Located directly on snowmobile trail, the Up North Lodge in Gwinn is one of the greatest epicurean hidden treasures in Marquette County. Traveling to the Up North Lodge takes you away from the congestion of downtown eateries, instead it immerses you in a massive cabin-like restaurant in the middle of the woods. The floor to ceiling windows in the dining room provide an astonishing year-round view of wildlife while you eat, creating a dining experience totally unique to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Though the dining experience is one of a kind, for me it’s the promise of perfectly smoked barbecue ribs that makes the 30-minute drive from Marquette to Gwinn worth it every time. Period. “Get your bib on and your bone bucket ready” those are the words of encouragement straight off the menu at The Up North Lodge. Full disclosure, ever since first discovering the lodge two years ago, I have returned about 5 times, but only ordered one thing from the menu. The half rack of ribs. inside   It’s not because they’re aren’t other options on the menu. In fact, the menu is quite robust, with options for just about anyone looking for anything. Have a craving for a bacon avocado burger? It’s on the menu. Prefer steak or seafood? That’s an option too. There are even Mexican options for those feeling spicy. No, I don’t order the half rack of ribs because they’re the only thing on the menu. I order them because they are so delicious that locals refer to them as “almost” world famous with a daze in their eyes and dried BBQ sauce in the corners of their mouths. I order the half rack of ribs because they’re so perfect that they fall right off the bone and melt in your mouth. I order the half rack of ribs because the portion is so massive even Fred Flintstone would have trouble finishing them all in one sitting. The food at Up North Lodge is appealing on its own, but then there’s the bar. In addition to pouring excellent and affordably priced draughts, the bar is impressive and well stocked. After your meal, saddle on up to the bar for a nightcap – you’ll probably make a new friend or two. If you truly want to experience the comforts of dining in Marquette County, sometimes you have venture out of the City of Marquette. Oh, and don’t worry about bringing your own bib and bone bucket, The Up North Lodge has you covered. Don’t be shy about asking for extra hand wipes (wet naps) either, one is never enough. UP North008   For more information or to make reservations, Call (906) 346-9815 or find them on the web at www.theupnorthlodge.com   Words and photos by Dominic M. Davis