Travel: Tempt Your Taste Buds in West Michigan
Sunday, September 20, 2015

 Henderson Castle has become one of the most popular restaurants in Kalamazoo.  Built in 1895, it is on a steep hill and overlooks the downtown area.  


Whether you’re a foodie at heart or an adventurous eater who’s always up to try to local specialty, West Michigan has the perfect dining options for you! Find out some of the best West Michigan restaurants to stop for a bite to eat below, as well as some tips on what to order!

Bell’s Brewery Eccentric Cafe, Kalamazoo
Located in beautiful downtown Kalamazoo, Michigan, Bell’s Eccentric Café, located next to the Bell’s General Store, is home to a unique offering of craft beer, live music, entertainment, delicious food and more. Any given time, they have about 30-40 different beers on tap. Many are exclusive to the Cafe and are brewed right next door at their original brewery – just look for the flying eccentric guy next to the beer names on the Draft Board when you visit. The Bell’s General Store, located right next door to the Cafe, now features a Growler Station with up to four options. Empty growlers are $18 and currently, they are only able to fill Bell’s growlers (but will fill most other vessels soon though).
Bistro Bella Vita, Grand Rapids
Fresh. Natural. Local. Mediterranean Countryside Cuisine. At Bistro Bella Vita, an Essence Restaurant Group establishment, they go above and beyond to deliver the ultimate dining experience with top-notch, personable service, whether it’s a simple pizza and beer with friends, or an elegant chef’s table meal perfectly paired with appropriate wines. Guests enjoy their unique downtown atmosphere and creative cuisine made exclusively from fresh, natural, ingredients purchased daily from local farmers in season. Bistro Bella Vita’s culinary team creates authentic, scratch-made recipes that blend the delicious flavors of the Mediterranean countryside with a perfectly paired beverage offering served by a devoted staff whose passion is to ensure your complete satisfaction. They’re located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids, just west of the Van Andel Arena on Grandville and Weston.
Bistro on the Boulevard, St. Joseph
Discover the Bistro on the Boulevard at the Boulevard Inn, an extraordinary dining experience in downtown St. Joseph, MI. Their seasonally changing menus feature one-of-a kind appetizers, entrees, and desserts made with locally sourced ingredients. The Bistro was named “Region’s Best Fine Dining Restaurant” by Shore Magazine and is one of only two Southwest Michigan restaurants to boast Wine Spectators award of excellence for “one of the best restaurant wine lists in the world.” Bistro on the Boulevard is open for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch.
The Cherry Hut, Beulah
The Cherry Hut was established as a roadside pie stand in 1922. The Kraker family used it as a means to distribute homemade cherry pies made from fresh cherries out of their orchard. Later, in 1937, the Cherry Hut moved to its present day location on US 31 in Beulah, MI. Throughout its long history the Cherry Hut has always been known for its homemade pies and jams. The restaurant is open in the summer and closed in the winter, making it an ideal job for high school and college aged students. Popular menu items include cherry chicken salad, chicken pie, and of course, everything goes well with a fresh slice of cherry pie out of the oven. The Cherry Hut has been recognized nationally by publications such as USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and Gourmet Magazine, among many others. All year long the Cherry Hut ships out its homemade jams and locally grown dried cherries to fans all over the United States. They have expanded upon their original cherry trio gift pack to include some wonderful new items such as Cherry Salsa,Cherry Jerry’s Chewy Sour Cherries, and the always popular Cherry Hut Spectacular.
Chocolates by Grimaldi, Grand Haven
Known for making artisan confections on-site and in-site, customers can visit Chocolates by Grimaldi to experience the chocolates being made with an enrober, just like the one that was used on the I Love Lucy Show! “Visitors may not realize what a unique opportunity it is to see an enrober like this up close and in action, it is quite unusual for a chocolate retailer to have equipment like this on-site capable of producing incredibly wonderful tasting products,” said Laham. Visitors can purchase confections in their store or they can buy them online by visiting: Tours can also be scheduled on Monday through Friday by calling 616-935-7740. Guests will have the opportunity to taste fresh samples right off the line. The tours cost $3.00 per person.
