Outdoor Dining Delights
Are Plentiful in LaPorte County
Soft breezes, warm temperatures, and sunny days herald summertime throughout Northern Indiana. Restaurants spruce up their patios and decks, break out the warm-weather furniture, and with a flourish, set the tables for summer feasts that are a cause for celebration. With the long, long winter finally over, LaPorte County eateries are happily welcoming back old friends and looking forward to new visitors.
Delicious outdoor dining options abound in Michigan City and the community of LaPorte, both located in LaPorte County – that favorite summer getaway spot that boasts Lake Michigan beaches, clear inland lakes, and loads of outdoor activity. The county also is the gateway to Indiana Dunes National Park. When it comes to good food and plenty of options for alfresco dining (many with magnificent views and kid menus, too), you’ve chosen the perfect place. Right this way – your table is ready!
Heart of Uptown
It’s the place to be: Michigan City’s Uptown Arts District, filled with great restaurants that offer patio dining.
Fiddlehead Restaurant, Michigan City – Chic and hip with glass-topped outdoor tables, Fiddlehead features fare with an upscale twist, such as the Hipster: pulled pork and bacon with unique toppings on a pretzel roll or Build-your-own Mac and Cheese. Menu must-try: Sweet potato tots.
Leeds Public House, Michigan City – At this trendy gastropub, match delicacies such as hangar steak, lamb chops or their special LPH burger that blends short rib, brisket, and chuck with a craft beer from one of many Northern Indiana breweries. Menu must-try: Fried feta cubes breaded in panko and served with sweet chili ranch.
Shoreline Brewery & Restaurant, Michigan City – Their brews have won the World Beer Cup award twice and are the perfect pairings for classy entrees and upscale pub food in a beautiful brewpub setting that includes outdoor tables. From Swedish meatballs to French-style walleye, the food draws raves. Menu must-try: Award-winning Grecian lamb burger.
Views of Lake Michigan and its harbor in Michigan City, along with Pine Lake in LaPorte, make outdoor dining a visual pleasure.
Boardwalk Beach Bar & Grille/T-Bones at Pier 11, LaPorte – You can’t get much closer to the water than these companion restaurants, all part of the Blue Heron Inn Complex. At the Boardwalk Beach Bar & Grille, perched on a platform above Pine Lake, enjoy burgers and nachos, plus beers on tap and great margaritas. It’s also a great place to relax before or after dinner at T-Bone’s, a longtime favorite known for succulent steaks, seafood, and a variety of chicken entrees. Menu must-try: Steak-and-whiskey flat bread at the Boardwalk. Twin Medallions at T-Bone’s (filets of beef grilled over hardwood with tantalizing trimmings).
Bridges Waterside Grille, Michigan City – Even the menu is fun at this casual spot with patio dining on umbrella-shaded picnic tables overlooking the water. You’ll find choices galore for “Meat Heads, Veg Heads, and Fish Heads,” plus plenty of brews and cocktails. Menu must-try: Grilled salmon burger with ginger-teriyaki crust.
Fish Camp, Michigan City – This upscale spot is known for its expansive raw bar plus amazing seafood creations such as shrimp and grits or linguini clam vongole. Located in the historic Michigan City Yacht Club overlooking the mouth of the Lake Michigan Harbor, the restaurant also boasts a great cocktail and wine list. Menu must-try: Crab Elote (jumbo lump crab with tasty toppings).
Matey’s Bar & Restaurant, Michigan City – They call their Tiki Deck a piece of the Florida Keys right here in Indiana, but the lovely view is pure Lake Michigan. Indulge in delicious burgers, baskets, and sandwiches, including Matey’s signature beer-battered perch, on the menu for 25 years. The Crow’s Nest, the highest part of the three-level establishment, is a super place to enjoy a drink and watch the sunset. Menu must-try: Lobster nachos.
