Ponderosa Steakhouse & Buffet is a 25-year-old design with family-friendly incarnations nationwide. The Lansing locale dares patrons to scale a heaping all-you-can-eat buffet, where verdant mountains of crisp lettuce and fresh toppings inspire salads, and zesty chicken wings offer to awaken taste buds that fell asleep while eating cedar mulch. Second, third, and ninth trips yield juicy baked chicken with vegetables, multiple styles of cooked potato, and the gooey seduction of bubbling pizza by the slice. Weekends unleash steaming meats from red-hot grills and invite diners to sample unlimited fistfuls of sirloin steak, shrimp, and barbecue ribs.
With its ledge rock walls, burnished wood accents, and life-size horse sculpture perched at the wraparound bar, The Stillwater Grill hearkens back to a frontier lodge. Chefs reinforce the rustic ambiance with a menu of hearty American fare: they grill USDA Choice beef and inspected seafood, and then drizzle their flame-licked exteriors with homemade sauces.
Not many steak houses can boast of their own market where juicy cuts of meat are swiftly transported from the nearby deli to the bustling restaurant kitchen. Knight’s Steakhouse and Grill holds this distinction in the form of Knight’s Market, an Ann Arbor deli where the steaks are painstakingly selected according to their size—each steak must be big enough to double as a shoe, if the need should arise. After the chefs cook them to perfection at the eatery’s two locations, the sizzling entrees make their way to waiting diners amid soft lighting and stone and brick accents.
The Waterfront Restaurant treats palates to a menu of eclectic bites and 50 martini options, served amid sweeping views of Goguac Lake. Small plates include crab cake towers surrounded by a moat of Serrano aioli, and crispy dragon wings. Patrons can nestle up with pan-fried frog legs garnished with garlic butter inside near the fireplace or trade whistling techniques over a plate of jerk-marinated chicken on one of three decks overlooking Goguac Lake.
The Lakes Bar & Grille calms appetites with a menu comprising a wide variety of grilled meats, perfectly cooked seafood, and plentiful entrees. Blackberry chicken takes center stage by singing a song of house-made blackberry pan sauce, surrounded by a supporting cast of vegetables and a potato cameo ($15.95). Dine on the grill's most beloved staple, steak, with such succulent meat slabs as filet mignon seared in zip sauce and coated in herb butter ($23.95–$28.95) and16-ounce hand-cut delmonico steaks with all the fixings ($26.95). Pan-fried perch leap from griddles to plates in a magnificent display of annual migration, eager to reach their home in lakes of lemon butter and tartar sauce ($18.95). Combining the very best of water-based sports and artificial football fields, surf 'n' turf mac 'n' cheese piles plates with steak bits, lobster, and elbow macaroni ($15.95).
At Luca's Chophouse, the steak gurus in the kitchen weigh plates down with hefty 24-ounce porterhouses, 14-ounce new york strips, and 12-ounce rib-eyes. They slice only all-natural beef and use only all-natural singing voices to tenderize them. Creative plates, such as almond-encrusted blueberry scallops or pasta americana dressed in a Cajun tomato cream sauce, keep the menu varied and match the colorful, flower-filled vases dotting the eatery's tables. For a fully immersed experience, the chefs recommend diners pair their dishes with a wine from their extensive list.