CitySen Lounge, Grand Rapids
The focus is on fresh ingredients and a creative but not confusing New American menu at CitySen Lounge at CityFlatsHotel. With Happy Hour specials every day and half-off bottles of wine on Wednesday, what’s not to love? CitySen Lounge located in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids at CityFlatsHotel is a hip bar with a big city feel, offering exciting options for lunch, dinner, and breakfast on the weekends.
CityVu Bistro, Holland
Fryers and frozen foods are out; fresh gourmet flatbreads, an array of seasonal entrees, and intriguing beverage options are in. Choose to dine at CityFlatsHotel at the top and experience fantastic views at CityVu Bistro, or ease back & relax on the main floor’s CitySen Lounge. Either way you will enjoy an elegant yet relaxed atmosphere. CityVu Bistro is a distinctive rooftop dining experience in downtown Holland. The contemporary yet casual atmosphere, spectacular view framed by floor-to-ceiling windows, full bar, and unique menus make it the ideal spot for lunch, dinner, and Sunday Brunch. The CityFlats twist on fast casual dining is offered on the main floor with the Kitchen @ CitySen Lounge. Their from-scratch menus, state-of-the-art equipment, and enthusiastic staff help to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner quickly and right before your eyes. Enjoy an ideal selection of menu items for in-house dining or grab and go.
Country Dairy, New Era
Tour Country Dairy’s Visitor Center & bottling plant and watch them produce premium, rBST-free milk, cheese & ice cream. Visit their ShowBarn, which houses 100 top-producing, prize-winning Holstein cows, and then stop by the Farm Store for lunch and take home fresh cheese curds, chocolate milk & other fine products. You’ll even get to enjoy a bottomless glass of milk with your meal! Country Dairy, Inc. is a family owned business that has been processing and bottling milk in West Michigan since 1983. They are a producer-handler, which means that they own and control the process — from their herd of registered Holsteins, to their modern processing plant, to the gallon of milk on your store shelf. By doing this, Country Dairy provides you the the freshest and best tasting milk!
Crane’s Pie Pantry, Restaurant, & Winery, Fennville
Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery is dedicated to providing you with exceptional food and drink in a unique atmosphere that is unlike any other. Crane’s handmade fruit pies are still made the old fashioned way from family recipes passed down through the generations. Using fresh fruit straight off of the farm, only the highest quality ingredients, and the bounty of local food sources in our beautiful township, they are continuing the tradition of high standards that was first set on the Crane family farm in 1916. Crane’s is a family owned, family run business that has been a treasured travel destination in West Michigan for decades. Nestled in the lush, rolling hills of their family’s fruit farm just minutes from Lake Michigan’s shore, at Crane’s Pie Pantry Restaurant & Winery you will take home an experience that is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Cygnus 27, Grand Rapids
High atop the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel, Cygnus 27 transports you to a rhythmic environment among the stars. The trend-setting decor inspired by the Cygnus constellation, Latin influenced cuisine and captivating, scenic views of the Grand Rapids skyline, promise an epic dining experience. Also available is the popular Sunday brunch mid-September through mid-May.
The voyage also includes exquisitely prepared dishes from Cygnus 27’s Chef d’Cuisine, with authentic South American fare and classic Global comfort foods  – all with a modern flair that’s been awarded the AAA Four-Diamond mark of distinction. Private dining is now available on the 28th floor in the Sky 1 and Sky 2 dining rooms.
Dark Horse Brewing, Marshall
Dark Horse Brewing serves up lunch and dinner options, both in their Taproom and Beer Garden. Pair one of their dishes with the perfect pint, brewed right on site. For lunch you’ll want to pick up a toasted sub or calzone, while their specialty for dinner is pizza. You’ll find both classic tastes and new twists on their pizza menu, including the Pumpkin Seed Cilantro Pesto pizza and the Sounds Good (sundried tomato pesto, roast beef, sausage, spinach, red onion, feta, and mozzarella). 
