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Bleu Burger

August 9, 2020
  • Food Truck
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 226-3333
  • Website
  • Menu

I always say I never really plan on eating out on Friday’s in the summer but there’s always something at Lunchtime Live that draws me in.

I had the same intentions this past Friday.  I would wait until I got home from work and gorge myself on pizza from wherever my wife decided to order from that night.

Plans change though.  I was driving on South Street in downtown Kalamazoo and saw the food trucks setting up.  One of them sounded good so after I finished my work for the morning, I headed over for a burger and fries.

Bleu Burger is part of the company that used to operate Mangia Mangia in downtown Kalamazoo andMangia Pizza and Pasta in Oshtemo…and still operates La Cantina in Paw Paw.  It’s a sister truck to Blue Plate Food Truck but this one specializes in burgers with a bleu cheese sauce.

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Valentina’s Mexican Grill (Galesburg)

August 9, 2020
  • 10 E. Michigan Avenue
  • Galesburg, MI 49053
  • (269) 200-5029
  • Website
  • Menu

Hey!  Look!  I’m writing about tacos again.

I was just in the mood for tacos.  My co-worker was off and I was flying solo.  I actually had to run an errand out near Augusta and had every intention of picking up tacos from Nina’s Taqueria but their parking lot was way too packed and there were too many people inside for my comfort so I headed back to the car with an idea.

I had to go back through Galesburg and I knew one of my favorite Kalamazoo area taco places just opened a second shop there, so I looked them up online and put in an order.

Valentina’s Mexican Grill is right on Michigan Avenue in what can be considered downtown Galesburg.  It’s right at the weird intersection with Battle Creek Street.  It took over the building that was last Andrea’s Cafe & Pizza Too.

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Blackhawk BBQ

July 28, 2020
  • Food Truck
  • Allegan, MI 49010
  • (269) 455-0097
  • Website
  • Menu

Summer time is always fun when it comes to the scheduling game.  My co-worker is on vacation.  Then I’m on vacation.  Change of pace for a few days is good.

I got called up to the Grand Rapids office late last week and started heading north.  I got just passed D Avenue when I got a text asking if I could pick something up in Allegan on my way.  Sure…Allegan is not really on the way but I wasn’t in a hurry and I didn’t have any pressing matters to get to in GR.

I was on my way in to town a little after 10:30.  As I passed the Riverside Market on M-89, I noticed a food truck and it looked like there was a guy starting to set it up for the day.  I did what I needed to do in town then instead of heading back to US-131 on M-222, I backtracked a little to see if that food truck was open.

Blackhawk BBQ has been operating in the parking lot of Riverside Market on Marshall Street/M-89 on a semi-regular basis for some time now.  Being a food truck, they can and do move but a lot of the time, you will see them posted up in the party store parking lot.

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Spad’s Twisters Soft Serve Ice Cream (Parchment)

July 28, 2020
  • 330 S. Riverview Drive
  • Parchment, MI 49004
  • (269) 350-5608
  • Website
  • Menu

Hey, look!  Another ice cream blog post.

To be fair, this one’s a little different.  There’s no hike involved…well…there kind of is but not on this particular night.

We actually went out for ice cream to celebrate my daughter’s “half birthday.”  Yeah….that’s apparently a thing now.  There’s no parties or presents but there’s apparently still ice cream.

We let her pick where she wanted to go for ice cream.  She picked Spad’s Twisters Soft Serve Ice Cream (from here on out, I’m just referring to it as Twisters), in Parchment.  I had never been but J and the kids stop there occasionally after they go hiking in Comstock Township somewhere.

Twisters is on the south side of Parchment on Riverview Drive.  It’s a stand alone building across the street from the Parchment Community Library.  There’s a small parking lot on one side and a drive thru lane on the other.  They have a small concrete patio with a few tables but there’s also some picnic tables closer to the road underneath some shade trees for those hot days when you don’t want your ice cream to melt so fast.

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Lafayette Creamery (Texas Township)

July 21, 2020
  • 7933 S. 8th Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 447-2342
  • Website
  • Menu

J wanted to go for a hike.  I wanted ice cream.  We found a way for me to cancel out any calories I burned on that hike by doing both.

