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Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’

February 6, 2018
  • 136 Territorial Road
  • Benton Harbor, MI 49022
  • (269) 934-7675
  • Website
  • Menu

If you see police cars in a restaurant parking lot at lunch time, STOP!  The local police always know the best places to eat, so if you’re in an unfamiliar town, just look follow the police cruisers.

A co-worker and I were in Benton Harbor for a quick assignment.  We literally drove there during a snow storm for about fifteen minutes of work, but it’s what we had to do.  Not wanting to head back in to the storm right away, C.W. asked if there was a sandwich shop somewhere to grab something to eat.  Of course, I always do my research when we leave Kalamazoo.

Charlie’s Piggin’ N’ Grinnin’ is about a block north of Main Street in Benton Harbor near the corner of Territorial Road and Water Street.  It’s in what looks to be an old mixed use building that had two separate streeet level storefronts and apartments above it.  Charlie’s takes up both of those storefronts now.  The parking lot next door was home to the Bell Opera House many, many years ago.  The building appears to be from the turn of the 20th Century and the only remaining building on this block that used to be a vibrant downtown Benton Harbor.

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Mr. Gyros

February 2, 2018
  • 398 N. Willowbrook Road
  • Coldwater, MI 49036
  • (517) 278-6699
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

Some days are busier than others at work.  We spent last Friday in Branch County on an assignment but most of the day was spent sitting in the car waiting.

I had parked near I-69 in the Big Lots parking lot while we were waiting for a phone call.  We sat there for about a half hour or so before I realized that I could make better use of the time and get something to eat while we had some down time.

The area around I-69 in Coldwater has a lot of fast food options.  You should know me better than that.  Fast food is no fun when there are other options.

I chose to head back down Willowbrook Road to a small strip mall with a Goodwill and a couple of shops.  One of those storefronts is Mr. Gyros.   Read more…

West Texas BBQ Company

January 19, 2018
  • 2190 Brooklyn Road
  • Jackson, MI 49203
  • (517) 784-0510
  • Website
  • Menu

I always talk about restaurants on “my list” that I just can never find time to make it to.  For many years now, there has been a BBQ place in Jackson with really odd hours that I’ve just never been able to make work….until now.

Five years ago, Mlive.com did their Michigan’s Best BBQ Tour.  I had been to a couple of the places that had made the Top Ten but not the #1 place.  It’s a place I had heard of prior to Mlive’s tour but the hours always made it difficult to get there.  That was the case for the next five years.

West Texas BBQ Company is on Brooklyn Road south of East South Street just south of the City of Jackson in Summit Township.  The building is an old sign shop that was converted for a catering shop then converted again to double as a restaurant.

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TNT – Lil’ Brother’s BBQ

January 18, 2018
  • 806 Riverview Drive
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 532-8621
  • Website
  • Menu

Several years ago, I stopped at a little BBQ place on North Westnedge for dinner.  Since then, that place has been Pharaoh’s Valley and is now Chicago Munchies.  Places come and go in strip malls so I really didn’t even notice when the BBQ place moved out.

Last month, I saw an article in the Loy Norrix Knight Life with a name that sounded familiar.  It was the BBQ place that used to be on the Northside.   They opened up a shop in the South Westnedge Neighborhood.

TNT – Lil’ Brother’s BBQ had opened at the Burdick Hair and Beauty Supply on the corner of Cork and Sprinkle Streets.  The last time I had eaten from that little counter in the back of the store, it was known as Kalamazoo BBQ Grill.

When I pulled up to the shop, I noticed it seemed really empty.  There was a sign on the door from the Michigan Liquor Control Commission about destroying all the alcohol in the building and the windows were fogged up.  The place was clearly closed so I got online to see what happened.

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Cafè ’36

January 11, 2018
  • 2965 Oakland Drive
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49008
  • (269) 501-3399
  • Website
  • Menu

It seems like we don’t go out to eat for a while then all of a sudden, there’s a dozen new restaurants that we need to get to.  That’s kind of the situation we’ve been in for a while.  Going out to a nice sit down restaurant hasn’t been feasible lately.  We’ve been busy on weekends and the kids would rather do take out or pizza.

Since it had been a while, I asked J if she wanted to go out to lunch last weekend.  J and I have always enjoyed new dining experiences and it’s one thing we really wanted to try hard not to give up on once we had kids.  When they were little, it was easy, but now that they’re both at an age where they want to be entertained, sometimes giving in and just going to Chili’s because they have iPads on the table is what we have to do.

We had a few options because, as I mentioned, there are a couple places that have opened recently that we haven’t been to yet.  The first one we picked isn’t open for lunch on Saturday.  Option number two was the new restaurant inside the health food store on Oakland.

Cafè ’36 opened late last year as part of Sawall Health Foods four thousand square foot expansion that added a second floor mezzaine level as well as expanded the deli as part of the health food grocers renovation last year.  The grocery store is in the Oakwood Plaza Shopping Center on the corner of Oakland and Whites in the Oakland/Winchell Neighborhood of Kalamazoo.  The renovations took the store from this…..

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Que Buenos Fresh Mexican Grill

January 10, 2018
  • 2929 Howard Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49006
  • (269) 775-1719
  • Website
  • Menu

Mexican food and pizza.  Two classic staples of late night good on college campuses across America.

I’ve worked at a lot of different Universities and whenever I get to town, I look for a late night pizza place or a late night burrito joint that will have tacos.

Kalamazoo really lacked those for a while.  The pizza place came in with Hot Slice alongside a Greek jointQdoba was open late on West Main on weekends, but something in Campus Pointe would really be a benefit to the campus community.

It seems like over a year ago when signs went up along West Michigan advertising a new Mexican place moving in to Campus Pointe Mall.  Recently, that sign was finally changed from “Coming Soon” to “Now Open.”

Que Buenos Fresh Mexican Grill is in the Campus Pointe Mall on the corner of Howard and West Michigan near Western Michigan University’s campus.  The restaurant takes over a space between The Den Party Store and what is now Y Bar & Bistro.  The last thing I can remember this space being is a Metro PCS store, but there could have been something else in between.

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Wetzel’s Pretzels (Portage)

January 5, 2018
  • 6650 S. Westnedge Avenue #108
  • Portage, MI 49024
  • (269) 329-0610
  • Website
  • Menu

There are certain food chains that require a must stop at for me based on aura alone.  They’re usually west coast places that we can’t get here in Michigan, so when one of them pops up, I go a little crazier than I’d like to admit.

Wetzel’s Pretzels is one of those places.  I had never had Wetzel’s before.  In fact, the only reason I knew the name is from a TV show.  Yes, Dear did an episode where the families got stuck in an airport and while Greg was miserable and angry about the setback, Jimmy was ecstatic to use his Wetzel’s Pretzels coupons.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been to Crossroads Mall so I was a little surprised to see a Wetzel’s Pretzels had opened shop on the lower level in the Macy’s wing.  It’s actually just below Auntie Anne’s which is on the second level.

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