Downtown Market, Grand Rapids
Think of Downtown Market as Main Street with a produce market, kitchen, garden, school, performance hall, bakery, brewery, eatery, butchery, flowery meeting place + market. A year-round hub of local food innovation, healthy-living education and right-before-your-eyes preparation. Downtown Market is going to change the way you experience food culture.
The Market is a mixed-use facility that brings together production, distribution, marketing and education about local produce. Their indoor facility features a 24-vendor market hall, while dozens of farmers and artisans line the outdoor farmer’s market shed. The Market is LEED Gold certified, features a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, rain gardens, and plenty of other innovative sustainable features.
East Park Tavern, Charlevoix
The East Park Tavern serves up great food, great drinks and great service in a casual atmosphere! Located right in downtown Charlevoix, you’ll enjoy views of the harbor from both the main dining area, as well as the third-floor rooftop bar. Specialties include French influenced American cuisine, fresh prime beef and John Cross whitefish, and an extensive specialty cocktail list.
Flat Lander’s Barstillery, Grand Rapids
Flat Lander’s name comes from the term associated with poking fun at folks that don’t live in the hills. Our Northern Michigan kin commonly refer to those ‘down state’ as FlatLanders. They‘ve taken the backwoods knowledge of distillin’ and moonshinin’ and refined them as art form. Think custom distilled and premium, certified organic crafted products off site, under careful management and then shipped to us for mixing and enjoying – or drinkin’ neat. Keeping with the local and even hyper-local spirit, they’ve added some great micro brews and hard ciders from our neighbors to enhance your experience. They have worked to blend a cool, hillbilly chic menu to compliment the concoctions offered. Order up a burger, sausage, or hillbilly poutine and ask them to recommend a drink to go along with it.
Four Roses Cafe, Plainwell
Four Roses Café is a locally owned casual farm to table restaurant.  Their focus is on delicious, fresh & locally sourced food and exceptional service. Their menu changes daily and is determined by the season.  Four Roses Cafe features 12 Michigan beers on tap & more than 40 more in bottles, as well as a full bar including wines from Michigan and throughout the world. Their menu includes hand cut steaks, fresh fish, chicken and pork, and occasionally feature rabbit, elk, and other specialty items. Four Roses also has their own in house pastry chef and offers 15-25 delicious different dessert choices daily.
The Green Well Gastro Pub, Grand Rapids
At The Green Well, they serve honest fare with local flair in a neighborhood setting that keeps customers coming back. The innovative gastro pub is green beyond its name: their LEED® certified building is environmentally safe, ultra efficient and leaves behind the smallest possible carbon footprint. “Gastro pub” is British for a public house that specializes in high-quality food served in a relaxed atmosphere. The Green Well’s creative menu features a global range of eclectic flavors prepared with ingredients from local farmers. Over 20 rotating taps focus on Michigan brews, as well as a vast selection of bottles, ranging from local and American craft to traditional European styles. The wine list features creative flights that encourage multiple wine flavors paired with food. Classic cocktails are also available. Their greenness also spills over to their guests, who benefit from affordable prices and outstanding service by a fun, welcoming staff.
Grove, Grand Rapids
Earth to Table Dining: Artfully Crafted Cuisine. Grove, an Essence Restaurant Group establishment, is a tribute to the bounty of the earth’s harvest and how they bring that to the table with impeccable service, natural ingredients and innovative cuisine. Recently named Best Restaurant in Michigan by Business Insider, Grove’s seasonal, frequently changing selections hint at the classics with natural sauces and a slant toward sustainable seafood. Grove responsibly sources as many ingredients as possible from local, family and sustainable farms, and prepares each dish to demonstrate their respect for how these farmers raise or grow their products. Their beverage menu includes modern wines, eclectic and top-shelf liquors, their own housemade infused spirits, craft beers, pour-over coffee and espresso. Grove is located in the heart of East Hills at 919 Cherry Street.
