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Final Gravity Brewing Company (Kalamazoo)

April 21, 2018

More beer is a good thing for Kalamazoo.  J and I love going to the great breweries we have in town and we were excited when we heard a Van Buren County brewery was going to open a location in downtown Kalamazoo.

A few years back, J and I took a trip to Decatur for dinner.  We had a babysitter and wanted to get to someplace we had never been before.  I found Final Gravity Brewing at the Bell’s Funvitational and really enjoyed the beers.  At that time, their only taproom was in Decatur.  That’s not the case anymore.

Final Gravity Brewing’s second location is in downtown Kalamazoo on the section of Burdick Street that is still closed off between Water and Eleanor Streets. The pub is closest to Eleanor Street which has plenty of nearby parking either on the street at meters or in nearby Ramp 4.

Read more…

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El Taco Mexican Grill

April 18, 2018
  • 4550 W. Dickman Road
  • Springfield, MI 49037
  • (269) 753-1745
  • Website
  • Menu

I never like passing up a taco place.  That happened a few months ago as I was driving from Battle Creek to Augusta on M-96.  I passed a store that had huge banners out front with the word “TACOS” on it.  I didn’t have time to stop but I filed it away as a place I needed to stop next time I was in the area.

Late last week, my co-worker and I were on the west side of Battle Creek.  We had some time to kill and I remembered that little taco stand.  I didn’t even give him a choice.  I told him we were going to get tacos and go to get tacos we did.

El Taco Mexican Grill is on Dickman Road (or M-89) just to the southeast of Hill Brady Road in Springfield.  The small taco stand is inside Custer Party Store #2. Read more…

Five Guys (Oshtemo)

April 16, 2018
  • 5153 W. Main Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 567-1111
  • Website
  • Menu

This is dangerous.  Super dangerous.

Kalamazoo got it’s second Five Guys location and it’s close to home for me.  I get the craving all the time for a greasy burger and fries but Portage is too far to go for lunch.  I don’t have that problem anymore.  Five Guys decided to open on the west side.

Kalamazoo’s second Five Guys location is on West Main near Drake Road.  It’s in some new construction in front of Kohls right next to Panera Bread.  The building was built in what used to be a parking lot between Panera and the Shell station.  The building has space for three business and all of them will be restaurants.  Jimmy Johns and Kelvin & Company will join this Five Guys.

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Samuel Mancino’s Italian Eatery (South Haven)

April 12, 2018
  • 8093 M-140
  • South Haven MI 49090
  • (269) 637-9400
  • Website
  • Menu

I used to have a co-worker that loved Mancino’s.  I accidentally introduced her to the delicious Michigan-born sandwiches while we were driving from Mt. Pleasant to Grand Rapids one dark, winter night a few years back.  Whenever we worked together after that, she would ask if there was one close to us no matter where we were.  I still technically have this co-worker but we never work together anymore.

I decided to introduce another co-worker to these delicious sandwiches earlier this week when we were in South Haven.  We had time to kill and I needed gas.  I knew we could kill two birds with one stone and I may just make another co-worker crave a grinder.

The South Haven location of this delicious chain is a Samuel Mancino’s Pizza & Grinder shop.  It’s located just outside of the South Haven city limits on M-140 and Alyworth Avenue.  The shop is inside the Village Express gas station right on the corner.

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10 Years…..

April 11, 2018

We’ve been in Michigan ten years.  March 29, 2008 is when J and I first moved to Lansing.  I started this blog not long after.  My first actual post was on April 1, 2008, but my first restaurant visit blog post was ten years ago today…April, 11, 2008.  It was The Nuthouse Sports Grill in downtown Lansing.  I’ve blogged about that place on two more occasions since that initial post.  The first one was bout a year later while we still lived in Lansing.  The second was in 2012 after we had moved to Kalamazoo and I went back for work one night.  The Nuthouse was the first restaurant we ate at in Lansing and one of my favorite restaurants from our time there…so it was a good place to start.

I had gotten the idea for a blog when J and I lived in Morton, IL just outside of Peoria.  The Internet was different then.  Myspace was still a thing and restaurants weren’t using it like they use Facebook now.  Finding menus online was sometimes a maddening experience.  I used to write quick little reviews for We8There.com but blogging was just becoming popular.  I wanted to  have a place where I could post those menus if I had to.

