A guide for Grand Rapidians

Sam Easter. Courtesy Sam Easter

Each year, we entrust our readers with the task of choosing the Best Of pretty much everything in Grand Rapids. It’s certainly not a scientific or fully accurate representation of what truly is the best in West Michigan, but it’s a great way to guide not only the rest of our readership, but our coverage. Thanks to the vote tallies, we get a good vibe of where to eat, drink and shop or who to watch and listen to.

The annual practice is an opportunity for readers to discover new people and places to check out, or a reminder to revisit an old haunt. It’s a massive list of Best Of winners and runners-up, so keep it throughout the year or make a list and keep it in mind as the next vote is right around the corner.

As for the rest of this issue, we stay true to a pledge to keep the magazine fresh and provide something for everyone, from participatory date ideas for Valentine’s Day to a look at the havoc the pandemic wreaked on Grand Rapids tourism for nearly two years. We check in with George Walker, a former Grand Rapidian who’s carved out an amazing career as a sommelier. He’s now with former NBA star Dwyane Wade’s wine company!

Writer Ann Byle profiles Johnny Agar, an amazing athlete with cerebral palsy who has a new book out, and former GRBJ reporter Jesse O’Brien returns with a profile of Chris Wessely, the founder of Grand Rapids Sport & Social Club, now known as JAM Sports, and a Q&A with Lake Michigan Credit Union CEO Sandy Jelinski.

As we dive into food, we grab some smash burgers and hard cider at Vander Mill and some tacos at Maggie’s Kitchen. With the cold settling in, we offer up a delicious chicken chili recipe and some of our favorite places to get hot soups to warm the soul.

Finish off the issue by raising a glass of anejo tequila, an underrated spirit — particularly if you enjoy whiskey. So, let’s toast 2022 and hope for better days ahead!

Featured Contributor: Sam Easter

What are looking forward to accomplishing in 2022?

I’m looking forward to doing some more gardening. My wife and I bought a house in Midtown in early 2021, and we can’t wait to fix it up and plant a few more flowers.

What’s your favorite place to spend time in Grand Rapids?

My favorite place in the city is Riverside Park. It’s a wonderful place to take a morning walk, feed the ducks and get a few fishing tips from the regulars by the boat launch. 

This story can be found in the January/February 2022 issue of Grand Rapids Magazine. To get more stories like this delivered to your mailbox, subscribe here

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