Grace and peace to you from the snowy grip of Michigan.
What follows is the inspired Culinary Canon of Grand Rapids, approved and compiled by the Council of Salmons, having met and officially transmitted these long-standing staples of his visits to an eternal binary list, set adrift in the magical nether of cyberspace.
When arriving in Grand Rapids, peeps always ask, “So, what do you want to do?” and I have an answer for at least part of that–where I want to eat.
So, after a dozen or so visits to each establishment over the course of the past five years, I’ve decided on several entries to what will be the permanent canon of the city.
1) Penne Pasta al Salmone @ Tre Ciguini in downtown. (Early manuscripts make the spelling of the restaurant’s name unclear. In addition, the varied pronunciations circulating among residents further confuses the issue. Pilgrims would do well to ask for the “Italian place across from the outdoor theater.”) Penne pasta with a tomato cream vodka sauce with hunks of Salmon (Salmon…hunk? Mmmmm, must be good!)
2) Baker Jr. @ Wolfgang’s in Eastown. Several eggs Benedict with fresh-cut tomatoes and crab meat…wha?! Wolfgang’s is in Eastown (a GR neighborhood) and is a local favorite. Even in the snowy, contemptible mornings of GR’s seven-month winters, you’ll see crowds of people standing outside to get in to this place. Amazing.
3) Vegetable Korma @ Bombay Cuisine in Eastown. Love Indian food! Mmmmmmmmmm.
4) Pork Don Don @ Schezwan Garden in Eastown. Little Chinese joint that has a great Don Don–noodles with peanut sauce and the normal smattering of vegetables and bean sprouts. A great mix-up to the typical “Chinese” lineup.
5) Mint Mocha @ The Kava House in Eastown. Kava a local coffee shop that has amazing stuff! I’m not normally a fan of coffee, but this place keeps it real with fair-trade coffee at awesome low prices (fancy stuff still only costs a couple bucks, compared to the escalating prices of other huge chains). I like how there’s always a mass of people here–from students to old cats who just come to talk. It’s really a part of the town.
6) Krautdog @ Yesterdog in Eastown. Yesterdog is a landmark of Eastown, old wood interior, random stuff hung everywhere. Hot dogs are just a few cents, boiled and piled high with onions, chili, sauerkraut, or whatever. Then they’re put on wax paper and given out. This place is just a place to enjoy good dogs and to hell with everybody who might think it not a place of “fine dining.” They don’t need “those kinds” of people anyway. Google it. It’s famous.
7) Lunch Buffet @ Bombay Cuisine. What can I say? I love that damn place.
So if you’re ever in the GR area, hit ’em up. As you can see, I have a deep connection to Eastown, which is an awesome little corner of the city. It’s made up of a lot of college kids and other peeps who just love the area. Everybody walks everywhere and all these crazy-good places are just a block or two away.