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ISO Good Chow, East Lansing, MI

  • b

As parents of a freshman at MSU, we enjoy taking our daughter out to eat when we visit. However, our couple of meals at near campus dining spots have been mediocre at best.

Looking for suggestions for good chow, reasonable prices within a short drive of the campus. Had a suggestion for Harrison Road House--any thoughts on this?


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  1. If you like dim sum and Cantonese food, Golden Wok on Grand River going toward Okemos is pretty good. Our one and only Malaysian restaurant, Ria, is across from it.

    1. Congratulations on your daughter's excellent selection of her college. Go Green! Last summer, we had an excellent dinner at Dusty's Cellar in Okemos. Beyond our expectations, really. We've had good dinners at the Knight Cap on G. River in Lansing. El Azteco on Abbott has been slammed on this board, but for quick and dirty Mexican, it's pretty good, tho probably not the dining out "treat" that parents might like to provide.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sudiepav

        The Knight Cap is on Michigan Ave. (not Grand River) in downtown Lansing 3 or 4 blocks east of the Capitol.

        In downtown Lansing, you might also consider Troppo on the southeast corner of Michigan and Washington, Majority in the new Boji Tower across Allegan from the Capitol, or Mediteran on south Washington, just north of Kalamazoo (the menu has a section of Bosnian dishes, which I'm told by a native of Bosnia are good).

      2. Harrison Road House is hardly a destination spot but friends and I enjoy the place before a basketball game for beers and burgers. My family and I like El Azteco (I recommend the huevos rancheros, and sometimes but not always the menudo is good). Finally, I recall a post a long time back that there is a Hawaiian joint in town - supposed to be good.

        5 Replies
        1. re: G-Mo

          Where is El Azteco--thanks!

          1. re: berkleybabe

            It's on Abbott in EL...I'm sure your daughter knows where it is.

            1. re: sudiepav

              El Azteco is on Albert, not Abbott, between Grove and MAC, 1 block north of Grand River, which is the main drag and dividing line between downtown East Lansing and the MSU campus.

              El Azteco is not particularly good (to put it mildly). It's sort of bastardized Tex-Mex. Friends who used to work there have told me that the owner got all of his recipes from one cookbook (although this might not be the case any longer as the menu has grown some over the years). They also told me that the base ingredient in the chile verde sauce is cream of mushroom soup!

          2. re: G-Mo

            that was me who talked about the hawaiian place a while back. it's called L & L Hawaiian BBQ on 4790 S. Hagadorn right across the street from campus. I haven't been there for since about september so i'm not sure if it's still there or not. It was pretty good.

            1. re: discotea30

              It's gone... for about a year now unfortunately...

          3. There is a very good family-owned Italian restaurant on Grand River, between Okemos and Williamston, called Spagnuolo's. My boyfriend was a pizza chef there during college and they were very yummy. They also have the usual complement of Italian entrees. On weekends they are packed, so be prepared.

            There also used to be a restaurant in Williamston, called Red Cedar Grill, I believe. I haven't been there in years, but if it still exists, I highly recommend it.

            Finally, Beggar's Banquet on Abbott, 1/2 block from campus is wonderful. On Wednesday, all bottles of wine are half off. And, on Sunday they have a great brunch, and 1/2 off glasses of wine.

            I hope your daughter enjoys her time at MSU. I loved that place.

            Link: http://www.beggarsbanquet.com/main.html

            5 Replies
            1. re: Stephanie

              Cool! I grew up in Lansing near MSU and moved away in 1979. I remember the Beggar's Banquet from those days. Nice to see something other than Mickey D's and Taco Bell has survived from over the years.

              1. re: Matt

                Beggar's (I haven't been in years) got some national press in 1992 when one of the presidential debates (Clinton, Bush I, Perot) was held on the MSU campus. As I recall, Clinton people went to Beggar's afterwards and it was written up in the Times.

                They used to have a wonderful ragout of duck with pears on the menu.

