Ice House BBQ: A Secluded Garden Hideaway on Mackinac Island

Mackinac Island is full of extraordinary places, and Ice House BBQ is definitely one of them. At first glance, it may seem like a typical restaurant. But there’s a lot more than meets the eye!

For starters, let’s check out the history of Mackinac Island’s Ice House BBQ

The original ice house located behind Island House Hotel on Mackinac Island.
The original ice house building for Island House Hotel is still standing and now located at Ice House BBQ!

In the 1800s, ice from the Great Lakes was in high demand. By 1830, Americans had come to rely on foods that required refrigeration. Ice harvesting had become a way for farmers to supplement their income in the winter.

The job was a complex and daring task. Snow was scraped from the ice field, and holes were made to measure ice thickness. Next, a grid would be marked for the ice plow to follow when cutting blocks two-thirds of the way and completed by the workers sawing to completion. Blocks could be up to 300 pounds! Ice would then be loaded onto horse-drawn flatbeds and transported to ice houses where it was stored until summer, when it could be sold.

The ice was stacked and packed inside the ice house, just like the one that remains on site at Ice House BBQ. Sawdust was used for insulation and placed in between layers of ice. Some ice houses stored over 1,600 tons of ice. The work these men did each long day was dangerous and cold. Once a luxury, ice became a typical household and business commodity by 1900. The ice delivery man would weigh ice blocks and deliver ice by horse-drawn covered wagon to homes and businesses. Each order was carried into the house and placed on the top shelf of an ice box to keep food fresh.

Improved ice harvesting and storage techniques revolutionized American businesses and diets. For the first time, meatpackers, dairies, and produce growers could ship their products across great distances. Brewers could regulate the temperature of their facilities to produce beer year-round. And restaurant owners, shopkeepers, and home cooks could keep various fresh ingredients on hand.

Now, here’s why you should visit Mackinac Island’s Ice House BBQ today!

A group plays cornhole in the outdoor dining space at Ice House BBQ on Mackinac Island.

Family Fun

Ice House BBQ will remind you of the casual family backyard barbecues back home. Spend a lovely afternoon playing lawn games with the kiddos or a fun-filled evening with your pals in a heated cornhole competition. Your friendly four-legged family member is welcome to join you too.

A plate of Brisket Tacos on a table in the outdoor dining space at Ice House BBQ on Mackinac Island


Deliciously creative twists to your favorite backyard classics will hit the spot. Brisket Tacos. Brisket Chili. Brisket Sandwich. We could go on! Order the Smokehouse Combo for a mouthwatering taste of our house-smoked brisket, ribs, and pulled pork.

If barbecue is not your jam, try the Portobello Stack or the Spicy Black Bean Burger; plus, we’ve got a great selection of fresh salads. And there are the usual suspects (grilled cheese, cheeseburger, pizza, mac n’ cheese, and chicken nuggies) for the kiddos, too.

If you’re staying at the Marina or looking for a picnic lunch, the full menu is available for takeout online.

Ice House BBQ has a wide variety of beers on tap that visitors can enjoy in the outdoor dining garden.


Satiate your thirst after an adventurous day with a draft beer or cocktail. Unwind on the patio with a glass of Lilac Sangria so delicious you’ll be begging for our top-secret recipe. Nothing says summer like a selection of fresh fruit cocktails, summer spritzers, and ice-cold brews.


Follow the path next to the Island House Hotel across from the Mackinac Island marina to discover a secluded garden hideaway. Shhhh…. It’s the secret that locals are keeping to themselves. The trail isn’t long, but there is a bit of a hill, but the reward at the end is worth the effort.


Drop in for lunch or dinner to enjoy Mackinac Island’s natural beauty without interrupting awaiting adventures. We are open Memorial Day through Labor Day, weather permitting.

Check It out

For a menu or to order takeout, visit the Ice House BBQ website. Be sure to follow on Facebook and Instagram for details and updates!

The outdoor garden at Ice House BBQ is a glorious spot to enjoy lunch or dinner on Mackinac Island

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