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Taste of Soul by Dips

January 18, 2021
  • 2500 Nazareth Road
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49048
  • (269) 743-7443
  • Website
  • Menu

I am pretty shocked at how many restaurants are opening during the pandemic. You hear a lot about the ones that are closing but there have been several restaurants that could quickly adapt to the take out model that have opened and thrived during the last year.

I don’t remember when I first saw the Chicken Coop on Nazareth had closed down but I know it wasn’t long after I saw the closed signs that I started seeing Facebook posts for a soul food place moving in. They opened up just before Thanksgiving and every time I drive by, I see several cars in the drive thru.

Taste of Soul by Dips is on Nazareth near the intersection with Gull Road. It’s in the building that was a long time Chicken Coop restaurant behind the Speedway. When I pulled in to the parking lot, there was a line in the drive thru so I parked and started to go in but the doors were locked. A quick glance inside looks like they have done some work to the place just to clean it up a little but have kept the same basic layout of order counter on the upper level and most of the seating on the garden level sun room.

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Taqueria Tomatitos

January 18, 2021
  • 595 10th Street (Food Truck)
  • Plainwell, MI 49080
  • (517) 490-7459 
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve been stopping in Plainwell recently on my way to Grand Rapids to get gas. There are a lot of places I could stop, but I’ve just been craving Wesco popcorn. I’ll hop off the highway, get gas, grab a bag of popcorn then continue on my way north.

The last time I made this stop, I got frustrated with traffic coming out of the city heading towards US-131 which made it hard for me to turn left….so I turned right and went through downtown Plainwell to hit US-131 via 106th Avenue.

I don’t know why I made that decision but doing so led me to a taco truck in a place I never thought I’d find a taco truck….a party store just outside of Plainwell.

Taqueria Tomatitos sets up shop in the parking lot of Third Base – The Last Stop Before Home Party Store at the corner of 106th Avenue and 10th Street. I made a hard right in to the parking lot after seeing and seeing people in line. I didn’t really need lunch but I do like tacos…so I stopped.

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Detroit Wing Company (Grand Rapids)

January 15, 2021
  • 2004 E. Beltline Avenue NE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49525
  • (616) 214-8331
  • Website
  • Menu

Another week filling in some shifts in Grand Rapids means another week of finding places to eat that have popped up since I stopped regularly working in Kent County three years ago.

Grand Rapids has always had a pretty good variety for wings. There are the many Wing Heaven locations, Wing Kings, Wing Doozy, and many more I’m probably forgetting. It was always one of my favorite things about working in Grand Rapids. I didn’t have to rely on Buffalo Wild Wings or Wings, Etc. to get my wing fix in a hurry.

I kept forgetting about a wing joint I saw advertisements for quite a while ago on the days I’ve been in the office up north. I always thought about it *after* I had eaten dinner. When I realized I was going to be working in Grand Rapids for a few nights, I put a reminder in my phone to buzz me just before dinner time.

Detroit Wing Company is a small chain of eight (so far) fast casual restaurants based in Eastpointe. The Grand Rapids location is in the newer strip mall at the corner of Knapp and East Beltline in front of the Family Fare.

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Skinny Kenny’s BBQ

January 4, 2021
  • 24901 Red Arrow Highway
  • Mattawan, MI 49071
  • (269) 283-5000
  • Website
  • Menu

More BBQ! Yay! More BBQ!

I’ve made no secret about how much I love BBQ. Yeah, I do a lot of smoking myself in my vertical offset smoker..but that takes hours. So, yay for people who do all the hard (long) work for me.

COVID has forced us outside of our comfort zone and in to more walks around the neighborhood. J noticed a new food truck being built quite a few months ago and started following them on Facebook. Recently, a brick and morter store was announced just outside of Mattawan.

Skinny Kenny’s BBQ opened up on the corner of Red Arrow Highway and 25th Street about 1/2 mile from the stoplight that will take you in to Mattawan. The building had been a breakfast joint called Lisa’s Corner Cafe before the BBQ place moved in.

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Rollup Ice Cream & Tea (Portage)

January 4, 2021
  • 8340 Portage Road
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 459-1873
  • Website
  • Menu

The chicken wars continue. Popeyes really opened up the flood gates when they let their over-hyped chicken sandwich loose on the world. A lot of other places realized they could do it too…and do it better.

I’ve already blogged about Chicken House and Turbo Chicken bringing the chicken sandwich game to Kalamazoo County. Now an ice cream shop wants to get in on it too.

Rollup Ice Cream & Tea expanded to a second shop in Portage earlier this fall. The rollup ice cream genre is pretty new to Kalamazoo. The first store was opened up on Stadium Drive right before the lockdown began in March. They not only survived the lockdown and subsequent restrictions but thrived to the point another location opened up on Portage Road next to Erbelli’s in Portage.

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Daddy Pete’s BBQ

December 29, 2020
  • 2921 Eastern Avenue SE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49508
  • (616) 426-8439
  • Website 
  • Menu

BBQ is the perfect take out food during this pandemic, no? It’s quick, delicious and holds up pretty well on the car ride back to wherever it is you’re going to eat it.

I picked up another shift in Grand Rapids a a few weekends ago. There wasn’t much to do so I did some housekeeping type things in the office that I don’t normally have time to do when I’m in the Grand Rapids office.

