Food & Drink

The 14 Best Restaurants in Grand Rapids

Published On 05/05/2015 Published On 05/05/2015

One might assume that in the city twice-named "Beer City USA," you'd be drinking a lot of beer and eating a lot of food that is meant to go with beer. And that's true! Grand Rapids has tons of breweries and brewpubs and beer bars and beer-focused gastropubs, several of which we highlight here. But that's not all G-Rap is about! There is a huge focus on farm-to-table cuisine (easy for them, because the city is quite literally surrounded by a hundred miles of farmland in every direction), in-house butchery and charcuterie, and a pointed Michigan mindfulness. And also beer.
 
Here is just a taste of what's in store for you on Michigan's West (best?) Coast, aka Chicago's Mini-Me. 

Grove

Grove

East Hills
Grove offers "earth-to-table" dining, utilizing responsibly sourced products from local, family, and sustainable farms and businesses. And all of that is all well and good, but what about the food? How about house-made sweet potato gnocchi with duck leg confit, or barramundi with pork belly lardons, or roasted lamb leg with green chili-braised collard greens and burnt raisin hot sauce with a fried duck egg? It's sophisticated-rustic Chicago dining at "is this even for real?" Western Michigan prices, which is yet another reason to love Grand Rapids. 

The Green Well Gastro Pub

The Green Well Gastro Pub

East Hills
Owned by the same group behind Grove, Green Well is an eco-friendly gastropub serving elevated bistro food with plenty of vegetarian and vegan options (such is the case with pretty much every restaurant in Grand Rapids) and a bit of an international flair: lamb vindaloo, Korean-braised beef & noodles, Brazilian black bean stew, Cherry Street posole, quinoa falafel wrap. Or just get down on a Michigan sausage and cured meat plate with German potato salad. It also has a respectable beer list highlighting Michigan brews -- also standard issue at most GR restaurants -- and some choice international and Belgian beers. "Belgian" of course also being international, but in this case separated out into its own category.

Marie Catrib's

Marie Catrib's

East Hills
Marie Catrib's is a favorite local mainstay, and when proprietor Marie Catrib passed away in 2013, the whole city seemed to mourn. Thankfully, her casual lunch-and-dinner bistro continues her legacy, serving salads, sandwiches, and deli sides from her own Mediterranean-inspired recipes made from scratch daily. While meatatarians are by no means excluded (the house-made corned beef is especially popular), Catrib's is also known for its veg/vegan offerings. Don't forget to grab some take-home deli items and baked goods on your way out. 

Terra GR Restaurant

Terra

Eastown  
Terra is a locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant hyping the values of "artisan, authentic, seasonal, and healthful." Unfortunately, these have all become misappropriated buzz words in today's contemporary culinary scene, through no fault of Terra's -- they walk the talk with a menu ranging from buffalo cauliflower and red beet & white bean hummus to seared duck breast and maple-glazed pork belly, plus hand-crafted pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and daily butcher specials from an in-house butcher.  

Flickr/danielslaughter

Brewery Vivant

East Hills
Brewery Vivant is worth seeking out for several reasons. The first: this is one of the best breweries in Michigan, period, the end -- but people still don't seem to fully comprehend that. The second: the brewpub is located in a former funeral chapel with the bar in the pulpit, and if THAT doesn't pique your curiosity, well, then... that's just like, your opinion, man. The third: the hearty (and we mean hearty!) Franco-Belgian-inspired pub food suits the oft-frigid Grand Rapids climate and the vaguely monastic atmosphere perfectly, giving a further sense of being "in f***ing Bruges."

The Winchester

The Winchester

East Hills
Basically, if you want to dine really well in Grand Rapids, you have to head to the East Hills. The Winchester is a neighborhood gastropub serving items like roasted bone marrow, pastrami pigs head, pork & beans with Duroc pork belly, and a variety of soups and sandwiches along with a solid selection of beer, cocktails, and wine. None of the menus are large; rather, this is the kind of neighborhood pub you visit with friends for a beer and a bite. The Cheers comparison is a bit overused nowadays, so suffice it to say that this is the kind of place that will immediately feel friendly and familiar. 

