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Choo Choo Grill

SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: Closed on Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Steaks and service.

Lumber Baron Bar 187 Monroe Ave. NW. 616-774-2000 LOUNGE. Historic bar with fireplace, leather club chairs and a large se- lection of premium drinks and appetizers.

Dinner OPEN ON: T W Th F Sa. GO THERE FOR: Scotch or brandy after a Symphony concert.


Maggie’s Kitchen 636 Bridge St. NW. 616-458-8583 MEXICAN. The storefront restaurant on GR’s west side has quietly built a reputation as one of the best places in town for authentic Mexican food, especially its tacos and breakfast items like huevos a la Mexicana (scrambled eggs with onions and jalapenos). >> SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: T W Th F Sa Sn. GO THERE FOR: Tex-Mex.

Marie Catrib’s 1001 Lake Dr. 616-454-4020 ECLECTIC. The East Hills eatery has one of the most hard-to-categorize menus in West Michigan, but here’s a line from its website that begins to do owner Marie Catrib’s menu justice: “a twist of Lebanese, a hint of Yooper and yen for unique pastries.” Everything is made from scratch with local ingredients, and there are plenty of items suited for vegetarians and vegans. Get there early for lunch, as there is almost always a wait. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Salads, soups and sandwiches.

The Melting Pot 2090 Celebration Dr NE. 616-365-0055 FONDUE. The Knapp’s corner restaurant has established a reputation as an intimate and romantic dining spot, with private booths and decadent cheese, chocolate and entrée fondues. Of course, the art of fondue is highly sociable, making the Melting Pot a great spot for small groups, and couples get-togethers. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Fondue.

Noto’s Old World Italian Dining 6600 28th St. SE. 616-493-6686 ITALIAN. A mainstay of GR’s restaurant scene for three decades, Noto’s is a family owned business that delivers on it’s promise of “Italian fine dining” with a casually elegant ambiance and an extensive-but-not-overwhelming menu of Old World Italian favorites. The restaurant’s Wine Cellar, stocked with 900- some varieties of Italian wines, is one of the region’s most unique settings for a group dinner. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Closed Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Old World Italian cuisine and award-winning wine cellar.

Olive’s Restaurant 2162 Wealthy St. SE. 616-451-8611 ECLECTIC. The Gaslight Village restaurant is a mainstay for Easties looking to have a cocktail and casual dinner. The menu is surpris- ingly broad, with innovative starters (e.g., Napoli fritters, Paella cakes) and diverse entrées like Southern meatloaf, braised short ribs and mobu tofu. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: A broad selection.

One Trick Pony 136 E. Fulton. 616-235-7669 AMERICAN. The downtown eatery is a favorite for downtown theatre and music goers looking for a nice dinner before the show – except, of course, when One Trick is hosting its own live music events (ie, “Acoustic Stew” and “Hat Trick” concerts). Good selection of beers and wines to accompany its pastas, pizzas and entrées. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Closed on Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Great food and great live music.

Ottawa Tavern 151 Ottawa NW. 616-451-8000 AMERICAN. Downtown hot spot for lunch and happy hour, featuring varied entrées and a “build-your-own burger” menu with more than 50 toppings to choose from. As name suggests, OT has a tavern casual feel, with lots of plasma big screens for watching games. A favorite during March Madness for downtown business people. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Build your own burger.

The Pita House 1450 Wealthy St. SE/Monroe Center (downtown)/28th Street. 616-454-1171 MEDITERRANEAN. Gyros so big you can club someone with them, the smoothest hummus in town and a variety of other Mediterranean fare, including kibbe, kafta and falafel. Additional locations on 28th Street and Kalamazoo SE. Gyros and other sandwich wraps are made to order with fresh vegetables and ingredients. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Fresh pita wraps.

