Known for its beautiful beaches, seaside charm, and fantastic sunsets, South Haven is a popular summer destination along Michigan’s west coast. In addition to fun waterfront activities, this lakeside town also boasts a fantastic food scene. From casual eateries to fine dining along the marina, South Haven restaurants offer something for every palate.
I’ve put together this guide to highlight the best places to eat in South Haven. Whether you’re looking for picnic provisions, family-friendly fare, or an upscale dinner, discover remarkable flavors at these top South Haven eateries.
1. Phoenix Street Cafe
Housed in a restored 1930s gas station, Phoenix Street Cafe offers homemade comfort cuisine in a casual, retro setting downtown. This cozy eatery prepares soups, sandwiches, salads, and daily dinner specials using locally sourced ingredients.
Menu standouts include their Reuben panini piled with pastrami, sauerkraut, and Swiss cheese and their Michigan salad with dried cherries, walnuts, apples, and local goat cheese.
Don’t skip dessert – their fresh fruit crisps are delicious. For lunch or dinner in a quaint atmosphere, Phoenix Street Cafe is a charming local favorite.
2. Sherman’s Ice Cream and Deli
No visit to South Haven is complete without a stop at Sherman’s Ice Cream and Deli on the main drag downtown. Family-owned since 1916, this parlor scoops over 36 homemade ice cream flavors and soups made daily.
Their must-try Zoo sundae with hot fudge and crushed peanuts is legendary. Sherman’s also sells sandwiches, salads, and snacks perfect for enjoying on an adjoining bench along the waterfront.
On a hot summer day, Sherman’s scoops are absolutely refreshing. Swing by for cones, shakes, sundaes or other frozen treats in this old-fashioned sweet spot.
3. Captain Lou’s Beach Burger
For juicy burgers and fries with fantastic lakefront views, visit Captain Lou’s Beach Burger. Conveniently located on the boardwalk next to the kids’ splash pad and playground, this casual spot serves classic American fare like hot dogs, chicken sandwiches, onion rings and milkshakes.
Build your own burger or try one of their signature stacks like the Mac Daddy with mac and cheese and bacon. Order at the counter then grab a picnic table on their large outdoor deck right along Lake Michigan – the sublime sunset views alone are worth a visit. Captain Lou’s provides family-friendly waterside eats in a prime lakeshore location.
4. Fricano’s Pizza Tavern
Fricano’s Pizza Tavern offers the best wood-fired Neapolitan pizzas in South Haven from their big open kitchen. This lively Italian eatery right on the marina crafts generously topped thin crust pies using high quality ingredients.
Their signature pesto pizza with artichokes, spinach, tomatoes, and burrata is amazing. Fricano’s also serves pastas, subs, salads, and Michigan craft beers.
Gather on their sprawling patio for stunning sunset views over the harbor while you savor flavorful food. For incredible pizza in an upbeat waterfront setting, Fricano’s is my top pick.
5. Thai Sa On
For excellent Thai cuisine in an elegant setting downtown, dine at Thai Sa On. This contemporary Asian restaurant crafts fragrant curries, noodle dishes, fried rice, and other favorites using quality ingredients.
Must-try menu items include their Tom Kha Gai coconut chicken soup, pad Thai with jumbo shrimp, and green curry. Thai Sa On has a nice wine and craft beer list to pair with your meal.
Dining rooms with ornate chandeliers, fountains, and decor from Thailand provide lovely ambiance. For a taste of authentic Thai flavors in South Haven, Thai Sa On’s creative dishes shine.
6. Northside Pub
Northside Pub offers craft beers, classic pub fare, and a stellar marina location downtown. The laidback two-story gastropub pours over 24 rotating Michigan and national craft drafts along with bottled favorites.
Their menu features items like wings, flatbreads, burgers, nachos, and fish and chips made from Lake Michigan whitefish. Northside’s sizable lakeside deck is perfect for soaking in the sunset over craft beers and tasty shareable plates.
Grab a table by the windows inside to keep the waterfront views while you dine. For quality pub food and good drinks in a scenic marina setting, Northside Pub delivers.
7. Clementine’s Restaurant
For some of the best waterfront dining in South Haven, book a table creekside at Clementine’s Restaurant. Situated on the lower level of the Inn at Harbor Shores, this New American restaurant overlooks the scenic Black River.
Clementine’s serves expertly prepared dishes like pan roasted duck breast, braised boneless short ribs, and pistachio crusted salmon. Their extensive wine list features bottles from around the world.
Dining rooms with stone walls, exposed beams, and cozy fireplaces coupled with amazing views create a stunning yet welcoming ambiance. For special occasion dining with remarkable riverfront scenery, Clementine’s is a top choice.
8. Bangkok Flavor
For excellent Thai street food and sushi in South Haven, visit Bangkok Flavor. This casual eatery crafts flavorful pad Thai noodles, curry dishes, soups, and other Thai specialties using authentic techniques and ingredients.
Their rainbow rolls and nigiri sushi selections are very fresh. Bangkok Flavor has a nice list of Thai beer, wine, and signature cocktails to complement your meal. With warm service, vibrant Thai decor, and tantalizing dishes, Bangkok Flavor is my go-to for Thai cuisine done right.
9. Black River Tavern
For craft brews and elevated pub grub, check out Black River Tavern downtown. Located in a converted auto garage, this industrial-chic gastropub offers 24 rotating taps showcasing local and regional breweries.
Their menu features items like Korean fried chicken wings, a bison burger topped with bacon jam, and their popular lighter option Buddha bowl with quinoa, veggies, avocado, and ginger dressing.
Black River Tavern has weekend brunch, daily happy hour specials, and a nice selection of whiskeys as well.With its laidback vibe, creative dishes, and stellar beer list, Black River Tavern is a favorite South Haven hangout.
10. Cashew Cow
For premium ice cream made from scratch, visit the Cashew Cow along the boardwalk. Using high quality ingredients like organic milk from grass-fed cows, this ice cream shop crafts incredibly rich and creamy flavors.
Their sea salt caramel, coconut, and blueberry lavender are some standouts. Cashew Cow serves cones, cups, sundaes, and hand-dipped drumsticks in flavors rotated daily.
Lounge on their outdoor patio overlooking the beach for ideal ice cream eating scenery. For homemade small-batch ice cream, Cashew Cow creates South Haven’s best.
11. Old Harbor Inn
Overlooking Black River, Old Harbor Inn provides a wonderful dining setting to enjoy fresh seafood and American cuisine. Appetizers like their crab cakes and bacon-wrapped scallops are excellent starters.
Entrees include steaks, chops, pasta dishes, and local fish like perch and lake trout prepared to perfection. Their basket of fried lake perch with slaw and fries is a tasty, simple option.
The nautical-themed interior coupled with lovely water views create a relaxing ambiance. For quality food and scenic surroundings, Old Harbor Inn is a terrific choice for lunch or dinner along the marina.
From laidback diners to gourmet restaurants along the shoreline, South Haven offers remarkable dining diversity. When planning your Michigan lakeshore getaway, be sure to check out these top local eateries sampled through my own dining adventures. You’ll find delicious flavors and welcoming atmospheres across this charming beach town.