The Turkey Sandwich at The Green Well (924 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids) is chock full of comfort food fixings, and then some. Feast on turkey, sweet potatoes, coleslaw, smoked bacon and white cheddar drizzled with tomato vinaigrette—all grilled between slices of sourdough. Uncle Cheetah's (1133 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids) offers a spicy spin on your standard turkey sandwich. It's called the Ruffled Feathers, and it features turkey, smoked Gouda and jalapeno-tomato jam.
Predictable but good on the cob or as a side dish, we’re giving you a few reasons to gobble up corn in a new, more gourmet fashion. At Salt of the Earth (114 E. Main St., Fennville), the Masa Gnocchi brings together tomato, roasted sweet onions, sweet corn and cilantro for a taste that's anything but familiar. For something even more unusual, try the Sweet Corn-Parmesan Hush Puppies at Grove Restaurant (919 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids). These warm little puffs—a different take on a Southern classic—are served with pico de gallo and chipotle corn vinaigrette.
Cranberry sauce tends to feel a bit old-fashioned, but that doesn't mean the sweetened fruits in other forms are boring. How about in your cocktail? Martell's (3501 Greenleaf Blvd., Kalamazoo) has the Autumn Punch Martini on its list, a sweet concoction of Apple Pucker with Riesling and cran-apple juice. For something a little more exotic, try the Midnight Orchid at Field Stone Grill (3970 W. Centre Ave., Portage), which mixes together vanilla vodka, pineapple rum, cranberry juice, Chambord and a splash of cream.
If you'd rather take your cranberry fix in chewy, carb-heavy form, pick up a fresh loaf of Cranberry Walnut Bread. Sugar Momma's Bakery & Café (6504 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids) and The Victorian Bakery(116 W Crosstown Pkwy. #102, Kalamazoo) both sell this yummy treat—but you'll have to wait for winter to try the latter.
Warm maple syrup: a tantalizing complement to cool fall days. Enjoy a bit of local flavor at Everyday People Café (11 Center St., Douglas), where brunch turns into an indulgent affair with menu items like golden Malted Waffles topped with mascarpone cream, fruit and Michigan bourbon maple syrup.
In a completely different category is the Sesame Ginger Salmon served at Food Dance (401 E. Michigan Ave. #100, Kalamazoo). This dish gets sweet with a maple syrup sesame soy glaze that tops the salmon, alongside ginger sushi rice, steamed greens and a cucumber relish.
A versatile vegetable that's found its way into soups, hummus, baked goods and more, the sweet potato seems destined for enjoyment outside the confines of a casserole dish (not that it's not delicious). Be adventurous and get down with the Boogie Veggie at Maru Sushi & Grill (927 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids)—it's a plentiful roll with radish sprouts, cucumber, avocado, asparagus and kampyo topped with tempura fried sweet potato slices and a sweet in-house dressing.
Chewy, salty and sweet is the combo that makes pecan pie so darn tasty, and the same can be said for a dish to dig into for breakfast at Crow's Nest (816 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo). With the Amaretto Pecan French Toast, you get a generous serving of Fourth Coast Bakery challah bread topped with gourmet amaretto syrup, cinnamon cream syrup and yes—pecans.
Last but not least: we'd be remiss not to mention the dish you somehow manage to stuff into your mouth after consuming a few thousand calories. A close enough relative of the sweet potato, pumpkin can join in a lot of different cuisines. We're suggesting you drink up this classic dessert spice at Paw Paw Brewing Company (929 E. Michigan Ave., Paw Paw), which serves up a seasonal Twisted Pumpkin brew. It's not pumpkin pie—but that's not to say you can't serve it with some. And if you're in search of another sweetly satisfying option, go for Michigan's own Hudsonville pumpkin pie ice cream. It's creamier than you can imagine, with pie crust pieces mixed in. Check out hudsonvilleicream.com to find out which regional stores are selling it (or just order it online).