After a long winter, there’s nothing quite like that first lunch at a downtown sidewalk café or the inaugural al fresco dinner of the season overlooking Grand Traverse Bay. Restaurateurs are excited for the growing season to begin so they can start working their magic with locally sourced fruits and vegetables.
Morel mushrooms are the elusive gems found in the area woods each spring, and local chefs use them to create every kind of edible masterpiece you can imagine – from fluffy farm-fresh-egg omelets to perfectly grilled Kobe beef steaks smothered in a rich morel mushroom sauce. Fresh whitefish, perch and salmon from area waters also lend themselves to become eclectic dishes of fresh flavors when mixed with the talents of the area’s chefs and restaurateurs.
Asparagus is another spring favorite ingredient. These tender green shoots find their way in appetizers, salads, side dishes, soups and even as the Main Event. When something’s in season up here, we use it to its full potential! The lakeshore village of Empire hosts its Asparagus Festival each May, celebrating the season with games, dinners and an annual oral poetry contest for the best "Ode to Asparagus."
With so much local bounty and so many talented chefs, it’s no wonder Bon Appetit has named Traverse City one of America’s Top Five Foodie Towns!