West Michigan is chock full of places to grab a drink, but the experiences those places offer range from “formal attire required” to “no door on the bathroom stall.”
Here at Revue, we’re big fans of both ends of the spectrum, but we’re typically in the mood for one or the other. When you’re going out for a drink nowadays, you likely have a specific reason in mind—maybe a friend is in town, or it’s a first date, or you need to blow off steam after a rough day at work. Each requires a different atmosphere and drink selection.
While there are too many watering holes in town for us to list here, we want to help guide you to a few favorite bars for life’s various occasions.
FUN WITH FRIENDS
The Holiday Bar | 801 5th St. NW, Grand Rapids | theholidaybargr.com
In addition to a killer back patio and affordable drinks, The Holiday Bar hosts tons of fun nights that make it easy to get a group together and go wild all week long. Wednesday offers karaoke, with a crowd leaning younger; Thursday also has karaoke, typically drawing the “professional” karaoke singers; Friday and Saturday have a DJ and dancing from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. every single week, occasionally with a theme like ’90s night or Latin night. Singing, dancing, drinks—what more could you and a group of friends ask for?
FRIENDS IN TOWN
Stella’s Lounge | 53 Commerce Ave. SW, Grand Rapids | stellaslounge.com
Whether your friends are visiting from a small town or a big city, you want to impress them with what West Michigan has to offer. For a large majority of people, Stella’s will do just that. The bar’s menu alone is known for a massive whiskey lineup and award-winning stuffed burgers, with tons of vegan/vegetarian options. The aesthetic is retro—dark neon, graffitied walls, vintage sci-fi on the TVs, and old-school arcade cabinets giving a big city vibe, but not at all in a haughty way. There’s something for everyone.
Turnstiles | 526 Stocking Ave. NW, Grand Rapids | turnstilesgr.com
Last time we featured Turnstiles, we recommended them for great bar food. That’s still the case, but their music scene has exploded into events and performances nearly every single day of the year. Weekends have live music of all kinds, Sundays are jazz and soul sessions, Monday is karaoke, Tuesday and Thursday are both open mics, and Wednesday is DJ night. Not to mention the music-inspired cocktails!
Küsterer Brauhaus | 642 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids | grbrauhaus.com
There are many reasons to visit Cedar Springs Brewing’s Küsterer Brauhaus, including the beautifully renovated space that encourages socialization among groups—meant to give the same feel as beer halls in Germany. But chief among them is the incredible beer, which follows the Reinheitsegebot with time-tested recipes that let the ingredients really shine through. For a taste of history and a trip to Munich without the plane ticket, this is the place to be.
Lumber Baron Bar | 187 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids | amwaygrand.com
This hidden gem inside Amway Grand lets you settle into the warmth and charm of a historic bar, complete with fireplace, leather club chairs, and an incredible selection of premium drinks. It’s a cozy little spot perfect for small groups and special occasions—and you can add a smoke infusion to any drink for that extra level of mystique.
GRNoir Wine and Jazz | 35 S. Division Ave., Grand Rapids | grnoir.com
If your relationship didn’t survive the pandemic (many such cases), you might finally be back on the apps, ready to find new love. Find someone you actually want to impress? Take your first date to GRNoir, where you can chat, snack, and sip from a curated wine selection, all while enjoying live jazz from talented artists. The atmosphere is plush but extremely welcoming, fitting with the bar’s mission to help introduce “regular” people to wine and jazz, two pursuits often seen as high society in today’s world. Essentially, the whole place is a conversation piece.
SpeakEZ Lounge | 600 Monroe Ave. NW, Grand Rapids | speakezlounge.com
SpeakEZ has become known as the soccer hub of Grand Rapids, filling up to capacity before the sun rises during the World Cup. But the rest of the time, this bar and restaurant is focused on serving up unique drinks, unforgettable brunch food and crowd-pleasing dinners. If you ever need a bold cocktail and meal that makes you feel warm and cozy, there’s something about SpeakEZ that hits just right.