Bear Lake Tavern – North Muskegon – Michigan

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The BLT (as it’s known in the area, rather than its full name The Bear Lake Tavern), is not the dark greasy spoon as I once remember it to be. On a hot muggy Michigan summer afternoon, I find myself entering a cleaner version of nostalgia. Now, called Thrasher’s Bear Lake Tavern, it is very little of what I remember it to be. The face lift is exactly what this place needed and I’d say, owner, Hoby Thrasher is spot on with the upgrade it needed. We are led to a table with pullout chairs and a wrap around window booth seating, that has a nautical refreshing feel to it, rather than the dark bar I knew.

The friendly hostess and waitress, were polite and patient as we (mother, grandmother, and I) sat and mulled over the new menu. We all ordered water. Let’s just say this cooled us down literally and figuratively, for the sticker shock of the entree prices had my grandmother searching for the lunch menu. I too thought, for the area, it was on the pricey side, or perhaps, I’ve been out of state for too long to realize the prices have have gone up immensely. (The cost for an entree is similar to that of one in Santa Barbara, CA.) So to the lunch section we turned to contemplate our next meal. With the tavern on the edges of Bear Lake and a hop, skip, and jump from Muskegon Lake and Lake Michigan, one must get fish! So my mother and I ordered fish tacos and grandmother ordered the perch sandwich.

It took a good twenty minutes or so for our order to arrive. Honestly, I didn’t time them, but it felt like twenty minutes or so. Our food was hot and in large portions. My grandmother’s eyes grew when she saw her perch sandwich. Three large perch atop cabbage and squeezed in a bun, she had a hard time eating it, because of it’s large size. It was sided with coleslaw and kettle chips. While, I can’t speak on how her meal tasted, my grandmother’s word will have to do, “Good.” The fish tacos my mother and I ordered were delicious; we would have licked the plate, but people were watching. Three corn tortilla tacos filled with perch, a small bed of cabbage, and topped with mango salsa, sided with Spanish rice, more mango salsa (that was divine, with its hint of hotness), tarter sauce, and a lime wedge (see picture above). The fish was perfect! The portions were perfect! The lunch was perfect! The closest comparison on yummiest, would be Ruddell’s Smokehouse in Cayucos, CA.

The tavern wasn’t packed and seemed to have plenty of seating indoors and out. I usually sit outdoors at restaurants, but when it feels like 90 degrees and humid, we opted for a more comfortable temperature. Michigan summers can be brutal, the humidity isn’t anything to ignore in the Midwest. I could go on and on about weather, but that’s not what this post is about. So, where was I, oh yeah, decor and ambiance. The wrap around windows, which were there when I once was on staff, eons ago, were at my backside. The booth wrap around seating lay just under the windows (window seats). Shades were available for for each table; I liked that. The floors were a light wood as well as the ceiling, which allowed you to see the detail in the darker pieces (tables, chairs, and lighting). I’d say nautical meets urban with a down to earth comfy feel. If you aren’t following me here, then I’d suggest you go experience the tavern yourself. You won’t be disappointed.

You can find Thrasher’s Bear Lake Tavern (still the BLT, in my head) at 360 Ruddiman Dr, Muskegon, MI 49445. They are open from 11am-12am, Monday-Sunday.

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