Foodie Finds: Best Place to Eat Near Sleeping Bear Dunes
Sleeping Bear Dunes - voted the most beautiful place in the US! And it is definitely worth the title - we've written extensively about this gorgeous place, since it is almost in our own backyard.
But let's say you're heading to Sleeping Bear Dunes, along Michigan's Sunset Coast, and either want to fuel up before climbing the dunes, or fuel and hydrate afterwards. Where to go? Never fear - foodie finds is here!
Just south of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park is the small town of Empire. It's got a cute downtown, an incredible chocolate shop (Grocer's Daughter), and the best meatball sub I've ever had outside of my own kitchen.
So you're driving in Empire and looking for this great sub shop - don't blink. Empire is small! It's a small, unassuming building with triangular doorways (it shares the building with a coffeeshop). Pull into the parking lot - you've arrived at Empire Village Inn. It is a bar, but families are definitely welcome there.
This particular day a few weeks ago, we were meeting a group of friends for a beach day at Empire Beach (which is wonderful!). So we wanted to fuel up early before hitting the beach and diving into the waves. Empire Village Inn was perfect for us.
They don't have a huge menu, but you can tell that every item on the 2-page spread is made with thoughtfulness and care. We were immediately drawn to the hot submarine sandwiches (my husband is a sub connoisseur). Our daughter got the pizza sub with bacon and sausage, Ed got the Philly steak sub (no cheese, allergic), and I ordered the meatball sub.
Empire Village Inn serves Northwoods sodas, a local institution (try their rootbeer!). Our friendly waitress was quick with the refills and quite patient with our questions. And, they have tots.
The Subs Arrived.
Oh. My. Take a look...
Indeed. Our daughter says about her bacon sub, "That was the most bacon I've ever had at any restaurant, ever. It was delicious!"
Ed loved his sub (you can hear his comments in this video).
And the meatball sub? Incredible. Crispy bread, hot sauce, gooey cheese, and large, flavorful meatballs. Best. Meatball. Sub. Ever.
We've heard their pizza is fabulous - but I think I've found my go-to menu item, thank you.
Empire Village Inn
11601 S Lacore Rd Empire, MI 49630
Empire Village Inn Menus, since I couldn't find them online:
More Sleeping Bear Dunes goodness:
Have you eaten near Sleeping Bear Dunes? What's your favorite spot?