Henderson Castle, Kalamazoo
When you stop by Henderson Castle, when you’re done wine tasting, touring their unique guest rooms, relaxing with a massage, or soaking in the roof-top hot tub, you must try their Steak Diane. Named for the Roman goddess of the hunt, Diane, whose presence overlooks diners as gorgeous marble statuary prominently featured in the dining room. A dish to impress both you and your guests, a perfect Steak Diane is carefully made, following a precise sequence. A thin tenderloin steak is sautéed with shallots, thyme, mustard, mushrooms, and cream for exactly 2 minutes on each side and then placed in the refrigerator to chill. Next the seasonings and steaks are added to the hot sauté pan, where brandy is added at high heat to let the flame catch the vapors and ignite. Et Voila!
The Heritage Restaurant, Grand Rapids
The Heritage Restaurant is a fine dining public restaurant staffed by culinary school students under the direct supervision of Chef Professors and Table Service Professors at Secchia Institute for Culinary Education. The Secchia Institute for Culinary Education at Grand Rapids Community College is a world-class program with over 25 years of experience offering degrees and certificates in Culinary Arts, Culinary Management, and Baking & Pastry Arts. The Heritage Restaurant is located in the GRCC Wisner-Bottrall Applied Technology Center on the corner of Fountain and Ransom Streets (parking is off of Ransom). Lunch averages $7-$12 per person; dinner averages – $21-$30 per person.
Hudsonville Ice Cream, Statewide
Hudsonville Ice Cream proudly announces an expanded all-natural line of flavors which will be part of their All Season portfolio. The four flavors, available in the green packaging, include Vanilla Bean, Salted Caramel, Strawberry and Chocolate Cocoa Bean. “This new product line focuses on a clean ingredient label, using only simple and natural ingredients for a finished product that is rBST free,” says Raymond Sierengowski of Hudsonville Ice Cream. “In fact, not only is our Naturals line rBST free, but our entire line of products are and always have been rBST free. More than 20 of our products are also gluten-free. Hudsonville Ice Cream partners with family-owned and operated dairy farms of the Michigan Milk Producers Association to ensure the milk and cream used in Naturals is as fresh as possible,” Sierengowski says. “The milk we use travels less than an hour from the farm to our facility.” This Naturals line delivers real flavors: milk, cream, cane sugar, strawberries, vanilla, organic cocoa and other real ingredients. No artificial colors or flavors of any kind are used in Naturals. Cane sugar makes Naturals sweet – not corn syrup or high-fructose corn syrup. It’s as Natural as it gets! These, and countless other Hudsonville Ice Cream flavors can be found in grocery stores and ice cream parlors in Michigan, Indiana, and Illinois. In addition to its “All Season” flavors, which are available year round, several “Limited Edition Flavors” are offered on a limited basis throughout the year.
Jack’s Waterfront Bistro, Spring Lake
Tucked inside the Spring Lake Holiday Inn, Jack’s Waterfront Bistro + Bar is renowned for truly tasteful dining at an exceptional value, with delicious fare handcrafted daily from seasonally fresh, local ingredients. Dine in relaxing surroundings with prime waterfront views, or on the deck alongside the banks of the Grand River. Whether visiting by boat or by car, it’s a dining experience unsurpassed along the lakeshore.
Journeyman Distillery, Three Oaks
At Journeyman Distillery in Three Oaks, they try to align the restaurant side of the distillery with their “grain-to-glass” mentality on the spirits side as much as possible. This means using locally sourced Michigan pork for their Pulled Pork Sandwich (with their Buggy Whip Wheat Whiskey BBQ Sauce!) and reusing the botanicals they use to make their Bilberry Black Hearts Gin for their house made pickles and steak rub. Journeyman Distillery is currently in the planning stages of a garden behind the distillery to grow their own herbs and produce. When they open their expansion at the end of the summer, they’ll have a full-size kitchen so they can expand beyond sandwiches, soups and salad and start cooking up Detroit-style pizza.
