The R-Club cultivates a Cheers-esque atmosphere, in which friends and beloved regulars can kick back, sip a drink, and munch on the menu of comforting and classic American fare. Cooks assemble sandwiches including the philly focaccia all day long, and after 4 p.m., they serve dinners such as crusted Alaskan halibut. Patrons perch at the bar to quaff drinks from draft beers to cocktails or slide into a booth with a few friends beneath bricks emblazoned with names and a string of Christmas lights. The packed schedule of live local bands injects a lively soundtrack into the air, catering to eardrums on Friday and Saturday evenings. In balmy weather, the outdoor patio flavors fare with fresh air as patrons enjoy refreshing breezes and staring contests with the sun.
Since 1984, Champps Americana's kitchen has sizzled with made-from-scratch dishes, satiating sports fans and families with a comfortable atmosphere. Amid sunlit dining rooms, diners seated at wooden tabletops can root for their favorite pixels on flat-screen TVs broadcasting live sports. In the kitchen, chefs prepare pastas with grilled chicken and roasted artichokes, pile buns with barbecued pulled pork and spicy buffalo chicken, and fill soft taco shells with grilled steak. Behind the bar, bartenders whip up specialty cocktails and margaritas and fill goblets with wine and local craft beers on tap.
Unlike jerk-chicken pudding or fried-tuna Twinkies, ice cream makes for a delectable dessert that properly caps off any meal. At Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream and Treatery, patrons can sample a huge menu of ice cream and other treats that are sure to slap a smile on any face and massage taste buds with sugary strokes. Try ice cream in flavor combinations such as Strawberry Skateboard with sprinkles, gummy bears, and marshmallows, or Cotton Candy Ski Jump with M&Ms and mini-marshmallows. Prices range from $3.39 to $6.79 for a cup or cone. Dream cakes ($24.95+), on the other hand, come in appropriately oneiric flavors such as Maggie's Mud and Chocolate Heaven, and are available in 6-inch, 8-inch, and sheet-cake sizes. Health-conscious hedonists can indulge in strawberry-banana, creamy mango, and mocha coffee smoothies (starting at $4.75), whereas ice-cream pizzas ($19.95+) topped with white-chocolate curls will perplex pizza-party attendees before blasting away reservations with deliciousness.
The Udder Creamery showcases exclusively Michigan-made ice cream, appearing in more than 30 flavors to concoct its menu of rich, frozen desserts, which satisfy cravings until 11 p.m. nightly. Top a cake or sugar cone with one, two, or three scoops ($2+) of Waikiki Sunset, a beachy combination of orange and pineapple ice cream swirled with strawberry, or make a Banana Royal sundae out of sliced fruit, one topping, two orbs of ice cream, and divine right ($5.75). Diverse ingredients, such as Gold Rush's chocolate-covered potato chips and Anniversary Cake's colorful frosting, playfully stroll through the brain-freeze fodder and can also be liquefied into a shake or malt ($4.50+) for increased sippability and esophageal merrymaking. In addition to supplying Michigan-cultivated scoopables, The Udder Creamery uses eco-friendly homegrown products, such as plastic cups crafted from corn, whenever possible, and it offers delivery on orders of $10 or more (requires a $2.50 additional fee).
The grill masters at Airport Tavern and Steakhouse flame-kiss sizzling steaks and burgers, which pair well with craft beers in a laid-back pub setting. Diners can shake the rust off seldom-used jaw muscles with juicy cuts of tender filet mignon wrapped in bacon ($15.95) or 16-ounce porterhouses covered in grill marks ($15.95). Buns hug third-pound beef patties that travel mouthward in a variety of forms, from mushroom and swiss ($6.50) to olive burgers ($6.25). Mixing in cuisine from other cultures, the expert chef tops Greek-style pasta and meatballs with parmesan cheese, dollops of butter, and a sweet dusting of cinnamon ($9.95). Patrons can rinse palates or salad forks between flavorful bites with craft beers including Crooked Tree I.P.A. and Shock Top.
Ponderosa Steakhouse & Buffet is a 25-year-old design with family-friendly incarnations nationwide. The Lansing locale dares patrons to scale a heaping all-you-can-eat buffet, where verdant mountains of crisp lettuce and fresh toppings inspire salads, and zesty chicken wings offer to awaken taste buds that fell asleep while eating cedar mulch. Second, third, and ninth trips yield juicy baked chicken with vegetables, multiple styles of cooked potato, and the gooey seduction of bubbling pizza by the slice. Weekends unleash steaming meats from red-hot grills and invite diners to sample unlimited fistfuls of sirloin steak, shrimp, and barbecue ribs.