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Shortlisted: Eight Restaurants In Gaylord, MI, Which Locals Love!

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Gaylord, Michigan is a top biking destination thanks to its diverse terrain and picture-worthy routes. However it’s also a great place to explore the great outdoors with plenty of opportunities to fish, hike, hunt and just explore on water or land.

Of course, you’ll need some sustenance to tackle all the outdoor activities on offer here and the restaurants in Gaylord, MI do not disappoint – expect hearty portions and diverse cuisines.

To help you out when you visit, here are some of the best restaurants in Gaylord, MI to check out. Bon appetit!

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Unsplash+

The Best Restaurants In Gaylord, MI, For Food & Fun!

1. The Iron Pig Smokehouse

Casual place that specializes in barbecue and comfort food along with a full bar.

The interiors of The Iron Pig are warm and inviting with large full windows and plenty of spot lighting. There’s plenty of merchandize displayed on the walls too, so you can take a piece of the restaurant home with you to show you enjoyed the food!

There’s a small stage set up here, where they host live events, so it’s a great place to visit when a local band is playing. There’s plenty of choices for seating – there are picnic tables set up inside, so you can get the authentic barbecue experience, and there’s also regular upholstered chairs and wooden tables. There’s a small patio outside as well if you wish to dine al fresco.

It might seem strange to recommend the tacos at a barbecue joint, but they’re a hit with the locals! Go for the brisket tacos which come with brisket, arugula, Mexican blend cheese, pickled red onion and horsey sauce.

The rest of the menu features salads, sandwiches, burgers and, of course, smoked meats. If you’ve brought your appetite, try the sampler platter which contains 1/3 rack of pork ribs, brisket and choice of chicken or pulled pork. All platters come with a choice of two sides (green beans, buttery corn, coleslaw, baked beans or potato salad) and choice of house roll or jalapeno cornbread.

There’s a separate kid’s menu too which features smaller portions and classics for children like chicken fingers. They even serve brunch daily and undertake catering orders!

The Iron Pig is located close to the highway, making it a great pit stop while road tripping through Michigan.

It’s also a great place to come with a group of friends, and the service here is attentive though there may be a bit of a wait time for food.

For one of the best barbecue restaurants in Gaylord, MI, head on over to The Iron Pig Smokehouse. Hours of operation are 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. all days except Sunday when they close at 10:00 p.m.

Address – 143 W Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735

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2. The Pine Squirrel Bar and Grill

Family friendly pub that offers American classics along with beer on tap.

Local owned and in operation since 2017, The Pine Squirrel has a great homely atmosphere that will take you in the moment you enter.

The interiors are reminiscent of a log cabin with warm lighting hanging from the rafters. Seating is a simple affair with wooden chairs and tables spread around along with upholstered seating at the bar. What really sets this place apart, however, is the outdoor patio and tiki bar which is next to a softball field. You can grab a bite and drink while cheering on the local softball teams all summer long!

There’s plenty to do otherwise too with pinball machines, pool tables, air hockey and dart boards! This is a great place to bring the whole family for a good afternoon out.

Start your meal off here with an appetizer which puts a great twist on a classic– the Irish Nachos which come with tender corned beef, cabbage, fresh green onion, sauerkraut, beer cheese, thousand island dressing on a bed of sidewinder French fries.

Switch things up by going for an actual American classic next, the burger. The sloppy burger has people returning for more, even ones that live miles away! It consists of a burger patty, sautéed mushrooms, onions, bacon, double Swiss and horseradish cream sauce. You can build your own burger too with choice of cheese and toppings.

The menu is quite vast with appetizers, entrees, burgers, salads, sandwiches and pizza. The portion sizes are quite substantial so you’ll probably end up taking some home.

The service here is great, though things can get understandably busy as this place is one of the most popular restaurants in Gaylord, MI.

Overall, The Pine Squirrel Bar and Grill is a great local watering hole, definitely worth a visit. The restaurant is open from 11:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday and noon to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Address – 1600 S Otsego Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735

3. Alpine Tavern and Eatery

Casual family friendly pub with bar eats, sports and live music.

Everything about Alpine Tavern and Eatery exudes fun. The restaurant is built around the central bar and seating is standard wooden fare. There are plenty of knick-knacks dotting the walls, from sports memorabilia to quirky posters giving the place a lively feel. You’ll love the vibe of the place especially when a gig is going on, for which they have a separate stage.

Those of you who wish to dine outside won’t be disappointed either, as they have tables and umbrellas on the patio outside. This is a great place to visit with friends or coworkers for a fun night out.

