Happy Hour

A weekly snapshot of Happy Hours around the region…

Everyday, open-7 p.m., $1.75 highballs, $2.50 house chardonnay, $2.00 drafts, $1.00 off everything else.
310 Cass St., Traverse City

Sunday-Thursday, 3-6 p.m., $1 off all drinks.
422 North 5th St., Roscommon

Lulu's Bistro
Thursdays, 5-9 p.m., $3 wells, $2 off drafts, select $5 wines.
213 N. Bridge St., Bellaire

Boyne River Inn
Everyday, 3-6 p.m., 1/4 off drinks.
229 Water St., Boyne City
Rendezvous Lounge, Odawa Casino
Thursday & Friday, $2.25 domestic drafts, $3.25 well drinks, $3.25 house wine.
1760 Lears Rd., Petoskey

Choice Bits!

Round-the-region snapshots of the dining scene. 

RUTHIE'S CHICKEN & DAIRY TWIST: Roasted chicken and ice cream, malts and shakes.
201 N. Bridge Ln., Bellaire. 213­-533­-8538.

Practically an Up North institution, the place to find out the latest fishing or snowmobile news from the locals and visitors who gather for their hearty breakfasts, steaks, burgers, soup & salad bar, & homemade desserts.
10921 Main St., Honor. 231­ 352­6585.

When you've worked up an appetite from all the bowling and karaoke that Boyne City Lanes has to offer, you'll find a selection of hearty fare to choose from, including homemade soups & desserts. Cocktails are served at the Lanes,with live entertainment and glow ­bowling nights.
1199 West Boyne Road, 231-­582­-6353.

Open 7 days a week for lunch & dinner. Full Chinese menu, as well as Hunan & Szechuan entrees.  Daily specials, special combination plates,  a lunch & dinner All You Can Eat Buffet. 
616 S. Mitchell St., Cadillac, 231­-876­-8888.

Take a trip back to the '50s where chili dogs & frosted mugs of root beer are still served up by carhops at this All ­American institution. Elvis has been known to make an appearance during their annual summer “A&W Cruise Night” in August, as do cars from the 50’s and 60’s that we remember well.
At the bottom of the hill, 21 Lake St., Frankfort,  231-­352-­9021.

From Antler Ale to Wolverine Wheat, Big Buck specializes in microbrewed beers. Offering the usual beef and buffalo burgers, steaks, and ribs, plus more unusual fare, like their portabella sandwich with red onion marmalade and provolone cheese.
550 S. Wisconsin Avenue, Gaylord, 989­-732-­5781.

A refined atmosphere, subdued lighting, and an appetizing selection of epicurean treats awaits the diner at this Harbor Springs corner landmark. Menu selections range from their smoked whitefish ravioli appetizer to their Atlantic salmon, baked polenta and eggplant, tomato basil fettuccine, or filet mignon ­ and their brunches include one of the best versions of Eggs Benedict around.
101 State Street, downtown across from Bar Harbor, 231­-526-­1904.

Pool tables, a full bar, friendly service and a varied menu make the Village Inn popular with families and locals.  Dinners include Lamb Skewers, Blue Corn Enchiladas, Charbroiled Whitefish, Lasagna and Ribeye.  Also burgers, sandwiches, salads, appetizers and pizza.  Lunch and Dinner.
Just north of the blinking light 116601 Lacorre Ave. on M­22,  Empire. 231-326­-5101.

One of Petoskey's first restaurants, Jesperson's is famous for homemade pies and fresh turkey. Breakfast and lunch.
312 Howard, Petoskey, 231­-347­-3601.
Located in Building 50, grilled panini's, soups, wraps, baked goods, specialty coffees and teas.
1200 W. 11th St., Traverse City, 231-­947­-7740.

