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Grand Rapids finest
2016 Restaurant of the Year,
Best New Restaurant and Grand Rapids’ Top 10,
plus two lakeshore honorable mentions.

By Ira Craaven and GRM Staff
Photography by Michael Buck and Johnny Quirin

As Grand Rapids continues to grow and evolve, it’s becoming more and more difficult to pick out just a few exceptional eateries. But, we spent the last year tasting, sipping and sampling restaurants throughout the city to select the best of the best.

Every winner is unique, but we couldn’t help but notice the sustained emphasis on boosting local farms and suppliers from so many of our winners. It’s encouraging to see small, locally owned businesses continuing to help each other grow.

As always, Grand Rapids Magazine staff and dining panel members only consider locally owned establishments for the rankings, but this year, we decided to change things up a bit. Of course, we still picked at plenty of plates of food and debated foodie opinions to determine the Restaurant of the Year and the Best New Restaurant, but we dropped ethnic categories, given the surge of fusion cooking, so we could give you a fair, inclusive roundup of the city’s Top 10. Plus, we decided to recognize two outstanding lakeshore eateries.

 

Restaurant of the Year, Reserve

Restaurant of the Year
Reserve
201 Monroe Ave. NW | (616) 855-9463 | reservegr.com

Reserve got its start in September 2010, embracing local farms and artisanal products, building its menu around classic dishes made from the best ingredients at their season’s peak. The restaurant might be known for its charcuterie and cheeses, but it has so much more to offer — from fresh seafood and meats to more than 100 wines available by the glass. Reserve also offers some interesting features for private events, like the Vault, the Champagne Room & Lounge and the Loft.

Top 10 Restaurant
Luna Taqueria and Cocina
64 Ionia Ave. SW | (616) 288-6340 | lunagr.com

Luna hasn’t been around long, having opened in fall 2015, but it already has made quite an impact. With a focus on becoming a part of the community, the eatery’s ever-changing menu offers something for just about everyone. Of particular note: the richly, kitchen-marinated meats used in each offering.

Top 10 Restaurant
Terra
1429 Lake Drive SE | (616) 301-0998 | terragr.com

Offering a seasonal menu of handcrafted, sustainably sourced foods, Terra’s menu — and mission — embrace four main values: artisan, authentic, seasonal and healthful. The Eastown eatery features everything from brunch options that will satisfy a sweet tooth to fresh, savory pastas and entrées, and just about everything in between. Even the cocktails are richly crafted.

Top 10 Restaurant
San Chez Bistro
38 W. Fulton St. | (616) 774-8272 | sanchezbistro.com

San Chez Bistro, which has been making its mark in Grand Rapids for more than two decades, features a mixture of European and Mediterranean cuisine, offering tapas, entrées, soups and salads for lunch or dinner (with seating until 11 p.m. on weekends), house-made pastries and locally sourced ingredients for unique breakfasts seven days a week, plus happy hour Monday through Friday.

Top 10 Restaurant
Wei Wei Palace
4242 S. Division Ave. | (616) 724-1818 | weiweipalace.com

Wei Wei Palace serves authentic Chinese dishes, as well as Cantonese cuisine, dim sum and barbecue. The Kentwood-based, family-owned and -operated eatery aims to please with its balanced, inclusive menu. Owner and chef Hua Zhang apprenticed alongside master chefs in China before emigrating to America, where he worked in restaurants across the country before opening Wei Wei Palace nearly two decades ago.

Top 10 Restaurant
Palace of India
138 E. Fulton St. | (616) 913-9000 | palaceofindiarestaurant.com

With the intention of presenting the same culinary delights that were relished in the palaces of the maharajas to the people of Grand Rapids, Palace of India incorporates tastes of many diverse regions throughout India, using a Tandoor (traditional clay oven) and Kadhai (Indian wok) to prepare its dishes. The full bar has interesting surprises.

Top 10 Restaurant, Osteria Rossa

Top 10 Restaurant
Osteria Rossa
16 Monroe Center St. NE | (616) 988-9350 | osteriarossa.com

Touting a menu that embraces “warmth of the Mitten and the soul of the Boot,” owner and executive chef Chris Perkey aims to bring people together at Osteria Rossa. The restaurant serves as a casual eatery offering small plates, wood-fired pizza, homemade pasta, seasonal dishes and local beer and wine. Perkey, who also owns 2016’s Best New Restaurant, Iron, brings more than 20 years of experience to the table.

Top 10 Restaurant
Leo’s
60 Ottawa Ave. NW | (616) 454-6700 |
leosrestaurant.com
A Grand Rapids staple, Leo’s offers a wide variety of fresh seafood in an elegant, romantic atmosphere.

Top 10 Restaurant
Shiraz Grille
2739 Breton Road SE | (616) 949-7447 | shirazgrille.com

Shiraz Grille, a family-owned and -operated restaurant, offers an authentic Persian experience, combining “familiar with exotic.” Owner and head chef Ali Ghebleh hopes to introduce more and more people to Persian cuisine, offering an array of options, including beef and chicken fire-grilled kabobs, lamb and salmon, as well as vegetarian options and savory gourmet stews.

Top 10 Restaurant
Grove
919 Cherry St. SE | (616) 454-1000 | groverestaurant.com

Grove, a longtime fan favorite, features an evolving menu of locally, sustainably sourced farm-to-table fare. The Essence Restaurant Group eatery named Jeremy Paquin as its head chef in July 2016. Paquin first started his venture with ERG at Bistro Bella Vita in 2015.

 

Honorable Mentions: The Lakeshore, Bowdies Chophouse

Top 10 Restaurant
Amore Trattoria Italiana
5080 Alpine Ave. NW | (616) 785-5344 | amoretrattoriaitaliana.com

Maurizio Arcidiacono, a native Italian, and his wife, Jenna, want to give their patrons a meal they’ll never forget. Chef Jenna Arcidiacono, who studied in Italy and learned recipes from her mother-in-law, lives and breathes food and loves to bring her sociable personality into her work.

Honorable Mention: The Lakeshore
Bowdies Chophouse
230 Culver St., Saugatuck | (269) 455-5481 | facebook.com/bowdieschophouse

Bowdies Chophouse prides itself on its USDA Prime aged beef (including bone-in filet mignon) but also features a selection of seafood and vegetable options to accommodate everyone’s taste.

Honorable Mention: The Lakeshore
Alpen Rose Restaurant
4 E. Eighth St., Holland | (616) 393-2111 | alpenroserestaurant.com

Chef Helmut Klett has worked for and owned restaurants throughout Europe and the United States — from the shores of Lake Constance in Austria to Orlando, Florida — before bringing his talents to Alpen Rose nearly a decade ago.

Klett designs his menus to reflect specialties from every country that touches the Alps, pulling from his mother’s secrets for Austrian sauces and pasties, as well as his training under an Italian chef who instilled in him a love of handmade pasta, olive oil and Mediterranean herbs and spices. GR

 
   
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