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Schnitz Deli, winner of the Best Deli and Sandwich

Best of Grand Rapids

Your votes (thousands of them) are in: Check out the results of Grand Rapids Magazine’s 100-category Readers Poll.

By Jocelyn Burkett
Photography by Michael Buck

We can all agree that 2008 was the Year of the Vote. We voted for everything: drain commissioners; presidents; vice presidents; idols; marijuana; millages; stem cells; dancers. You name it, we voted for it.

Not to be outdone by the cluster of national, state and local elections, Grand Rapids Magazine submitted its own 100-category ballot and then ensured that your vote was deciphered (more on that later) and counted.

With the precision of a diamond-cutter and the patience of Susan Lucci, our staff labored over the thousands of line-item nominations for four consecutive months (June through September) to procure the following results. We were tested daily by the voluminous amount of ballots we received, as well as the challenges of curious penmanship and the ambitious use of the English language on some of the more interesting responses.

Unfettered, we assumed the responsibility of decoding your truest intentions. How could we know what, who or where you meant when you voted for “the one on Alpine” in the Best Auto Repair category, or “Craig DeBoer” as Best Weatherperson, or “Showcase Cinema” as Best Movie Theater?

Given this dilemma, we thought it prudent to offer some helpful suggestions for next year:

It’s Best Diner, not Dinner. A diner is a small, informal and usually inexpensive restaurant. Dinner is the principal meal of the day, normally served in the evening. We thank you for generously correcting our spelling, but it was you who changed the course of history when you voted 1913 Room in this category.

Again, our gratitude for pointing out that there is rampant alcohol abuse in the world, but some people really do enjoy a glass of wine or frothy mug of beer on occasion. If you are a teetotaler, we admire you, but please refrain from pontificating on our ballot. Rather, leave the category blank and your silent vote will be heard.

Awesome that you can write with a pen between your toes, but if you can’t read it, chances are good that we can’t either. If a combination of dead-language proficient, MENSA-graduated, MIT scholars cannot interpret your “writing,” you have just tragically eliminated your vote.

All kidding aside, what we found in this readers poll was continued enthusiastic support for all things West Michigan. You, impressive reader, know where to go and who to see.

Let’s get right to it, shall we? GR

Jocelyn Burkett is marketing coordinator for Gemini Publications.

Appetizer Menu
San Chez, 38 W. Fulton St., (616) 774-8272,
Wealthy Street Bakery, 608 Wealthy St. SE, (616) 301-2950,
Wolfgang’s, 1530 Wealthy St. SE, (616) 454-5776,

Charley’s Crab, 63 Market Ave. SW, (616) 459-2500,
Schnitz Deli, Multiple locations,
Arnie’s, Multiple locations,

Pal’s, 6503 28th St. SE, (616) 942-7257
Ice Cream Parlor
Jersey Junction, 652 Croswell Ave. SE, (616) 458-4107,
Kids Menu
TGI Friday’s, Multiple locations,
New Restaurant (opened in 2008)
Rockwell/Republic, 45 S. Division Ave., (616) 608-6465
Outdoor/Deck Dining
Rose’s, 540 Lakeside Drive SE, (616) 458-1122,
Romantic Dining Atmosphere
1913 Room, 187 Monroe Ave. NW, (616) 776-6426,
Vegetarian Menu
Gaia Cafe, 209 Diamond Ave. SE, (616) 454-6233

Bagel Beanery, Multiple locations,
Sandmann’s, 1200 Wealthy St. SE, (616) 459-0900,
Cottage Bar, 18 LaGrave Ave. SE, (616) 454-9088,
Beltline Bar, 16 28th St. SE, (616) 245-0494
Chicken Wings
Buffalo Wild Wings, Multiple locations,
Chips & Salsa
Beltline Bar, 16 28th St. SE, (616) 245-0494
Chocolate Chip Cookie
Wealthy Street Bakery, 608 Wealthy St. SE, (616) 301-2950,
Krispy Kreme, 2700 East Beltline SE, (616) 464-1630,
Hot Dog
, 1505 Wealthy St. SE, (616) 262-3090,
, Multiple locations,
Schnitz Deli
, Multiple locations,
s, 60 Ottawa Ave. NW, (616) 454-6700,
Panera Bread
, Multiple locations,
Chop House
, 190 Monroe Ave. NW, (616) 451-6131,
, 3971 28th St. SE, (616) 285-7666

Beer/Wine Merchant
Martha’s Vineyard, 200 Union Ave. NE, (616) 459-0911,
Kava House, 1445 Lake Drive SE, (616) 988-5351
Happy Hour
Uccello’s, Multiple locations,
Bistro Bella Vita, 44 Grandville Ave. SW, (616) 222-4600,
Founder’s, 235 Grandville Ave. SW, (616) 776-1195,
The B.O.B., 20 Monroe Ave. NW, (616) 356-2000,
San Chez, 38 W. Fulton Ave., (616) 774-8272,
Sports Bar
Uccello’s, Multiple locations,
Wine List
Bar Divani, 15 Ionia Ave. SW, (616) 774-9463,

