Alpena, Michigan, always surprises us with their vast selection of intriguing dining establishments. The Undercover Divas noticed a bustling restaurant in a stone building called JJ’s Steak and Pizza House, and wandered inside. What we found was a busy, but still comfortable setting with families and friends enjoying mostly pizza and the fascinating up-north decor of stuffed, wild animals. There were many displays of wildlife in glass cases and on the walls. We noticed a long bar area with drink specials written on the mirror behind the bottles of liquor. This area seems to be the gathering place for the locals. We sat down in the dining area enclosed by all the glass displays and checked out the menu.
Before we ordered, a couple at the next table said hello and recommended JJ’s Top Sirloin Steak ($12.99) as they were just finishing theirs and said they drive to Alpena regularly, just to have a steak at JJ’s. Our waitress suggested we try the daily luncheon special ($6.99) which was a salad bar that had several different kinds of pizza, cheese bread, full salad bar fixings with lots of veggies, different pasta salads, beans and two kinds of puddings.
The Lunch Special goes until 3 pm, then several homemade soups are added to the buffet for the dinner crowd. We decided to stick to the menu and ordered a large, deep dish, meat-lovers pizza ($17.99) that was recommended to us by friends, and it was superb. They do take the time to make the pizzas perfectly, and while waiting, everyone at the table gets to go to the salad bar, included in the price of the pizza. (Update: They have changed their policy, and now charge $.99 per person for salad bar…well worth it!)
Lots of choices on the menu, salad bar in itself was a meal, portions of everything were generous, servers were all friendly, place was clean, and our pizza was loaded with meats, cheeses and plenty of flavor.
If you have a big family, and need a place to take them out without being afraid of your kids being a bit unruly, this is the place- but don’t be afraid of the kids, this isn’t a daycare center- it is quite under control. It is just what a family pizza place should be, but with even better food than you would expect.
JJ’s Steak and Pizza House is located in the heart of downtown Alpena (right by the bridge) at 411 North 2nd Ave. There is some street parking in the front, but the best parking is around back, and you can enter through the marked back door. JJ’s opens at 7 am for breakfast and closes at midnight. We do plan on returning on our next trip up north and might even switch to one of their premium steak dinners, or maybe the ribs.
Special Attention: When in Alpena, be sure to take a “Shipwreck Tour”. During the 2½ hour cruise you will see magnificently preserved shipwrecks, scenic shorelines and majestic lighthouses. Departing Alpena, the 65 ft. “Lady Michigan” will take you on a comfortable adventure into the heart of Lake Huron’s Shipwreck Alley. The open upper deck has ample seating and the lower deck has glass bottom viewing wells, to allow you to view shipwreck remains during the cruise. Adults – $30, Children 12 and under – $10. The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Visitor’s Center offers over 11,000 sq. ft. of exciting exhibits and a shipwreck that visitors can explore. It is located with the tours and has free admission.