Grand Rapids, Michigan. Ever heard of it? Situated on the west side of the lower peninsula of the mitten state, it’s a big city known for a random assortment of things. The most notable things GR is known for? Art, furniture, vacuums, beer, and food!
GRap, as locals call it, has experienced a hipster uprising in the past 10 years or so thanks to a world-famous art competition called Artprize, craft beer (home of Founders Brewing Co.), and a surge in the opening of new restaurants. The city has become a haven for foodies everywhere. It’s especially become a hub for vegan food, which is great for vegans like myself who are native to the area.
Many restaurants have opened up in the past few years that are either fully vegan or have several vegan options. A website called Vegan Grand Rapids lists all the restaurants in the area with vegan options, and it’s what I use to find plant-based grub in the area. If you don't want to go through the trouble of looking through the website, here's a list of 10 of the best vegan restaurants in Grand Rapids.
Marie Catrib's is hands down my favorite restaurant of all time. Typically, there's a 10 to 15-minute wait to eat there, so arrive with time to spare. They have many vegan and non-vegan options, so it's a good restaurant for everyone. I recommend the "We Got The Beet" burger, the "Larry David" lentil burger, and the "Three Salad Sampler" (spicy peanut noodles, curried rice, and beet/ carrot medley are my go-to's). Save some room for dessert too because their vegan cupcakes are wonderful.
Brick Road is another great restaurant option for vegans and non-vegans alike. They have some bomb vegan pizzas made with Daiya "cheese." I recommend their seven-inch pizzas, especially "The Tempest" and the loaded potato pizza. Their vegan pulled pork sandwich is also pretty great.
3. Cherry Deli
Cherry Deli has sandwiches for every appetite and diet imaginable. It is a great lunch spot, as the food comes quickly and every meal is under $10. My favorite vegan sandwiches are the "Robinson,", the "Norwood," and the "Virginia."
4. Maru Sushi
Maru Sushi has some of the best sushi ever. My favorite vegan options there are the "boogie veggie" roll and the sweet potato tempura roll. This is another restaurant that's often busy, so you might want to make a reservation before you go. They have restaurants in both Grand Rapids and East Lansing.
5. Erb Thai
Erb Thai is a cheap but authentic option for Thai food and is my favorite Thai restaurant in the area. They have options for everyone, from meat lovers to the strictest vegans. My family and I love to get takeout from here. My mom and I especially love their veggie curry and peanut curry.
This Mexican restaurant is located in the Downtown Market. Their vegan options include a tempeh taco and a nopales (cactus meat) taco. You can get quesadillas, tamales, tacos, burritos, and salads here. Most of their ingredients are sourced locally, and the food is offered at a fair price. I'd recommend a day trip to the Downtown market; you can shop around, grab tacos for lunch, and savor Love's ice cream for dessert.
I've fallen in love with Love's due to their luxurious vegan gelato. Yes, ice cream isn't a "meal" per se, but Love's is on this list because their ice cream is something you need to experience if you're a vegan in GR.
Everything is made in-house, and flavors rotate from classics ones like chocolate peanut butter to inventive ones like cardamom orange blossom. Other vegan ice cream options in the area include Furniture City Creamery, Jersey Junction, and Pinkie's.
Osta's is my favorite local Mediterranean restaurant. Their falafel wraps are the bomb diggity, and their specialty salad is so zesty, lemony, and addicting. Plus, the owners are great. One of their daughters took over the veggie club I started at my high school (and is killing it!).
Sip is very expensive, but sometimes it's worth it to splurge on good, healthy food. They specialize in fresh juices and smoothies made in-house, wheatgrass "shots," and salads. I recommend the "Over the Rainbow" smoothie, "Don't Stop Believin'" smoothie, and the "Rich & Creamy" açaí bowl. They have two locations, one in Eastown and one in Forest Hills. It's the perfect post-workout spot!
Gojo has authentic Ethiopian food that you scoop up with flatbread called injerra (instead of silverware). It's a fun, different dining experience. You order a platter and share it with others, so make sure to go when everyone is healthy, as you'll be sharing food. Get the vegetarian combo and enjoy a lentil stew (called watt), fava bean watt, spiced collard greens (called Gomen), and more.
Take a day trip to Grand Rapids and check out some of these restaurants, as well as the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the Gerald R. Ford Museum, and more. It's a cool city with even cooler food.