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READERS PICK: Mani/Pedi: There is no indulgence quite like the experience at Design 1 Salon Spa.

Best of Grand Rapids
More than 200 reasons to love this city!

By Jocelyn Burkett
Photography by Michael Buck
and Johnny Quirin

Some friends meet up at a restaurant in town. As they dine, they talk about everything, with questions flying back and forth.

How’s your salad? Where did you buy that coat? Your lawn looks great! Who do you use? I had a lovely time at your daughter’s wedding. Who catered it? Your husband always looks so put together. Where does he get his clothes? I want a better rate at my bank. What’s your bank offering? I’m still hungry. Where can we go for coffee and dessert?

See where we’re going with this?

The Best of Grand Rapids Readers Poll is much like a conversation with an old friend. We ask several questions of you, and you willingly respond. The results of this poll reflect your preferences, and in most cases, your exceptional experiences within West Michigan.

We want to know what you like, so that we (and others) might like it, too.

To spice things up, in addition to the 67 Readers Poll categories, we mixed in some staff picks of places we thought you should know about.

Appetizer Menu
The Best: San Chez
Other favorites: Rockwell Republic
25 Kitchen + Bar

The Best:
Panera Bread
Other favorites: Bagel Beanery
Big Apple Bagel

The Best:
Wealthy Street Bakery
Other favorites: Arnie’s
Van’s Pastry


Best 2 a.m. breakfast
The Grand Coney, 809 Michigan St. NW

Sometimes a 24-hour breakfast joint is just what you need, and The Grand Coney, on the corner of Michigan and Eastern, fills that niche. The menu features breakfast diner staples, including monster omelets and skillets and pancakes that bring you back to childhood. The staff is fast, funny, and will refill your coffee cup as many times as you can handle. Don’t get too carried away though, and keep your eye on the clock.

The Best:
Real Food Café
Other favorites: Cherie Inn
Omelette Shoppe

The Best:
Cottage Bar
Other favorites: Choo Choo Grill
Cascade Roadhouse

The Best:
Beltline Bar
Other favorites: El Burrito Loco
Trini’s Downtown

Coney Dog
The Best:
Other favorites: Corner Bar
One Stop Coney Shop

The Best:
Schnitz Deli
Other favorites: Cherry Street Deli
Marie Catrib’s

Ice Cream Parlor
The Best:
Jersey Junction
Other favorites: Sundaes at the Cottage
Sundaes in the Heights

New Restaurant
The Best:
Amore Trattoria Italiana
Other favorites: Bartertown Diner
Brewery Vivant

Outdoor/Deck Seating
The Best:
Other favorites: Reds on the River
Grille at Watermark

The Best:
Other favorites: Vitale’s in Ada

READES PICK BEST RIBS: There’s never been a better time or place to be a carnivore than at Sam’s Joint.

The Best:
Sam’s Joint
Other favorites: Sandmann’s

Romantic Dining
The Best:
Reds on the River
Other favorites: Tre Cugini
Cygnus 27

The Best:
Schnitz Deli
Other favorites: Panera Bread
Marie Catrib’s

The Best:
Other favorites: Charley’s Crab
Bonefish Grill

The Best:
Panera Bread
Other favorites: Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop

The Best:
Chop House
Other favorites: Louis Benton
Reds on the River


Men’s & Women’s Apparel: Having the salesperson at A. K. Rikk’s tie your half-Windsor: priceless

Beer/Wine Merchant
The Best:
Martha’s Vineyard
Other favorites: G.B. Russo & Son
Crushed Grape

The Best:
Other favorites: Kava House

The Best:
Founders Brewing Co.
Other favorites: Brewery Vivant

The Best:
Other favorites: The BOB
Bar Divani

Restaurant Wine List
The Best:
Other favorites: Bar Divani
Reds on the River

Animal Clinic
The Best:
Cascade Hospital for Animals
Other favorites: Family Friends Veterinary Hospital
Weisner Innis & Schoen

Auto Repair
The Best:
Veenstra’s Garage
Other favorites: Community Automotive Repair
Spaanstra Brothers Automotive

Bank/Credit Union
The Best:
Macatawa Bank
Other favorites: Lake Michigan Credit Union
Fifth Third Bank

Car Wash
The Best:
Southland Auto Wash
Other favorites: Breton Village Auto Wash
Waterworks Car Wash

Best place for cooking lessons …
and a wrench

Rylee’s Ace Hardware, 1234 Michigan St. NE
It sells plumbing gizmos and electrical sockets — all the stuff you expect to find at a hardware store. But Rylee’s Ace Hardware on Michigan Street also features a killer housewares department with everything from La Creuset cookware to every color of Fiestaware.
Thank owner Lori Terpstra, whose granddad started the store in the late ’40s. She took over in 2000 and moved 10 years later to the current larger location, where Terpstra has room for all the fun stuff — including a full working kitchen on the sales floor. Once or twice a month, chef Kathleen Schiefler (shown above) offers classes, showing people how to use all the great gourmet gadgets for sale. Definitely not your grandfather’s hardware store.