We’ve really gotten to know the trails in Southwest Michigan over the last five months.  We started out by going to the only one we really know…Asylum Lake.  Like anything else, we started to research and found so many more great places.

I really wasn’t in the mood for a hike but I made a deal with J.  I’d go if we could get ice cream.

She knew I was scheming something.  We had to pick up the kids’ dance costumes that they never got to perform in from their dance studio off 9th Street.  I suggested we go to Al Sabo from there and J knew immediately what I had in mind.

We did about an hour hike then headed to Texas Corners where Lafayette Creamery set up shop in part of the old Family Video building on South 8th Street and West Q Avenue.  The Dollar General takes up most of the building but there’s a separate entrance on the north side of the building next to a Hungry Howie’s that’s kind of hard to see until you’re actually in the parking lot.  We noticed some people eating ice cream on a bench out back and that’s how we actually spotted the place.

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Buddy’s Pizza (Portage)

July 18, 2020
  • 5314 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 421-9233
  • Website
  • Menu

It’s happening!  Buddy’s Pizza is in the Kalamazoo Metro!

I accidentally fell in love with Buddy’s Pizza not long after we moved to Lansing back in 2008.  I had never heard of Detroit Style pizza.  I didn’t really love thick crust pizza anyway.  Even being from the Chicago area, I always preferred the tavern style Chicago pizza from the south side over the much more famous north side deep dish.

My family from Illinois came up for a weekend because they wanted to go to a Tigers game….and see me and J…but mostly a Tigers game.  I did a blind search on Google for “Best Pizza in Detroit” and found Buddy’s Pizza on Conant Street.

My family thought I was crazy for taking them in to that part of Detroit but once those thick steel pans were set down in front of us, my entire family was hooked.

I’ve never been back to that Conant Street location but I have been to several Buddy’s over the years.  Grand Rapids, Dearborn, Livonia……any time I would get close to one, I would put in an order for carry-out.

Now, Buddy’s got close to me.

Buddy’s Pizza opened another West Michigan location earlier this week on Westnedge Avenue just north of the I-94 interchange in Portage.  The building it’s in has been a Bennigan’s and an Old Chicago…but now, while the exterior looks familiar,  it’s uniquely a Buddy’s Pizza.

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Big Lick Ice Cream

July 17, 2020
  • 230 Adams Street
  • Newaygo, MI 49337
  • (231) 652-5300
  • Website
  • Menu

No adventure can end without ice cream…..right?

We took a little road trip last weekend to check out The Dragon Trail on Hardy Pond in Newaygo County.  We’ve really taken a liking to hiking during this pandemic and we’re starting to explore and seek out new trails the way we used to do that with breweries.

We did about  two hour hike before heading in to Newaygo for lunch.  We picked up our meal and some drinks from Newaygo Brewing Company then headed out to Riverside Park to eat.  The kids know playgrounds are still off limits for us and have just come to accept that.  They did so well between a long, hot hike and lunch, we decided ice cream was in store before we headed back towards Grand Rapids.

There are a couple of ice cream shops in Newaygo but I headed towards the one on the south side of town since that’s the way we would be heading.

Big Lick Ice Cream is on Adams Street…which is also M-37…near Jefferson Street.  This building was put up several years ago in what used to be an empty parking lot next to a Dairy Queen.  That old Dairy Queen building is now a Little Caesars.

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Newaygo Brewing Company

July 14, 2020
  • 19 State Road
  • Newaygo, MI 49337
  • (231) 452-6551
  • Website
  • Menu

The COVID-19 Pandemic has really changed how we do things.  One of the really great things that has come out of this for us is we’re getting outside a lot more.  We started going on hikes back in March because we needed to get out of the house and that was one of the few things still allowed.

J has really ran with the hike thing.  Once restrictions lifted, she started meeting some friends at the trails so the kids could see some other kids.  Hikes became much more regular and J was going almost every night.

Things slowed down when temperatures got in to the 90’s but it was much cooler and nicer last weekend.  J had seen a news story for a hiking trail that just opened in Newaygo County and thought it looked like a good place to take a road trip.

