The Next Best Thing

We present three former food fixtures with cult followings whose flavors are gone, but not forgotten. We attempt the impossible with the next best thing.

RIP Mr. Fables, 1963-2000
Survived by The Filling Station

West Michigan was once dotted with Mr. Fables, renowned for its onion rings and Mr. Fabulous Burger, the olive burger of olive burgers. It closed its final door in 2000. Although Yesterdog Owner Bill Lewis (and former Fables worker) owns the trademark, there are not any definite plans for the future. Former Fables competitor and Mr. Burger off-shoot The Filling Station offers up its own Mr. Fabulous and many diehards swear by it. Sit in the cafeteria-style dining room and let your taste buds take you back. The Filling Station, 4750 Alpine Ave. NW, Comstock Park; (616)784-6706


RIP Little Mexico, 1968-2008 & 2010-2013
Survived by El Granjero

Besieged by a fire in 2008 from which it never fully recovered from after reopening in 2010, Little Mexico finally passed out of this world in March. Finding a west-side Mexican eatery that serves up the best American comfort food, one automatically assumes Maggie's Kitchen, however, Maggie's isn't open into dining hours, of which Little Mexico was a premier destination during its heyday. Enter El Granjero Mexican Grill. Open 'til 9 for the dining crowd, you'll find a more casual experience with the flavors you miss in the familiar form of fajitas, tacos, burritos, tortas and more. Be sure to check out the one and only "El Molcajete" for a massive plate of steak, chicken, grilled cactus, chorizo and cheeses. El Granjero Mexican Grill, 950 Bridge St. NW, Grand Rapids; (616)458-5595


RIP Schnitzelbank, 1934-2006
Survived by AlpenRose Restaurant

A staple of German cuisine for more than 70 years, the Schnitzelbank shuttered its doors in 2006. Unfortunately, yet luckily, there is one restaurant open that captures bits of the 'bank's magic in Holland. Austrian Chef HelmuttKlett provides the only real German deals at AlpenRose Restaurant. Although not exclusively German, AlpenRose has the best schnitzel, sauerkraut and sauerbraten around. For some real treats, try the Tafelspitz, a thin-sliced NY strip in a horseradish cream sauce, or the Pork Provencal in its herb-roasted pork tenderloin glory. For the beer swilling, brat chomping Bavarian in all of us, the Bratwurst Plate hosts two beef and pork white brats with house-made sauerkraut and beer mustard. AlpenRose Restaurant, 4 E. 8th St., Holland; (616)393-2111,