We cannot tell a lie: our favorite way to eat cherries in northwestern Michigan is to stop at a farm stand in the summer and get a bag of washed ones. They are dark maroon, nearly black; their skin is taut, and their flesh is firm and full of nectar. When you buy them by the side of the road they are slightly warm from the sun, and there is something about the pop of their skin and that summer-temperature cherry juice flooding the tongue that makes eating these fruits by the bagful the most sensuous car snack imaginable.
Our second favorite way to enjoy cherries is to visit The Cherry Hut, a roadside eatery opened in 1922 dedicated to the glories of Michigan’s happiest crop. Once totally al fresco and serving nothing but cherry pie, this cheerful place now has indoor tables and a short menu of farmland comfort food including biscuit-topped chicken pie, chicken salad dotted with dried tart cherries, and even a burger dressed with cherry salsas. Still, the one most important thing to eat is a slice of cherry pie, either a la mode or au naturel. Loaded with bright red cherries, it is sweet and a little tart, with a flaky crust that adds a savory note. This superb pie is made from the same recipe that has defined cherry pie excellence now for nearly a century. Slices are large, each a full quarter of a full-size pie.
Post-pie, most visitors buy jams, jellies, and souvenirs from the Cherry Hut store. Whole pies are available to go.
The Cherry Hut opens for the season just before summer.