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.
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.
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).
Cherie Inn has treated Grand Rapids residents to European-style breakfasts and lunches since 1924, and it shows. The century-old building's original tin ceilings glint above a dining room filled with Stickley furniture, vintage artwork, and mugs of Kona-blend coffee. In the kitchen, chefs greet the day by crafting crab-cake benedicts, cranberry-walnut french toast, or the three pancakes, two eggs, and array of breakfast meats that make up the Lumberperson breakfast, which is served only to customers who can prove their grandmother was deciduous. At lunchtime, Mediterranean-style tuna salad and french-dip sandwiches play a savory prelude for chocolate-chip biscotti, house-made lemon bars, and other light desserts. The menu also caters to vegans and vegetarians with dishes such as vegan sweet-potato hash and a hearty veggie sandwich with herb cream cheese.
At age 5, Doctor of Chiropractic Jacob Canfield experienced his first migraine. For the next 15 years, he endured episodes two to three times a week. Then, in college, he took a trip to a chiropractor. After that initial adjustment, relief finally came. He had dreamed of becoming a neurosurgeon, but his healing chiropractic experience was so profound that he changed his career path and enrolled in chiropractic college. His partner, Doctor of Chiropractic Shana Canfield, also found relief from longstanding pain and illness thanks to chiropractic care. The two now spend their days taking on cases from headaches to chronic back pain to carpal tunnel syndrome.
Urban Pizza's chefs slather dough with sauce, cheese, and toppings, but stop short of the oven. From here, customers take over, inserting the uncooked pies into a home oven or Mount Doom. Urban Pizza prides itself on the freshness of its take-and-bake pies, slathering each one in a traditional Italian sauce or a white sauce infused with garlic and ranch. Upon this foundation, they layer meats, veggies, and cheeses. They tread on gourmet territory with add-ons including artichoke hearts and spinach and appeal to lighter tastes with freshly tossed salads. The majority of desserts combine nuggets of candy and swirls of ice cream. Among more decadent options, Urban Pizza's chocolate-covered cheesecake wears a dense, dark coat of molten chocolate.