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.
The Elbow Room's cozy neighborhood confines welcome grub-guzzlers and fryer fanatics for spirited rounds of conversation and culinary consumption. Plop into a cushy green booth and sidle up to the menu, bedecked with a bounty of bar favorites that are served till 2 a.m. nightly. Turophiles can take leave from composing their Piave-themed opera and enjoy the dairy deposits of cheese-slathered items such as the chicken quesadilla ($7.25), deluxe chips and cheese ($7.25), chili-cheese-loaded fries ($6.25), or cheese pretzels ($7.25). The Elbow Room's savory wings ($7.25 for nine, $10 for 15) send poultry patrons aflutter, while the bacon cheeseburger ($8.25) impresses meat historians with its monumental merging of previously warring proteins. Vegetarians can opt for a large green salad ($5) or a garden burger ($6.75).
When David and Dianna Darling first dreamed up Spoonlickers, they had no idea how far the idea would take them. What started as a single frozen-dessert shop has since blossomed into a multi-location venture. At each spot, customers will find additive-free flavors of frozen dessert bursting with real-deal ingredients?in fact, nothing served at Spoonlickers comes from a box or can. For instance, the cinnamon-bun yogurt is made with ground-up cinnamon buns, while the mango sorbetto is flavored with?you guessed it?fresh mangos. Customers with dietary restrictions can choose from gluten- and dairy-free options, as well.
When the Benoits moved to Grand Rapids from Haiti in the early '90s, they explored various entrepreneurial ventures before starting their own catering business, which served the sweet and savory creole flavors of their island homeland. As their success began to snowball, they opened The Chez Olga's current location, where bamboo and hardwood finishes make the Caribbean restaurant resemble a jungle castle or the dream treehouse your dad promised to build after Detroit won the 1990 NBA Finals. The eatery's menu unfurls with Haitian specialties that range from 1 to 10 in heat, awakening tasters with its signature plantain sandwich and made-to-order meat, seafood, and vegetarian dishes, served alongside spicy coleslaw for an extra kick to the palate. The Benoits look to share the fruits of their success with their foundation to improve education in Haiti, and their inspirational story has snagged the attention of news outlets such as ABC affiliate WZZM 13.
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.
Over the searing hot coals of a traditional clay oven, skewered cubes of meat and veggies retain a tender interior while the heat imbues each morsel with a smoky crust. Discs of dough, pressed against the tandoori's walls, bubble and rise, baking into the signature, fluffy Indian bread known as naan. At Taste of India, the family of chefs craft flavorful, aromatic dishes in this traditional fashion, from tandoori-baked shrimp and chicken to fresh-pressed cheeses and crispy pakoras. During lunch, diners can savor a wide range of these recipes at the buffet, which always features at least three chicken dishes, three vegetable dishes, and one garnish dreaming of someday being mistaken for an entree.