With so many lakefront communities in Michigan, there are still a few that are considered hidden gems — and Port Austin is one of them. This small town at the tip of the Michigan Thumb has largely been undiscovered by tourists, so it has a close-knit community.
As a result, Port Austin restaurants and others throughout the surrounding area are largely run by locals. There are hardly any national chain restaurants in the region, which means that every meal you eat will be full of Michigan flavor.
Best Family-Friendly Restaurants in Port Austin
With miles of beach and plenty of places to play, Port Austin is a popular destination among Michigan families who want to enjoy time on the lake. These are the best family-friendly Port Austin restaurants.
Bird Creek Farms
Bird Creek Farms is a farm-to-table restaurant in Port Austin that’s open the entire year. This family-friendly restaurant is known for its welcoming, eclectic atmosphere and is a favorite among residents and travelers alike.
During the winter, diners can enjoy a meal in the cozy farmhouse or in one of the igloos that are housed on the patio. In the summer, the porch and patio come alive as guests soak up the summer sun and enjoy their meals al fresco.
Bird Creek Farms features a seasonal menu that’s largely based on local ingredients — many of which come from its working farm. Whether you’re in the mood for a delicious hometown burger or traditional beef Wellington, you will find it. Since it’s a popular spot, reservations are recommended.
Days on the Lake Restaurant
For waterfront dining in a casual and comfortable atmosphere, head straight to Days on the Lake Restaurant, which is located between Port Austin and Grind Stone City on the shores of Lake Huron.
Located on a camping resort, this restaurant is favored not only by its campers but also by the people who call Port Austin home. It’s open seasonally, typically opening on the weekends in early March and closing after hunting season begins in earnest.
The Days on the Lake Restaurant menu varies from season to season. But, regular patrons have a few favorites that they can count on, such as the clam chowder.
Baywatch on the Beach Grill
Just down the shore from the heart of Port Austin is a beachfront restaurant that everyone loves. Baywatch on the Beach Grill is a low-key, family-friendly restaurant in Caseville that’s open during the summer season between Memorial Day and Labor Day.
You can’t miss this restaurant — it’s located in a small white building on the beach and is highlighted in bright pink trim. The vibrant, colorful umbrellas on the patio instantly create an island-style vibe at this relaxed restaurant.
The grill menu typically features classics — burgers, sandwiches, French fries, and more. So, it’s an easy place for the entire family to go and find something that they love.
Exceptional Fine Dining Restaurants in Port Austin
Port Austin can best be described as a relaxed, leisure community, and it’s rarely referred to as cosmopolitan. However, there are several fine dining restaurants in the city and around the area that you can enjoy if you’re celebrating a special occasion or want to enjoy the finer things in life.
The Bank 1884
Located in downtown Port Austin in a State and National Historic Site, The Bank 1884 has been serving up the finest meals in the city since 1984. Not only is it recognized by locals as the best fine dining restaurant in Port Austin, but it has also received accolades from state and national newspapers, including Zagat.
The menu at The Bank 1884 is varied, but every meal is handcrafted to perfection and includes small touches that make a big difference. You can stop by this year-round restaurant for breakfast, lunch, or dinner on any day except for Monday or Tuesday.
If you want to have dinner here, your best bet is to make reservations in advance.
Port Austin is best known for its waterfront views of Lake Huron, but it’s also a rural community that’s rooted in agriculture. The Farm is a restaurant that celebrates that heritage and serves diners made-from-scratch meals in a homelike, country setting.
Combining a relaxed atmosphere with fine dining menu selections has created a new type of dining experience in the community, and it’s beloved by both locals and visitors in the area. The menu changes frequently because it’s always based on the freshest local ingredients.
In addition, this restaurant is open semi-seasonally. During the summer, visitors will find more opportunities to dine at the restaurant. During the winter, it’s only open for dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays.
Top Port Austin Restaurants for a Quick Bite
The down-to-earth nature of Port Austin lends itself to the casual restaurant niche. As a result, there are many places where you can grab a quick and delicious bite. At any of these Port Austin restaurants, you can expect friendly service, homemade food, and an enjoyable atmosphere.
Pak’s Backyard is a fast-casual restaurant that celebrates the vacation lifestyle that everyone enjoys in this community during the summer months. Open seasonally, it serves quick bites on its waterfront patio.
Diners can enjoy their meals at picnic tables, or simply grab a beer to sip in its beer garden — which is lined with brightly-colored Adirondack chairs that overlook Lake Huron.
Shelley’s Bar & Grill
Just outside of Port Austin in Grind Stone City is a local joint that’s definitely one of the best hidden gems in the area. Shelley’s Bar & Grill is easy to miss, but you won’t want to overlook this casual restaurant.
Open year-round, this restaurant serves homemade food and is known for its monthly specials. There’s always something new to try, but you never have to worry — it will always be delicious!
Lake Street Local
Lake Street Local arguably has the best bar atmosphere in Port Austin. This year-round restaurant is situated in the heart of historic downtown Port Austin.
Not only will you always find the best game of the night on its large, flat-screen TVs, but you’ll also be greeted with an extensive menu that has all of the best classics on it.
This is the place to be if you like trivia nights, weekly specials, and entertaining staff members who love to establish a rapport with regular customers.
Located on the side of M-53 on the outskirts of Port Austin, the Lighthouse Cafe is an unassuming restaurant that’s easy to pass. However, you’ll want to make a point to stop at this charming diner, which serves breakfast and lunch.
During the summer, Lighthouse Cafe is open daily. But during the winter months, it’s only open on the weekends. Grabbing a hearty and nourishing meal at this intimate diner is one of the best ways to start any day in Port Austin.
Delicious Ice Cream Shops in Port Austin
Like any good lakefront town, Port Austin is home to many amazing ice cream shops. Here’s where to get a scoop of your favorite flavors.
Blue Moon Ice Cream Shoppe
Blue Moon Ice Cream is a seasonal ice cream shop located in the heart of downtown Port Austin that specializes in hand-dipped ice cream and shakes.
Typically, this ice cream shop opens in the middle of May and stays open until the middle of September. It’s one of the few places in the Michigan Thumb where you can get a scoop of Michigan-made Guernsey ice cream.
Grindstone General Store
For a larger-than-life ice cream experience, head to the Grindstone General Store in nearby Grind Stone City. This spot is famous for having the largest ice cream cones in the Thumb.
However, stopping here can also be an educational experience. The Grindstone General Store has been operating in town for more than 135 years.
Shakers Ice Cream Parlor
Between Port Austin and Caseville, there’s a roadside ice cream shop that’s absolutely worth a stop on a warm summer evening. Shakers Ice Cream Parlor is a favorite among the young and the young at heart in Caseville.
It always features dozens of unique ice cream flavors and has a welcoming atmosphere. With both indoor and outdoor seating available, Shakers Ice Cream Parlor is a great place to grab an ice cream cone after a day on the beach or a round of mini golf.
Try All the Local Port Austin Restaurants
While it would be easy to spend all of your time in Port Austin touring the various locally-owned restaurants, keep in mind that there are many other things to do in Port Austin that will round out your itinerary. And with Port Austin hotels and lodging options, you can spend several days here!