Catering Company
The Best:
Other favorites: Above & Beyond
Tommy Fitzgerald

The Best:
Eric Chaitin/Grille at Watermark
Other favorites: Andrea McFarland/Women’s City Club
Tommy Fitzgerald

The Best:
Michael Crete
Other favorites: Matthew Gietzen
Thomas Lambert

The Best:
Richard Ashack
Other favorites: Evelyn Vanderveen
Robert Lamberts

Dry Cleaning
The Best:
Sheldon Cleaners
Other favorites: Afendoulis
One Hour Martinizing

Hair Salon
The Best:
Design 1 Salon Spa
Other favorites: Tanaz Hair Boutique & Spa
Panopoulos Salons

Housecleaning Service
The Best:
Cascade Fresh Cleaning Co.
Other favorites: Molly Maid
Merry Maids

Interior Design Firm
The Best:
Think Design
Other favorites: Via Design
Kathryn Chaplow

Landscaping Company
The Best:
Harder & Warner
Other favorites: Kappes Landscapes
Rooks Landscaping

Law Firm
The Best:
Kuiper Orlebeke
Other favorites: Warner Norcross & Judd

The Best:
Design 1 Salon Spa
Other favorites: Panopoulos Salons
Douglas J

Plastic Surgeon
The Best:
Brad Bengtson
Other favorites: John Renucci
Scott Brundage

Real Estate Company
The Best:
Other favorites: Five Star
Keller Williams

Retirement Community
The Best:
Clark Retirement
Other favorites: Porter Hills
Beacon Hill

Tattoo Parlor
The Best:
Mos Eisleys
Other favorites: Screaming Needle
Laughing Gremlin


Readers PICK BEST Bike shop:
Let’s face it, that Huffy you had as a kid was a gateway bike. Get your fix at Village Bike Shop.

Antique Shop
The Best:
Eastown Antiques
Other favorites: Blue Door
Windsor Cottage

Auto Dealership
The Best:
Fox Motors
Other favorites: Betten Imports
Todd Wenzel

Bicycle Shop
The Best:
Village Bike Shop
Other favorites: Ada Bike Shop
Freewheeler Bike Shop

The Best:
Schuler Books & Music
Other favorites: Barnes & Noble
Literary Life

Children’s Clothing Store
The Best:
Other favorites: Children’s Place
Hop Scotch

The Best:
Eastern Floral
Other favorites: Kennedy’s
Daylily Floral

Furniture Store
The Best:
Northwestern Home Furnishings
Other favorites: D2 Design Quest
Stone’s Throw

Garden Center
The Best:
Fruit Basket Flowerland
Other favorites: Romence Gardens

Grocery Store
The Best:
D&W Fresh Market
Other favorites: Meijer
Forest Hills Foods

Home Accessories
The Best:
Wealthy at Charles
Other favorites: D2 Design Quest
Northwestern Home Furnishings

Jewelry Store
The Best:
DeVries Jewelers
Other favorites: Preussers Jewelers
Paul Medawar Fine Jewelry

Men’s Apparel
The Best:
A.K. Rikk’s
Other favorites: Fitzgerald’s
Jurgens & Holtvluwer

Best vegan dish
Heritage Restaurant, 151 Fountain St. NE
(GRCC Applied Technology Center)

We applaud the menu at Bartertown Diner and truly enjoy the breakfasts at Gaia. But hey, Chef Kevin Dunn (at left) was doing vegan before vegan was cool.
The culinary instructor at Grand Rapids Community College’s Secchia Institute for Culinary Education started cooking plant-based dishes in the early ’90s to overcome his health issues and has been a vegan fanatic every since. Our fave is his Mock Eel, a sweet-and-sour gourmet specialty made with dried shitake mushrooms, soy sauce, scallions and more. Yum.

The Best:
Other favorites: Gild the Lily
Windsor Cottage

Shoe Store
The Best:
Mieras Family Shoes
Other favorites: DSW
Van Hoecks

Women’s Apparel
The Best:
AKA (A.K. Rikk’s)
Other favorites: Leigh’s
Hot Mama

Getting Out
Art Gallery
The Best:
LaFontsee Galleries
Other favorites: UICA
Perception Gallery

Golf Course
The Best:
Thousand Oaks
Other favorites: Egypt Valley
Cascade Hills Country Club

Health Club
The Best:
MVP Sportsplex
Other favorites: YMCA
East Hills Athletic Club

The Best:
GR Public Museum
Other favorites: GR Art Museum
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

Outdoor Festival
The Best:
Other favorites: Festival of the Arts
Celebration on the Grand

Performing Arts
The Best:
GR Civic Theatre
Other favorites: GR Ballet Company
GR Symphony

Place for a Reception
The Best:
Frederik Meijer Gardens
& Sculpture Park
Other favorites: Women’s City Club
Noto’s Old World Italian Dining

Public Park
The Best:
Millennium Park
Other favorites: John Collins Park
Rosa Parks Circle

Shopping Mall
The Best:
Woodland Mall
Other favorites: RiverTown Crossings
Breton Village

Tourist Attraction
The Best:
Frederik Meijer Gardens
& Sculpture Park
Other favorites: ArtPrize
Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum

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