Each year, Grand Rapids Magazine asks readers to select the “best of” in several categories. The winners in the restaurant category are as follows:
1st Place: San Chez Bistro
The popular downtown eatery offers brunch for select hours and all-day tapas, its specialty. The unique offerings blend European, Mediterranean and Latin American flavors, with the added bonus of top-of-the-line tapas for all tastes including meat-eaters and vegetarians. Plus many products are locally sourced.
2nd Place: Aperitivo
1st Place: Bowdie’s Chophouse
Expertly managed by Alanna Grant, who’s been around the Grand Rapids restaurant scene at such restaurants as Grove and Bistro Bella Vita, this elegant, yet cozy
gem in the heart of Gaslight village in East Grand Rapids offers top-of-the-line steaks, professional yet friendly service and extras such as seafood appetizers, scrumptious sharable sides and an ample wine and cocktail list.
As they like to say at Bowdie’s, sit down and taste “the wonder that is our steak.” Executive Chef, Alexander Lukens and his compadre in kitchen, sous chef Garrick Shyne also put a lot of thought into the non-steak offerings. Market fresh fish and the half chicken, served on a bed of root vegetables smothered in gravy, rival anything grandma used to make. Lots of top shelf whiskey offerings, too. Oh, and the staff here were voted second for service. Enjoy!
2nd place: The Chop House
Late Night Drinks/Dining
1st Place: Z’s
Situated directly across from the JW Marriot, Z’s is the one place you can count on to have an after-hours crowd, even in the dead of winter. The full-service bar has a rotating selection of beers on tap and some very consistently good menu items, making it the best spot to go after a show at DeVos or a Griffins game. With karaoke Tuesday-Thursday 10 p.m. – 2 a.m., be prepared to be entertained while you scarf down just good eats.
2nd place: Max’s South Seas Hideaway
1st Place: K-Rock
Book a private karaoke room and have authentic Korean Barbecue cooked right at your table at this one-of-a-kind karaoke bar located at 169 Louis Campau Promenade in downtown Grand Rapids.
2nd Place: Z’s
Date Night Restaurant
1st Place: MDRD
General Manager Parker Bulliment and Chef Stephan Vanheulen are two proud and passionate food and beverage industry veterans who have worked hard to create the most elegant and unique restaurant in town. Situated on the 27th floor of the Amway Grand Plaza, MDRD (pronounced: Madrid, like the Spanish city) offers a stunning expansive view, about the only thing that will remind patrons that they’re in Grand Rapids and not the coolest new hot spot in some far-off exotic, metropolitan oasis. With food as pretty as the view, the restaurant offers tiered seating, private rooms and a balcony with seating for eight. Floor to ceiling windows and a sleek design, coupled with an eye on personalized service, each guest will feel tailored to and well taken care of by the amazing and cheerful staff.
2nd place: Butcher’s Union
1st Place: MDRD
2nd place: Bowdie’s Chophouse
1st Place: Lucy’s Café
Lucy’s, a gem nestled in the Creston neighborhood on Plainfield Avenue, offers popular scones, muffins and sour cream donuts along with traditional breakfast choices through lunch. Lucy’s also offers omelets, grits, smoothie bowls and hash, plus a wide variety of burgers for those who want the usual. Cocktails, draft beers and wine adds to a well-rounded dinner menu.
2nd place: Tupelo Honey
1st Place: Anna’s House
If you haven’t been to Anna’s House for breakfast yet, you’re missing out. With four locations plenty of healthy and delicious options for all appetites and needs, it’s hard to go wrong with this cheerfully decorated restaurant.
2nd Place: Wolfgang’s
1st Place: Wolfgang’s
Reliably good Eastown fixture, serving up breakfast seven days a week. Choose from
a wide variety of breakfast options – from waffles to benedicts, some with names that remind you it’s been a family institution (45+ years in the making according to the popular breakfast joint’s website). Choices include hash browns (with or without onion) or American Fries, and “would you like regular or hazelnut coffee?”
2nd Place: Grand Coney
1st Place: 76th St. Diner
A quintessential truck stop diner serving up traditional fare and comforting classics like chicken fried steak. This family owned and operated business is open 24 hours and located at 460 76th St SW, in Byron Center. For the locals, “it’s the place to go to see the people you know.”
2nd Place: Grand Coney
1st Place: MadCap
If you like your coffee strong, bold, flavorful and presented beautifully, this is the coffee shop for you. With two locations, including one on Monroe Center and another on E. Fulton, the brand is well known and served at many fine establishments around town.
2nd Place: Lyon St. Cafe
1st Place: Jenna Arcidiacono
Local celebrity chef and Owner of Amore Trattoria Italiana since 2010, Chef Jenna is a force to be reckoned with whose reputation precedes her. Know for her advocacy of the restaurant industry during the Covid-19 pandemic, she revamped her restaurant
for takeout within 24 hours and garnered national recognition. She also founded the charity, “Food Hugs,” her name for the free meals she and others involved provide to various organizations.
2nd place: Chef Roman Petrack
1st Place: Kangaroo Kitchen
Owned by Chef Roman Petrack, Kangaroo Kitchen is a full-service boutique catering company that provides quality food and an artful presentation for small family dinner parties or occasions that call for feeding hundreds.
2nd place: Martha’s Catering
1st Place: Sheshco Mediterranean Grill
Authentic Middle Eastern cuisine delights all the senses at Sheshco, a popular spot in the Celebration North complex. Fresh vegetables, lean meats, and whole grains are the basis of the menu that runs from kabobs to wraps, and falafel to grape leaves. The small, hot pitas baked on site, accompanied by luscious garlic paste, are worth driving across town. Hand-painted murals put diners in the spirit for lentil soup, shawarma, and ghallaba. No alcohol served.
