The food isn’t the main attraction at the Fort Mackinac Tea Room, though some menu items like the noteworthy Caesar salad ($11) are worth the heart-pumping trek up the side of a towering bluff to the entrance. Visitors flock here more for the ambience and the scenery; a dozen or so umbrella-topped tables perch 130 feet directly above the park and the harbor. Each seat boasts a view of the Mackinac Bridge to the right; the harbor’s passing freighters, ferries and sailboats straight ahead; and working cannons and the occasional fife-playing soldier to the left.
Located within Michigan’s oldest public building (a former circa-1780 officers’ quarters) on historic Fort Mackinac, the tea room is run by the Grand Hotel. But formal dining gives way to picnic comfort food with menu items like fairly basic chicken wraps ($12) and sloppy Joes ($8.50) served with bagged chips. The most popular dessert is the Grand Pecan Ball with fudge sauce ($8); some 50,000 are served each summer.