Experience Restaurant Week in Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids may be known as Beer City, USA, but the city is also a mecca for fine dining and local fare! Every year, Grand Rapids hosts Restaurant Week downtown to highlight the many diverse food options and eateries across the city. If you’re a looking for a delicious meal at a fair price, this is the event for you!

Read more on what you can expect at this year’s Restaurant Week courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids.

From August 10th through the 21st, “Taste the City” of Grand Rapids during the city’s annual Restaurant Week 2016.

Delectable dishes are available all throughout Grand Rapids during Restaurant Week

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

What is it?  Every August, at the peak of Michigan harvest season, Grand Rapids recognizes the creativity of local chefs and the bounty of local farmers.  Restaurant Week 2016 has over sixty participating locations, which means locals and visitors could eat out three meals a day for the full eleven days and STILL not exhaust their culinary options around town.  Chefs are asked to create a three course menu that showcases both creativity and Michigan farm-fresh food.  These offerings are not on the general menu, so even if it is a restaurant you’ve tried before, you can taste something new.

How much?  Restaurants around town take two approaches to the three course menu.  Some cost $28 per person for the three course offering, and others offer $28 per couple for three courses.  Many chefs offer options for each course to accommodate dietary restrictions or preference.  Ask your server to suggest a beer, wine, or cocktail pairing that might compliment your exclusive meal.

Restaurant Week allows you to explore the many fantastic eateries in GR

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids


Enjoy a Michigan wine pairing with your steak

Photo Courtesy of Experience Grand Rapids

Why offer Restaurant Week?  There are many reasons that Restaurant Week GR is beneficial to the food economy of Grand Rapids, but one awesome benefit is that $1 of every three-course meal sold is given in scholarship to the Grand Rapids Community College Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.  Experience Grand Rapids has raised over $100,000 for the endowed scholarship and is excited to add to that at the end of RWGR 2016.  This support in the culinary arts educational community is raising the next generation of talented Grand Rapids chefs who will exercise their own creativity during future Restaurant Weeks!

When is it, again?  Try Restaurant Week is happening now through August 21st. A list of all participating restaurants and their three-course offerings is available here: peruse and choose, but be sure the restaurant you pick is open when you’re ready to feast!  Will you choose the coffee crusted pork chop with sour cream whipped potatoes, fried kale, cherry & cabernet from Cork Wine and Grille? Or perhaps you’d prefer to start off with summer corn soup, barbecued shrimp, charred spring onion and corn salad from Olives Restaurant and Bar in Gaslight Village?    Document your edible experience on social media using #RWGR, and happy eating!

Where is your favorite place to grab a bite in Grand Rapids? Share with us by commenting below!

Five of the Coolest Coffee Shops in Michigan

You may have heard of Michigan’s amazing craft beer scene, or its abundant wineries, but did you know that Michigan can also brew an amazing cup of coffee? More than that, the great coffee shops and roasters can be found in the most unexpected of places, all over the state.

So, before a full day of exploring Pure Michigan, we suggest starting your day easy. Below we list five of the state’s coolest craft coffee shops where you can relax, sip and caffeinate.

1. Great Lakes CoffeeDetroit

Located in a 130-year-old building in the heart of bustling Midtown right on Woodward Avenue is Great Lakes Coffee. There’s reclaimed wood from old houses in Hamtramck, metal work from a local artist, exposed brick galore and an outdoor patio with string lights. It’s open late, and serves beer and wine and spirits as well as their own coffee blends. Even more, there’s trivia night on Wednesdays!

Great Lakes Coffee is a perfect spot when you need a pick-me-up in Detroit

Photo Courtesy of Jesse David Green Photography

2. Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore, Munising

Just south of the famous Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore is Falling Rock Cafe & Bookstore, a downtown Munising gem favorited by locals and visitors. This cafe’s small batches of coffee beans are roasted by hand nearby. If you’re hungry, a local favorite is the smoked whitefish on a bagel or in a salad. And for hot summer days, they have a wide selection of ice cream. Relax and enjoy thousands of books – or stop in for live music night.