One of the things Alpine does really well is fish, which is fresh as can be. Try the panko encrusted whitefish which is baked or deep fried with panko breadcrumbs and served with a choice of two sides. We recommend the wild rice pilaf and seasonal vegetables to really complete the meal. The fish is nice and crispy on the outside and flaky and delicious on the inside.

While not an exclusive barbecue joint, the ribs here absolutely steal the show. St. Louis style pork ribs slow cooked with their chef’s special seasoning and served either half rack or full rack with a choice of two sides.

The burgers here are excellent too and you can even create your own stuffed burger with a multitude of options to choose from.

The menu is quite expansive and features bar bites, salads, burgers, sandwiches, dinners and pizza. There is also a vast selection of craft beers on tap along with a full bar.

The service here is quick and impeccable and the staff go out of their way to make you feel welcome. There is live music here almost every day, where local artists get to showcase their talents, so make sure you head there when there is a gig going on!

Alpine Tavern is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday and Sunday, with closing hours extending to 10:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

For a great local experience with good food, good music and a very lively atmosphere, head on over to Alpine Tavern and Eatery!

Address – 220 S Otsego Ave #1, Gaylord, MI 49735

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Mironov

4. El Patron Grill

Festive eatery that serves comfort Mexican fare.

You’ll be transported to a lively hacienda the moment you enter El Patron Grill – it really does celebrate Mexican ranch life.

Classy wooden walls intermingle with stone pillars to give the place a rustic look, while colorful flags strung from the ceiling add a festive touch. The seating is contemporary and stylish with classy upholstered furniture – you’ll have your choice of booths, tables or a seat by the bar. Antique photos from Gaylord’s history add a nice local touch to the place.

The menu here features standard Mexican fare such as nachos, quesadillas, burritos, tacos, chimichangas, fajitas and house specials. You’ll have to take your time to make a menu selection as the number of options are so vast!

The La Deliciosa comes highly recommended which consists of sizzling steak, chicken and chorizo cooked with grilled onions, served with Mexican rice, refried beans, guacamole and flour tortillas. The Chile Verde and carnitas are also not to be missed and the green sauce is to die for!

Then round off your meal with their signature cheesecake chimichanga which is a deep fried chimichanga filled with creamy cheese and topped with cinnamon and chocolate syrup.

The menu also features a separate section of veggie plates, so vegetarians have plenty of options too!

One thing to note, though, is that they do charge for chips and salsa, but you won’t have to fill up on that when there are so many mouthwatering dishes to choose from!

El Patron also features a full bar and being a Mexican restaurant, does a mean margarita – we recommend the mango version – its delightful.

The service here is prompt and there is little wait time for food. Hours of operation are from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 11:00 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. on Sunday. For some of the best Mexican food at one of the best restaurants in Gaylord, MI, check them out!

Address – 216 W Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735

Photo for illustrative purposes only: Castillo Ramirez

5. Mama Leone’s Italian Restaurant

Warm family friendly eatery that specializes in Italian food and breakfast plus a full bar.

A true Italian bistro crossed with a quaint granny’s house awaits you at Mama Leone’s.

Frescoed wall designs and arches work along with olive vines hung from the ceiling. The seating is a mix of wooden chairs and upholstered booths and some of the tables come with the classic Italian red and white checkered table cloths.

Several porcelain figurines give the place a quaint feel, while shelves that display wine bottles add a touch of class. There’s plenty of old photographs and paintings adorning the walls too along with a chalkboard that displays the days specials. This is a great place to visit with family!

Mama Leone’s does some excellent pasta and pizza pies. You can build your own pizza using papas homemade cheese pizza as a base.

But it’s their meatball pizza that stands out though. The meatballs are so good you can even choose to buy them by the pound.

The veal parmesan is another fan favorite made with a choice breaded veal cutlet, topped with savory tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese.

When it comes to the pasta, you have to try Papa’s lasagna which comes with homemade pasta, meat sauce, mushrooms, three kinds of cheese baked and topped with mozzarella cheese. All pasta dishes come with home made bread which is warm and fresh. There is also an extensive wine selection with suggestions for pairings mentioned on the menu. The restaurant is also open for breakfast and does all the staples from eggs your way, to omelets griddled items and waffles.

The service here is efficient and there is little wait time for food even though a lot of the pasta is made in house. You should also bring your appetite because the portion sizes are generous!

Mama Leone’s is open 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Thursday through Saturday with closing hours reducing to 8:00 p.m. on Sunday. On Monday, they are open from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. and they are closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. For one of the best Italian restaurants in Gaylord, MI, visit Mama Leone’s!

Address – 2583 S Otsego Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735

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6. Big Buck Brewery

Craft brewery that’s a local icon serving up American comfort food.

