6425 N. Lake Shore Dr.
Cross Village Michigan 49723United States
Midwest Living Recommends
Quirky decor, Lake Michigan views and outstanding Polish food come together to create a memorable dining destination in tiny Cross Village.
Imagine a building made of knotty pine and stones dredged from Lake Michigan. Inside hang crystal chandeliers, macrame wall hangings, and driftwood carvings of pirates, mermaids and perhaps a dog. Line the rooftop with antique stove legs, place the whole thing in a garden overlooking Lake Michigan, and, for fun, pipe in Dixieland Jazz. That's the Legs Inn. Oh, and the food is Polish. It sounds hideously tacky on paper, but it's not. The eccentric (or bizarre, depending on taste) destination restaurant was dreamed up by Stanley Smolak, who moved from Detroit in 1921 and builts Legs Inn over several decades as a tribute to the region's natural elements. Today, his family continues the tradition of hospitality, serving savory sausage, lake-fresh whitefish, peppery pierogies and berry-filled crumb cake. It's not haute cuisine, but its some of the best-executed Polish food you'll find. (One hint it's authentic: On our last visit, we spied an elderly woman with a kerchief on her head leave the kitchen for a coffee break. Knowing she might have peeled the potatoes for our potato soup made it taste all the more comforting.) If you find the restaurant's interior overbearing, check out the beautifully landscaped rear patio, where tables line a deep porch and a grassy lawn overlooks Lake Michigan. On weekends, local musicians perform as the sun sets and waves crash in the distance. You'd never expect the view when you enter the restaurant, and a stroll out here is a lovely way to temper the kitsch --and the borscht.