Warm, red and white tortilla chips spill forth from a basket. Slow-cooked black beans are simmered with poblano peppers and blended with spice. Aged colby cheese melts together with tender shredded pork inside a hand-rolled enchilada. Traditional ingredients, house-made with care, fill the inventive dishes at El Barrio Mexican Grill. House-made salsas, sauces, and cheese blends accompany most of the grill’s hearty fare, with deep-fried Tijuana corn dogs diving into dishes of creamy melted queso blanco and avocado-ranch dressing winding around wedges of grilled avocado inside soft flour tortillas. The specialty shredded-pork carnitas fly to tables in salt-rimmed skillets that hearken back to the full bar’s margaritas, adding to the festive, cantina-like atmosphere and spurring discussions about which ocean tastes the saltiest.
At Brandywine's casual eateries, an appealing explosion of framed photos and artwork greets guests as they sit down to their morning breakfast or unwind over a leisurely dinner. Chefs warm up the kitchen in the a.m. by cracking dozens of eggs into veggie-stuffed omelets, eggs benedict, and hearty breakfast burritos stuffed with black beans, fresh cheese, and chorizo. During lunch, patrons can pop in for sandwiches and wraps, including a corned-beef reuben or the Northender wrap?a collection of deli-sliced beef with grilled mushrooms, horseradish mayo, and peppers. For dinner, Brandywine's chefs show off their multicultural influence in dishes that blend Caribbean, Asian, or Greek flavors, including the chili-rubbed Norwegian salmon or fettuccine tossed with saut?ed capers, artichokes, and black olives.
Named one of 60 Restaurants Worth the Trip by Midwest Living magazine, GoJo Ethiopian Cuisine introduces guests to the traditional, community-focused dining style of Ethiopia. Using injera, a soft sourdough flatbread, diners scoop up bites of robustly flavored stew, or watt, from a bed of the same flatbread. Tibs watt, a dish made of sautéed tender beef and spices, and doro watt, a spiced chicken stew, satisfy carnivores, and lentils, collard greens, and green beans take the lead in the vegetarian dishes. The lamb sampler, GoJo's No. 1 seller, consists of well-spiced lamb and smaller sides of spiced beans and other vegetarian dishes.
According to the Grand Rapids Press writer John Berba, Jamaican Daves subjects takeout customers to a unique form of torture: making them wait until they get home to enjoy the delectable Jamaican cuisine they've purchased. Berba himself couldn't wait that long; he pulled over into a parking lot after picking up his order, parking to devour chicken curry that he described as "the best $6.50 I've spent on food in recent memory." Other specialties include fried, pickled escoveitch fish and fall-off-the-bone curried goat, which can be taken home or savored at the restaurant's booths. Potted plants, natural wood, and a Jamaican flag contribute to a quaint, homey ambiance.
General Manager Yace Hang and the chefs at Rak Thai Bistro prepare authentic Thai fare for lunch and dinner, enlivening palates with five levels of spice scaled from mild to Bankai hot. Fresh veggies, fruits, and succulent sauces populate the eatery’s fusion dishes, which exhibit an unrelenting willingness to shake hands with neighboring plates and a penchant for juggling the tapioca balls at the bottom of delectable bubble teas. Rak Thai's clean, modern dining room streamlines dining aesthetics with burnished wooden tables and minimalist accents, vibrant lime-green walls, and a potted bamboo sentry to prevent noodles escapes.
At Pleasant Nails Spa, a BYOB establishment, guests sink into new pedicure chairs while they sip on wine and chat with friends. Amid neon-green walls, techs transform nails with traditional manicures and pedicures, or use their fingers as makeshift miniature canvasses for flower-inspired nail-art designs. Hands and feet luxuriate in pampering add-ons, such as hot-towel treatments, sea-salt scrubs, and paraffin dips that leave hands softer than a boxing match fought wearing gloves made of cotton candy.