Home · Articles · News · Dining · Vasquez Hacienda
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Vasquez Hacienda

Nancy Krcek Allen - February 2nd, 2009
Many restaurateurs would tell you that it takes a family—not just any family, but a tight-knit family—to run a successful restaurant. Al and Elaine Vasquez’ Vasquez Hacienda is a case in point. They will celebrate the restaurant’s 35-year anniversary in September.
“I love the people—it’s a family thing,” says Elaine. “The kids who return to work summer after summer keep me young. They come back to see me with their kids—now I’m on to the third generation! I grew up in the restaurant business. My parents came here in 1948. They owned the Rainbow Gardens (where Pearl’s is now)—they were there 25 years. The circle goes on and on.”
“I have nine brothers and six sisters,” says Al. “They have all worked here off and on. My sister, Clelia Bolton, has been here since day one. My wife, Elaine, and Clelia run the kitchen. My sister-in-law, Mary Vasquez, waits tables. Our kids (Jennifer, Al Jr. and Nick) were brought up here. They have done it all: cooked, bartended, you name it they can do it. Nick does the entertainment on Friday and Saturday and Al Jr. sings. Al Jr. has a landscaping company so he mows the grass and snowplows for us.”

Residents or visitors know the unique, cream adobe-style building, which houses the restaurant on U.S. 31 North, just south of Elk Rapids. “We bought this building in 1974,” says Al. “We had been doing Mexican, Polish and pizza takeout in Elk Rapids. It was called The Taco Hut. I was still doing tool and die. I came in here one time and made an offer and they took it. My wife was pregnant with our youngest son, Nick at the time!”
Vasquez Hacienda became larger over time. “The place needed work so we upgraded as we went,” says Al. “In 1976, we built a new addition, tore out walls and ceilings and put in new windows. Every so many years we do something: new heating, cooling and bathrooms. Five or six years ago we added a bigger kitchen. In 2007, we enlarged the bar (made with white ash from Vasquez’ property) and switched it to the large dining room.”
Vasquez and his family originally came to Northern Michigan from Brownsville, Texas as migrant workers. “My first job was right across the street picking cherries,” says Al. “The family that owns the farm is still there. They come into the restaurant all the time.”
At 18, Al decided to stay in Northern Michigan so the entire family stayed. “My mother said, ‘If one-a stay, everybody stay,’” says Al. “My mom was a strong woman. She was Italian. My dad was Mexican-American. He spent five years in Europe during WWII and met my mother in Naples. That’s where I was born. When she came here she learned how to cook Mexican food.
“Our menu evolved from the foods we ate in Texas, other border towns and Matamoros, Mexico, where my father was from,” says Al. “I wanted to do Italian food, but we wanted to be unique so we decided to do Mexican. We were the first in the area.”
“I learned how to cook Mexican food from Al’s family,” says Elaine. “I’m 99 percent Polish. When we opened you couldn’t even buy tortillas. Clelia and I made all our own. My mother and her friend would light up the griddle and Clelia and I would race each other with rolling them while the other two cooked them. Al and I went to Texas a few years after we opened the restaurant and his aunt spent two days teaching me how to make tamales.”

According to Clelia, the most popular dishes are the burritos; Wet and Dry—Salad, Meat and Salad, Chicken and Salad (ranging from $5.95 to $11.95) and Special Burritos: Steak, Marinated Chicken, Fresh Vegetable, Machaca (shredded) Beef or Carnita with pork and green chiles ($11.99).
“When we started,” says Elaine, “the menu was 10 percent Mexican and 90 percent American food. Now it’s the reverse.” The menu overflows with many choices: quesadillas ($8.95), salads like Southwest salad ($10.49), fresh made guacamole ($7.95), six fajitas ($14.99 to $17.99), Spanish rice, beef tamales and chimichangas, eight sandwiches like Texas chili burger and the Monterey Club, a half sandwich and soup special ($5.99), huevos con chorizo and Mexican-style fried chicken with cherry jalapeño glaze.
“We’re simple people,” says Clelia, “we don’t have big chefs. If one of our cooks wants to make something they made at home, we tell them yes, but the clientele have the last say. Elaine is a sweetheart so people have been here a long time. We all get along.”
“As a restaurant run by family, we’re a dying breed,” says Elaine. “No one wants to work this hard. As my sister-in-law, Clelia, says, ‘we’re in this until the end.’ I’ve been in that kitchen all my life. I must be crazy because I still like it.”
Vasquez Hacienda, 11324 US 31 South, Elk Rapids, ph. (231) 264-5892. Winter hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. until 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. until 10 p.m., Saturday 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. and closed on Sunday

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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