Talk to anyone who’s spent enough time in one neighborhood and they’ll be able to act as your personal concierge, guiding you to the unique treasures that aren’t always the first choice for Yelp or Google.
The shops without snazzy storefronts or fancy signs might fly under the radar, but they often hold the most unique, delicious, cared-after, affordable dishes around. As the Creston neighborhood continues to bring in full-service restaurants and breweries, we encourage you to not forget about the hidden gems. Consider this a treasure map.
North East Deli - Matt’s Gyro
1965 Fuller Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
This place is the definition of a hidden gem. I never would’ve expected some of the best Mediterranean food in the city to come from a small, one-employee joint attached to a gas station, but here we are. The owner of Matt’s Gyro understands exactly what makes a great meal: amazing service and memorable food. You’ll always be greeted with enthusiasm and treated with kindness, as Matt clearly cares for his customers and food.
Here, after the gyro meat is carved off the spit, it’s tossed onto a grill with some oil, which revives and releases the amazing flavors you don’t always get. It’s this juicy, flavor-loaded meat, combined with the top-tier tzatziki sauce, that makes the gyro sandwich a hit, and the Greek salad an absolute must-have — honestly, I get it once a week. Rumor has it the falafel is just as amazing, for all you veggies out there.
That’s not to mention the grape leaves, hummus, baklava and more in the deli case. Really, you can’t go wrong here.
1808 Monroe Ave., Grand Rapids
The wing game in Grand Rapids is tough competition — our Best of the West readers poll has made that clear. They’re on the menu everywhere from Wolfgang Puck’s Kitchen to unassuming joints in strip malls. Mike’s Wings, which falls in the latter camp, proves it doesn’t matter where you’re serving your sauce-slathered chicken, as long as it’s delicious.
Take, for instance, the spicy garlic wings — these things are covered in what can only be described as a ludicrous amount of minced garlic and it’s perfect. For those of us who quadruple the garlic in any given recipe, welcome to heaven.
All the sauces are spot-on, actually, whether you’re keeping it classic with honey BBQ or going out on a limb with sweet raspberry. Plus, this might be the cheapest place around to get your wings, and yet no sacrifice is made to quality.
Main Street BBQ Express
1539 Plainfield Ave. NE, Grand Rapids
For those who’ve spent any time in Lowell, Main Street BBQ could hardly be described as “hidden,” but it’s certainly a gem. With this takeout location, however, Main Street has taken a more humble route while keeping the menu just as enticing.
What meat are you in the mood for? Brisket? Ribs? Smoked chicken? Fried chicken? Sausage? Catfish? It’s all here, and available in far more than one form. You’ll find sandwiches, tacos and meat platters, along with all the sides you’d expect — mac and cheese, hush puppies, potato salad, cornbread and more. Point is, Main Street stands out for offering loads of options at an express pace.
It doesn’t hurt that the food is so gratifying, with perfectly smoked meat, a stacked lineup of sauces and no shortage of spices. If you’re looking for a terrific meal on-the-go, head to Main Street Express.