re: Mid Michigan Dining
I'll always recommend Martini's, which is a sort of Italian soul-food joint. They don't have a sign out front, but it's the pinkish building with sunflowers painted on it on the corner of Westnedge and Village. All made with fresh, primarily local ingredients. Homemade sausage, bread, sauce, mozzarella, the whole schmear. It's a relatively casual environment. They don't have a web page, but I can tell you from personal obsession that prices range from slices for a couple of bucks, to sandwiches and salads running around $8-9 to pasta dishes running $9-$15 (these come with full salads and garlic bread as well). The new entree items tend to be in the $13 - $16 range, and have been uniformly delicious when I've tried them. No matter what you order, you will get PLENTY of food. No small plates here. Warning: It can be difficult to get into on a busy night, and they don't take reservations.
Olde Peninsula (http://www.oldepen.com/) is also pretty casual. They have good bar food, but the quality of full-on dinners can be a little spotty. Their pot roast is astounding, though.
London Grill Singapore (http://www.london-grill.com/kalamazoo_home.htm) next to the Olde Peninsula has really good higher-end meat and potatoes-type dishes (great steaks, pork cuts, etc), as well as a variety of vegetarian, lamb, and chicken curries, so it does a good job of satisfying a group if you have a variety of tastes at play. It's one of our favorite "special occasion" places in town.
AND, if you like curry, Saffron (http://www.saffronkzoo.com/) is a really good Indian place in town and can be considered kind of "fancy." I like Bangkok Flavor for Thai, but that, again, is a relatively casual environment (http://www.bangkokflavor.com/)
Food Dance probably has the biggest rep in town. http://www.fooddancecafe.com/pages_/h...
They were an early proponent of the local foods movement. My last few experiences there were kind of iffy, as if they had started resting on their laurels, but I know others who still speak very highly of the place, so maybe I was just unlucky in going there after they had relocated and were readjusting.
Sadly, the best new restaurant in town, SPROUT, just closed. :(
Any of the places listed above have beer and wine (and liquor, I think) and are relatively kid-friendly.