Pietro’s Italian Ristorante 2780 Birchcrest SE. 616-452-3228 ITALIAN. A local tradi- tion for more than 30 years, serving a range of regional Italian cuisine at a variety of price points. From fresh-made pasta to stromboli to gourmet and Chicago-style pizzas, Pietro’s has introduced Grand Rapids to a variety of re- gional Italian cuisine. Mangia Bene Paisano (“Eat Well, My Friends”). » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Freshly made pasta.

Real Food Cafe 2419 Eastern SE. /5430 Northland Dr. 616-241-4080 BREAKFAST. Locally owned breakfast joint with a classic diner atmosphere. Friendly staff and “real food” highlighted by stuffed and inventive omelettes, as well as other break- fast classics. » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch OPEN ON: T W Th F Sa Sn. GO THERE FOR: Omelettes.

Red Jet Cafe 1431 Plainfield Ave. NE. 616-719-5500 ECLECTIC. The funky restaurant in Creston’s old library is the kind of place you’d find in Chicago’s hip neighborhoods, offering a non-sequitur of menu items that somehow seems to work. Seriously, how many other places in town can you find that serve high-end organic coffees, crepes, wood-fired pizzas and artisan baked goods. Is it a bistro? Is it a coffeehouse? Does it matter? » SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Crepes.

Reserve 201 Monroe NW. 616-855-WINE WINE BAR. Upscale wine bar in the shadows of the Amway Grand Plaza has an im- pressive range of wines by the glass – 102 in all – and a couple hundred by the bottle. While it’s a great place to sip, the food doesn’t take a backseat. The cheeses, charcuterie and desserts are nice complements to the wine and bubbly; the small plates are flavorful and “right-sized” in terms of portion and price so you can indulge in more than one. » SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: Closed Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Wine, charcuterie.

Rio Grand Steakhouse 5501 Northland Dr. 616-364-6266 STEAKHOUSE. Inspired by western roadhouses, Rio Grand has been serving up big portions and high-quality mesquite grilled steaks for two decades. Soups are made from scratch, the salads are big (surprise!) and warm bread comes with dinner. Kind of a throwback in an era of chains and upscale, high-end steakhouses. Also offers a $5 lunch, which includes a soft drink. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Steaks.

TOP 5Olive Burgers


THE COTTAGE BAR Michigan’s unique olive burger takes gourmet form on a wholegrain bun and served with sides of sour cream and extra mayonnaise. The burger itself hides under layers of thin-sliced ham with melted cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomato, green onions and green olives. 18 LaGrave Ave. SE, Grand Rapids /, (616) 454-9088

GOOG’S PUB & GRUB Lynn’s Ultimate Burger is actually a composite of two burgers in one. Let’s just say a Swiss Mushroom Burger fell in love with an olive burger and this is their progeny. Green olives a plenty, sauteed ‘shrooms, gooey Swiss cheese, lettuce and tomato. You can replace the burger with a charbroiled chicken breast, vegetarian paddy or yellowfin tuna steak. 667 Hastings Ave., Holland /, (616) 546-3422

CHOO CHOO GRILL Head over to landmark Choo Choo Grill and taste the ageless quality that transcends space and time. This is the olive burger Don Draper would not only advertise but trade identities with to escape a wild back story in Pennsylvania. Kathy Spencer serves up a side of sarcasm for a truly enjoyable olive burger with all of the fixings. 1209 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids / (616) 774-8652

OLIVE’S RESTAURANT & BAR Executive Chef Erin Jeffers has put together a tasty half pound olive burger in the center of EGR’s Gaslight Village. The drupes combine with the mayonnaise and combined with Swiss cheese meld into a subtle sour-yet-powerful sweetness flanked with lettuce, tomato and red onion placed on a kaiser roll. 2162 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids /, (616) 451-8611

THE FILLING STATION Technically, the Fable’s Style Burger at the Filling Station is what it is. Trade secret states the magic is in the mayo, but this is a simple olive burger as it ought to be, and the olive burger standard to judge all others. Kalamata olives in a special sauce with cooked to order grade A beef on a simple white bun. 4750 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park / (616) 784-6706

—By Matt Simpson Siegel




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