2nd place: Zivio
1st Place: Maru Sushi & Grill
Japanese fusion restaurant featuring unique sushi rolls, sharing plates & cocktails in stylish surroundings. The Cherry Street location became so popular, the owners had to open a second on Bridge Street to keep up with demand for the best sushi in Grand Rapids.
2nd place: Jaku
1st Place: Rose’s on Reeds Lake
For elegant dining in a beautiful outdoor setting, there’s no better place near or far than Rose’s on Reed’s Lake. From water skiing to ice hockey, there’s always something happening on Reeds Lake. A heated, covered patio keeps the view going all year ‘round. In the summertime, additional seating is available on a waterside deck, with beautiful east facing views of the picturesque waterfowl-filled lake. A Gilmore Collection restaurant, the food is consistently good, much of it prepared from scratch in-house by Chef Armando and his amazing staff. The waitstaff is courteous, friendly and always willing to accommodate. From wood fired pizzas to gourmet salads and entrees, there’s something for everyone at Rose’s.
2nd place: Blue Water Bar and Grill
1st Place: Knoop Rooftop Beer Garden
This relatively new restaurant and bar is located in the Studio Park complex on the eighth floor of Canopy by Hilton. The unique cocktails and appetizers are unmatched, except perhaps by the view. A major bonus is that the hotel validates for parking in the Studio Park parking ramp, making a night out on the town all the more enjoyable!
2nd Place: Haute at New Hotel Mertens
1st Place: Leo’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar
“Leo’s is the premier dining destination for exquisite seafood, classic cuisine, decadent desserts, and a world-class wine list.”
2nd place: Fish Lads
1st place: Two Scotts Barbeque
Two Scotts BBQ was started eight years ago by, you guessed it, two guys named Scott. One of the Scotts (Scott Hartmann) still works there as the owner/operator. The business has really taken off and is now in the business of catering, as well. With two smokers – one on site at the lunch stand and a second, larger smoker at an off site kitchen – Hartmann reckons that 60% of the business now comes from catering customers. Two Scotts is located at 536 Leonard St NW in Grand Rapids, open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
2nd place: Daddy Pete’s
1st Place: Stella’s Lounge
Go for the arcade games, stay for the burgers. This fun bar has been on the national radar for its stuffed burgers almost since its inception. The menu items have fun names like the Government Cheeseburger and Stella Blue that you can order with a side of Avocado Nugents. Don’t shoot the messenger.
2nd place: The Winchester
1st Place: Stella’s Lounge
2nd Place: The Green Well
1st Place: Gaia House Cafe
This restaurant used to be known simply as “Gaia,” and was located on Diamond Ave. in Eastown. It resurfaced a couple of years ago in a new location, 553 Plainfield Ave. with much excitement for the vegetarian and vegan community. Choose from Mediterranean, Japanese or Mexican inspired dishes as well as a host of breakfast and brunch items.
2nd place: Stella’s Lounge
1st Place: Beltline Bar
The Beltline Bar is a curious place. It’s neither on the Beltline, nor is it just a bar.
It’s a Mexican Restaurant and has been since 1966. Its website boasts: “You may have had decent burritos in your lifetime, but those are nothing compared to the top-notch burritos, tacos and quesadillas waiting for you at Beltline Bar.” Our readers obviously agree.
2nd place: Lindo Mexico
1st Place: HopCat
HopCat started in Grand Rapids back in 2008 and has expanded across the state and the Midwest. One taste of the Cosmik Fries and you’ll be looking for a HopCat wherever you go. The OG Cosmik Fries—beer-battered with signature seasoning—are now one of trio of options that include Loaded Cosmik Fries for brave eaters and the new BBQ Brisket Fries, a meal on its own thanks to beer-braised brisket and BBQ sauce. Come for fries, stay for the beer.
2nd place: Stella’s Lounge
Mac N Cheese
1st Place: Electric Cheetah
Wonderful place for people watching, vegetarian cuisine, great cocktails, lots of soda pop and of course, several different varieties of souped up mac n cheese created with a blend of seven superb cheeses.
2nd place: Westside Social Tavern
1st Place: The Mitten Brewing Company
The Mitten has been a popular fixture on Leonard Street NW, in the historic Engine House No. 9 building, since 2012 thanks to its speciality pizzas and microbrews. There are the usual pizza options, of course, but also original combinations such as the Margherita, Curse of the Goat, Field of Greens, and Westerdog. Stop in or order to-go, and don’t forget one of The Mitten’s popular appetizers.
2nd place: Harmony Brewing Company
1st Place: Tacos El Cuñado
With several locations throughout the city, this authentic Mexican taco stand is a real standout among the competition for tacos served on corn tortillas, onions and cilantro. The horchata is also a must-try as are the tasty homemade corn chips.
2nd place: Donkey Taqueria
1st Place: Patty Matters
This popular food truck serves a variety of gourmet burgers and fries with dessert and soda options.
2nd place: Sir Sandwich
1st Place: Yesterdog
This Grand Rapids institution made famous in the hit film American Pie has been serving hot dogs in Eastown since 1976.
2nd place: One Stop
1st Place: Two Beards Deli
Downtown sandwich shop located at 38 Commerce Ave SW, with an extensive menu (nearly 100 sandwiches) featuring sandwiches named after celebrities, from Yosemite Sam to Samuel L. Jackson. They offer daily soup and vegan options, to boot!
2nd place: Schnitz Deli