3. Raven Café, Port Huron

Self-described as “part Hogwarts and part Cheers,” the Raven Café is arguably one of Michigan’s most unique coffee spots. Make sure to venture up to the second floor for couch seating, where books line every wall except one, because of a window that overlooks the river. There is an array of espresso drinks, but with flavors like coconut mocha and gingerbread, we suggest not passing up the coffee shakes. If you’re hungry, the menu expands beyond coffee to include soups, salads, sandwiches and desserts (including fresh donuts brought in daily). There is also a full bar serving cocktails and craft beers on tap, which goes perfectly with the live music in the evenings.

Explore the artsy interior of Raven Café when in Port Huron

Photo Courtesy of Raven Café

4. Cabin Creek CoffeeAlpena

You can’t go wrong with a coffee shop whose anniversary is on Valentine’s Day. Family owned and operated for almost a decade, Cabin Creek is a must-visit in Alpena. Although located downtown, the decor is true to its cabin name, making it perfect for reading a book or kicking back with friends. The menu is anything but basic, with sandwiches like the Monte Cristo accompanied by gouda cheese on toasted cinnamon bread. For all the sweet tooth cravings out there, try the Big Moose Mocha or the Lodge Latte.

5. Madcap, Grand Rapids

Step into this ultra-modern café in the heart of downtown Grand Rapids and enjoy service by award-winning baristas. This corner shop has a sleek interior with plenty of natural light. Despite the soothing ambience, the quality of the coffee is still the highlight, as members of the staff dedicate months to traveling the world in search of the best beans. Third Coast is the house espresso, but with top-notch knowledgeable baristas, we’ll leave it to them to provide a recommendation. A guaranteed favorite for serious coffee lovers.

Explore Madcap for a chiq coffee house in Grand Rapids

Photo Courtesy of Madcap


Where is your favorite coffee shop in Michigan? Share with us by commenting below!

4 Things You Need to Know About Detroit’s Eastern Market

Each week, thousands flock to Eastern Market to enjoy one of the most authentic urban adventures in the United States. The market, and the adjacent district, are rare finds in a global economy – a local food district with more than 250 independent vendors and merchants processing, wholesaling and retailing food. Learn more on this unique market via Joanna Dueweke of The Awesome Mitten

Most people are familiar with the bustling farmers market that overtakes Eastern Market each Saturday morning. It is the location of an enduring art scene, growing restaurant  district, and burgeoning retail location. It’s difficult to create an exhaustive list of everything going on in the market because things are always changing, events are always happening and locals are always full of surprises. In fact, Eastern Market is probably one of the only places in Detroit that doesn’t get much sleep. Monday through Friday, the wholesale market starts at midnight and runs until 6 a.m., supplying restaurants and consumers alike that are interested in buying bulk produce.

Markets aside, Eastern Market offers Detroiters, tourists and people from the region a place to celebrate the city’s legacy. Compiled here is just a few of the exciting things you can find at one of the oldest and largest year-round markets in the United States.

Multiple sheds make up the Eastern Market Corporation’s complex, but there is more to the district than just the markets that happen throughout the week.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke.

1. Art is for Everybody

In the fall of 2015, Eastern Market Corporation, 1xRun and Inner State Gallery worked together to bring over 45 local and international artists to paint large-scale murals throughout the district for ‘Murals in the Market’. For people that have visited Eastern Market before, it is obvious that outdoor art is integral to the culture of the market’s landscape. However, Murals in the Market offered a unique opportunity for businesses and arts supporters to sponsor an individual piece from their favorite artist. Now, the art is a lasting reminder of the collective investment in the market and those that use it as a place of commerce, a place to live, and a place to play.


Murals (left to right) created by Ouizi (adopted by Sara Boyd) and Ryan Doyle, both presented by 1xRun and owned by Sweiss Imports.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke.

2. Food That’s Prepared for You

Eastern Market is absolutely known for its produce and meat markets, but it is also known for and gaining traction with the restauranteurs and their avid followers. Although many of these places have been in the market for years, there are a couple newcomers that are rounding out the district’s offerings:

Bert’s Warehouse

Almost as iconic as Eastern Market itself, Bert’s Warehouse is a popular jazz bar and soul food restaurant that doubles as a concert venue. Bert Dearing, owner of Bert’s Warehouse, has been around for the last 29 years and has seen the many changes of Detroit first-hand. Make sure you check out the ribs, jazz, and other great events that happen in the theater!

