Eating in Put-in-Bay, South Bass Island, Ohio

Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island is on the Ohio side of Lake Erie. South Bass Island was secured for the new United States from the British Navy during the War of 1812, and Put-in-Bay got its name from Great Lakes ships “putting in” the bay until the capricious Lake Erie weather improved. There are restaurants, bars, ice cream parlors, special interests, and green space galore.

The Boardwalk is the most famous commercial Lake Erie Island landmark. Located on the corner of Bayview and Catawba avenues, the Boardwalk is the hub of island activity. Restaurants here include the Upper Deck, plus burger and seafood stands on the Main Deck. There are adult beverages plus live bands on the weekends. Charter vessels dock here that go to all of the Lake Erie islands.

Delaware Avenue on South Bass Island is another busy street during tourist season. A landmark of sorts, the Beer Barrel Saloon, is a 21+ plus venue that has the world’s longest bar at 400 feet; this is located on the left-hand side of the street. There is a Subway sandwich shop here, plus pizza by the slice, in addition to golf cart rentals.

Frosty Bar and Frosty Pizza are located at 252 Delaware Avenue in Put-in-Bay on South Bass Island. Frosty Pizza is open for breakfast, and there are pizzas, hoagies, salads, and burritos, in addition to the beer and drinks. This is a great family restaurant. A family of four can eat for $30.00, which is quite reasonable on an island.

Frosty’s has been around since 1949. The bartenders are really helpful, especially with questions about the island. Draft beer is $8. There’s a juke box here, plus a pool table in the back. Through the door, is the Big Man’s Burrito Stand. Big screen TV’s are everywhere, and there’s also a wall of t-shirts to commemorate your visit.

The 12-inch cheese pizza at Frosty Pizza is a real cheese monster pie, and is part of the family meal deal, which includes cheesy bread, large salad, and four sodas. The cashier staff may or may not speak English, as Put-in-Bay restaurants recruit summer workers from all over the world.

There is a job fair in Port Clinton in late March at the Ottawa County Visitors Bureau for any interested parties. When this salad was ordered the first time, the native English speaker added two additional dressing cups right away. The second time, a non-native English speaker wasn’t quite sure, but a young man from Michigan just put the additional cups on the counter for us.

The back doors at Frosty’s open up to the "Backyard at the Frosty Bar," going strong since 2011. Happy hour is from 3 pm till 6 pm, and the frozen drinks have fresh fruit. The adirondack chairs are wonderful to relax in. There are also nachos and Corona’s.

The burritos at Big Man’s aren’t terribly distinctive, but they are tasty. The “Some Like It Hot” burrito lives up to its name, and the steak fajita burrito was good. The burritos are supposed to come with house-fried nacho chips, but the fryer was down. Some negotiation was necessary to get side salads instead.

What’s better than eating a burrito? The answer is, eating a burrito al fresco. Big Man’s Burrito Stand is outdoors, and since the weather in the early afternoon of June 28, 2017, was very nice, it was time to eat outdoors in the Frosty Backyard. The table we had was tiny but we were under shade.

This is the Italian sub sandwich for $10.79. Sandwiches include chips or a side salad. There’s also a turkey sub, Greek gyro, vegetarian and buffalo ranch chicken. Fountain sodas and iced tea are $2.25, and the famous Frost Top rootbeer is $2.50. Gatorade is also available.

The Village of Put-in-Bay was established in 1877. The village includes Perry’s Monument, DeRivera Park, and a lot of the restaurants, hotels and taverns. The village police department has been revamped in the past couple of years, but sometimes Ottawa County police are called due to professionalism issues. The most serious policing-quality issue occurred when a woman was assaulted on Delaware Street at Mr. Ed’s Bar in 2013.

The Island General Store is the only grocery store on South Bass Island, and it is open all year. It stocks a wide variety of products, but a clerk informed us that anything purchased during the wintertime is very expensive. Food normally comes over on the ferry, but when Lake Erie freezes over, everything comes via airplane. Milk will cost $6.50 per gallon.

The island’s only grocery store is a little rundown, but this store is jammed full of so many different things. There are a lot of health and beauty aids, plus grilling implements and swim stuff, even a good dairy department. This store is circa 1983, and is located at 390 Catawba Avenue.

If you like beef, you’re going to love the Island General Store. There are even two different brands of beef hotdogs. The produce department is a little thin and pricey, but everything needs to come on a boat. There is a good selection of snack foods and energy bars. Hours of operation are extended in the summer, but this store is usually open at least 9-5.

The Island General Store carries Nathan’s Famous Hotdogs. These bun-length wieners were $5.19 for an eight pack. Ice was $1.60, and buns were $2.19 each. Oranges were 99 cents each, and strawberries were $4.99 for a pound. Shredded cheddar cheese was $5.99 per four-cup package.

Every cookout needs flaming marshmallows, and these came from the Island General Store. We also made s’mores. The graham crackers were $2.79 per box, and the Hershey’s chocolate bars, six per pack, were $5.49. All told, the shopping trip at the store came to $52.93, which included jiffypop popcorn, tomatoes, and a big box of chewy granola bars.

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