Reserve Wine & Food

Reserve Wine & Food

Center City
When it comes to Grand Rapids, the focus is all on the beer. But wine is a thing that also exists, and it is also delicious! And you need to go nowhere other than Reserve to access the most extensive wine selection on this side of the state. With a state-of-the-art cruvinet system allowing them to offer 102 wines by the glass, there are wine flight combinations to suit any palate and strong representations from the world's major wine regions (including a few highlights from Michigan). The menu is fine-dining but still very much Michigan, with items like steak & kidney pierogies made with an heirloom breed beef from Michigan's LEA-White Farms. There's also an in-house charcutier making salumi, pates, terrines, and rillettes.  

San Chez Bistro

San Chez Bistro

Heartside
The popular San Chez Bistro serves a large selection of tapas, paella, and other Spanish favorites, as well as a very popular Spanish-inspired brunch with a Bloody Mary bar. It also has almost a dozen specialized menus catering to food allergies and dietary restrictions, which is... interesting. After more than 20 years in business, this place has a strong following, so if you're trying to get in Thursday-Sunday, either make reservations or be prepared to wait. 

Bistro Bella Vita

Bistro Bella Vita

Heartside
The third restaurant on this list from the Essence Restaurant Group, which also operates Green Well and Grove, Bistro Bella Vita is of the same ethos -- local produce, local pigs -- with an Italian flavor and an extensive beer list, because this is Grand Rapids and even the Italian places are beer-focused.  

Electric Cheetah

Electric Cheetah

East Hills
In addition to having a really fantastic name, Electric Cheetah also has fantastic food, using high-quality, natural, local, and organic ingredients in their tummy-warming American comfort. It's sort of a gourmet diner... one might be tempted to use the "h" word but that would almost seem dismissive and this place deserves more than that. It does offer 40 kinds of craft root beer, as well as regular craft beer... because this is Grand Rapids. 

Stella's Lounge

Stella's Lounge

Heartside
Serving one of the best burgers in Michigan (and, according to GQ, THE best in America), Stella's Lounge also offers more than 250 whiskeys and enough beer to keep all that whiskey in check in a retro space with graffitied walls, vintage arcade games, and a rawk soundtrack. 

Harmony Brewing Company

Harmony Brewing Company

Eastown
Serving as home to some of Michigan's best pizza and utilizing locally sourced products, Harmony Brewing Company is also a brewery (hence, "Brewing Company"), so this is basically the quintessential Grand Rapids beer-and-pizza experience. 

Osteria Rossa

Osteria Rossa

Center City
If you're looking for a more traditionally Italian dining experience, Osteria Rossa abides. But again, this being Grand Rapids, it still pays homage to its Michigan heritage with the "warmth of the Mitten, soul of the Boot," serving Italian-inspired dishes including homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza with ingredients from local Michigan farms. 

CULT PIZZA

Cult Pizza

Heritage Hill
Farm-to-table? How about farm-to-crust? That's what the folks at Cult Pizza call their inventive pizza creations, and in turn we call them also among Michigan's best. It's about as hyper-local as a pizza joint can be, and it also specializes in vegan pizzas, which is... well, not the reason we order pizza, but that's cool man. 

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Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
1. Grove 919 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Grove filters fresh, local fish, poultry, and meat through Polish, German, Latin, and other inspirations to bring you a menu as varied as it is delicious.

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2. The Green Well 924 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

The Green Well is a Michigan Gastro Pub that is as passionate about being green (they've got a 20-point list of practices on their website including their use of sustainable farming and solar energy) as they are about utilizing fresh ingredients from Michigan. A Michigan-centric beer list pairs with beer-inspired dinners like the Michigan Stout-Braised Beef or the Michigan Beer-Steamed Mussels.

