Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Midwest Tastes Best: Grand Rapids

This three-part blog series highlights the food and coffee in the three cities Jorje and I visited on our bi-annual Midwest trip. My hope is to document the week of food and, if you happen to be looking for very specific recommendations for three Midwestern cities, you may get something out of it as well.

Part one: Indianapolis
Part two (this blog): Grand Rapids
Part three: Ann Arbor

Listed is a little bit of our experience and info on each place including what stood out, links to their websites, and the location of our visit though many have multiple locations in the designated city.

Grand Rapids
Although I grew up in Michigan, my family spent little time on the western side of the state. Although a few visits to Calvin College during my college days introduced me a little more to the city, my little brother, Kenan, has done the majority of hosting our tours. It should be noted, we didn't have a chance to visit East Grand Rapids, a place full of more great eateries - next time.

Hop Cat
Downtown || www.hopcat.com
Voted a top bar by a number online beer sites, this super cool bar has a ton of options on tap and some great burger and Crack Fries to go with it. Jorje, Kenan, and I made sure this was our first stop to get the burger and drink happy hour special for dinner. Although the in-house brews aren't mind-blowing, the selection and venue vibe makes it well worth the stop. And yes, the Crack Fries are addictive.
Must-have: Crack Fries, the burger and beer happy hour special


Founders brews some fantastic brews that are well-known all across the country. In addition to having a great selection of in-house (and out), Founders had a super cool atmosphere. Huge building that housed their brewery, a large indoor area complete with a stage for shows, and a beautiful outdoor beer garden area where we hung out for a while. The place was packed though in a good-spirited way, such as when one of the delivery trucks pulled out and passed by the garden, it honked its horn and the crowd broke out in applause. Though we were too full to eat anything, the Beer Cheese Dip looked amazing and has my brother's full recommendation.
Must-have: Beer Cheese Dip

Rockwell Republic

Rockwell Republic served as a perfect end to the night. This multi-storied place was super swanky inside but we opted to sit out on the upper-level deck, right in the middle of the city. The service was great, it was a beautiful night, and the martinis were delicious and half-off.
Must-have: Thursday night martinis, specifically, the Pomegranate one was fantastic

Lantern Coffee Bar & Lounge

I haphazardly discovered this coffee bar a few months ago before Kenan's graduation, stopping in while walking around the city to hopefully get a good cup of coffee before a long day of graduation ceremony. Delightfully, they had wonderful coffee with a limited menu not dissimilar to Little Amps (for you Harrisburg-area people). Sidebar: aren't we all past the extensive menu selection option at coffee shops? Do we really want quantity (of options) over quality?? End sidebar. Anyhow, this place has great coffee and, once you go past the coffee bar, there's a great sitting area a level below with exposed brick walls and cool tables and all those coffee lounge type things we love. This was our last GR stop, perfect to get us through the two hour drive east to my hometown.
Must-have: Pourover

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