Dinner was a priority and I wanted to make sure I got something good. I had an order for Slow’s but decided to check to see if there was any local BBQ places open that I haven’t been to yet.

I found Daddy Pete’s BBQ on Eastern Avenue SE just south of 28th Street. The small brick building is shared by two businesses. The location seemed familiar to me when I set out to make the trek down Eastern Avenue and once I got there, I realized it had been a BBQ placed named Taste of Tennessee several years ago.

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Wing Doozy (Wyoming)

December 21, 2020
  • 2359 Health Drive SW #120
  • Wyoming, MI 49519
  • (616) 228-8855
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t think I’m different from most people when I say I’m always in the mood for wings…..right?

I had another shift in the Grand Rapids area and found myself in Wyoming near Metro Hospital. I met the co-worker I was assigned to work with that night so once we completed our task, we went our separate ways.

It was dinner time and there’s a lot of options in this area of Wyoming. Most of the restaurants in the area are chains but there are a couple local spots. The one with “Wing” in the name is the one that won my attention.

Wing Doozy is a small local chain of three restaurants. This one is on Health Drive SW in Wyoming but you can see it from Byron Center Avenue just off the M-6 exit. The other stores are in Hudsonville and Plainfield Township.

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The Grilling Company

December 19, 2020
  • 6231 W. River Drive NE
  • Belmont, MI 49306
  • (616) 970-2959
  • Website
  • Menu

I worked a few nights out of the Grand Rapids office a couple of weeks ago and saw a chance to find food from places that weren’t there when I worked there regularly.  I was really in the mood and started looking for BBQ.  

It seems like there aren’t as many options as there used to be.  The ones I knew of are either closed for the pandemic or gone.  I was only finding chains that were open.  

I expanded my search a little bit to get away from the heart of the city.  I was able to find a place in Belmont that’s really not too far away and was still open.  I told the co-worker I was working with I was going to get dinner and call if she needed me.  

The Grilling Company is located in a small strip mall on very busy West River Drive in Belmont.  It’s about three and a half miles from US-131 just before you get to the Rogue River Bridge.  The space isn’t very big but even during regular times, it’s a carry-out only restaurant.  Right now, they have a sign on the door asking only two people be in the building.  It’s easy to see through the large glass windows.  I saw two people inside so I waited outside  until one came out.  

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The Local

December 18, 2020
  • 9805 E. M-89
  • Richland, MI 49083
  • (269) 629-5823
  • Website
  • Menu

Pretty sure I tell you every year about how much I we love the Santa at Gull Meadow Farms. We’ve been going from the beginning when Santa used to be inside the market and we’d pick out a Christmas tree in the greenhouse afterwards.

Santa is now an experience at Gull Meadow. He’s moved to the greenhouse to accommodate the large lines and they’ve set up lights, photo stations, and so many other things to do.

We were concerned we wouldn’t get to see this Santa this year. We weren’t going to go wait in line with a large crowd.

I saw a Facebook post from Gull Meadow just before Thanksgiving advertising their “Dear Santa” event. It had timed entry and limited the number of people in the greenhouse at any time. This sounded good and we knew they’d have a good set-up for a socially distanced Santa…because everything they do, they do well.

We did our Santa thing. Got our pictures. Told Santa what we wanted. All while staying safe.

Our plan for the rest of the day included making a gingerbread house. You know those kits never have enough candy so I suggested going to the Hardings in Richland to pick up more candy. J told me to find a place to eat and we’d order before hitting the grocery store.

I’m pretty much picking places right now that have online ordering. I looked at a few places in Richland and the one that did was The Local….so we ordered from The Local.

The Local is just outside of the city limits of Richland in Richland Township. The restaurant is on M-89 in a small building that holds a couple of other things besides the restaurant on the east side. I should point out here that The Local in Richland should not be confused with The Local Beer Cellar & Pizza Oven in Centreville. The Richland Local was around first and the Centreville Local actually added on to their name to avoid confusion….which was happening.

(I made a mistake here. I confused The Local in Richland with a different bar I ate at several years ago. The Local in Richland opened in 2017. The Local in Centreville opened in 2014. I apologize to both businesses for my slopiness here)

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Wing Heaven (Portage)

December 4, 2020
  • 6005 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 775-1700
  • Website
  • Menu

Wings! Oh man, do I love wings. I’ve actually found a lot of good wings from bars in Kalamazoo during this whole pandemic thing.

CJ’s Pub and Waldo’s Tavern had been my go-to’s in the before time. Online ordering and curbside pickup have switched to Main Street Pub and Jac’s Pizza being my go-to places. And sure, there’s Buffalo Wild Wings and Wing Etc. but those places only get the call when I’m being lazy….which can be quite often.

I have always loved the wing options in Grand Rapids. There have been multiple Wing Heaven and Wing Kingz restaurants at different spots and I’m pretty sure I’ve hit them all. The wings are always crispy, juicy, and super delicious.

I’m told there was a Wing Heaven in Kalamazoo before we moved here in 2009. It was on Douglas Avenue in the spot now occupied by Cookie’s Creole ‘n’ Soul (previously Cookie’s Five Star Grill).

Now, Wing Heaven has made a return to the Kalamazoo area.

The new Wing Heaven location is actually in Portage on the corner of Westnedge and Milham Avenue. The building was previously a Scholtzky’s Deli. They closed back in February right before COVID shut everything down.

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