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your Mom loved beer.” That’s specifically true for HopCat’s beerbar cheese, cheese ale soup and porter braised beef, but mom would also love the Hippie wrap (it’s vegetarian), the crack fries (they’re not real crack), and the Killer Mac and Cheese. Because what mom doesn’t like mac and cheese?

» SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Widest variety of beers, crack fries.

J Bar 20 Monroe NW. 616-356-2000 STEAKS. Oft-awarded as Grand Rapid’s top steakhouse, featuring grass-fed beef selection plus an ample selection of seafood, chops and house specialties. Extensive wine cellar and tastefully upscale ambiance that’s comfortable rather than stuffy.

SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: Closed on Sunday. GO THERE FOR: Choice-cut prime rib, 10-oz. Baseball Filet, 14-oz. Top Sirloin.


J. Gardella’s Tavern 11 Ionia AVE SW. 616-459-8824 TAVERN. A popular Grand Rapids nightspot, J. Gardella’s is conveniently located next to Van Andel Arena. The architecture and decor is much like that of a Chicago tavern, complete with wood floors, an embossed metal ceiling, brick walls, and hand-carved moldings.

SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Low priced beverages, large portioned meals, selection of single malt scotches and microbrews.


JD Reardon’s Bar & Grill 940 Monroe Ave NW. (616) 454-8590 AMERICAN.

Neighborhood pub offers 15 Michigan beers on tap and more bottled, along with a full menu of handmade appetizers, pizzas, salads, sandwiches and 16 half-pound burgers. Nightly drink specials and karaoke on Tuesday night.

GO THERE FOR: Burgers. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days.

Louis Benton Steak House 35 Ionia Ave NW. (616)-45-GRILL STEAK. Grand Rapids’ premier steak house offers a variety of different steaks, along with soups, salads, seafood and starters. This fine dining restaurant also has a variety of drinks and desserts to choose from and valet parking.

Lunch and Dinner. OPEN ON: Closed Sundays. GO THERE FOR: A good steak.


Lumber Baron Bar 187 Monroe Ave. NW. (616) 774-2000 LOUNGE. Settle into the warmth and charm of this historic bar – complete with a fireplace, leather club chairs and a large selection of premium drinks and appetizers.

» SERVING: Dinner OPEN ON: Closed Sundays and Mondays 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

» SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: T W Th F Sa Sn. GO THERE FOR: Tex-Mex.

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).

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 this line from its website begins to do it 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 vegetar- ians and vegans. Get there early for lunch, as there is almost always a wait.

Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: Salads, soups and sandwiches.

Mixology 235 Louis St. NW. 616-242-1448 LOUNGE. Casual, upscale service and atmosphere allows guests to relax and enjoy the city views. This type of service allows guests to complete business tasks while still enjoying the accessibility to great food and libations.

» SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON: Open 7 days GO THERE FOR: Specialty cocktails.

» SERVING: Breakfast Lunch Dinner OPEN ON:

The Muze 925 4 Mile Rd. NW. (616) 608-4506. AMERICAN. Warm and contemporary ambiance with natural wood and silver metals. Five levels, plus a large outside deck. Come on Wednesdays for two for one wet burritos – one of the best burritos in town.

» SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN

ON: Closed Sundays GO THERE FOR: Smoked pulled pork and ribs.

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 surprisingly broad, with innovative starters (e.g., Napoli fritters, Paella cakes) and diverse entrées like Southern meatloaf, braised short ribs and mobu tofu.

Open 7 days. GO THERE FOR: A broad selection. » SERVING: Lunch Dinner OPEN ON:

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.

Essential Vegan Ingredients | by Matthew Russell C 56 | REVUEWM.COM | AUGUST 2011

OOKING VEGAN ISN’T JUST about having a good supply of twigs and leaves on hand. Many ingredients our omnivorous friends keep in their shelves can be found in a vegan pantry, too. But just like in any diet, there are

some items vegans use more often. Dylan Putnam-Smith, a vegan and a chef at the

vegan/vegetarian Bartertown Diner in Grand Rapids, said he tries to always keep a good stock of beans on-hand, either canned or dried. He said they’re a huge staple for the type of cooking he does, using them foremost as a protein structure to form dishes, he adds other plant-based ingredients like black and kidney beans in burgers, beans and lentils baked into a loaf or cooked beans pureed into a sauce or dressing. “Even if you can’t buy a nice one, a cheap food

processor is essential,” Putnam-Smith said. While he does use some ingredients to replace animal

byproducts in cooking, Putnam-Smith said he doesn’t rely on them heavily. When baking, he uses bananas in place of eggs as a binder, and olive oil in place of butter, but for the most part, he works with meals that stand on their own. Taste is the main goal, after all, and as long as no eggs, milk or animal flesh are used in the dish, you’ve got a vegan meal on your hands.

Kolene Allen, one of the contributors behind the

blog Vegan Grand Rapids (, said she often uses Earth Balance buttery spread and soy, almond or rice milk to substitute for dairy products on a daily basis. “I use them in everything, I think,” she said. “The

Earth Balance I use for making breads and baked goods and the soymilk or rice or almond milk I use in place of cow milk by itself or to make creamy sauces.” And what would a vegan kitchen be without tofu or

tempeh? Some squirm at the food, but its versatility has won many over. Allen said she tries to work off tofu’s versatility in

different dishes, too. “The weekend favorite is Tofu Scramble for sure,”

she said. “On weekdays, we add it to recipes cubed, but we blend it a lot into sauces or mix it with cashews for cheesy sauces.” All these ingredients and a good stock of fresh

vegetables are key to any successful vegan kitchen. West Michiganders can find any of these ingredients dried, canned and fresh at local health food stores like Harvest Health or Apple Valley or at any supermarket like Meijer, D&W or Family Fare. n

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