408 S. Union St.
Traverse City Michigan 49684United States
In Old Town, the new Soul Hole comforts with Southern-style soul-food favorites.
Traverse City seems like an unlikely place to find a soul-food restaurant. And the exterior, with its butter-yellow paint and window boxes, exudes Traverse City cute. But the tiny dining room with the African-American art on the wall and jazz on the sound system serves totally unpretentious food. We're pulling for chef/owner Ralph Humes, a fine art dealer who has been cooking since he was a kid. The business offers "eclectic Southern cuisine." We're not sure what makes it eclectic (though a few of the dishes come served with basmati rice, which would be a twist), but if you like Southern food, you'll do fine here. The menu offers an array of salads (including a Southern Cobb made with a Creole avocado vinaigrette for $9.95), sandwiches, sides and entrees (including chicken and waffles for $15.95, shrimp and grits for $11.95, a shrimp and crawfish etouffee for$12.95, Southern fried chicken dinner made with chicken marinated in buttermilk and Southern Comfort for $11.95). We started with hush puppies (served with a creamy crawfish-studded tartar sauce, $5.95), moved on to the chicken po'boy ($8.95) and finished with the red velvet cake ($5.95) and drunken peach cobbler ($5.95). All of it was good -- not on par with what you'd get at Emeril Lagasse's restaurants, but certainly a welcome part of the mix in Traverse City's dining scene. The hush puppies were a bit dry, and the red velvet cake was a too-bright red that reminded us of Kool-Aid (but that didn't stop us from scraping off all of the cream cheese frosting and pining for an extra bowl of it). The drunken peach cobbler is the way to go, expertly handled with a just-right splash of bourbon and drizzled with caramel. Soul Hole offers carryout for lunch and dining room and carryout service for dinner. Prepare to wait for a table, because you can squeeze about 20 people in here at a time. But the low prices, friendly service and the tasty food make it worth the wait.