak up the views of the breathtaking mural that has been created on the exterior wall.
Grab a Bite at Latitudes Tavern
Everyone knows that you can often get the best meal at the dive bar in town, and the same holds true in Alpena. Latitudes Tavern is an old-fashioned bar that is located inside a historic building. It has been operating as a bar in the city since 1935 — though its name has changed a few times over the years.
While the sign out front may have been switched out a couple of times, the commitment to excellence has remained consistent. Today, people still come to Latitudes Tavern when they want a fresh, home-cooked meal, a beverage to wash the day away, and a place to have good conversation with great friends.
On the menu, you will find classic pub-style food, such as burgers, fish and chips, and hot dogs. If you are in the mood for more of a snack, you will love the appetizers on the menu, which include jalapeño poppers, mozzarella sticks, and mini tacos.
In addition to having great food and a lively atmosphere, Latitudes Tavern is the only place in town that offers a trivia night. The owners of the bar brought this new tradition to Alpena in 2008, and it has become a favorite activity among both the people who live in Alpena and those who are just passing through.
Head to Black Sheep Pub for an Authentic English Experience
If you need a vacation from your vacation, then consider heading to the Black Sheep Pub. When you walk through the doors of this pub in downtown Alpena, you will feel as if you have been transported across the pond to England.
Its authentic atmosphere and commitment to bringing the best of Great Britain to the United States allow you to enjoy a truly unique experience during your Northern Michigan getaway.
The Black Sheep Pub features a menu that includes English favorites, such as shepherd’s pie, fish and chips, and scotch eggs. However, it also has other meals from around the world for people to enjoy, such as pizza, chicken curry, fish tacos, and more. It’s a truly international experience.
Of course, one of the things that people love the most about this pub is the fact that it always has English ales on tap. And while the owners of the pub love to share their passion for England with others, they aren’t shy about their love of Michigan either. You’ll always be able to grab a pint of your favorite Michigan craft beer at this bar as well.
Sit Down to a Family Meal at JJ’s Steak and Pizza House
Located in downtown Alpena, JJ’s Steak and Pizza House is well known around town as being one of the best spots in town for a family meal.
For 30 years, JJ’s has lived up to its name, serving up delicious pizza, juicy steaks, and a full menu that features just about anything your heart desires.
In addition to pizza and steak, JJ’s offers seasonal seafood options, homemade giant hoagies, calzones, pasta, sandwiches, salads, rice bowls, and burgers.
Many families come to JJs for lunch and dinner, but they also serve a tasty breakfast. JJ’s two-egger (two eggs with hash browns, meat, and toast) is a hard deal to beat, and the breakfast menu also includes omelets, breakfast pizza, and loaded skillets.
Head South of the Border at Pompeyos
Fans of Mexican food will love Pompeyos, a waterfront restaurant which sits right on the Lake Huron shoreline. Picture yourself south of the border as you dig into scrumptious nachos, burritos, enchiladas, and a variety of steak, pork, chicken, and seafood options.
There are also several great vegetarian options, including a cheese burrito combo with rice and beans and a combo that includes a bean tostada, an enchilada, rice, and beans.
If you like to mix and match your menu, Pompeyos offers more than a dozen combo plates so you can order your favorite or try something new.
Pompeyos also features a multitude of options, including daily specials like enchiladas,
Don’t forget to order a drink with your meal! Choose from all your Mexican favorites and some unique twists on classics, including jalapeno margaritas and flavored pina coladas.
Enjoy a Taste of Home at The Old Polish Corner
For authentic Polish and American cruise in a cozy setting, head to Alpena’s The Old Polish Corner. Their menu is full of classic homecooked meals with a twist, including Polish Pasties filled with sausage, potatoes, onions, carrots, cabbage, and sauerkraut.
Awesome Mitten’s writer Amanda Shaffer had a rave review of The Old Polish Corner during her 48 Magical Hours in the Sanctuary of the Great Lakes.
Nourish Yourself at John Boy’s
Whether you are in need of a fresh, hot breakfast before you head out to explore Rotary Island Mill Park or you are craving something cheesy and delicious for a weekend dinner, you can count on John Boy’s in Alpena to satisfy your hunger.
John Boy’s is a local diner that has been serving the people of Alpena and all those who visit the city for more than three decades.
On the surface, John Boy’s may appear to be a classic diner serving up fresh American favorites, but it actually has a surprisingly diverse menu. Some of its more unique and innovative options include the homemade crab rangoon stix and the pizza burger. With Mexican food, pizza, burgers, and appetizers on the menu, you certainly won’t leave feeling hungry.
Pair a Great Food and Drink Together at Red Brick Tap & Barrel
One of the newest additions to the Alpena restaurant scene, Red Brick Tap & Barrel has arguably become one of the most popular.
Whether you’re looking for a place to have a sit-down family meal, order a beer, and watch the game, or you’re looking for a new restaurant to try, Red Brick will leave you anything but disappointed.
The restaurant is inspired by upscale eateries in bigger cities and that’s reflected in a menu with unique dishes made from local ingredients along with refreshing cocktails and an impressive whiskey selection.
Start your meal off with tasty apps like buffalo cauliflower or loaded tater tots. Choose from entrees that include Waygu beef burgers, fresh salads, mouth-watering sandwiches, as well as steak and fish options.
