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Dixie Saloon

C.J. Ray - May 31st, 2010
Dixie Picks:Saloon carries on a colorful tradition in Mackinaw City
By C.J. Ray
If you’re tired of fancy, gourmet fare and have a hankering for some down-home cookin’ like some tasty, finger-licken’ barbeque ribs, then you must stop in at the Dixie Saloon on Central Avenue in Mackinaw City.
The original Dixie Saloon was built in the late 1800s. It served as a brothel and a place where sailors could wet their whistle while docked in Mackinaw City. In 1914, it was designated as a landmark to signify the northernmost point of the Old Dixie Highway, running all the way to Florida from Northern Michigan.
The Dixie Highway was constructed to connect the deep south to Sault Ste Marie. Most “Michiganders” are familiar with the Dixie Highway, yet at some point, they must have wondered how a road in the midst of Yankee land came to bear such a seemingly misplaced name. Since the North won the Civil War, why did the victors name one of their principal motorways in honor of the region that started and then lost this terrible struggle? The answer actually does have something to do with the “War Between the States.” The year 1915 marked 50 years of peace between the north and the south, and so it was named the Dixie Highway.

Today’s Dixie Saloon is newly remodeled and has an atmosphere that is comfortable and inviting to the thousands of tourists passing through Mackinaw City. Antiques are scattered throughout, along with many flat screen TVs at every angle. The cedar structure is two stories tall, with an inviting, open-air interior, that spans both stories. Large cedar columns rise from floor to ceiling, framing a huge bar. Seating at the bar is an equestrian experience: the bar stools are made to imitate a saddle, they even have a horn to hold onto if needed.
Holding the saloon reins is manager Mark Beaubien. “We designed our menu to offer the best variety, and high quality food around,” he says. “Our goal is to provide the best customer service possible. We value our customers very much and provide a place for the public to go and have fun year round. We have something going on every night of the week.”
On Mondays you will find comic/acoustic singer, and songwriter, Mike Riddly onstage. Charley Reager, also a singer-songwriter, appears every Sunday. There’s also DJ dancing three nights a week with bands on some weekends.
And if you’re thirsty, the Dixie offers over 50 kinds of bottled beer and six beers on tap.

A look at their generous menu offers numerous choices, including steaks, pork, chicken, burgers, sandwiches, fish, salads and a kids menu with items at $4.99 and up. It’s a great place for a juicy Cowboy burger for $7.99, or catch the red-eye Reuben corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and Thousand Island sauce, all on marble rye bread at $8.99; or the all popular smoked whitefish dip $8.99. The Dixie also offers rotisserie chicken right off the spit $14. For dessert they tempt you with carrot cake, key lime pie, or a peanut butter bash pie for $2.99.
You must try a full slab of the famous Dixie BBQ ribs at $22. The ribs are juicy but not fatty, seasoned simply, with a tasty hint of smoke. A final slick of BBQ sauce glazed on top adds a note of sweetness and finger-licking messiness to their crisp exterior. The meat is fall-off-the-bone tender between the ribs. “You will definitely need extra napkins when digging into this tasty favorite”, Beaubien says.
Be sure to check out their upstairs dining. The second level seating offers a view of downtown Mackinaw City, and a priceless view of Lake Huron.

  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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