As summer heats up, lakefront dining becomes a priority for visitors to Lake Country, as well as full-time residents.
Folks jam as much activity as possible into a three-month period and eating out is one of those. There’s just something so relaxing about the experience, especially when going by boat. But, waterfront dining venues can be rather busy, so patience is a virtue.
EXPLORE THE OPTIONS
Here’s a summary of those on Lake Wawasee with water access:
The Pier & Back Porch at Oakwood Resort is a favorite. It's located directly on the lake and offers abundant boat parking, The raw bar opens for the summer and offers fresh oysters and sushi. The lobster salad sliders are also cleverly done, but you must try the grilled pineapple salad. Craft brews on draft are aplenty — especially brews from local Man Cave Brewing Co. The Sandbar Blond is awesome!
The Channel Marker’s Tiki Bar adjacent to the channel is also incredibly busy during the summer months. On weekends, boat parking is sometimes creative, and we’ve often seen the parking lot full and cars lined up along road across the street on the Wawasee Area Conservancy Foundation property. The Tiki Bar menu offers many worthy items — most with nautical names, such as the beachcomber. The crab Louie salad is also excellent. The bar has many island brews on ice, but there are also draft brews on tap inside.
On the far west side of town is The Frog Tavern. Known as an institution of sorts, the restaurant focuses on fun. With raucous weekend bands scheduled throughout the summer and the SS Lillypad II party boat, there is always something going on. Back for the summer is the popular Friday shrimp boil. With channel access, it’s always fun watching folks park their monster boats. Sometimes boats will be stacked three deep!
TAKE A DRIVE
The BoatHouse Restaurant on Winona Lake is an excellent venue and visitors can explore the Village of Winona’s shops. The BoatHouse prepares an outstanding grilled salmon salad.
Further south and about 20 minutes east into Whitley County is Tri-Lakes Tavern. Nestled adjacent to Shriner Lake, there is also access from Little Cedar and Round Lakes. Although under new ownership, the frog legs were excellent.
If you shoot an arrow from Lake Country straight over to Angola and follow the route, you’ll find more interesting venues.
The first is Coody Brown’s, nestled between Westler and Witmer lakes in LaGrange County. It offers some great bar grub. Try their fully-loaded fries.
Moving further east in Wolcottville is Adam’s Lake Pub. It’s a little high-end, but the prime rib has become well known.
Continuing east, there’s Turkey Lake Restaurant & Tavern, home to what has to be close to the original Stroh’s fish recipe and great Bloody Marys. Located in the Stroh suburb of Elmira, and across the road from Big Turkey Lake, the tavern offers a family-friendly environment and is the local watering hole for those so inclined.
Nearing Angola, there are many beautiful lakes, including Lake James. On the east shore is Pokagon State Park and the rustic Potawatomi Inn. It’s a great year-round, lakefront venue. With northern lodge decor and adorned with nautical antiques, a tour of the inn is worth a trip. The food is not bad, either!
Just north on Snow Lake and accessible via a boardwalk is The Hang Out Bar & Grill. It’s a favorite go-to spot when we visit the area. Featuring fresh, local ingredients, the burgers are fabulous, breakfasts are enormous and there is an extensive list of funky-named Mexican dishes. Interesting burgers like Greek and olive make the burger selection difficult. The brews include local craft beers.
Two others in the area we need to visit are The Waterfront Bistro between Lake James and Jimmerson Lake and the Captain’s Cabin on Crooked Lake. The latter is only open for dinner, but we’ll get there sometime!
Whatever your transportation is, try anyone of these waterfront locations for a relaxing time while quaffing a brew or two. Summer’s here, so let’s do it!
Loren Shaum is an automation engineering consultant, retired pilot, author, home gardener and sometimes chef. He and Gayle reside in Syracuse. He can be contacted at email@example.com, and his books can be found at Better World Books and at stores throughout Lake Country.
The Pier & Back Porch at Oakwood Resort is at 702 E. Lake View Road, Syracuse. Phone is 574-457-7100.
The BoatHouse Restaurant is at 700 Park Ave., Winona Lake. Phone is 574-268-2179.
Tiki Bar at The Channel Marker is at 5793 E. Pickwick Dr., Syracuse. Phone is 574-457-5000.
The Hang Out Bar & Grill is at 1865 W. Ind. 120, Fremont. Phone is 260-833-2587.
Turkey Lake Restaurant & Tavern is at 3600 S. 1150 E, LaGrange. Phone is 260-351-2920.