Every picky eater knows the struggle and stress of trying new foods, new recipes, and especially new restaurants.
West Michigan, however, offers plenty of options for you to go out to eat and still get something you want — even if your friends do pick on you a bit.
Picky eaters have their trusty go-to picks for going out, like a simple mac ‘n’ cheese, a burger or the most basic sandwich. And the true test of a good restaurant for the picky eater: their chicken tenders. In the wise words of the pickiest eater I know, my older brother, “You can’t trust a restaurant if they mess up chicken tenders.”
These spots make it easy to find something you’ll love, no matter how picky you are.
855 Michigan St. NE, Grand Rapids
Maggie’s is one bar and restaurant that can be trusted, because they nailed it when it comes to their chicken and fries. These aren’t your average chicken tenders — they’re golden-fried pieces of heaven, with that great balance between breading and meat. Plus, the fries are thick-cut and carefully done to be crispy on the outside and have a nice full texture on the inside. If you’re looking to change things up or try something new, definitely go for the loaded homemade pub fries, topped with a mix of melted cheeses and bacon.
925 Cherry St., Grand Rapids
This lovely brewery was first recommended to me by a ton of my friends who are used to my picky eating habits. While the menu rotates by season and brings new favorites throughout the year, one of the classics is the Vivant Burger — a big, juicy beef-bacon blend with special sauce, tomato, lettuce, red onion and cheddar cheese. Of course, you can always customize the burger to be the perfect fit for you, even if that means just a simple cheeseburger.
Hall of Fame Burgers
655 Eastern Ave. SE, Grand Rapids
Hall of Fame has some of the best burgers around, with the best budget around. For picky eaters, the classic single or double cheeseburgers are the obvious go-tos. The burgers are juicy, packed with incredible flavor, and you can easily customize them to fit your picky needs. On the side are their famous fries, topped with their own amazing fry seasoning. Or get some old-fashioned onion rings, made in-house.
1301 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids
During summer, sometimes all you need is a nice sandwich to make hot days a little nicer. Luckily for picky eaters, there are 24 different sandwich combos — and if those don’t work for you, you can build your own so it’s right how you like it. A personal favorite of mine is Ham It Up, made with fresh sourdough white bread, smoked ham, swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and honey mustard. I personally sub out the honey mustard and tomatoes, making the sandwich simple enough for most picky eaters to roll with it. Plus, the bread is made next door at Schnitz Bakery, with fresh homemade dough prepared daily.
1505 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
If you haven’t been here, you’re missing out on the most budget-friendly summer staple of food: hot dogs. They’re perfect for so many occasions and if you’re not celebrating, at least it’s an easy meal that’s impossible to mess up. For picky eaters, this is a ball-on-a-budget restaurant: For under $3, you can get a hot dog to go in less than a minute. While Yesterdog does have its signature specials and dogs, they don’t mind if you sub certain things out or go the classic route with ketchup and mustard. And they’re open late!
Ando Sushi + Bar
415 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids
For truly picky eaters, it can be hard to navigate some Asian dishes due to an array of veggies and spices. At Ando, you can get simple plates guaranteed to make you happy and full. For a classic picky eater’s meal, go for the ramen. It’s super affordable, the noodles are great, and it’ll beat anything you can make on the stovetop at home. If you want to try something new, go for the edamame: steamed soybeans and salt!
64 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids
Every picky eater knows their own routine for ordering tacos or quesadillas. Only certain veggies are allowed, only hard or soft shells, and so on and so forth. At Luna, ordering is easy. My personal recommendation is the quesadilla. You could have it with meat, like delicious chicken or pork, or go the classic cheese route. It’s a popular menu item for picky eaters, as Luna has learned how to do it just right. You could also dive into the chips and salsa flight before your meal arrives, expanding your taste horizons.