We’ve all been there. You’ve been counting down the days for Saturday to arrive only to have your weekend plans doused by rain. If you’re a true Michigander, you simply shift gears and schedule a road trip! Only one thing can make a chocolate milkshake taste better, and that’s savoring it at the counter of a diner you just discovered while traveling the backroads of West Michigan.
So grab a friend or two and fill up your tank because we’re taking a West Michigan Road Trip—one diner at a time.
STOP 1 – BLUEBERRY PANCAKES AND BLUEGRASS
Breakfast is to diners what corned beef hash is to eggs. We begin our tour at the marvelous Nena’s Cooper Café in Cooper. You know that the breakfast is going to be excellent when a diner doesn’t even try to mess with offering dinner. This quirky diner features an electric train that circles the dining area, and while you’re enjoying your breakfast burrito, you just might be serenaded by a bluegrass band that drops in regularly.
Nena’s Cooper Café: 7759 Douglas Ave, Cooper
STOP 2 – JUST DON’T ASK FOR NED
Make sure to take the scenic drive up M-43 to NEDS. Slow down as you pass by the North end of Gull Lake. Nestled across the road is a delightful deli/restaurant/bar where you can enjoy grinders, pizzas or burgers inside or dine al fresco in the wonderful lakeside ambiance. They serve lunch and dinner, and offer a special treat on Sundays—a BBQ bonanza of pulled pork, brisket, and ribs. Just don’t ask for Ned. NEDS stands for North End Deli & Spirits.
NEDS: 15450 S M-43, Hickory Corners
STOP 3 – DOH, DONUTS!
No Diner Tour is complete without a pit-stop along the way for a snack or two, right? Don’t let the non-descript name of this place fool you. Bloomingdale Bulk Foods & Bent-n-Dent (AKA Triple Bee) is located just west of Bloomingdale, and features a beautiful cedar entrance. Careful, parking next to the Amish buggy or two that will likely be in the parking lot. This General Store carries a wonderful assortment of bulk foods, deli cheeses, and natural foods. But the real reason you’re there? THOSE DONUTS—made fresh on Fridays and Saturdays.
Bloomingdale Bulk Foods & Bent-n-Dent: 44085 CR 388, Bloomingdale
STOP 4 – DINNER & A DINOSAUR
Long ago in Cassopolis, there stood an ordinary Sinclair gas station. Restored in all its glory, it’s now a quirky tourist attraction featuring that green dinosaur standing guard on the rooftop. Visitors can travel back in time checking out the art-deco furniture and gas station accessories. But this trip comes with a bonus attraction. Just down the road is the Lakeview Diner, appropriately connected to a classic boat museum. This 50s diner serves lunch and dinner in a fun retro-styled setting complete with a jukebox, neon signs and incredibly delicious milkshakes topped with whipped cream and a cherry.
Lakeview Diner: 980 E State St, Cassopolis
Here’s a thought…take a road trip and discover something new. Just make sure to tell me about it!
3 responses to “Eat Your Way Through West Michigan”
Stopped about six yrs ago, while on a little road trip with a friend, at Nena’s Cooper Cafe on a Saturday around Noon and were so surprised. The little place was packed and you’re right, we were serenaded by a bluegrass duo. Good food, good folks, good fun.
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My favorite diner is Rise-N-Dine in Vicksburg, MI. Family owned and operated . Great food and atmosphere.
I’ll have to check it out 🙂