Eating south-of-the-border in Leelanau


By Chris Loud

Sun contributor

These warm sunny days have us in the mood for some south of the border fare. You might think it would be tough to find good options in Leelanau, but there are actually some great dishes to be had across the county at some staple establishments. Plus, a couple of brand new spots specializing in Latino-inspired cuisine just opened up. So if you’re in Leelanau County with a craving for carne asada, tacos, burritos, or even just some incredible nachos, here’s a guide to some of your best bets.



An often overlooked dish, but honestly one of my favorites, is the classic huevos rancheros breakfast. You can expect some form of lightly fried or poached eggs, with tortillas, salsa, avocado or guacamole, beans, and rice. At The Tribune in Northport, the simply named Huevos is a local favorite, following the traditional basics of huevos rancheros, with cotija cheese, plus a refreshing cilantro lime sour cream. You can add chorizo for a couple extra dollars to really go all in.

For the breakfast burrito lovers, Fig’s in Lake Leelanau has you covered. It includes pork sausage, eggs, cumin-dusted potatoes, pinto beans, and cheese. Plus, you get a unique cilantro yogurt and fermented jalapeno sauce to add even more flavor. A vegetarian option is available too.


Tacos & Burritos

If you’ve been to Traverse City in the last year or so, you know the taco craze is in full swing, with taco trucks galore at Little Fleet, like Happy’s Tacos and Roaming Harvest. Also, Mama Lu’s on Front Street is always packed to the gills with taco lovers, and Spanglish has some of the best guacamole around.

Up in Leelanau County, you can also get authentic tacos at places like the Cedar Sol Taco Stand, with traditional taco varieties. It’s a hidden gem, and really serves up true tacos. A new taco truck is now parked at Barrels and Barrels in Suttons Bay called Taqueria Las Lagunas, featuring legit traditional family recipes originating in Matamoros, Coahuila, for classics like carne asada tacos, and chimichangas. You get a sense of passion for the food when you order up at the window, and it’s really one of the few, if not the only, traditional taco trucks in Leelanau.

Honestly, Suttons Bay’s burrito game kind of exploded recently. In addition to Taqueria Las Lagunas also doing burritos, a new brick and mortar spot called Bay Burrito Company just opened up in the village. They offer Mexican street food featuring local ingredients. You can order in either burrito or bowl form, plus tacos and quesadillas are available.

Other spots around the county have some good options for tacos, including The Village Inn in Suttons Bay serving up whitefish tacos. The Bluebird in Leland also has blackened whitefish tacos, and pulled pork tacos. For tacos with a view, Knot Just a Bar has mahi tacos and brisket tacos, with seating overlooking beautiful Omena Bay. In Lake Leelanau, Fig’s also has steak tacos, with spiced aioli and queso fresco. (It’s important to note that the menu at Fig’s changes often, so call ahead if you’re looking for something specific.)


Tex-Mex Variety

An unexpected spot for good variety of tex-mex plates is Sugarfoot Saloon, featuring an entire South of the Border menu including fajitas, chalupas, and enchiladas. If you can’t decide, get the Mexican sampler. For some, Sugarfoot might be off the radar for Mexican food, but for many its been the favorite spot for a variety of options for a long time.


Spanish Cuisine

At Hop Lot in Suttons Bay on Friday and Saturday nights you can get chicken and chorizo sausage paella. It’s not “south of the border” technically, but Spanish-inspired and one of the more unique options available in the county. Plenty of outdoor seating, and a true brewery with great food and entertainment.


Best Nachos

If all else fails, get the nachos. That’s my mantra when I’m craving Mexican food, but find myself with fewer options. The Garage Bar & Grill in Northport is known for their house-smoked pulled pork, so naturally, the nachos come with the pulled pork on top. However, these are not your typical pulled pork topped nachos. First of all, the portion is massive. A half order is enough for two people. And outside of the pulled pork addition, they’re actually very classic nachos, just done really well. Also, the half order is one of the best bang-for-your-buck options in the entire county.

If you happen to be in Lake Leelanau with the nacho craving, you can get a pretty classic order of nachos at Dick’s Pour House that won’t disappoint, also in full or half order.


Off the Beaten Path Salsa

Sometimes it’s fun just to make your own Mexican food at home, but maybe you want a good salsa to go along with it. At N.J.’s Grocery in Lake Leelanau you can find salsa varieties made by a local man named Miguel, and despite still flying pretty under the radar, the salsa is very popular and has created a bit of buzz. So if you want to jump onto a salsa bandwagon early, check out N.J.’s in Lake Leelanau.


The Word

For food in Leelanau County, word of mouth is the best way to discover new foods. So if you find you have a friend with good taste in food, ask about what new Mexican dishes they’re having. You never know what might pop up in Leelanau.