Sports Center Cafe keeps families full with a massive menu of classic American eats, served up in a sports-centric atmosphere flanked by nine TVs. Sports Center Cafe slings out plates piled high with made-to-order burgers, such as the house specialty, Flying Dutchman ($8.99)––a mythical, meaty mouthful of bacon, barbecue sauce, cheddar, and onion ring, sandwiched between two opera-singing grilled cheese sandwiches. Baskets forgo the usual fillings of chocolate bunnies and changelings in favor of beer- battered fish and chips ($8.95), golden chicken tenders ($7.95), and saucy bone-optional wings ($7.95). Hot pastas can be topped with any of the café's homemade sauces, such as Cajun alfredo ($10.95), creamy pesto ($11.95), or meatless marinara ($7.95).
Voted Best Chef by the readers of Grand Rapids Magazine, Eric Chaitin, executive chef of all three restaurants, oversees an edible empire emphasizing creativity and customer service. Take your taste buds on a dream date to The Grille and ponder its sophisticated menu, which entices eaters with wood-fired pizzas, hearty pastas, and meaty marvels such as a Wagyu New York strip ($18.95). Rush Creek Bistro's menu slays cravings with an eclectic assortment of sandwiches and rib-sticking entrees, while the menu at FireRock Grille includes shrimp ($9.95) and steak ($15.95) that can be cooked on a 500-degree FireRock like those used by Stone Age tailgaters before the first Super Bowl. Each menu changes seasonally, accentuating locally grown, seasonal produce and fresh meats. All three locations feature scenic country-club views, outdoor dining, and bar areas for debating with strangers over which of the Founding Fathers had the nicest singing voice.
Big Island Smoothies refreshes weary swallow sectors with fresh smoothies and energizing frozen coffees. Big Island’s smoothies come courtesy of the taste bud-treating physicians at Dr. Smoothie, whose mouthwatering mixes eschew artificial colors, flavors, and preservatives to create an all-natural beverage that doesn’t double as a Botox injection ($4.39 for regular, $4.69 for large). Vitamin-enhanced blends such as strawberry banana, mango orange, and caramel mocha cool off steaming estuaries, while a 24-ounce Red Bull smoothie braces sippers for late-night study sessions in university boiler rooms ($5.77). The crystallized brew beans in a frozen coffee exhale a cool breeze of spirit-jolting caffeine ($4.39 for regular, $4.69 for large), and quenched patrons can quell tumultuous tummies with fresh-baked Otis Spunkmeyer cookies ($1.89 for three).
Though many Michiganders risk their lives by swimming across the lake for a slice of Chicago-style pizza, Chicago 7 Pizzeria brings the Windy City's beloved deep dish closer to home. After making dough and sauce from scratch, cooks bake each 2-inch-thick pizza for up to 45 minutes?an authentic process that lets layers of crust and cheese cook over the bed of toppings hidden underneath. The pizzeria also specializes in hand-tossed pizzas topped with everything from barbecue chicken to artichoke hearts. Slices of the deep-dish and hand-tossed pies can be gobbled up at lunchtime, as can their burgers, subs, and hot dogs that, in another homage to the city across the lake, can also be served Chicago-style.
Osgood Brewing not only treats its lucky visitors to a spread of housemade beers in a variety of styles but also to hearty feasts of pizza and live music from bluegrass, blues, and folk bands. Guests pair brews such as the crisp, balanced 358 American pale ale or the dark, malty Notley porter with salads made with pickled apple and roasted grapes or pizzas topped with lamb sausage and braised pork shoulder or cilantro and green-olive pesto.