Art Gallery
Grand Rapids Art Museum, 101 Monroe Center NW, (616) 831-1000,
Golf Course
Thousand Oaks, 4100 Thousand Oaks NE, (616) 447-7750,
Health Club/Fitness Facility
MVP Sportsplex, Multiple locations,
Karaoke/Open Mic
Cheers, 3994 Plainfield Ave. NE, (616) 363-1188
Live Theater
Grand Rapids Civic Theatre, 30 N. Division Ave., (616) 222-6650,
Movie Theater
Celebration Cinema/IMAX, Multiple locations,
Public Museum, 272 Pearl St. NW, (616) 456-3977,
Outdoor Festival
Festival of the Arts,
People Watching
Festival of the Arts,
Place For A Wedding Reception
Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, (616) 957-1580,
Public Park
Riverside Park, GR Parks & Rec Office, (616) 456-3696,
Shopping Mall
Woodland Mall, 3195 28th St. SE, (616) 949-0012,
Sports Team
West Michigan Whitecaps, 4500 West River Drive, (616) 784-4131,
Tourist Attraction
Frederik Meijer Gardens, 1000 East Beltline Ave. NE, (616) 957-1580,

Mid-Life Crisis,
Chris Williams/Leo’s, 60 Ottawa Ave. NW, (616) 454-6700,
John Gonzalez/GR Press,
Bernard Lucas/Leo’s, 60 Ottawa Ave. NW, (616) 454-6700,
James Elliott, D.C., 1553 Alpine Ave. NW, (616) 364-9485
Robert Lamberts, M.D., 655 Kenmoor Ave. SE, No. 200, (616) 949-5600,
Plastic Surgeon
John Renucci, M.D., 220 Lyon St. NW, No. 700, (616) 451-4500,
Radio Personality
Tony Gates/WLAV,
Radio Station
Radio Team
Free Beer and Hot Wings,
TV Personality
Suzanne Geha,
TV Station
Bill Steffen/WOOD-TV8,
Tom Rademacher/GR Press,


Snapdragon, winner of Best Children's Clothing Store

Animal Clinic
Cascade Hospital for Animals, 6730 Cascade Road SE, (616) 949-0960,
Antique Shop
Eastown Antiques, 1515 Lake Drive SE, (616) 776-1076,
Architectural Firm
Visbeen Associates, 4139 Embassy Drive SE, (616) 285-9901,
Auto Dealership
Fox Motors, Multiple locations,
Auto Repair Service
Community Auto Repair/Fox Motors (tie),,
Fifth Third, Multiple locations,
Bicycle Shop
Village Bike Shop, Multiple locations,
Schuler Books & Music, Multiple locations,
Car Wash
Southland Auto Wash, Multiple locations,
Catering Company
Applause Banquets & Catering, 2728 Birchcrest Drive SE, (616) 940-0001,
Cell Phone Company
Verizon Wireless, Multiple locations,
Children’s Clothing Store
Snapdragon, Multiple locations,
Credit Union
Lake Michigan Credit Union, Multiple locations,
Day Spa
Design 1, Multiple locations,

Dry Cleaners
Sheldon Cleaners, Multiple locations,
Florist/Flower Shop
Eastern Floral, Multiple locations,
Furniture Store
Israels, Multiple locations,
Garden Center
Fruitbasket/Flowerland, Multiple locations,
Grocery Store
Meijer, Multiple locations,
Hair Salon
Design 1, Multiple locations,
Home Builder
Scott Christopher Homes, 620 3 Mile Road NW, Suite A, (616) 784-4500,
Spectrum Health, Multiple locations,
Amway Grand Plaza, 187 Monroe Ave. NW, (616) 774-2000,
Interior Design Firm
Think Design, 560 5th St. NW, Suite 301, (616) 458-8370,


Juhas & Sullivan, winner of Best Jeweler

Juhas & Sullivan, 1100 East Paris Ave. SE, (616) 957-2222,

Landscaping Company
Rook’s, 9244 36th St. SE, (616) 897-4287
Law Firm
Varnum, 333 Bridge St. NW, (616) 336-6000,
Men’s Apparel Store
Daniel’s, 1100 East Paris Ave. SE, (616) 949-7777,
Walgreen’s, Multiple locations,
Real Estate Company
Greenridge Realty, Multiple locations,
Resale/Consignment Shop
Georgie’s, 7504 Thornapple River Drive, (616) 676-1869,
Retirement Community
Porter Hills, 4450 Cascade Road SE, (616) 949-5140,
Shoe Store
DSW, Centerpointe Mall, 3665 28th St. SE, (616) 940-3763,
Sporting Goods Store
MC Sports, Multiple locations,
Women’s Clothing Store
Daniel’s, 1100 East Paris Ave. SE, (616) 949-7777,

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