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HELP! Just moved to Kalamazoo. Need Chowish Food.

Can anyone give me a chowhound tour of the best places to eat in and around K-zoo?

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  1. The Union and the epic bistro on the mall in downtown Kalamazoo are both very good. For good beer and good food definitely check out bells brewery. I like Old Peninsula for bar food, they also brew their own beer and root beer. There's also Food Dance, which is a little more casual but organic (i think) and yummy. I hope this helps you!

    1 Reply
    1. re: schofiek

      I stopped at bells about a year ago and had an awesome burger. It put me on a burger at breweries kick for a few months. The others didn't top bells. they served it with lame potato chips from a bag though.

    2. I 2nd the restaurants already suggested. And if you like pot roast Old Peninsula has the best I've ever had. If you like tapas there is a great place downtown called Fandango. Great pizza downtown at Martini's. For the best weekend brunch I recommend Bravo's on Portage Rd right off of 94 exit. Really good authentic mexican at El Jimador on Centre Ave in Portage. Or you can't not try Taco Bob's for the taste like mom's tacos.
      For a really good steak travel a little west on I-94 to Paw Paw and try Bistro 120 and have the Paw Paw Steak..worth the price in portion and taste!

      1. Welcome to Kalamazoo! The food is "eh" here, IMHO. The Union, Epic Bistro, Fandango and Bravo's are all good and pricey. To that list I would add Zazio's (Italian) in the Radisson, great food, demonstration kitchen just for foodies like you, excellent wine selection, very expensive.

        Not a restaurant, but Tiffany's is an excellent wine shop with the area's best selection of wines and beers, along with a little gourmet grocery shopping. In the same strip mall is Saffron, fairly good Indian food (Punjabi). There is finally a sushi restaurant in town, Sushi-Ya. the food won't blow you away but the decor is very nice. Across the street from it is Shakespeare's, a big college bar with good drink specials, good pizza, and a portion of their menu dedicated to vegan options. Don't miss Pilsen near campus, an extremely cozy little bar which feels like a ski lodge and serves Belgian beer on tap.

        Ditto Olde Peninsula. I eat there all the time.

        And on the list of places to avoid: Kraftbrau (the beer is HORRID I do not understand how they can stay in business) and Burdick's (terrible food, often served cold.) Shwarma King is not an acceptable substitute for decent middle eastern food, don't bother.

        1. For more casual dining but very good food, I enjoy Martini's, Oakwood Bisto, Cosmo's (and O'Duffey's Pub), and Food Dance Cafe. A few places that are a little fancier but with good food are The Union, the Epic Bistro and Zazio's. During the summer, try to make it to the West Lake Drive In for a great burger (only open from May to Mid August). R. Stanley's is newer and I have had a couple of great meals there.

          1. Martini's is my absolute favorite right now. They just added a very cool sit-down area - until recently it was a take-out place. The menu is somewhat limited, but food is consistently wonderful. I don't eat meat, but sometimes wish I still did so I could enjoy the pork and chicken sandwiches which everyone says are great. I love the veggie saute and veggie sandwich, house salad and pizza - ($2 for a slice). Pastas are also nice, and they have some really nice wines by the glass, and a variety of unusual beer. Great casual atmosphere. I also really like Cosmo's and the pub on the first floor (O'Duffey's) with it's beautiful bar. Menu is eclectic with vegetarian options. Brunch here is the best in town. In the same area is Crow's Nest - great breakfasts and very vegetarian friendly. No alcohol. I really like this place, but I have to add that it isn't consistent - some meals have been fantastic and others not up to par. Although they're serving dinner now I think of it as more of a lunch place. I just recently went to R. Stanley's for the first time and totally enjoyed my meal. They specialize in southern cuisine - I had fried catfish, cheese grits and fried green tomatoes and loved my meal. Others in my group ordered crayfish, and that day they had soft shell crab sandwiches as a special. Large menu. I want to go back and try more! Another new place is Sushiya, 242 E Kalamazoo Ave downtown (door and parking in back). We were pleased with our sushi, and on weekdays only they serve box lunches which looked good on the menu. Atmosphere in here made me feel like I was somewhere other that Kalamazoo, which isn't a bad way to feel in February. I've eaten at Fandango several times and have concluded that it isn't all that great. There's a really good Tapa's place in downtown Grand Rapids that totally outshines Fandango, and I love Cafe Iberico in Chicago, so I guess I'm spoiled. I've only eaten in Epic Bistro once. It was good and pricy. Black Swan is another like that. I think they're owned by the same person, maybe The Union is as well. I know he owns four or five around town. For Indian food I like Saffron on West Main in the same area as Tiffany's. Chinese in Kzo is all bad right now. For Mexican there are MiRanchito's scattered around town, once owned by various members of the same Mexican family, and still are as far as I know, so they're all a little bit different. I like the one in Otsego best. In fact, I like it very much. And definitely go to Bell's - great music sometimes, too. In the summer sit out back! Unlike the other poster, I also enjoy Kraftbrau.
            Hope you find something you like, and stay out of the chains!!!