Bert’s Warehouse is a great place to find BBQ on Saturdays during the farmers’ market. They have a full lineup of jazz and other musical acts on the weekends.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

La Rondinella

Recently, La Rondinella joined the Eastern Market family offering northern Italian fare for very reasonable prices. As an ode to his family’s heritage, Dave Mancini, owner of Supino Pizzeria, is creating an amazing experience for market-goers. Now, Eastern Market visitors have their choice of some of the tastiest pizza in Detroit next door to some of the tastiest Italian in the city.

La Rondinella is new to the Eastern Market team, but is already wowing people with an excellent food and wine menu joined by a superb lineup of craft drinks

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

Cutter’s Bar and Grille

Name for the meat cutters that opened the bar, Cutter’s is a staple in Eastern Market that’s often overlooked. Although it might look like your average Detroit dive bar from the outside, the bar offers some of the best burgers around. It’s a little off the beaten path, but this is a spot to check out any day of the week for great food and awesome drinks in a relaxed atmosphere. Another bonus is that this spot is a great stop while visitors explore the many murals nestled throughout the district.

It’s an unassuming exterior, but the mouthwatering burgers and happy hour menu are not to be missed.

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

Russell Street Deli

Known for its delicious sandwiches and fantastic soups that are now being sold as wholesale items in places like Whole Foods, Russell Street Deli is an important stakeholder in the Eastern Market restaurant family. The business is now over 25 years old, and Ben Hall and Jason Murphy, owners of Russell Street, began as dishwashers in the 1990s. Customers can eat well knowing that Hall and Murphy care about their employees because they pay well over normal pay level for restaurant workers and work to provide benefits like healthcare and retirement plans.

Open for breakfast and lunch, Russell Street Deli is a great place to stop any day of the week in Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

3. There’s More Than Just Food

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More and more, retail is becoming a part of the fabric that makes Eastern Market function. Interestingly, the juxtaposition of places like DeVries & Co 1887 and DETROIT VS EVERYBODY (DVE) proves just how multifaceted the district is in its offerings and its customers. Not only can shoppers find almost any cheese they might desire at historic DeVries, but they can also represent their love for the city at outfitters like DVE and Division Street Boutique where the infamous Detroit Hustles Harder shirts are sold. If that’s not enough, there are letterpress shops like Signal Return and Salt & Cedar offering paper goods and classes for aspiring artisans.


DeVries & Co. 1887 offers the nostalgia that visitors desire when exploring all that is historic in Eastern Market

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

 4. Outdoor Adventures

Officially opened in 2009, the Dequindre Cut connects the Riverfront with Mack Avenue and travels through Eastern Market. Built atop the former Grand Trunk Railroad line, the trail is 20-feet wide providing room for pedestrians and bikers, and it is lined by street art commissioned by the Detroit RiverFront Conservancy. During the second phase of the project (connecting Gratiot to Mack Avenue), the Dequindre Cut passes through Eastern Market and is adjacent to the newly created Detroit Market Garden. A project of Greening Detroit with funding from the Community Foundation of Southeast Michigan, the garden is a display of what can happen to a previously abandoned city block where stakeholders can learn how small-scale agriculture positively affects an urban environment.

Looking north, the Dequindre Cut is adjacent to the revitalized Detroit Market Garden and heads toward the growing bike thoroughfare

Photo courtesy of Joanna Dueweke

What are your favorite “characters” of Eastern Market? Tell us in the comments below!


A writer and editor for The Awesome Mitten for the last five years, Joanna Dueweke is a proud Detroit resident and Traverse City-expat. Although the beaches of Belle Isle will never compare to the shores of Lake Michigan, Joanna is happy to live and work in a city like Detroit. When she’s not creating content for The Awesome Mitten, Joanna is playing soccer in the Detroit City Futbol League, organizing any number of community events including Detroit SOUP, cheering on the Detroit Tigers, or enjoying what the city has to offer.