Sweet Water Cafe

Bakery | Eclectic | Health Food | Seafood | Vegetarian
One of the best


Many great Roadfood restaurants are blue-collar diners, dives, and truck stops. We tend not to gravitate to eateries with vegetarian proclivities, where the menu boasts of the integrity of natural ingredients, fair-trade coffees, heirloom veggies and artisan amusés. Not that there’s anything wrong with all that stuff, but usually the food lacks soul.

Sweet Water Cafe is a place with an elevated consciousness, and it also glows with soul — Upper Peninsula soul. I put this cheerful place on in my little black book if only for its wonderful homemade breads and for the locally-made maple spread offered at breakfast. Maple trees are part of what make Michigan’s Upper Peninsula so beautiful in the fall, and syrup made from their sap is as big a deal here as it is in New England. In addition to providing it for pouring on French toast and pancakes and to sweeten yogurt in the morning, Sweet Water offers ramekins of spreadable maple paste about the consistency of peanut butter. Applied thickly to house-made three-grain toast, it is a veritable maple orgy. I also like it dolloped on hot winter grain cereal and even on grilled potatoes.

Sweet Water’s menu promises that everything is a cut above normal. Burgers come from naturally raised local beef and are served on made-here oatmeal wheat buns. Bacon in the BLT comes from Vollwerth’s of Hancock, Michigan. Fruit salad is freshly cut. The grilled cheese sandwich is available with cafe-made pesto. While it is an especially good place for breakfast, one non-breakfast meal we recommend is Lake Superior whitefish. The day we came to dinner it was baked just-so, leaving the freshwater jewel heavy with moisture and sweet lake flavor. It came sprinkled with lemon pepper atop a bed of buttery limp spinach leaves and it was crowned with a globe of melting herb butter.

What to Eat
Sweet Water Cafe, Maple Spread
Maple Spread
From Bark River, Michigan, maple spread is fabulous on Sweet Water's toast; the menu also recommends it as a coffee sweetener. It is so intensely delicious, I'd be happy eating it straight, with a spoon.
Sweet Water Cafe, Baked Whitefish
Baked Whitefish
The dinner menu offers whitefish prepared several ways. This is the simplest: baked, with herb butter melting on top. Whitefish at its finest!
Sweet Water Cafe, Autumn Salad
Autumn Salad
Autumn salad includes roasted root vegetables along with lettuce and blue cheese. That's house-made sourdough at the back of the plate. It is made from a starter brought from San Francisco in the early 1990s.
Sweet Water Cafe, Hot Winter Grain Cereal
Hot Winter Grain Cereal
Hot winter grain cereal includes oatmeal, wheat berries, brown rice, millet, cranberries, raisins, and toasted almonds. It comes with brown sugar and milk to apply as desired.
Sweet Water Cafe, 3-Seed Toast
3-Seed Toast
Maple spread slathered on toast made from slices of three-seed bread is an unbeatable way to start the day.
Sweet Water Cafe, European Hot Cocoa
European Hot Cocoa
Alas, there was no whipped cream the morning I ordered European Hot Cocoa, but the combo of steamed chocolate milk and Dutch chocolate was eminently drinkable nonetheless.
Directions and Hours
open now
Sunday8am - 8pm
Monday8am - 3pm
Thursday8am - 8pm
Friday8am - 8pm
Saturday8am - 8pm
This restaurant is featured in the following eating tours.
9 stops | 267 MILES | 5 hr 25 min

Following U.S. 41 beside the cobalt-blue calm of Lake Superior, then wending up the Keweenaw Peninsula through a blaze of October leaves to Copper Harbor where the highway ends, we were awestruck by the rugged beauty and thrilled by what there was to eat. In this faraway place, the landscape in general and the foodscape…

Open Year Round
Meals Served
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Credit Cards Accepted
Alcohol Served
Outdoor Seating

Other Nearby Restaurants

  • Ralph’s Italian Deli

    Ishpeming, Michigan

    An Upper Peninsula bakery, butcher shop, and cafe, Ralph’s offers Italian groceries and hot meals, breads and rolls, and traditional Michigan pasties.

  • Crossroads Lounge

    Marquette, Michigan

    Crossroads is a spacious tavern that has a full menu and serves three meals a day. House specialty: a one-pound pasty, one of the Upper Peninsula’s best.

  • Jean-Kay’s

    Marquette, Michigan

    Jean-Kay’s is a small Marquette restaurant & take-out specializing in Michigan Upper-Peninsula pasties, made fresh daily using steak and suet.

  • Toni’s Country Kitchen

    Calumet Township, Michigan

    Toni’s is a cheerful small-town cafe in that bakes beautiful breads and pastries and serves one of the best old-fashioned pasties in northern Michigan.

  • Lawry’s Pasty Shop

    Ishpeming, Michigan

    Lawry’s of Ishpeming has set high standards for Upper Peninsula pasties since the mid-20th century. It is a humble place that is a Michigan best bet.

  • Jampot

    Hubbell, Michigan

    Run by monks in the northernmost reaches of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, the Jampot offers breads, cookies, rum-soaked cake and a spectacular selection of jams.