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“If great food is what you want, this is the place!”

Little Bohemia - Family Tavern in The West End
Ranked #68 of 299 Restaurants in Traverse City
Price range: $9 - $18
Cuisines: Pub
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Dining options: Dinner, Lunch, Late Night, Reservations
Description: LITTLE BOHEMIA, Traverse City's 2nd Oldest Tavern, was built as a hot dog stand in 1932, with Curb Side Service and outdoor seating, an annual ritual of making sauerkraut, and a Speak Easy in the basement. Folks would knock on the back door and go directly to the basement. One evening while closing up the owner was paid a visit by a couple of Al Capone’s men. They held him at gunpoint, warning him he’d better get his liquor from Capone or else! The men were chased off by an employee who was able to sneak out to his truck and get his shotgun; he surprised them; fortunately they never returned. Located in the heart of “Little Bohemia” as the area was known and being of Bohemian descent, the original owner named his business in honor of the Bohemian community that had settled on the west end of the city. Little Bohemia immediately became the gathering place on Saturday nights. At the end of prohibition, the building was expanded to include a tavern and its popularity continued to grow into a Traverse City landmark, now an icon and a premier destination in the city’s West End District. This traditional Michigan tavern has stood the test of time and still maintains its original name. Little Bohemia is blessed with fame in its own right, as the 2nd oldest tavern in Traverse City, but basks in the glory of the late Sir Walter Hagen. The golf legend, who settled on Long Lake after he retired, made a daily stop to “hold court” or play a few games of bumper pool and of course have a few drinks. Mr. Hagen lovingly referred to Little Bohemia as his “home away from home” and often spoke of it during his travels. In 1961, just as he walked off the course from his 1st British Open win, Arnold Palmer received a call from Walter Hagen; a call that was the beginning of a lifelong friendship. “The biggest thrill I got when I set a British Open record of 276 strokes at Troon, was to have Walter Hagen phone me from Little Bo’s in Traverse City to congratulate me,” said Palmer. “I didn’t even know The Haig knew I was alive until then. So when I went to Traverse City to honor him near the end of his life I had to go and visit this place he called his home.” The actual interview can be seen on YouTube; just search Arnold Palmer.Stop by for great home cooking and fast friendly service.
Level Contributor
39 reviews
15 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 15 helpful votes
“If great food is what you want, this is the place!”
Reviewed July 27, 2014 via mobile

My husband and I were in Traverse City to celebrate our 45th wedding anniversary. We've been to plenty of fancy restaurants, but atmosphere isn't edible, so we were looking for just great food when we found Little Bohemia. The menu is fascinating because it describes each item then uses parentheses to quote reviews published in leading gourmet publications about the dish. We ordered perch and calamari (each voted best in Traverse city in Traverse Magazine.) AND BOTH DISHES were melt in your mouth delicious! This restaurant is actually considered an Italian restaurant, but that perch was the best I have ever eaten! Our attentive server was Michelle, and be sure to try one of Kim's homemade, delicious desserts. When you walk through the door, don't be fooled by the casual decor. The food is elegant!

Helpful?
2 Thank Frick21147
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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380 reviews from our community

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Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Level Contributor
39 reviews
36 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 22 helpful votes
“JUST "AVERAGE"”
Reviewed July 26, 2014

