Feb 18, 2019

The Year of the Grand Rapids Restaurants

About a year ago, Justin and I decided that we wanted to add some variety to our local dining experiences.  I had only lived in Grand Rapids for six months and we found ourselves only frequenting Justin's favorite restaurants from before we met.

To add more spice to our dining choices, we looked-up the top twelve (well, thirteen- we started in December of 2017) restaurants in Grand Rapids according to online reviews and decided to try one new restaurant each month.

We had so much fun trying new places together and date night felt a little extra special when planned so intentionally.  We enjoyed this experience so much that we've deemed 2019 the year of the Michigan breakfast!  We are going to try a new-to-us breakfast place once a month.  But before I get too far into 2019, I want to tell you about all of the amazing restaurants we tried last year.

Marie Catrib's: Unfortunately, the top Grand Rapids restaurant on the list, Marie Catrib's, is no longer open!  I'm so happy that I got to try it before they closed their doors, though.  We tried Marie Catrib's for breakfast even though they served delicious food all day.  The restaurant was known for great, locally-sourced food with a Lebanese twist.  Breakfast did not disappoint.

The Green Well: The Green Well is an awesome stop if you're looking for a favorite dish but made with a little twist (and made really well).  It's not too fancy but definitely not a dive.  A perfect restaurant to add to your rotation of favorite stops.

Leo's Restaurant: Leo's is definitely a special occasion ($$$) kind of a place.  Luckily, February was the month to try this seafood restaurant, so Justin and I spent Valentine's Day enjoying lobster and scallops at Leo's.  The food was good, but honestly, neither Justin nor I were terribly impressed given the expense.

San Chez: If you love tapas and a good cocktail, San Chez is the place for you!  I've now had several meals at San Chez and it has been delicious every.single.time.  I like it so much that I planned my office Christmas party there.  It was a hit!

HopCat: HopCat is already one of our favorite restaurants (our first date was at the HopCat location in East Lansing, Michigan).  They serve a fantastic variety of craft beers, many of them from Michigan, and if you haven't tried the Cosmik fries (previously known as crack fries), you MUST!

Founder's Brewing Co.: Founder's is probably the most famous brewery in Grand Rapids.  My favorite beer on tap is the Rubaeus on nitro.  To go with the beer, Founder's serves great, casual food like delicious sandwiches with pasta or potato salad as a side.

Brewery Vivant: Admittedly, Brewery Vivant was already a favorite restaurant of mine before this experiment.  Farmhand is one of my favorite beers and I love the unique menu served at the brewery.  The dining room also has a really cool vibe- almost like you're in an old church!

Grove: Grove was a restaurant I was really looking forward to trying but it fell a little flat for Justin and me.  Don't get me wrong, the food is delicious -- just served in really small portions for kind of a lot of money.  We enjoyed our food at Grove, then had to go to our favorite dive bar to fill-up on quesadillas.

Bistro Bella Vita: This might be our favorite find of the restaurant experiment!  Bistro Bella Vita serves a combination of French and Italian cuisine with delicious wine and cocktail choices.  We lucked-out and hit Bistro Bella Vita during restaurant week so we were able to sample appetizers, main courses and desserts.  We highly recommend this restaurant!

Butcher's Union: Butcher's Union was another great find this year!  The restaurant is known for their variety of whiskeys and quality meat.  The cocktails and steaks that we chose were so well-prepared and the ambiance made us feel like we were on an episode of Mad Men.

I forgot a picture of this one!

Terra: Known for their wood-fired pizzas and locally sourced foods, Terra is another great restaurant to add to your regular rotation.  Casual but with character, the food was delicious!

The Old Goat: Oh man, a bunch of homemade soups that you can sample before choosing?  I'm in!  The soup is delicious but so are their other options!  This will definitely become one of our regular restaurant choices.

Oops!  I was too busy enjoying wine and steak to take a picture of this one.

The Chop House:  Here's another special occasion stop in Grand Rapids.  We brought my parents along for dinner at Chop House as our Christmas celebration together.  The steak and wine were outstanding!  And the servers are so professional that they will make your dining experience one to remember.

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