You don’t just happen to be driving by Legs Inn and decide spontaneously to pop in for Polish sausage. That’s not to say the restaurant doesn’t catch your eye. The unusual stone structure is renowned for its rows of upended cast-iron stove legs that serve as a kind of rooftop railing (hence it’s name). But Legs Inn is so off Michigan’s beaten path, that unless you’re also visiting Mackinac Island, driving the nearby scenic “Tunnel of Trees” or heading to Headlands International Dark Sky Park, you probably won’t be passing through the tiny community of Cross Village. Unless, of course, Legs Inn is your destination, which applies to almost everyone who comes here to dine.
Legs Inn was opened in the 1920s by a Polish immigrant and has been owned by the same family for almost 90 years. Now in its third generation of restaurateurs, it’s as quirky inside as it is on the outside, with a curious mishmash of handmade wooden furniture, driftwood re-purposed as art, totem poles, a giant bar fashioned from the trunk of a hemlock tree and taxidermic bears, deer, raccoons and other native species.
It still specializes in Polish cuisine, including pierogi (dumpings), Polish sausage and a very delicious bigos (a hunter’s stew of various meats, sausage, sauerkraut and vegetables), all made from scratch. It also offers the local Great Lakes whitefish, sandwiches, goulash, potato pancakes and other fare, not to mention more than 100 varieties of beer from around the world, including Polish beer. The staff includes students from other countries who come here to work and study.
But the best part? Legs Inn is located on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan, with both indoor and outdoor dining offering great views. Open from about mid-May to mid-October, this restaurant is worth the detour no matter where you’re heading, or even if you’re heading nowhere at all.