521 Lake Blvd, St. Joseph
This American Bistro on Lake Michigan has a well-deserved and unrivaled reputation in Southwest Michigan. The view through the French doors overlooking the bluff is spectacular no matter what season, though dining outside on the porch has its own special charm, particularly at sunset or on a starry summer night. The interior of the dining room and cozy adjacent bar is impeccable. The menu changes frequently to accommodate seasonal, fresh and available fruits and vegetables, much of which are grown locally, but the basic entrée list—created by executive chef Ryan Thornburg, who worked as the restaurant's sous chef for three years when it first opened—is extensive. Thornburg returned in 2009 after working as executive chef at Tosi's Restaurant and then the Orchard Hills Country Club, to replace longtime executive chef Ali Barker, who moved from the area. Thornburg's menu items include Horseradish Crusted Salmon accompanied by sautéed spinach in a Michigan cherry vinaigrette, Steak Frites—a tallgrass 8-ounce top sirloin with pomme frites and herb butter—and Crispy Duck Confit with Sweet Potato Perogies, Micro Greens, and Walnut Vinaigrette. Prices are reasonable, starting at $18 for Chicken and Pasta dishes, to steaks for around $30. Be sure to check out the last Wednesday of the month's sushi menu for a unique selection of rolls and starters as well as a choice of sakes. Reservations are always helpful, especially on the weekends.