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“How come I never knew about this place????.....” 4 of 5 stars
Review of Bortell's Fisheries

Bortell's Fisheries
5528 S. Lakeshore Drive, Open Memorial Day to Labor Day, Ludington, MI 49431
231-843-3337
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Ranked #2 of 55 Restaurants in Ludington
Cuisines: American
Restaurant details
Bay City, Michigan
Top Contributor
995 reviews 995 reviews
461 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 264 cities Reviews in 264 cities
2,091 helpful votes 2,091 helpful votes
“How come I never knew about this place????.....”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2011

We were camping in Ludington, and decided to take a nice drive, since it was so hot out. Thru the back roads we went, exploring new parks, beaches, checking out some beautiful Lake Michigan vistas, driving ever so slowly and there was Bortell's. We saw the line up-way out the door. We saw the crowd of cars not finding a parking spot and circling. We saw the 5 picnic tables out on the lawn-5-that is all. We saw the chemical toilet they provide. We saw the "not the best kept" lawn. And wondered about it as we drove into Pentwater. We drove back to Ludington the same way, fully intending to cook on the grill back at the campground. And there was Bortell's again, with another long line, all 5 picnic tables full, cars parked willy nilly. We drove past and then looked at each other and smiled and turned around. Sometimes-just our kind of place.

Found a spot to park-good luck with that-along the road only-maybe 4 cars can fit in the parking lot. It is hot in there, as you enter the building to order. You can get all kinds of fish-smoked or fried. Many order fish to cook on their own. Most order and take their prepared meals with them. Some keep walking around the picnic tables seeing if anyone is prepping to leave (this would be me. ) LOL. We ordered the whitefish and perch dinners-comes with fries and coleslaw. Fries were excellent, coleslaw not so much. Fish-perch was excellent, truly. Whitefish-well-not bad-not a lot of taste to it. Thus, the 4 rating.

People friendly. Yep, just that chemical toilet. Grass needed cutting and some flowers would be nice. Someone got sick of me stalking their table I guess and finally got up and left. LOL. We stayed past closing at 8. It was a beautiful night, and you can bring your own "adult drinks" to the table if you so choose. I had a nice little view down a driveway of Lake MI. The colors of the setting sun were just beginning.

Prices a bit high-$10 for my meal (whitefish) and $13 for the DH (perch). But hey, we were on vacation-or camping-and it beat having to grill our own food.

I am very glad I know about this place now. We will be back, except I'll get the perch next time. :)

  • Visited July 2011
    • 3 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 4 of 5 stars Food
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86 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    53
    26
    6
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    1
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
1 review
“A great find!!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 31, 2011 via mobile

Found this place on trip advisor, based on three reviews.
We pulled up along side of the road on a Sunday evening and to our amazement there was actually a line in front of us and behind. Service took 5-10 tops.
We will definitely be back when in the area. Also recommend the nearby park where you can watch the sunset. We had the fried perch which was lightly breaded. Great
food and experience! Next time we are going to try the smoked fish.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Gilbert, Arizona
Reviewer
3 reviews 3 reviews
Reviews in 3 cities Reviews in 3 cities
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Extraordinary Fish Joint”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed June 26, 2011

It isn't fancy, but it serves consistently excellent fried fish. We visit Lake Michigan from out of town every year, and make sure to always visit Bortell's at least once.
Enjoy your take-out fare while enjoying a pure Michigan sunset at the little county park down the road. We enjoy the fresh water perch, walleye, and whitefish. We haven't tried the smoked fish, but have heard it is also very good. Great place! A must visit.

    • 4 of 5 stars Value
    • 4 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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virginia
Senior Contributor
41 reviews 41 reviews
35 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 24 cities Reviews in 24 cities
14 helpful votes 14 helpful votes
“Probably one of the country's best carry-outs.”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed July 27, 2010

For the last 40 years we have spent one week each year on the beach south of Ludington, near Bortell's. No trip is complete without at least one meal from Bortell's. This tiny, retro carry-out (with a few picnic tables outside) has to be one of the best anywhere. The fried fish is superb, with my favorite being the walleye, but I also always order smoked fish. You have to seek it out but the effort will be rewarded.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Missouri
Top Contributor
82 reviews 82 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 20 cities Reviews in 20 cities
67 helpful votes 67 helpful votes
“Great Fish!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed September 28, 2009

We had read in the Ludington Trip Advisor Forum about Bortell's. We were in the wonderful "Best Choice Market" in downtown Ludington looking for smoked fish but they did not have any in their deli. The head of the deli department came to the counter and not only told us of Bortell's, but wrote down the directions. What a find! Bortell's Fisheries is a bit off the beaten path, but is well worth the short drive. As stated in the Forum, this is not a fancy place, nor does it have to be. It is not a restaurant, there is no seating, you just place your order, pay and go. Our choice on our first visit was the smoked trout and it was absolutely fabulous. If you like smoked fish, you won't find any better than this. Our second visit was to try their fried fish, as this seems to be very popular, based on all the folks walking out with sacks of it. We rarely eat fried foods, but this was very good. We chose Perch and Lake Trout and both were excellent. Our personal preference between the fried and smoked would definitely be the smoked. Whichever you'd like, if you enjoy good fish, put Bortell's on your "to do" list if in the Ludington area. Oh, and when you leave Bortell's, take a left turn and then at the second driveway on your right, turn right. This is a little park. You park, walk to a table and eat on the bluff, overlooking Lake Michigan. You can also walk down to the lake.

    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
Was this review helpful? Yes 4
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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