The Dragon Trail is a 47 mile hiking and biking trail that wraps around Hardy Pond in Big Prairie Township near Newaygo.  There’s only a few sections open right now accessible from Sandy Beach County Park.  There are several miles open so J really wanted to do a long hike.

We did a couple of hours, took a lot of pictures, and even dipped our feet in the water at the beach.  It was a little before 2:00 when we finished and none of us had eaten since we stopped at McDonalds for breakfast on the way up.

I checked Newaygo Brewing’s website to see if they were open.  Not only were they open, they had online ordering so I picked what I wanted, handed my phone to J, then we headed in to Newaygo to pick up our food.

Newaygo Brewing Company is right in downtown Newaygo on State Road.  The main entrance seems to be on backside of the building where there’s a parking lot.  That’s where the GPS takes you anyway.  I decided to stay on State Road and see if I could find parallel parking in front.  Newaygo Brewing did quite a bit of work to this building when they moved in several years ago.  Just from the outside, they cleaned up the facade, opened up the upstairs window, and put a new coat of paint.  It really brought this old building back to life.

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Sparks BBQ (Grand Rapids)

July 14, 2020
  • 15 Ionia Avenue SW, #140
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49503
  • (616) 888-2170
  • Website
  • Menu

There are days I miss exploring the Grand Rapids Metro area for new restaurants.  Not very often…but there are days when I hear co-workers talking about the great new place they ate at last night.

I still have days in Grand Rapids and there are actually times every couple of months that I volunteer to work a shift or two in Kent County just for a change of scenery.   I got a couple of those days last week.

There aren’t a lot of places I’m itching to go right now due to the shut down but I’m good with places that really have carry-out down.  BBQ is an easy carry-out and there just happened to be a BBQ place downtown that I have been wanting to try for quite some time now.

Sparks BBQ opened their Grand Rapids location on Ionia Avenue earlier this year.  They’re in the very heavily trafficked section of Ionia just south of Fulton Street.  They’re in the building that was previously Lucky Luciano’s Pizza and Georgio’s Pizza next to Hopcat.  This is actually Sparks BBQ’s second location after starting as a food truck in the Traverse City area.  They opened a brick and mortar store there in 2016.

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Papa Mineo’s Pizza

July 13, 2020
  • 165 W. Superior Street
  • Wayland, MI 49348
  • (269) 397-1717
  • Website
  • Menu 

There are actually some times I miss working in Grand Rapids.  Those days are never in the winter but in the summer time, I do miss rolling the windows down, cranking the air conditioning and listening to a podcast on my way up and down US-131.

There are still times I volunteer for shifts in Grand Rapids just for a change of pace.  There are also times I think I’m working out of the office in Kalamazoo and they call me in the middle of the afternoon to say I’m needed to fill in for someone up there.  Last Tuesday was one of the latter.

I did actually volunteer to work a couple of shifts in Grand Rapids last week (and we’ll get to those in an additional blog) but Tuesday was not one of those days.  I got a call about 12:30 asking if I could drive up to GR to finish my shift.

I don’t love hanging J out to dry with dinner without notice but she was fine.  She had a haircut appointment with B so they weren’t going to be home around dinnertime anyway.  She said she’d just order out for her and the kids.  I could have got what they go but I decided to just stop on my way home.

I was in the mood for pizza and there’s a pizza place in Dorr I wanted to try.  They had an hour wait though and I didn’t want to wait that long so I checked to see if there were any pizza places in Wayland I didn’t know about.

What do you know?  There was!

I used slicelife.com and put in an order at Papa Mineo’s.  I had never heard of this place but they were in a familiar location.  I kept things simple with 16″ thin crust pepperoni and sausage pizza.  I paid the $14 tab online then made the 20 minute drive to Wayland where my pizza was just coming out of the oven.

Papa Mineo’s is on Superior Street in what could be considered downtown Wayland.  It’s just to the west of Main Street.  There’s a building there with a large parking lot that also houses an ice cream shop and a party store.  I’ve been in this building more than once.  It was a Wing Kingz and Stefano’s Pizzeria.

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