Tuesday, 28 July 2020 15:55

BOTW 2020: Dining Winners

Written by  Josh Veal
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WOULD YOU BE THE LEAST BIT SURPRISED IF WE TOLD YOU DINING IS OUR MOST POPULAR GROUP OF CATEGORIES?

Food is a huge part of our lives, whether it’s going out to eat and getting the full treatment or taking a meal back home to eat in front of the TV. We have strong opinions on food, because our lives practically revolve around it.

With food comes a lot of nostalgia, which is why so many people have their staunch favorites that they visit time and again. That might explain why we have nine Milestone Awards winners here — nominees who have placed first every single year of Best of the West.

Stella’s Lounge now has the best Burgers five years running, for instance. And Yesterdog seemingly can’t be beat for Hot Dogs. Maru is the favorite Sushi place around. 

Then again, nothing is written in stone. We had plenty of upsets this year. 

After four years in first place, Harmony Brewing was dethroned by The Mitten Brewing for best Pizza. Furniture City similarly lost the top Ice Cream/Frozen Treats spot to Frosty Boy Grand Rapids & Rockford — likely due to the growing popularity of the Creston neighborhood. The Chop House finally gave way to Butcher’s Union for best Steak.

It all goes to show, nothing is certain. These spots could easily swap back next year. If you want your favorite to win, you’ll have to fight for it.

The most interesting winners to me are the New Restaurants in town, all “competing” for the first time. At the top of the list is Max’s South Seas Hideaway, a massive Tiki showstopper that completely reimagined the building formerly known as McFadden’s. A huge water feature, a massive aquarium, a bar shaped like a ship — it’s an experience that captured the hearts of West Michigan. 

In second place is Third Nature Brewing Company, which benefits from being in Rockford, a community passionate about Best of the West. The food here spans a variety of handhelds, flatbread pizza and appetizers. It helps to have great beer and a huge outdoor space.

(Editor's Note: Kingfisher closed permanently shortly after publication.)

Third place belongs to Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli, which opened just barely too late to take place in last year’s survey. The neighborhood eatery took over the former Marie Catrib’s spot, carrying on the legacy of fresh, innovative, healthy-ish food, with a unique menu inspired by Asian and Mediterranean cuisine. People also love Kingfisher’s deli, which offers great to-go meals, snacks and baked goods. 

Despite COVID-19, new restaurants are still opening and old ones are still standing. No matter what happens, it’s clear dining will be a big part of our life. 


BAKERY
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2
Nantucket Baking Company (1st: 2016-2020)
615 Lyon St. NE, Grand Rapids

Field and Fire (2nd)
Cakabakery (3rd)

BBQ
Two Scotts Barbecue
536 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Slows Bar BQ (2nd)
Daddy Pete’s BBQ (3rd) 

BREAKFAST
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2

Anna’s House 
(1st: 2016-2020)
Multiple locations - annashouseus.com

Real Food Cafe (2nd)
Wolfgang’s (3rd)

BRUNCH
SpeakEZ Lounge
600 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

Rockford Brewing Company (2nd)
Lucy’s Cafe (3rd) 

BURGERS
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2
 

Stella’s Lounge
(1st: 2016-2020)
53 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Rockford Brewing Company (2nd)
Brewery Vivant (3rd)

CHINESE
First Wok
Multiple locations - firstwokgr.com

Ming Ten (2nd)
Blue Ginger (3rd)

COFFEE
Biggby
Multiple locations - biggby.com

Madcap (2nd)
Herman’s Boy (3rd)

DESSERTS
Amore Trattoria Italiana
5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park

Cakabakery (2nd)
Martha’s Vineyard (3rd)

DINER
76th Street Truckstop
460 76th St. SW, Byron Center

Choo Choo Grill (2nd)
Matchbox Diner & Drinks (3rd)

FOOD TRUCK
Patty Matters
pattymatters.com

Underground Cookie Club (2nd)
Daddy Pete’s BBQ(3rd)

FRIED CHICKEN
Hancock
1157 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Cousin’s Tasty Chicken (2nd)
Forty Acres Soul Kitchen(3rd)

FRIES
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2
 

HopCat
(1st: 2016-2020)
Multiple locations - hopcat.com

Rockford Brewing Company (2nd)
Brewery Vivant (3rd)

HOT DOGS
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2 
Yesterdog 
(1st: 2016-2020)
1505 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Corner Bar (2nd)
Blue Dog Tavern (3rd)

ICE CREAM/FROZEN TREATS
Frosty Boy - Grand Rapids & Rockford
Multiple locations - frostyboygr.com

Furniture City Creamery (2nd)
Love’s Ice Cream & Chocolate (3rd)

