The team at Hog Island Subs stuffs myriad meats and cheeses between fresh bread, creating classics such as BLTs and inventive food that includes a steak sub topped with hot sauce, jalapeños, and banana peppers. Their generous helpings of pork products—especially when thrown into the middle of the ocean—help Hog Island earn its name. Chefs put together subs such as the five-meat italian or the Three Little Pigs, a triad of pulled pork, imported ham, and smoky bacon topped with sun-dried tomatoes. They also bake flatbread pizzas in variations such as the Hog Island Flat, which is topped with cheese, bacon, ham, and pepperoni.
Next to the Fleetwood Bar & Grill is a portal to another world. Here, cold mountains of soft serve swirl toward the heavens and scoops of hand-dipped ice cream bathe in rivers of hot fudge and caramel. Known as the Fleetwood Ice Cream Parlor, this exotic land brims with custom frozen treats, which visitors build from more than a dozen toppings such as pecans, sprinkles, and cookie dough. A list of 24 specialty flavors whisks taste buds to tropical destinations with choices such as banana and coconut. In addition to sating sweet teeth with icy sweetness, low-fat frozen yogurt rattle spines with gleeful shivers, like a birthday gift from Dracula.:m]]
Our Town Deli, directed by deli master and Grand Rapids local Jesse Foerch, showcases a symphony of sandwiches ideal for lunchers looking to eat with their hands and not their mini gardening tools. Sammy suitors line up to sink their teeth into fresh, made-to-order subs, served under heaps of toppings including cucumbers, chipotle sauce, and pepper jack cheese. Introduce protein-passionate taste receptors to Our Town's cold italian sub ($4.29/6-inch; $7.29/12-inch), stuffed with ham, salami, cappacola, pepperoni, and provolone, or opt for the hot pastrami ($4.49/6-inch; /$7.99/12-inch), sliced thin and placed between your choice of fresh-baked breads. While Our Town aims to use local ingredients in all of its subs, only the local specialties are named after local landmarks, such as the Calder club, a conglomeration of ham, turkey, bacon, swiss, and ranch ($4.89), and the Michigan Left ($4.89), which, on opposite day, shouldn't be eaten whilst driving. The deli rounds out repasts with a selection of crisp salads and sides.
Smashburger isn't just the name—it's the way chefs, otherwise known as Burger Smashers, cook every burger. First, they form never-frozen, 100% Angus beef into a giant meatball. Then they season it, place it on a butter-glazed grill, and smash it into a patty. The process caramelizes the beef, locking in flavor while keeping the meat juicy and tender. Each slab is then sandwiched in an artisan bun and is turned into one of an array of standard burgers or locally inspired specialties unique to each market. This handcrafting approach typifies everything else the restaurant does, from blending handspun Häagen-Dazs shakes to hand painting Smashburger's logo onto every beverage cup. Letting its food stand for itself and relying mostly on word of mouth for advertising, the Smashburger franchise expanded to 160 restaurants in five years, with its swift growth from zero to 100 stores making it one of the nation's fastest-growing restaurant companies. This rapid development even caught the attention of Forbes and Inc. along the way.
Since its founding in 1967, Village Inn Pizza Parlor has changed quite a bit. Today, the servers dress in trendy black slacks instead of old-fashioned skirts, aprons, or the barrels made fashionable by the Depression. The honky-tonk piano players have been replaced with top DJs and live rock bands. Massive flat-screen televisions beam down on the newly renovated dining room, broadcasting games in HD clarity. Even the beer selection has been expanded to include a sweeping array of craft drafts from brewers such as Founders and Bell's.
But there are a few things that have remained the same over the years—friends still gather over pints of frosty draft beers to watch the game, and chefs still whip up crispy thin-crust pizzas topped with pure mozzarella cheese, housemade sauce, and fresh ingredients. They’ve added a variety of new items to the menu as well, including specialty pizzas with gluten-free crusts, grilled chicken paninis on artisan ciabatta bread, and Mexican-inspired specialties such as tender steak fajitas and cheesy enchiladas.
The cylindrical cooks of All American Chili Dogs craft their menu of tubular fare with all-beef hot dogs, free-flowing chili, and mounds of free, plentiful toppings. Upon entering the ketchup-red and mustard-yellow-colored eatery, guests have free reign to decorate any dogs; try the bacon chili dog or the All American dog, which can be served plain, with chili, as a corn dog, or with a deep-fried copy of the Constitution. A pantheon of free toppings await placement on the bready seat of destiny, including pickles, sweet relish, and jalapeños. Regular-sized sides rush in to lend a savory hand, such as the deluxe nachos and bacon cheddar ranch fries. Instead of dumping a vat of glitter on your plate, give the meal some more color with a regular soft drink or a large malted milk shake.