We must have come on a busy night - our waitress was snippy - think she thought she was being "cute" but I could see my dining partner wasn't appreciating her attitude. We felt kind of unattended too, at times. A little gal who was working like crazy at every table made up for the our waitress. She served our food, cleared tables, and brought the bill - all the work other than taking the order!
Appetizer of eggplant parm was so-so. Kind of almost mushy; I really think could have been breaded and fried to be better. The marinara sauce was good - my friend felt it shouldn't have onions, but didn't bother me.
A perch dinner arrived hot, just right. Cole slaw was delicious. Fries crisp but not overdone.
Just an "average" kind of meal, though. We moved from dining room where we couldn't hear to a quiet table in the bar dining area. Noticed music is offered certain nights, probably a fun little spot.
Perch was $14.99; eggplant $8.99. There were burgers on the menu starting at $6.99 for third of a pound. Desserts were around $6 to $7; menu says they are large enough for sharing. (I hope so! Seemed a bit out-of-line on price, to me - as much or more than a burger?)
This was my 3rd visit. With so many great restaurants in town, other than not having to wait for a table, there was not much that made us want to come back.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
3 Thank LaDolceDiva1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LittleBohemia, Public Relations Manager at Little Bohemia - Family Tavern in The West End, responded to this review, August 3, 2014
Response to Reviewer: We are a casual dining establishment. Our staff is friendly, outgoing and they have fun and laugh with our customers, so perhaps your dining partner took your servers attitude out of context.

Eggplant Appetizer: This dish is not a parmesan; it is not breaded or fried. If you thought it was mushy and weren't happy with it, if you had expressed that when your server asked you, not once, but twice, “How is your food?”, we would have gladly replaced it or not charged you for it.

Perch Dinner – Thank you for kind your comments on our delicious Lake Michigan Perch Dinner. We sell 30-40 lbs of it every week; our customers love it and we receive rave comments and reviews about it!

Staff and Service – Your server made no less than 4 visits to your table and by your own account the other server (we work as a team at Little Bohemia) made as many visits. Your server approached your table, greeted you and asked if you were ready to order. You and your dinner partner had questions about menu items, which she answered. You were ready to order but he wasn't, so she said she would return in a few minutes. Upon her return, your friend finally ordered.

After your food was served, by the other server, your server approached your table (for the 3rd time) to ask how everything was. You replied that the eggplant was “Ok” and stated that you liked it. Your partner expressed his liking of the Perch Dinner and asked for a taste of our Marinara. Your server went and got the side of sauce, heated it up and the other server brought it to the table as your server was delivering food to another table which was sitting right across from you, a party of 12 people. This s why we work as a team here so food gets served promptly.

Upon a 4th visit to your table, your server asked your partner how he liked the Marinara; he replied that he like it, but stated in no uncertain terms, “It shouldn't have onions in it!” She explained that’s the way our Chef makes our Marinara. He didn't seem to like her response and was even kind of argumentative towards her; practically demanding that it shouldn't onions in it. She replied, “Well, sir that’s the way we make it here; we put onions in ours; it makes us different.” The other server finished your table, but it was your server who said, “Goodnight, thank you for coming.” as you left the building.

Finally, yes our desserts are “large enough to share.” They are all made from scratch, prepared in 9x13 inch pans and cut into 8 pieces - they are DELICIOUS!!

We are sorry that you have expressed that you will not return. We thank you for your business and thank you, thank you very much for your review!
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Columbus, Ohio
1 review
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Don't be mistaken from all the rave reviews---they are wrong!”
Reviewed July 26, 2014

After seeing some of the positive reviews and the #5 rating, I recently went to this restaurant b/c of the rating. Big mistake. I’m truly a bit perplexed at how this place is remotely in the top tier of the ratings for TC, given all of the other really good places I've eaten around here. When I walked into the restaurant I wasn't greeted and had to seat myself. Instead, I should have paid more attention to the not so good reviews, which were much more accurate. The food was average at best, and as other reviews have indicated-it seemed like numerous items were “Best of Traverse City” which unfortunately lured me into trying a few, to which I would respond that I have no clue how they received that rating. Further, the service was less than average, with long waits between servers and lack of giving additional information about the menu or basic server treatment. Also, this menu is overpriced for the quality. The wine and beer did not have a price next to it, which is somewhat common for beer but not wine. I think every restaurant I've ever been to, lists the price of a glass of wine, but not this one. I thought it a bit odd but figured it wouldn't be that expensive given the type of place. I was wrong, a glass of average wine was $10! I certainly wouldn't have ordered it for $10, and the advertised “8 oz.” pour was not true either, it was a regular 5 oz. pour. I overheard one of the servers tell another table about fruit flies that sometimes land in the salad dressing. Jokingly she told the customer "they are so small you won't even notice if they land on your salad!" I thought that was a bit odd to say to a customer, even if you are joking. Suffice to say, I was very disappointed with going to this place based on the seemingly positive reviews. I was so perplexed I went back to read more TA reviews and noticed there were a number of reviews that reflected the same experience I had. In the “responses” the owner seems to be overly defensive in anything critical of the restaurant and unrealistic in not realizing this place should not be a top restaurant here. I’m really wondering if the people with the positive reviews went to the same restaurant I did-it is mind boggling. In talking to locals after eating there, they shared the same view and thought this was a decent local restaurant with good music, but certainly not a top restraint for TC. I just felt compelled to write this in warning others who might go there on the false pretense like I did that this was an outstanding place.

