Darrow’s Family Restaurant | Mackinaw City, MI

Posted on July 11, 2013 by Tim Tolbert

In operation since 1957, Darrow’s epitomizes a slice of disappearing Americana; a place where families stopped in for a wholesome scratch cooked meal on their way back to or from an idyllic summer vacation in the great northern woods and along the  lake shores of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Before Disney cruises and regional flights, American families used to pile into the family station wagon with tents packed or campers in tow in search of adventure and happiness for a brief mid summer spell. State Parks like Fayette Historical Park and Baraga State Park were popular destinations (and still are today).

3959505594_d3ae40e8bc_zDarrow’s began as a typical Drive-In featuring the American classics – hamburgers, fries, hot dogs and shakes. When the Mackinac Bridge also opened in 1957, Michigan’s Upper Peninsula became a much easier vacation destination for scores of Michiganders and Midwest travelers.  Gradually, Darrow’s expanded and came to be known for menu mainstays like their fresh broiled Whitefish, broasted Chicken, Liver and Onions, Sirloin Tips over Noodles and usually a selection of over 16 fresh baked pies available each day for dessert.

mackinac bridge toll plaza (600 x 322)If I’m lucky, I’ll usually make it to Darrow’s once or twice a summer while enjoying some down time up north. It’s best to arrive before 6:00 PM or your party will be waiting in the line that typically extends out the door into the parking lot every evening during the summer.  Rest assured though, the line moves fast as the proficient wait staff guide patrons through their meals efficiently in order to turn tables several times a night.

Last week I had their broiled Whitefish with fresh cut fries, a northern Michigan classic.  It was as good as it always is, the moist Whitefish speckled with paprika and lightly bronzed under the broiler.   A wedge of lemon and some house made tartar sauce complimented this dish perfectly. Someone else in my party enjoyed the broasted Chicken, with its crispy golden brown skin giving way to moist, perfectly cooked chicken. The Whitefish Basket is also a highlight; moist chunks of Whitefish perfectly deep fried and accompanied with a mountain of fresh fries.

whitefish basket darrow'sThere are a few other old school stalwarts worth seeking out in Mackinaw City, Joanne’s for the best fudge in the Midwest and Audie’s for dinner in case you can’t get into Darrow’s.  Another recommendation is Bell’s or Krueger’s for some smoked Whitefish, a delicious northern Michigan snack not to be missed.

pie display at darrow's (600 x 445)

*Pie Case photo thanks to William Stoneman


Darrow’s Family Restaurant
301 Louvingley
Mackinaw City, Michigan

Darrow's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon


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