Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies

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Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down!

You’re in Grand Rapids for the weekend and have a list of fun activities planned: museum-gawking, vintage shopping, and lots of strolling around the city. Of course, you'll probably want to stop for a few meals along the way, and the last thing you want to do is make a bunch of lame restaurant choices.

Girrrrrl (or Duuuuude), I get it.

I love B-Dubs, too . . . but let’s leave it out of the running during weekend getaways, okay? Today, we’re talking unique flavors, colorful ingredients, and memorable dishes you’ll remember long after leaving the restaurant. Sound good? Thought so! Without further ado, here are my top picks for deliciously eclectic Grand Rapids restaurants.

Social Kitchen

Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down! | Pictured: Social Kitchen & Bar at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market

Located inside Grand Rapids’ Downtown Market, Social Kitchen & Bar is a really cool place to gather with friends for brunch, lunch, or dinner. While the menu offers a variety of staple items, Social Kitchen plays a big build-your-own game with customizable salads, skillets, and pizzas (gluten-free crust available). We’re not talking just basic add-ons, either! Mark up your own build-your-own meal ballot with toppings like corned beef and falafel (maybe separate, maybe not?), customize your vegetable and cheese selections (Calabrian chilies or feta, anyone?) and top it all off with an avocado or egg cooked however you like (because duh). When you’re done, wander around the rest of the Downtown Market to grab dessert, sip some coffee (try the new Madcap location!), or stock up on artisanal groceries.

Learn more about Social Kitchen and the Grand Rapids Downtown Market here.


Donkey Taqueria

Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down! | Pictured: Donkey Taqueria

No, this place does not serve donkey (go ahead and exhale), but it does serve delicious, Mexican-inspired, à la carte items that are perfect for sharing or mixing and matching. The menu at Donkey Taqueria includes several tortas and botanas (Spanish for tapas), but it was hard for Brad and I to stray away from the taco menu (they’re just so good!). Try two or three: the Taco Al Pastor (marinated roasted pork shoulder, grilled pineapple, onions, and cilantro) and Taco de Pescado (beer battered fried cod, cabbage slaw, red onion, chipotle-caper mayonesa, and cilantro) were a couple of our favorites.

*Note: chips cost extra at Donkey, but they’re freshly fried and go great with Donkey’s house salsas. If it’s any consolation, Brad typically denounces his loyalty to any Mexican restaurant that doesn’t serve free chips, but Donkey’s tacos won over his heart and have led him to insist on visiting whenever we’re in town.


Marie Catrib’s

Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down! | Pictured: Marie Catrib's

Whether you’re in the mood for a hearty breakfast with farm-fresh ingredients or leaning towards a lighter lunch, Marie Catrib’s has something cooked up for your palate. This Eastown gem is part restaurant, part deli/bakery, and everything is made with precision and attention to detail. Choose from an array of salads, sandwiches (with carnivorous, vegetarian, and vegan options galore), Lebanese-inspired sides (potato salad, taboule, roasted root veggies), or stop by the front counter to pick up a cranberry orange granola bar or loaf of gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread. Whatever your fancy, you’ll find something (more likely, several things) you love, no matter how picky your tastes or dietary restrictions.

The Electric Cheetah

Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down! | Pictured: The Electric Cheetah

Ah, Le Guépard Électrique (or, as most English-speaking humans would say, “Ah, The Electric Cheetah”). What can I say about this tasty, trendy eatery? It’s colorful (both the venue and the food), it’s vibrant (again, both), and it serves up flavor that’ll knock your socks off. The dining room was packed when we visited, so expect a wait during busy meal times, but don’t let that scare you off. The food is fabulous. While Brad hunkered down over an amazing dish of macaroni and cheese (there are several types available), I got the meatloaf (brisket and pork belly with apple BBQ, served over mashed sweet potatoes, with arugula, caramelized fennel, haystack onions, and toast), and I’m drooling now just thinking about it.

You know what else is cool? The Electric Cheetah also has an entire menu of bottled craft root beers, so you can treat yourself to a sweet, fizzy refresher while you wait for your meal. Plus, the service was awesome. I’ve come to expect that friendly wait staff aren’t always guaranteed in popular restaurants, but our server was extremely helpful and sweet as can be.

*I believe that some of The Electric Cheetah’s menu is seasonal, so certain items (like the meatloaf) may only be available during select times of the year. You can view the current menu here.


What did I miss? Send me your suggestions!

Because I’m still getting to know Grand Rapids, I'm aware that there are tons of other restaurant options out there that offer fantastic flavors. Know a few that are worth trying? Add your favorites in the comments below, and I’ll do my best to try them the next time I’m in Grand Rapids! Who knows—your suggestion may even make its way into a future post. ;)

Best Eclectic Grand Rapids Restaurants For Finicky Foodies - Wading in Big Shoes // Looking for unique places to eat in Grand Rapids? Check out these top restaurant picks for out-of-the-ordinary dining that beats typical chain restaurants hands-down!

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