Who knew Grand Rapids could be such a culinary haven for refined tastebuds and photo-worthy plates? We're sharing our favorite restaurants in downtown Grand Rapids, which we happily tried during our three-day visit.
We knew stopping in Grand Rapids for a few days was a must on a lake trip to see friends in Michigan. And what's one of the best ways to judge a city? Through their food, of course!
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Lunch, Brunch and Dinner in Downtown Grand Rapids
Some of the following restaurant recommendations were open for lunch and dinner. Others were only open for one or the other. We've indicated their days and hours of operation below.
Høst at Søvengard
Our first dinner in Grand Rapids was one of my favorite meals there. This restaurant in downtown Grand Rapids is in the Westside neighborhood and is part of Søvengard. Søvengard is home to an indoor/outdoor Biergarten and also, the restaurant, Høst.
The restaurant's name is Danish for “harvest” and is very much Scandinavian-inspired in its meals and beautiful design.
They feature farm-to-table menu items and inspired cocktails, both of which change often. I loved that they mention some of the farms they source their ingredients from on top of their daily offerings list.
A standout appetizer of the night was salt and vinegar pearl potatoes with smoked char roe, crème fraîche, garlic scape puree and dill. Their pound cake dessert with macerated cherries and whipped cream was delicious and I didn't leave a drop of my fresh berry tart dessert on the plate.
I also highly recommend The Green Bough cocktail, which was described as Earthy, herbal and elegant. It had Iron Fish Woodland Gin, Match Green Tea (I asked them to go light on this ingredient, which they did), Lillet Blanc, Honey-Mint Syrup and Fresh Lemon Juice in it. It was tasty!
Open for dinner Tuesday through Sunday. Closed Mondays. Open for brunch Saturdays and Sundays.
Quick Service Restaurant Options at Grand Rapids Downtown Market
- The diverse variety of food options inside, from sushi to Pho soup and from cheeses to juices.
- How gorgeous the building is! It made me so happy to discover it is LEED Certified Gold, an honor only bestowed on the most thoughtful building design and construction as it pertains to being environmentally conscious.
Definitely try the ceviche at Fish Lads, who also offer half-off oysters every Monday. (Yum!) Try the bread at Field and Fire, the cheese at Apertivo and the salads from Bliss & Vinegar. (I went gaga over their homemade salad dressings; try the Smoked Tomato Vinaigrette.)
Know what else is cool about the market? They host events (like weddings!) and a variety of classes. For instance, if you've ever wanted to learn how to roll your own sushi you can at Grand Rapids Downtown Market!
Open Monday through Thursday 11:00 am to 7:00pm, Friday 11:00 am to 8:00 pm, Saturday 10:00 am to 8:00 pm and Sunday from 10:00am to 7:00 pm. Note some merchant hours may vary.
Donkey Taqueria Restaurant in Downtown Grand Rapids on Wealthy Street
Donkey Taqueria was packed when we arrived. And after we had our meal, it was easy to understand why it's a hit. It's a cool and casual restaurant with delicious food. It's obvious it keeps repeat customers coming back taco after taco, creamy guacamole dish after a cold margarita.
If you're going during peak times, be sure to go with the mindset you may have to wait. Grab a drink at the bar or walk around Wealthy Street for a bit while you wait, the street where the restaurant is.
The Queso Fundido De Coliflor was amazing (cheesy cauliflower dip), and I equally loved the Refried Black Beans dip.
Reservations are not accepted.
Open daily, 11:00 am to 10:00 pm, with weekend brunch on Saturday and Sunday from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.
Terra gets their ingredients from about 30 local farms for their farm-to-table menu. A standout was their Buffalo Cauliflower appetizer which inspired me so much I had to make a version of our own when I got home.
Another favorite from Terra that I've never seen anywhere else is their Rosé Wine Flight. It's four 4 oz pours of roses, served in a gorgeous hand-carved wooden paddle. We found out the butcher hand-carved them when they opened.
They are open for dinner on Tuesday through Saturday and brunch on Sundays. Reservations are recommended. They have Happy Hour on Tuesday through Friday, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
If I said you can get a great glass of wine for less than $7 at a nice steakhouse in this day and age, would you believe me? Its affordability, warm ambiance, and great food make Butcher's Union one of the top restaurants near downtown Grand Rapids on the Westside.
They don't take reservations, but they have an online waitlist, so be sure to get on it if you're on you're way there, especially on weekends.
We were told there is always a wait there and found it to be true the Thursday night we visited. We understood why when we opened our menus to find affordable prices and great options, from steak to chicken to fish.
My favorite appetizer was the Butcher's Union Mild Mannered Meatballs served on a bed of polenta with a red sauce and shaved parmesan cheese. A glass of red wine accompanied my Charred Flank Steak, cooked to perfection and served with green beans and a square slice of potato gratin.
Open daily Monday through Saturday for dinner, starting at 4:00 pm, and open on Sunday from 11:30 am to 11:30 pm. Happy Hour on Monday through Friday, from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Mmmm One Bourbon! Their bourbon drink menu wasn't necessarily for me however, even a non-bourbon lover can find a cocktail to enjoy from their full bar.
I had an “Easy Like Sunday Morning” decorated with a slice of kiwi! It is made of Uncle Val's Restorative Gin, St. Germaine, and fresh lime juice, shaken with muddled kiwi and topped with soda. (I sprang for the option of replacing the soda with Prosecco.)
Their menu options made it easy to say yes to indulging in additional appetizers while we waited for our table down the street at Butcher's Union.