Lakeview Dining Room, Whitehall
The Lakeview Dining Room at Buzz’s Lakeside Inn offers lunch and dinner in season with a varied menu prepared by Executive Chef Adam Simon. Traditional favorites include Great Lakes Perch, Walleye, grilled liver, and the new classic the Buzz Burger. Stop by nightly for rotating specials, including half-off bottles of wine on Mondays, International Night on THursdays, Friday night Shrimp Boils, and Saturday Prime Rib Night.
Long Road Distillers, Grand Rapids
Looking for seasonal, farm-fresh food and drinks this summer? Look no further than Long Road Distillers, Grand Rapids’ first craft distillery. Long Road’s bar and restaurant offers fresh, local food, like their Beet Salad (roasted baby beets, greens, candied nuts, blue cheese crumbles, honey goat cheese dressing), to pair with their from-scratch cocktails, like the A.B. Garden, made with Long Road Gin, fresh juiced cucumber, green tea simple syrup, mint and lime. Happy hour specials include $2 off cocktails and $5 salads Monday-Friday before 6 pm.
New Holland Brewery & Restaurant, Holland
In the New Holland Pub, they brew many specialty beers on their 7-barrel copper brewing system. These handcrafted beers complement their gourmet pizzas, salads & sandwiches. They also distill spirits in our pub. The pub is a great place for them to explore new ideas, meet their customers in a comfortable setting and provide a place of community for all who visit. The beers made here are typically special brews that rarely see their way outside of the friendly confines of their pub. New Holland Brewing Co. is renewing their long-standing commitment to support Michigan agriculture with an exciting announcement from their Pub on 8th restaurant and brewpub in downtown Holland. The brewery is committing that by 2016, all specialty beers brewed at Pub on 8th will be brewed exclusively with Michigan grown ingredients, including malted barley, wheat, hops, fruit and yeast.
Old Mill Brewpub and Grill, Plainwell
Voted the third best restaurant in West Michigan, the Old Mill Brewpub and Grill is worth a stop on your next visit to the Plainwell area! They craft their own draft beer, along with offering a full service restaurant and catering. The restaurant features indoor and outdoor seating, along with daily specials. Some favorites include the Bronco Burger, Sirloin Salad, and Old Mill Steak Chili. While you’re there, check out some live music, get involved in a cornhole tournament, and make sure to check out their Pez Dispenser Collection!
Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, Grand Rapids
Ruth’s Chris Steak House inside the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel serves only the best steaks, hand-selected from the top 2% of the country’s beef and broiled to perfection at 1800 degrees so that every last bite stays as hot and delicious as the first. Enjoy the freshest seafood, classic sides and homemade desserts that satisfy any craving. Whether it’s a business meeting or private event, a guys’ night out, just the girls or unwinding with your colleagues, they will accommodate your every need in our warm and inviting atmosphere.
Salt of the Earth, Fennville
This rustic American eatery is located in the heart of southwest Michigan farm and orchard country.Salt of the Earth cooks from scratch to create their entrees, sandwiches, wood oven fired pizzas, creative soups, fresh salads, desserts, and artisan breads. Their full service bar proudly serves Michigan craft beers, hard ciders, spirits, and wines alongside other domestic and international products. The ‘Specialty Sips’ menu includes a scratch margarita, fresh mojitos, and other seasonal cocktails. Salt of the Earth is also an entertainment destination presenting the finest roots musicians on the scene at weekly house concerts.
San Chez Bistro, Grand Rapids
Welcome to the most unique dining and entertainment venue in Grand Rapids. San Chez Bistro offers a blend of authentic European and Mediterranean cuisine in a fun, laid-back, and artful atmosphere. Take a break from fast food with breakfast and lunch by San Chez, made with the finest local ingredients, and prepared to order fresh seven days a week. Enjoy omelets, scrambles, pastries, bagels, yogurt, fresh fruit, or the best sandwiches and soups in town. Appreciate gourmet fair-trade coffee and whole leaf organic tea while you linger with free Wi-Fi, or hold a breakfast meeting in their comfy café.
Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub, Marshall
It is outdoor dining season and you’re invited to gather with family and friends on the patio outside Winston’s Pub at Schuler’s Restaurant in downtown historic Marshall. “Last year our grill night was a hit and this year we decided to amp it up a bit,” says third-generation owner Hans Schuler. “Not only did we make improvements in the patio itself, but we’ve increased the grilling option from one to two nights to accommodate the requests from our guests.” Guests can order from the regular pub menu, seven days a week, with weekly grill specials on Wednesday and Thursday nights. Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub is hosting an Oyster Tasting on Sunday, September 27 at 2pm. You’re invited to enjoy a savory afternoon of sampling these delicacies, paired with sparkling wine, a dirty martini, gin gimlet or even a Hemingway daiquiri—if you’re feeling adventurous. The full dinner and pub menus will be available throughout the afternoon and evening as well. Reservations for the Oyster Tasting are required by calling 269-781-0600. Founded in 1909, the iconic Schuler’s Restaurant & Pub epitomizes hospitality excellence as a family owned and operated business. Located in downtown historic Marshall, Schuler’s is recognized as world-class Michigan destination focused on offering guests quality food and excellent service. and jdek, Grand Rapids
The JW Marriott signature restaurant,, and destination lounge, Mixology, offers the breathtaking blend of sophisticated urban ambiance, palate-pleasing cuisine, as well as the finest wines and perfectly poured cocktails. But more than just a “pretty face,” takes its cuisine seriously. Dedicated to the concept of buying local, the chef’s pantry is bursting with locally grown ingredients, some of which are picked just a few feet away at the JW Chef’s Garden. Open Monday through Sunday, 11:30 AM to 11 PM, reservations are not required.
Terra, Grand Rapids
Terra is a locally sourced, sustainable, farm-to-table restaurant in Eastown, Grand Rapids. Terra GR is committed to producing locally sourced, sustainable foods connecting local food to the greater Grand Rapids community. They strive to serve inspired, handcrafted foods that nurture both body and community. At Terra, they follow their passions – and the seasons – for only the freshest, health-filled ingredients from the region’s most dedicated growers.
Twisted Rooster, Grand Rapids
Twisted Rooster is an original dining concept created by Grand Rapids owned and operated restaurateur, Meritage Hospitality Group. Their Culinary Team combines the freshest local ingredients and bold flavors to serve guests a tasty twist on classic American fare. Twisted Rooster’s menu’s combination of dynamic flavors paired with their mission for “Uncommon Hospitality” will leave you wanting more. At Twisted Rooster, they provide their customers with locally grown food in an energetic and family-oriented atmosphere.
Yelton Manor Bed & Breakfast, South Haven
Yelton Manor Bed & Breakfast in South Haven offers a contemporary Bed and Breakfast experience, with a wonderful emphasis on the breakfast, as well as tasty treats throughout your whole stay! Yelton Manor Bed & Breakfast offers healthy foods as creative, craveable choices at a relaxed pace. They serve up unprocessed, farm fresh, hand crafted, diverse, balanced, delicious nutrition. Except for the triple chocolate brownies, which are, well, necessary, to be truly, utterly, happy. Start your morning in the Manor Kitchen with a breakfast designed to be delicious, while promoting your optimum health. Enjoy options including home-canned jams and preserves, freshly made salsa, and Yelton Manor’s famous Seed Mix. Come back in the afternoon for a “Beach Break” snack of homemade organic hummus, home-canned jalapeno jelly and cranberry chutney, and other seasonal treats, or stop by any time for their Non-Stop Day & Night Treats of triple chocolate brownies, freshly popped popcorn, candies, and fresh fruit.
This article was printed in the September 20, 2015 - October 3, 2015 edition

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