            1. I like Arie's London Grill in downtown Kzoo. Some Singaporean-style dishes which means they may take influence from any of the non-British ethnic groups in SG which are Malay, Indian, and Chinese. CilD, I think I know that tapas place you're talking about in GR and it is indeed really good.

              1 Reply
              1. re: tdot

                The tapas place in Grand Rapids is San Chez: www.sanchezbistro.com

              2. When I go to Kzoo once a week on business I try to hit a few places. I think Food Dance has wonderful food, pricey? I know the do use lots of local stuff and that ususally cost more, but worth it, and the use bread from Zinngerman's in Ann Arbor, Umm! I do like Cosmos and always get my coffee at Water Street.

                1. There's a really good Malaysian/Indonesian place at 1921 W. Main St. called Rasa Ria. It's worthwhile to to try this place even if you're just visiting Kzoo, as restaurants serving food from this part of the world are very hard to come by anywhere in America.

                  1. There is a great gourment deli downtown in the city center (behing the Union) called Irving's Market. They carry a lot of unique deli and grocery items and will special order anything you need. They also have a decent selection of wine. I have also used them for custom catering and gift baskets. Staff is really friendly and helpful. www.irvingsmarket.com

                    1. The Food Dance Cafe is by far the best in town. I drive there from Detroit regularly, just for their breakfast.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rusty77

                        Eh, I tend to think that Food Dance is resting on their laurels a bit. It irks me to pay $9+ for breakfast and have it served cold and undercooked, which has happened to me there enough times that I'm done with them. It's sad because they really did kick off on the right foot when they opened, and kept it great for several years running. They need to get their passion back and start kicking foodie arse again rather than relying on their reputation.

                        Thanks to the poster that gave a shout out to Rasa Ria! i love them!

                        What are people's feelings on Bangkok Flavor? I love them right now, but don't have a broad base of experience with other Thai restaurants to compare them to. They went through a weird patch a year or two ago where they had a not-so-good cook in the kitchen and were using what seemd to be canned ingredients, but they seem to be totally back on the freshness and flavor ball now. Love that curry catfish. Good god.

                        My favorite deli in town is definitely Just Good Food, in the basement of the old masonic building called Rose Street Market. Great sandwiches and sides and ala carte dishes, all made from scratch. The service can be sketchy and slow, but the food's pretty consistently great. None of that weird shaved-lunchmeat-loaf place posing as a deli....which brings us to Irving's. I have really mixed feelings about Irving's. They're handily located for the downtown worker lunch and their homemade soups are good (but overpriced! Come on! Don't make me pay for soup BY THE POUND!!!! That makes a simple potato soup cash out at astronomical prices), but their good stuff is offset by weird Gordon Food Service concoctions that set my teeth on edge.

                        The best restaurant in town, across all borders of food style, price, ethnicity, etc., is Martini's. None of the more expensive joints in town have ever bested them on the food front. Fresh, homemade, full of soul, and cheaper overall than any chain.

                        Speaking of soul, does anyone know if there are any decent soul food joints left in town?! Jimmy D's that took over the former Dan's Fish Shanty was amazing but closed recently, as did Neckbones and that sweet little joint in the old Gibson Factory. is the BBQ pit as good as it was when it was located on Cedar? To my shame, I haven't been to visit since they moved into the little strip mall.

                      2. While not exactly Kalamazoo try Bistro120 in Paw Paw. It is worth the trip. It is mostly rustic dishes with local seasonal sides. The portions are Huge and the desserts are homemade and of exceptional quality. http://www.bistro120.com/ The site has not been updated in forever but the menu has many of the dishes they still serve.