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
9 Thank Marialomba
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
LittleBohemia, Guest Relations Manager at Little Bohemia - Family Tavern in The West End, responded to this review, August 3, 2014
Response to Reviewer: We are sorry to hear (on TripAdvisor instead of to our face) that you were not pleased with anything about your visit to Little Bohemia.

We’re well aware that we cannot please everyone. While we appreciate your input, you are quite inaccurate on a few of your comments. All of our “Best of Traverse City” accolades were AWARDED to us by the food writers at Traverse Magazine, the Convention & Visitors Bureau, NM3 Magazine and the Grand Traverse Insider, to name a few. If you only taken a moment to look around the restaurant, you would have seen several of them proudly displayed on our walls.

SEATING: We do not have a hostess, our staff greets the guests, as they can; sometimes they can’t because they are extremely busy waiting on customers. Guests are greeted and told to “Hi, sit wherever they like.” Unless of course every table is dirty or they are a group that requires two or more tables. At any given time, 30-50 people will arrive in a 15-20 minute window (yes this actually happens). We work as hard and fast as humanely possible to serve everyone.

WINE: Yes, Wine By the Glass is an 8 OUNCE POUR and the prices range from $5.50 for the House Wine to $9.00 for our high end wines; Malbec, Shiraz, Louis Martini Cabernet, etc. Your server would have gladly informed you of any glass price with your inquiry.

PRICING: We are not overpriced and we serve top quality food. All of our menu items are described complete in their content and preparation. All items are listed on each Sammich as well as the type of bread and dressing. Each salad description is complete and each Special has all ingredients listed. All our nightly specials are house made from scratch. We make 5 house made dressings, all of our 7 desserts are made from scratch as well as all sauces and dips.

REVIEWS: Thanks to all the EXCELLENT reviews here on TripAdvisor, many of them locals (yes, they all ate at the same restaurant you did) we have been recognized, for the 2nd year in a row, with the “CERTIFICATE OF EXCELLENCE” Award.

We stand behind our products, our pricing and our service. As far as being in the top ten restaurants in TC, we are humbled, thrilled, thankful and very grateful and we will continue to strive to stay the course because 163 Excellent Reviews (to this date, August 2, 2014) tell us we are doing something right.

Thank you, thank you very much for your review.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Williamston, Michigan
Level Contributor
23 reviews
4 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
“Love this restaurant and bar”
Reviewed July 24, 2014

I always have at least one meal here every time I'm in TC. I brought friends this time and they were equally happy with the food and atmosphere. I highly recommend this place for food, drinks and musc!

  • Visited July 2014
    • Value
    • Atmosphere
    • Service
    • Food
Helpful?
Thank Longbasket
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Chicago, Illinois
Level Contributor
4 reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
“Little gem !”
Reviewed July 23, 2014 via mobile

Such a lovely restraunt, the food was delicious, the waitstaff was very friendly, the owner came up to visit with us PLUS there was unexpected entertainment that was fabulous, what a little gem!!!

Helpful?
Thank dakelly66
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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