Big Buck Brewery was taken over by new management in 2018 and has since been committed to celebrating Michigan based products, featuring new brews and a revamped menu.

You’ll love the interiors which resemble an old school lodge with a wide vaulted ceiling and strong stone accents. Deer trophies adorn the walls and many of the decorations (even the chandeliers) have antlers so you’re left in no doubt that you’re dining in Big Buck.

Apart from this there are also plenty of wooden carvings that really add to the rustic, rugged feel. Seating is classy contemporary wooden mixed with metal and the tables even feature a handcrafted quality. There is live music on offer too.

The pretzel sticks here are a great accompaniment to the in-house brews on offer and the beer cheese sauce they come with is out of this world.

Alternately you could go for the sweet potato waffle fries, which come loaded with the same heavenly beer cheese sauce, cheddar jack and choice of pulled pork or smoked chicken. Topped with house-made slaw and chipotle ranch.

For mains, locals have been raving about the steaks which are certified Angus choice or above and come cooked to your liking with fresh vegetables and choice of side. They can even be topped with bleu cheese, cream sauce, onions or mushrooms for a bit of an extra flavor punch.

Service here is quick and efficient. Come here with your mates to sample some beers and share an appetizer or two before digging into their delicious entrees. They even distil some of their spirits in house!

Big Buck Brewery is easily one of the best restaurants in Gaylord, MI, and is open from 11:30 8:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday with hours of operation extending to 9:00 p.m. on Friday and Saturday. They are closed on Sunday.

Address – 550 S Wisconsin Ave, Gaylord, MI 49735

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

7. Ah-Loy Bamboo

Cozy family run outlet that serves Thai and Chinese cuisine.

Ah-Loy is a Thai term that people use to say the food is good, and boy do people think the food at Ah-Loy good.

It’s a modern restaurant that serves traditional Thai cuisine. There is very little in the way of embellishment here, with the brick walls and simple seating allowing the food to be the stand out. A single mural on one of the walls and a portrait of the Buddha is all that will make you feel this is an Asian restaurant. There are a few tables outside too for those who wish to dine on the patio. Overall, the place is cozy, comfortable and chic and great to head to after an evening out with your friends.

You know its an Asian restaurant when they ask you to specify your spice level! Here it goes from mild, medium, hot or fire!fire!

There are different prices for the lunch and dinner menus and the menu is entirely customizable, with your choice of preparation along with choice of protein – chicken, pork, tofu, beef, shrimp, scallop or house special. You can pair these with their options of fried rice or Thai noodles to complete the meal.

You can’t visit a Thai restaurant and not try the Masaman though, which comes with your choice of protein, Masaman curry, coconut milk, potatoes, onions, peas and peanuts! The egg drop soup and egg rolls are also a smashing success, being freshly made and very flavorful.

There may be a bit of a wait time for food, as everything is freshly prepared, but the wait is well worth the amazing food that they dish out. Other than that, the service is attentive and the servers are well versed with the menu.

Hours of operation are from 11:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 4:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. The restaurant is closed on Sunday. For some of the best Chinese and Thai food at one of the best restaurants in Gaylord, MI, visit Ah-Loy!

Address – 200 W Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735

Photo for illustrative purposes only:

8. Mary’s Stein Haus

German restaurant with fresh brews and authentic German-American fare.

Mary’s has a great old-school pub feel, the kind of place where everybody knows your name.

You’ll likely love the interiors of the place which are bathed in antiquity, giving it a great charm. Lighting from the ceiling is disguised to look like candles and there is a mix and match of furniture with carved wooden seating to solid wooden chairs. You could even pull up a seat by the bar. The brick wall and its several paintings add to the aesthetic of dining in a good ol’ fashioned pub.

The schnitzels here have been the talk of the town amongst the locals and really live up to the hype. A choice of veal or pork with a choice of sauce – mushroom beef gravy, lemon chive sauce or roasted parmesan garlic cream sauce – served on a bed of spaetzle and a choice of one side.

Another hit is the bratwurst, which isn’t a surprise considering it’s a German restaurant, which comes with sauerkraut and sauteed onions. There’s a good selection of mustards to pair with the sausage too! For a bit of a twist, the reuben balls are also a great choice, being in house braised corned beef and sauerkraut rolled into bread dumplings and served with thousand island – a great appetizer to share!

Service here is very efficient and the servers are attentive and helpful. The bartender is also great for recommendations on what to pair with your meal, so make sure you talk to them. This is a great stop in Gaylord if you’re on a road trip and want a quick and hearty meal.

Mary’s is open from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Sunday and Monday, with closing hours extending to 9:30 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday and even further extended to 10:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Address – 330 W Main St, Gaylord, MI 49735

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