                1. re: Timowitz

                  Beggar's is East Lansing's fairly poor attempt to be like Ann Arbor.

                  1. re: G-Mo

                    Beggar's existed when Ann Arbor was still a dry town, junior.

              2. re: Stephanie

                A number of years ago I was on business frequently in East Lansing and Beggar's Banquet was always my choice for lunch or dinner. Took darling daughter there for lunch a month or two ago and the meal was totally mediocre. Don't know if it's changed hands--still a cool atmosphere, funky and comfortable, but the food was a total let down. Really disappointing.

              3. By far the best restaurant in East Lansing is All Seasons Bistro. The menu is seasonal and the chef is a wizard with sauces. They just recently opened for lunch which I haven't yet tried. Location, Lake Lansing Road near I127 (near the Lake Lansing Road Meijer store). It's in a strip mall so it's a little hard to find, but well worth the effort.

                Link: http://cityguide.lansingstatejournal....

                1. My husband and I tried Dusty's Cellar (the Wine Bar, not the Tap Room) in Okemos last night. The food was not good at all. What they were calling risotto was a gooey lump of rice that tasted like it came out of a box (except not as good). The lamb shank and chicken cutlet were both mediocre and their respective sauces were flavorless.

                  To their credit, the wine list was better than average, and they sold Mawby sparkling by the glass (the highlight of our meal). I won't go back to Dusty's Wine Bar.

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: J Jackson

                    Anyone who thinks that drinking a Michigan Sparkling Wine is the highlight of an evening, has not eaten out much!

                  2. Though it's pricey, I like Villegas. Dusty's cellar is hit or miss, but can be good. If I want something affordable, I do Charlie Kang's for Chinese, Sultan's for Turkish/Middle Eastern, or Jimmy John's (I know lots of you will object to subshop's inclusion as "restaurant", but I've lived in a Jimmy Johns-less universe (NYC) for seven years now, and I miss it!)

                    1. I've only been to El Az twice since I was a student, and only one of those was in the last 20 years.

                      I won't go again. I will charitably just call it very bad. No food being served at lunch that day. Inedible.

                      Hope your daughter enjoys MSU half as much as I did (at least half, I mean).

                      1. Beggar's Banquet was the best place in town many years ago. It has had its ups and downs since then, and is not really the same place that people may remember from long ago.

                        If you enjoy seafood, Mitchell's Fish Market is truly excellent - not exactly inexpensive, but a decent enough value if you enjoy a nice seafood dinner:

                        Mitchell's Fish Market
                        The Eastwood Towne Center
                        2975 Preyde Blvd.
                        Lansing MI 48912

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: nsxtasy

                          Just had dinner again at All Seasons Bistro. They served a pear and parsnip soup with candied walnuts that was bowl licking good. The sea bass was perfect and the mint vinaigrette sauce on the lamb was perfect.


                          I have found the lunch menu to be inconsistent.

                        2. I would ditto most of these for fancy family dinners, esp. All Seasons Bistro. My specialty, though, is really tasty local food, irrespective of atmosphere. Emil’s is a Lansing classic, with fresh delicious traditional Italian food. On Michigan Ave. in Lansing, heading towards the capitol. Cadillac Club is extremely hokey but actually pretty fun with good food and a very large space. The owner spent millions to make it look like his dream, and it includes full size replicas of celebrities and cars inside – it looks like Vegas and they usually have entertainment too. The food is high quality regional cuisine, though, no pub grub. On South Washington in downtown Lansing just south of 496. If your kid likes sushi (surprisingly abundant in this area) skip the drab Ukai and go to my favorite sushi restaurant in town, Akagi. It’s in Okemos in the strip mall in front of the Wal-Mart. It has absolutely the freshest fish in town, hands down, and is incredibly affordable, in part because it skips most of the pretentious faux-tatami styling of other sushi joints. I tried all sushi in this area and eventually ended up going here exclusively.

                          Everyone else is right, El Az is no good, I wouldn’t go there either except for drinks.