We tried their Pickles + Cheese plate with sweet and sour pickles and farm fresh cheeses, their Deviled Eggs with dill and chives, and Spicy Chicken Dip served with fresh pita chips. They also have an outdoor patio in the back with an Instagram-worthy “You're Neat” mural. We love a double entendre.
Opens Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday and Monday. Happy Hour is Tuesday through Saturday from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm.
Breakfast + Coffee Restaurants in Downtown Grand Rapids
Madcap Coffee in Central Downtown Grand Rapids
Madcap Coffee is likened to Intelligentsia from Chicago, Death Wish Coffee from Saratoga Springs, or Counter Culture Coffee from Raleigh.
I arrived to Grand Rapids needing caffeine and a place to do a bit of work. Madcap's Monroe location is conveniently located just a couple blocks from the hotel where I was staying, the AC Marriott, and was filled with like-minded workers all needing a mid-day jolt.
The staff was friendly and willing to discuss my coffee needs when I said I didn't like acidic coffee. Their solution was perfect, and I thoroughly enjoyed my drip coffee order and how it was served to me, in a beaker.
Open 8:00 am to 4:00 pm, daily.
Downtown Grand Rapids' Field and Fire Cafe
You can taste the love baked into Field and Fire Cafe products. And I'm such a sucker for delicious carbs. (Dan has more willpower than I do.)
They have a spot at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market, mentioned earlier in this post, so we first had their organic wood-fired baked bread as part of our Lake Michigan beach picnic. One of their baguettes was perfect to enjoy with cheese from Apertivo there. (Butcher's Union serves their bread products too!)
But I walked to their dedicated stand-alone store a couple of days later for breakfast on Monroe Avenue NW, while on the hunt to see all the street art murals in Grand Rapids.
It was a bit of a walk from the AC Marriott, but it was worth it! (And you can always Uber or Lyft there if you don't have a car and don't feel like walking.) I loved the savory pastry I had with a slightly cheesy and completely fluffy center. They have a full menu of sandwiches and salads too, for breakfast and lunch.
The cafe is open daily until 3:00 pm.
Outside Coffee Co. (Where you can be outside Downtown!)
We were warned Outside Coffee Co. would be the most Instagram-worthy coffee spot in Grand Rapids, and it definitely is! As its name indicates, it's outside and has the cutest little camper-type “food truck” where they serve coffee drinks.
They also have an assortment of toasts – from avocado toast to smoked salmon – and ice cream options for later in the day. (Or breakfast – life is short. Eat dessert first, perhaps.)
The flowers were in bloom when I visited, and everything was green, green, green in July. I'm sure all the seasons present their own charm here. The garden's great, and they've created pockets of seating that make it seem somehow intimate.
When Rachel, from Rachel Off Duty, who was on our trip, said, “Cinnamon Sugar Toast! My mom used to make that for me.” I replied, “Mine too. Let's get it!” And we did. And it brought us back to childhood in the way only food can sometimes. It was perfect.
Though they are open year-round, every day of the week.
The LittleBird with Outdoor Seating in Downtown Grand Rapids
This breakfast spot has a certain European flair to it. Small, tiny tiles on the floors inside set the foundation for Parisian cafe-style seating throughout. We happened to sit in LittleBird's outside area because the weather in Michigan in July was too pretty not to take advantage of. But the inside was cozy and inviting too.
I had an egg white omelet with a generous helping of goat cheese on top and the perfect amount of salad and fruit to go with it. There are so many menu items everyone in your party can find something to suit their taste. Or go solo a few times and never repeat a dish!
They are open Tuesday through Sunday, and are closed Mondays.
Grand Rapids – Extra Treats (Alcohol Included)
Treats would be anyone's favorite aspect of most trips, right? Especially if you have a sweet tooth! The treats in Grand Rapids, Michigan, proved to be some of our favorites of the entire visit.
MoKAYA is named after a native people in Central America who predate the Mayans. They drank a liquid from bowls, which archeologists say contain traces of cacao.
This is the first known evidence of chocolate consumption in North America thousands of years ago. The owners of MoKAYA have honored these people with their names and the famous bowls in the pattern of their branding and logo.
Max and his dad, Smitty, own MoKAYA on Wealthy Street in Grand Rapids. They believe in supporting the community, the finest ingredients, and local partnerships. We were amused to find truffles created with local beers in a gift set! Yet I couldn't resist creating my own box of six unique flavor combinations to try, like Jalapeño Jelly with Rosemary Lime and Thai Basil Black Pepper.
If you're craving something a little less adventurous, try a homemade chocolate-covered Oreo or a crunchy Peanut Butter Cup. Even their milk chocolate peanut butter paste is created in-house! (And it's one of the best chocolates I've ever tasted with bits of crunch and salty goodness wrapped inside the silky goodness of smooth peanut butter.)
Open Tuesday through Saturday.
Founders Brewing Co.
Their “All Day IPA” is one Dan can drink any time. (Trust us – we've tested it.) 😉 I went one evening to check out their tasting room and restaurant. It was a beautiful night, so we sat outside and enjoyed the faint sounds of a musician inside playing guitar during their Tuesday open mic night.
They have so many beers on tap, so whether you love IPAs, stouts, or pilsners, you'll find something as long as you drink beer. They also have a few beers on tap exclusive to the Grand Rapids taproom. We're looking forward to returning one day to try the food too!
Their Taproom is open seven days a week, with weekly afternoon Happy Hour specials Monday through Friday.
Foodies, like us? Also check out:
- Mouthwatering Southern Classic You Need to Taste in the Carolinas
- The Chocolate Restaurant Worth Traveling to Virginia For
- Best Food Halls and Markets: North America, Canada, Mexico and South America