In 2019, there was a huge push to eat more local, in-season produce and of course live a more sustainable life. Something that Grand Rapids has been doing well before this year. When Meg Ten Eyck and I were invited by Experience Grand Rapids to visit this midwest city I knew almost nothing about the food.
I found out that Michigan grows a greater range of produce than any state except California. That fact means eating locally grown, fresh and in-season produce has been a way of life for well, forever. By blending hearty and heavy midwestern food with a focus on fresh and seasonal you get some incredible combinations. I have no doubt you’ll enjoy eating your way through these Grand Rapids Restaurants as much as I did.
Say Yes to Breakfast in Grand Rapids
San Chez Bistro
Our first meal after getting to town was breakfast at San Chez Bistro. It set the tone for all the deliciousness we came to expect during the rest of the trip. The restaurant itself is two-tiered and brightly colored. The decor speaks with the same fun tone as the food at this Latin American meets Mediterranean spot. The breakfast empanadas with chorizo were to die for. The pro tip is to go ahead and double your order or the harissa sour cream, you’ll thank me later. They also serve tapas-style lunches and dinners!
When you visit Wolfgang’s you can expect to leave absolutely stuffed. This homestyle breakfast and lunch spot is serving up some massive portions. If you go on the weekend expect a bit of a wait but trust me they have the fluffiest eggs I’ve ever seen. They also make homemade hash browns which I happen to believe is the highest form of potato.
A visit to Anna’s House means everyone in the crews getting exactly what they want. The breakfast menu here is gigantic. That big menu allows them to have options for all sorts of dietary restrictions. Vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free you name it Anna’s House has you covered.
That Early Bird
If you’re looking for good vegetarian food in Grand Rapids look no further than That Early Bird. I think the coolest part about this spot is that the menu is super eclectic. Sure they have the traditional french toast and breakfast sammies but they also have vindaloo hash! The horchata iced latte is to die for. If you haven’t tried horchata its rice mike beverage popular in Latin America.
Coffee in Grand Rapids
Brick walls and, big windows and a lot of sunlight. Beautifully designed packaging. Knowledgeable baristas probably wearing beanies and or Blundstones. This place is oozing cool in every way. MadCap Coffee has three locations in Grand Rapids and we visited two of them. I really enjoyed getting to learn about the beans and the process from the Downtown Market location.
Jam’n Bean Coffee Company
Struggling to decide if you want coffee or ice cream? Jamnbean is all about having both. The vibe here is cozy. It’s the perfect place to just chill with friends. I’m a coffee enthusiast but there’s a contingent of people who claim the ice cream is even better than the coffee. You’ll have to try both and decide for yourself.
Outside Coffee Co
Outside Coffee Co is queer-owned, instantly making me fall in love a little more. As the name suggests Outside Coffee Co is well outside. They have fireplaces scattered about the space giving that perfect fall vibe. When it gets cold they put out adorable clear domes to stay warm in. I had what they call “chider” a chai tea and apple cider combo that was life-changing.
Grand Rapid Brunch Spots to Indulge
Social Kitchen & Bar
Grand Rapids brunch lists will all include the trendy and vibrant Social Kitchen & Bar. The bunch menu has comfort food done in an elevated way. The thick-cut pork belly in bourbon vanilla glaze is sinful. Consider taking an Uber here because the bunch cocktail list is phenomenal.
I have a weakness for root beer the more unique the better. When I found out Electric Cheetah offered a full root beer menu I was sold. The brunch menu has a lot of American food favorites. The mac n cheese is what they’re known for so make sure to try it. This cool mural was just a few minute’s walks so I snagged a few pictures while waiting for a table.
This Grand Rapids farm to table restaurant has a wonderful brunch menu. The Terra GR egg menu is a mile long but the woodfire pizzas grabbed my attention. They have a strong focus on being sustainable and serving local ingredients which is the type of business I love to support. They also have one of the best bloody mary’s I’ve ever tasted.
Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe
When you come here expect a wait. I don’t mean that as a bad thing, I say to emphasize this place is so good people will wait! Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe is completely worth the wait. Crepes had a very important place in my early travel story so I think of myself as somewhat of a crepe critic. The crepes are thin and come in both sweet and savory options. They even have a crepe making class which I would 100% be doing if I live in the city.
Great Restaurants Downtown Grand Rapids
The Old Goat
The Old Goat has a rustic-chic vibe that you could probably use the word hipster to describe. The place is the definition of stylish and chill. The service is great and makes for a good lunch or dinner stop. If you’re looking for food recommendations consider the cast iron pot pie or the garlic and white balsamic brussel sprouts.
HopCat is a brewery, in fact, it’s a great brewery in one of America’s leading beer cities. It’s no surprise that the menu here is everything you’d want to eat while drinking beer. Think chicken tenders, burgers and Fish and Chips. The food is great and no I wasn’t drunk when I had it. Pro Tip: their Cosmik fries were named the top 10 french fries in America by Food Network Magazine.
The walls are covered in graffiti and there are 80’s arcade games to play. Everything about Stella’s Lounge is fun, including the food. It’s mostly a pub menu serving some killer sandwiches. They also have some vegan comfort food options, like a sweet potato burrito. If you’re into whiskey Stella’s has 200 varieties.
Ando Sushi & Bar
Veggie sushi is one of my favorite things in the world and Ando Sushi & Bar serves the best I’ve ever had. The restaurant is modern and minimal with a really pretty bar. My eyes were about 7 times bigger than my stomach so I got to taste a lot. The udon was rich and a massive portion and all the sushi was super fresh. Seriously, you’ve gotta try one of the veggie sushi options.
A former service station serving up Mexican street food-inspired dishes. Donkey Taqueria has a large outdoor patio for sipping a cocktail on the warm days and the garage door flood the interior with light year-round. Their taco menu is awesome but I recommend ordering at least on the order of flautas. They also have a really fun cocktail menu.
Meat eaters only! Not really but carnivores are going to thrive here. The menu itself has a strong international influence which is always fun. Butcher’s Union offers a big shareable menu which I love. In my opinion, it’s the best way to try a bunch of the option. Some of the shareable options include beef tartar, Caribbean meat pies, and roasted pork belly.
I love me a great market and the Downtown Market is just that. One of the first things I learned about the market as they have a garden on the rooftop Which I think is awesome for so many reasons. Once we got in I was stoked to find so many different food stalls. Almost all offered an option to take food to cook at home or eat there. That includes the seafood stand frying up and serving some of the freshest fish sandwiches. There are also 3 full sit down restaurants connected to the market. If you have time I highly recommend finishing your meal with the MadCap coffee flight and a cupcake from Sweetie-Licious Bake Shoppe.
This conversation was sponsored by Experience Grand Rapids. As always all opinions are my own.