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3. Marie Catrib's 1001 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Marie Catrib's is a great spot to hit in Grand Rapids any time of day. Sandwiches and Turkish coffee will do the trick, as will hearty breakfast plates like the Rock the Hash-Bah, or their wide selection of vegetarian, vegan, and earth-friendly fare.

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4. Terra 1429 Lake Dr, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Terra is a locally sourced farm-to-table restaurant hyping the values of "artisan, authentic, seasonal, and healthful." Unfortunately, these have all become misappropriated buzz words in today's contemporary culinary scene, through no fault of Terra's -- they walk the talk with a menu ranging from buffalo cauliflower and red beet & white bean hummus to seared duck breast and maple-glazed pork belly, plus hand-crafted pastas, wood-fired pizzas, and daily butcher specials from an in-house butcher.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
5. Brewery Vivant 925 Cherry St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Brewery Vivant is worth seeking out for several reasons. The first: this is one of the best breweries in Michigan, period, the end -- but people still don't seem to fully comprehend that. The second: the brewpub is located in a former funeral chapel with the bar in the pulpit, and if THAT doesn't pique your curiosity, well, then... that's just like, your opinion, man. The third: the hearty (and we mean hearty!) Franco-Belgian-inspired pub food suits the oft-frigid Grand Rapids climate and the vaguely monastic atmosphere perfectly.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
6. The Winchester 648 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The Winchester is a neighborhood gastropub serving items like roasted bone marrow, pastrami pigs head, pork & beans with Duroc pork belly, and a variety of soups and sandwiches along with a solid selection of beer, cocktails, and wine. None of the menus are large; rather, this is the kind of neighborhood pub you visit with friends for a beer and a bite.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
7. Reserve Wine & Food 201 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

When it comes to Grand Rapids, the focus is all on the beer. But wine is a thing that also exists, and it is also delicious! And you need to go nowhere other than Reserve to access the most extensive wine selection on this side of the state. With a state-of-the-art cruvinet system allowing them to offer 102 wines by the glass, there are wine flight combinations to suit any palate and strong representations from the world's major wine regions (including a few highlights from Michigan). The menu is fine-dining but still very much Michigan, with items like steak & kidney pierogies made with an heirloom breed beef from Michigan's LEA-White Farms. There's also an in-house charcutier making salumi, pates, terrines, and rillettes.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
9. Bistro Bella Vita 44 Grandville Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Bistro Bella Vita is all about local produce and local pigs -- with an Italian flavor and an extensive beer list, because this is Grand Rapids and even the Italian places are beer-focused.

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10. Electric Cheetah 1015 Wealthy St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

In addition to having a really fantastic name, Electric Cheetah also has fantastic food, using high-quality, natural, local, and organic ingredients in their tummy-warming American comfort.

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11. Stella's Lounge 53 Commerce Ave SW, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Serving one of the best burgers in Michigan, Stella's Lounge also offers more than 250 whiskeys and enough beer to keep all that whiskey in check in a retro space with graffitied walls, vintage arcade games, and a rawk soundtrack.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
12. Harmony Brewing Company 1551 Lake Dr SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49506

Serving as home to some of Michigan's best pizza and utilizing locally sourced products, Harmony Brewing Company is also a brewery (hence, "Brewing Company"), so this is basically the quintessential Grand Rapids beer-and-pizza experience.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
13. Osteria Rossa 16 Monroe Center St NE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Osteria Rossa serves up Italian-inspired dishes including homemade pasta and wood-fired pizza with ingredients from local Michigan farms.

Previous Venue Next Venue Venue Description
14. Cult Pizza 10 Jefferson Ave SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Farm-to-table? How about farm-to-crust? That's what the folks at Cult Pizza call their inventive pizza creations, and in turn we call them also among Michigan's best. It's about as hyper-local as a pizza joint can be, and it also specializes in vegan pizzas, which is... well, not the reason we order pizza, but that's cool man.

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