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Keyhole Bar & Grill

June 5, 2022

  • 323 E. Central Avenue
  • Mackinaw City, MI 49701
  • (231) 436-7911
  • Website
  • Menu

Back to Mackinaw City for work. It feels like I was just here. I come up most years in the spring for a conference on Mackinac Island. Last year’s conference was in September due to COVID in the spring. We’re back on regular schedule this year with a spring conference.

I drove up to Mackinaw City on Memorial Day. I didn’t really want to get up at 4 AM on Tuesday if I didn’t have to.

I got in to Mackinaw City around 4:30 and got checked in to my hotel. I purposely didn’t eat on the way up because I had plans once I got to town.

I headed straight downtown to the Keyhole Bar & Grill on Central Avenue. The bar is kind of a dive bar. It’s been a year round staple in downtown Mackinaw City for over 45 years. It’s been suggested to me for years but I always seem to be in Mackinaw City during busy times. I’ve tried stopping in a few times over the years but there’s always a wait for a table.

I stopped in fairly early on the tail end of a holiday weekend so there was no wait. A hostess stopped me at the door. Since I was by myself, I asked if I could just sit at the bar. She handed me a menu and pointed me towards a seat in the first dining room. From what I could see, there were a couple of different dining rooms all with their own bars. There’s no room to expand into buildings next to them so it looks like they just kept expanding back from the door.

The restaurant is kind of a time capsule. The dimly lit room with green carpet and stamped ceiling tiles is contrasted with wood panel walls covered with advertising mirrors. The furniture all looks a little newer. Some of the bigger tables are shaped like keys and most of the chairs have a skeleton keyhole slot on the back of them.

The keyhole theme is pretty obvious all throughout the pub. There are keys from dozens of different hotels and resorts around Mackinaw City hanging from the ceiling. Each of them still has the plastic tag attached to them with the hotel name and room number.

The bar is also covered in keys. In total, there are over 25,000 keys on the walls, bars and tables.

One of the bartenders saw me sit down and before I could even get settled, she asked about a drink. I saw a tap handle for Bell’s Two Hearted Ale so I asked for one of those. They have a small selection of craft beer in addition to all the macro usual’s.

The reason I was super interested in finally trying Keyhole was the wings. I’ve heard from so many people over the years about how good these wings are. I ordered 10 bone-in Keyhole Wings. The only sauce option is the Original Keyhole Hot Sauce. The wings come with celery and bleu cheese dressing.

These wings are amazing. They’re fried real crispy and they are just swimming in this thick, sticky, sweet and spicy hot sauce. The sauce had a little bit of a BBQ sauce quality too it but still brought the heat. This was definitely not a case of a restaurant dumping Frank’s Red Hot on some wings and passing it off as their own. The sauce is one of the best hot wing sauce I’ve ever had. The wings, despite literally swimming in this sauce, remained crispy and crunchy all the way to the last bite.

I added a Bushel of Potatoes to my order. This large plate of fries is pretty simple frozen fast food fries. I put a little extra salt and some pepper on the fries then dipped them in the hot sauce that was left on my plate. They were fine but nothing out of the ordinary.

My bill for dinner was just a little under $30 which is expected with the price of wings right now.

I can’t believe it’s taken me this long to get to the Keyhole Bar & Grill. This place is a must stop as you travel through or to Mackinaw City. The atmosphere is unbeatable. So much of Mackinaw City feels super touristy but no the Keyhole. This place feels like a small town bar and it’s reputation is definitely earned.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 6, 2022 5:48 pm

    I love key bar beer and food 🤠

  2. Annette permalink
    June 7, 2022 9:19 am

    The first place I go when I get to Mackinaw City!!! The BEST Bar Burger EVER!!!!!!

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