Red Brick is located right in downtown Alpena, so it’s a great spot to stop for a meal during a day of shopping and exploring.
Enjoy Awesome Pub Fare at Player’s Pub & Grub
If you’re looking for a tasty meal, look no further than Player’s Pub & Grub, located on 9th Ave in Alpena.
Not only can you choose from a full menu, which includes excellent pub fare including apps, burgers, sandwiches, and even several tater tot options. But visitors can also stop in for daily specials. The specials include everything from yummy sandwiches to fresh fish to sushi to smash burgers.
Customers looking to unwind after work can also stop in for happy hour Monday-Thursday.
The food is good, but it’s complimented by Player’s Pub’s welcoming atmosphere. There’s a jukebox, pool tables, plenty of spirits and beer options, and great food to really make you feel welcome.
Chow Down at Twin Acres 19th Hole
For more than five decades, Twin Acres 19th Hole, a family-owned business, has been a favorite among locals and out-of-towners and has always been dedicated to serving up a good meal and an even better time.
In its early days, it was one of the city’s top entertainment venues where names like Bob Seger and Steppenwolf once played. In the early 1990s, it was remodeled and reopened with its current sports theme.
The menu features steaks, Mexican entrees, sandwiches, pizza, and burgers, which some locals swear are the best in town.
Feast at Freier’s Pizzeria & Italian Bistro
If you’re looking for some great pizzas in Alpena, then look no further than Freier’s Pizzaria & Italian Bistro. Offering dine-in, carry-out, and no-contact delivery, this family-owned Italian bistro with an old-school feel in downtown Alpena serves up mouthwatering pies from scratch every day using only the freshest ingredients available.
Freier’s offers both traditional thin crust and deep dish varieties of pizza, along with calzones, salads, pasta dishes, sandwiches, and other tasty treats. If you don’t see exactly what you are looking for on the menu, ask one of the friendly staff members about creating a custom pie. They will happily oblige!
Freier’s Pizzeria is located near downtown Alpena, making it easy to find if you happen to be passing through the area. You’ll definitely enjoy dining here when you come back again.
Sip Your Favorite Libations at These Alpena Wineries, Breweries, and Cideries
As the restaurant scene in Alpena continues to grow and prosper, there also is a growing demand for wineries, breweries, and cideries. Like many other lake-front destinations in Michigan, Alpena has become a haven for locally-owned craft breweries and wineries.
If you are looking for a place to relax with your favorite beverage, consider one of these places in Alpena:
Hopside Brewery is a craft brewery that opened in the city in 2018. Its chic, industrial interior provides patrons with a relaxing place to have conversation with their friends as they drink great beer together.
Austin Bros Beer Co.
For the better part of a decade, Austin Bros Beer Co., a family-owned brewery, has taken Northeast Michigan by storm.
How? For one thing, its selection of delicious brews is offered in numerous local shops and eateries and has become a go-to among local beer drinkers.
Its year-round offerings included the pilsner-inspired Cherry Bomb, the Nrthrn Lts ale, and 45er IPA.
Austin Bros also features tasty seasonal offerings and special releases that locals and visitors alike forward to.
Not to be left out, but Austin Bros’ restaurant offers an inviting rustic decor and a selection of tasty pub food. Nosh on classics like burgers and sandwiches, or try one of their unique options like the Portobello Pita, the Brisket Burnt End Sandwich, or the Smoked Beef Salad.
One of the best meal combinations of all time is a burger and beer and you can find the perfect pairing at Austin Bros!
Thunder Bay Winery
Thunder Bay Winery is a local Michigan vineyard that has a tasting room in the heart of downtown Alpena, allowing locals and visitors alike to sip high-quality Michigan wine.
Knaebe’s Apple Farm and Ciderworks
Knaebe’s Apple Farm and Ciderworks is located in nearby Rogers City, and it has a tasting room where the staff serves up its hard cider that is hand-crafted from the apples grown on the orchard. (It’s on our list of the best apple orchards & cider mills in Michigan!)
Presque Isle Farm (PIF) is based in the nearby village of Posen and this family-owned business’ hobby of making and fine-tuning naturally fermented cider.
Make no mistake — these aren’t the typical cider found in your local grocer. These are made with locally produced apples and crafted with specific kinds of apples to bring flavor profiles that are similar to wine.
PIF recently opened a taproom right in the heart of Alpena and offers a number of unique options. In addition to its 12 rotating taps, PIF also offers artisan bread, baklava, outdoor seating, and even a seasonal food truck.
PIF ciders can be found in several stores around Alpena as well as spots in Bay City, Frankenmuth, and Ann Arbor among others.
PIF encourages customers to eat their vegetables and drink their fruit and there are definitely a lot of great flavors to try here.
Eat, Stay, & Play in Alpena Michigan
Whether you are coming to Alpena to stay for the weekend (browse our recommendations for hotels in Alpena Michigan or campgrounds near Alpena MI) or you have a week-long adventure planned (check out the best things to do in Alpena) in this nautical town, you will find that there are plenty of restaurants to sample. Each menu is unique in its own way, ensuring that you never get the same dining experience twice.