INDIAN
Bombay Cuisine
1420 Lake Dr. SE, Grand Rapids

Curry Kitchen (2nd)
Curry Leaf (3rd)

ITALIAN
Amore Trattoria Italiana (1st: 2016-2020)
5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park 

Osteria Rossa (2nd)
Bistro Bella Vita (3rd)

MEDITERRANEAN
Sheshco Grill
2121 Celebration Dr. NE, Grand Rapids

Le Kabob (2nd)
Gita Pita (3rd)

MEXICAN
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2

Donkey Taqueria (1st: 2016-2020)
665 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Tacos El Cuñado - Bridge Street (2nd)
Lindo Mexico(3rd)

MOST INNOVATIVE CUISINE
Amore Trattoria Italiana
5080 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park

Forty Acres Soul Kitchen (2nd)
Rockford Brewing Company (3rd)

NEW RESTAURANT
Max’s South Seas Hideaway
58 Ionia Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Third Nature Brewing Company (2nd)
Kingfisher Restaurant and Deli (3rd - now closed)

PIZZA
The Mitten Brewing Co.
527 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids

Brick Road Pizza  /  Harmony Brewing Eastown (2nd - tie)
Vitale’s on Leonard (3rd)

SANDWICH/DELI
Two Beards Deli
38 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids

Cherry Street Deli (2nd)
Schnitz Deli(3rd)

SEAFOOD
Leo’s Seafood Restaurant & Bar
60 Ottawa Ave. NW, Grand Rapids

Fish Lads (2nd)
Wikiwiki Poke Shop (3rd)

SOUP
Uncle Cheetah’s Soup Shop
1133 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Electric Cheetah (2nd)
Auntie Cheetah’s Soup Shop (3rd)  

STEAK
Butcher’s Union
438 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids 

The Chop House (2nd)
Brann’s(3rd)

SUSHI
Maru Sushi (1st: 2016-2020)
927 Cherry St. SE, Grand Rapids

Jaku Sushi (2nd)
Ando Sushi + Bar (3rd)

THAI
Bangkok Taste Cuisine
15 Jefferson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids

Erb Thai (2nd)
Little Bangkok (3rd)

VEGETARIAN/VEGAN MENU
Brick Road Pizza
1017 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids

Anna’s House (2nd)
Rockford Brewing Company (3rd)

WINE LIST
BOTW MilestoneWinner LogoforMag2
Reserve Wine & Food
(1st: 2016-2020)
201 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids  

Aperitivo (2nd)
Amore Trattoria Italiana (3rd)

WINGS
Wing Doozy
Multiple locations - wingdoozy.com

Rockford Brewing Company (2nd)
Mike’s Wings (3rd)


STAFF PICKS

by Allison Kay Bannister

INDIAN
Pal’s Indian Cuisine 
2887 28th St. SE, Kentwood

At Pal’s, it’s usually all about the lunch buffet. But these days they’re still slinging crispy pakora and buttery naan and cheesy palak paneer via Uber Eats and takeout. It’s just as drool-worthy as ever. They have loads of vegetarian and gluten-free options, plus specialty beverages and North Indian sweets. The mango kulfi is my jam, accompanied by the inevitable brain freeze.    

MEDITERRANEAN
Zeytin Turkish Restaurant 
7437 River St. SE, Ada

This place is on regular rotation for my birthday dinner picks, and it’s worth the short drive east of town to savor it. The Flambe (Flaming Cheese) is impossible to resist as is the spinach chicken, which I order every time, even though I promise myself I will try something new. A glass of Çankaya (Turkish white wine) with dinner and Turkish coffee with baklava for dessert are, in short: Nefis! 

BAKERY
Sugar Momma’s Bakery & Cafe 
6504 28th St. SE, Grand Rapids

I have two words for you: Pretzel Wednesday. Once a week, the Sugar Momma’s team twists up the real Bavarian deal — and I often race there to grab a few before they’re gone. Warm, chewy, salty ... What’s not to love? They also have fresh-baked cookies, croissants, and bars and one of those typically makes it into my bag as well. A full-service espresso bar is the icing on top.

 

by Michaela Stock 

DESSERTS
Mokaya
638 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids
mokayagr.com

There’s good chocolate, great chocolate, extraordinary chocolate ... And then there’s Mokaya. Specializing in out-of-this-world truffles, hot chocolate, barks, toffee, pastries, and more, Mokaya’s artisan chocolate and confections are not your grocery store candy bars. These top-notch sweets are created with fair trade or local ingredients in small batches and hand-crafted. Mokaya will provide you with a chocolate experience unlike anything you’ve had before, so stop in, grab a few treats and let your taste buds take it from there.

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