12 local dishes that keep me coming back.

Poutine at Ada Pour House

People ask me all of the time, “What is your favorite restaurant?” Well, it is a bit of an unfair question because that simply depends on my mood for the day. However, there are several dishes at various restaurants that always get me pretty excited, and I would be happy to delve in those. 12 of them, in fact.

1. Poutine at Ada Pour House. The Canadians created it and we keep trying to copy it. French fries with cheese curds covered with gravy. In the case of APH, they have also added some awesome mushrooms and this is presently my favorite poutine dish in town.

2. Split pea soup at Pit Stop Catering. For all of their excellent BBQ, it is their split pea soup that I am addicted to. The meat that they smoke and put in the soup is smoked on broken up beer barrels that were used to make KBS at Founders Brewing. This really comes through in the flavor.

Chicago style deep dish pizza At Handsome Henry's
Chicago style deep dish pizza At Handsome Henry’s

3. Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza at Handsome Henry’s. This is more significant to me now that there is a national competitor in West Michigan. I actually tried both side-by-side and still prefer the deep dish pizza at Handsome Henry’s. In addition to putting out an excellent deep dish pie, it only takes them about 20 minutes to get it done (secret technique). I like to drive out to Muskegon about four times a year to get this one item.

4. Camarrones a la Diabla at Lindo Mexico. My first experience with this dish was in Tapachula Mexico, but I had never been able to quite re-create the magic here in West Michigan. Lindo Mexico fixed that for me. Their solid scratch cooking combined with the best Diabla sauce that I have ever had keeps me coming back for more.

5. Pho at Asian Palace. We have a lot of great Vietnamese restaurants in Grand Rapids, but my top dish is pho. Asian palace really has this dish down. Their broth is top notch, and I could probably eat this dish three times a week.

French onion soup At Wheelhouse.
French onion soup At Wheelhouse.

6. French onion soup at the Wheelhouse. I am always looking for the perfect French onion soup, and this is as close to anything to perfection. Wheelhouse uses veal stock and Gruyere cheese to push this dish to the next level. I have been to several west Michigan restaurants for this dish, and this is in my top two for French onion soup.

7. Lasagna at Greco’s Pizza. Again, a dish I find myself really addicted to. They use some kind of smoky cheese or other ingredient that gives the lasagna a really tasty smoky flavor. My family actually fought over how much they could have.

8. Gobi Manchurian at Cumin Fresh Indian Kitchen in Grand Haven. Basically, spicy cauliflower! The dish was actually on the lunch buffet, and after my first trip to the buffet I loaded up 2 additional plates with this dish. Oh, man, I wish it was a little bit closer to Grand Rapids but I would completely drive for this dish.

9. Sangria at Cedar Springs Brewing Company. Although not technically a dish, it deserves mention. ┬áThe owner of CSBC would probably rather have me talking about his beer and food (which I am extremely enthusiastic about), but sometimes I hang out with people who prefer non-beer adult beverages. “Cough”….Patty……”Cough”. Anyhow, their solid German food (clearly qualifying as a food dish) and beer creations combined with the best sangria that I have had in West Michigan, make Cedar Springs Brewing Company a great place for everybody regardless of what they drink….and eat.

10. Asada Tacos at Supermercado Mexico. Grand Rapids is blessed with a plethora of authentic taco places, and our good fortune is that most of them are very good. Although I go to several different places, Supermercado Mexico is my jam. Great tacos are important, and equally so is the sauce that you put on them. Both the verde and roja sauces at Supermercado are excellent and are an enhancement to the already excellent tacos.

Chicago dogs at The Monarch's Club
Chicago dogs at The Monarch’s Club

11. The Chicago Dogs at The Monarch’s Club on the west side and Windy City Grille on the south side . Yeah, you get a 2fer on this one. I tend to go to The Monarch’s Club because it’s right next to my office, but it would be unfair to exclude Windy City Grille as the only two places in town that I have found that make the Chicago dog exactly as they are found in the city of Chicago. I don’t even like tomatoes, but I want my Chicago dog done right regardless.

12. The elk burger at Elk Brewing. Don’t laugh, but I like that they actually have a burger that is made out of elk and served at Elk Brewing. That alone would not be enough to sway me to eat this item, but it is actually a flavorful, well cooked burger and a great option to beef when I am looking for variety.

There it is! 12 dishes in Grand Rapids that really draw me in and leave me coming back for more. Maybe a couple of these dishes will turn out to be future gems for you as well.


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