Chugga chugga!

Choo Choo Grill has best burgers on Earth (or anywhere else)
A thick and creamy chocolate peanut butter malt is poured at Choo Choo Grill. Photo by Wes Kitten.

First opened in 1946, Choo Choo Grill has been a Grand Rapids hidden treasure for nearly 80 years.

Choo Choo Grill, 1209 Plainfield Ave NE, Grand Rapids. Photo by Wes Kitten.

A genuine slice of comforting old-school Americana, the Choo Choo is chock full of railroad-themed artwork and knick-knacks. You can feel the history when you walk into the place. A backlit menu board proclaims, “Best Burgers on Earth (or anywhere else).” It ain’t lyin’! The staff are on first name basis with many customers, and it has the “Cheers” feel of a home away from home where everybody knows your name.

Their weekly hours are 7 a.m.–3 p.m. weekdays, and 7 a.m.–2 p.m. Saturday. They are closed Sundays. If you get there in time for breakfast, there are plenty of colorfully named meal options such as the Fireman, the Conductor’s Omelet, and the infamous Rail Kill Sandwich (English muffin, 2 eggs, 2 sausage links, cheddar cheese, and Choo Choo Sauce!)

While the lunch menu features choices such as a Meat Loaf Sandwich or Tuna Melt, it’s nigh impossible to not get one of their burgers, which, for my money, are the best in Grand Rapids. You can choose from one-third pound burgers, half-pound burgers, and if you’re feeling daring, take on The Legend, a one-pound cheeseburger that has conquered many a lesser eater! My pick was The Red Caboose: a half-pound cheeseburger deluxe that comes with glorious steak fries and a drink. The massive burger was cooked to perfection as always.

Choo Choo Grill owner Rick Mack, with his daughter, Shiloh Mack, and Kathy Spencer. Photo by Wes Kitten.

A slightly bittersweet note: The future of the Choo Choo Grill restaurant is uncertain, as owner Richard Mack is thinking of retirement and has put the property up for sale. He has not yet found a buyer, so until the property sells, the Choo Choo Grill will continue to be the West Side destination that’s it’s been for decades. Whether or not the restaurant will continue after the sale will depend on who buys the property and what their plans are.

So don’t delay, make your way to Choo Choo Grill and chow down on The Best Burgers on Earth (or anywhere else) while you still have the chance!


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