Sunset Grille, Michigan City – One of the most closeup views of Lake Michigan, complete with those stunning sunsets, is yours at this restaurant and bar at the Washington Park beach. Enjoy burgers, hot dogs, chicken bites, and sandwiches, plus local beers and wine. Beachgoers can also buy concessions on the lower level. Open Memorial Day weekend through September.
LaPorte County’s pristine golf courses draw players from all over the three-state Indiana-Illinois-Michigan area. But just as mesmerizing as the greens is the delicious dining at two of the courses in the community of LaPorte, where you can enjoy dinner with a verdant view.
Portofino Grill, LaPorte – Located at Briar Leaf Golf Club, this upscale restaurant is known as one the area’s top culinary destinations. The extensive menu features duck, walleye, steak, sandwiches, and delicious homemade salad dressings and desserts. Outdoor dining on the veranda provides expansive views of the course. Menu must-try: Duck breast with cherry port sauce.
Bistro on the Greens, LaPorte – Southern comfort food with a sophisticated twist, a reflection of award-winning Chef John Moultrie’s Louisiana heritage, stars at this restaurant overlooking the Legacy Hills Golf Course. Jambalaya, shrimp creole, and bread pudding rank among customer favorites. The menu includes steaks and more traditional Midwestern fare too. Menu must-try: Fried green tomatoes served with Creole remoulade sauce.
Every community has them – those much-loved pizzerias, casual bar and grills, and steakhouses that pop immediately to mind when local residents head out for lunch or dinner. In some cases, these top spots have drawn diners for generations.
Albano’s Villa, Michigan City and LaPorte – Pizza lovers have made Albano’s their go-to spot since the first of this family’s pizzerias opened in 1957. Family recipes passed down from Sicily, the thin crust, and house-made sausage draw raves from customers. Try the traditional pasta, sandwiches and salads too. Menu must-try: Albano’s Masterpiece – their specialty pizza loaded with choice toppings.
Blind Pig Tavern and Restaurant, Michigan City – Diners love the outdoor area of this fun restaurant, with a swing set and sandbox to keep the kids occupied while the adults enjoy a beverage before their meal or the kids finish eating first. Small bites, pizza, and sandwiches are among the offerings. Menu must-try: Shrimp and grit fritters (cheesy blend tossed in a light batter and served with mango pepper sauce).
Swingbelly’s, Michigan City – This family favorite has known a few different homes, but today’s location, complete with patio dining, is the best ever. The bountiful menu features everything from Reubens to ribs, including a host of appetizers, sandwiches, entrees, and desserts. Menu must-try: Belly Buster burger, topped with mushrooms, olives, bacon, and more.
3rd Base Bar and Grill, LaPorte – An expansive menu featuring burgers, sandwiches, baskets, and nachos, listed in fun baseball categories such as Pre-Game, Minor League, and even Little League for the kids’ menu, spells fun and good food at this casual eatery across the street from Pine Lake. Menu must-try: Jalapeno bottle caps (red and green pepper rings lightly breaded and deep fried).
What’s a great getaway without a great breakfast to fuel up for the day’s adventures or a tasty midday meal?
Sophia’s House of Pancakes, Michigan City – One vacationing family said their breakfast at Sofia’s was so delicious, they returned the next morning for a repeat meal! Diners can eat outside under bright red umbrellas, feasting on pancakes, omelets and other tempting fare such as chicken tenders atop Belgian waffles. filling noontime meals include sandwiches, gyros, and homemade meatloaf. Menu must-try: Irish Benedict (Corned beef hash and poached eggs atop English muffins with Hollandaise).
Insider Tip: One of the easiest and most enjoyable outdoor dining experiences can be found at a friendly local picnic table! Most of the restaurants listed above offer carryout service. Here are a couple great spots with picnic tables where you can enjoy your feast: Washington Park along the Lake Michigan shore in Michigan City and Soldiers Memorial Park along the shores of Pine Lake in LaPorte.