I had been contemplating joining the Peoria blogging scene.  There were a couple of political pundits that really made blogging popular and I thought I could capitalize on their success.

J was looking for a job though and I had always planned to go with her.  I decided to wait until we figured out where we were going next.  Turns out, next was Lansing.

We spent about a year and a half in Lansing.  In that time, I published 1,031 posts on Midmichigandining.com.  I treated the blog a little different then.  It wasn’t just about restaurant and entertainment spots in the area.  There was more commentary, press release, and somewhat newsie posts.  I didn’t have a full time job when we lived there so I had a lot more free time to write and post.

We moved to Kalamazoo in September of 2009 after J got a transfer.  MidMichiganDining.com wouldn’t work in Southwest Michigan, so I created a whole new blog.  I kept the old one up so I could link back to it.  I probably just should have changed the address but, you know, hindsight.  Also looking back, I should have picked something other than SWMichiganDining.com….I mean, I like to block about concert venues, sporting arenas, and other entertainment options in the area even if it doesn’t include food…so the “dining” part of it gets weird.  You’ve also probably noticed I blog when I travel so the “SW Michigan” part doesn’t really apply there although the majority of what you read on this blog is from Southwest Michigan and does have to do with dining.

I kept doing what I was doing for a while but then I got a full time job and we had our first kid in 2012 and the time for writing was getting harder and harder to get.  I still liked the restaurant part of it so I found time…and I still do, to write those posts.

Why have I done this for ten years?  I like to eat.  I like to explore.  I think J does too.  We get excited about restaurant openings.  We’re not regulars at any restaurant in town because we like to try new places.  We like being the people that our friends ask for recommendations or ask what we know about a place they’re thinking of taking a date or out of town guests.

The big reason I continue to blog is because this blog is my journal.  The last ten years of our lives, from J and I dating and making a big move and commitment to each other when we moved to Lansing, to the day I proposed to her, to the day we got married, to the first night in our new house in Kalamazoo, to the nights each of our kids were born and all of the wild adventures, road trips, vacations, and trips to see family in between, they’re all documented on these two blogs.

I like to share my experiences because we love what what Michigan has to offer.  I’m careful about how I word things when I don’t like something because an Internet post can ruin a business and who am I to destroy someone’s dream over what could be a misunderstanding or a difference of opinion?  I’m not a critic.  I don’t like using the word “reviews.”  I like to eat and I want other to find the great things about what we have in this community.

I know there are a few people that have read this blog from the beginning and that always surprises me.  I’ve never used any of our names yet there have been enough clues for a handful of people to figure it out and we’ve actually become friends with some of them.  I don’t get anything out of this other than the memories and the record of what we’ve done, where we’ve gone and what we’ve eaten.  There are no ads on this blog that are mined (WordPress puts some in, but they get that money, not me).  I have only accepted a free meal once and I felt dirty about it.  Nothing I wrote was a lie…I meant every word of it, but it just didn’t feel right.   I’ve turned several offers to “review” a place before they open and I will continue to do so.

This blog isn’t the most highly trafficked food blog on the Internet.  I get about 500 page views a day which, again, always surprises me.  Some days, 100 of those could be me.  I get lost in reading some of my old posts and before you know it, an hour is gone.

I have no plans to stop doing what I’m doing.  When J tells me she’s tired of me taking pictures at restaurants, I’ll stop then.  I hope I’m helping people with this blog…both restaurant owners and diners looking for someplace unique or someplace they may not have thought to try on their own.

So, if you’ve made it through this post, thanks for reading.

Old Burdick’s at Wings West

April 10, 2018
  • 5076 Sports Drive
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49009
  • (269) 488-4500
  • Website
  • Menu

Finding a table at a restaurant at 7 PM on a Friday night can be hard enough.  Finding a table on a Friday night at 7 PM for nine people can be damn near impossible.  Reservations aren’t a thing at most places anymore so it’s just a matter of showing up and preparing for a wait.

We had all of the grandparents in town plus my aunt for L’s performance at the Civic Auditorium.  When the show ended, everyone wanted to go somewhere for dinner.  The places they suggested I knew we had no chance of getting a table for that many people without a long wait.  I knew we had to find a place with a large dining room and one place instantly came to mind.

The Old Burdick’s restaurants have been a staple in our dining out rotation since we moved to Kalamazoo nine years ago.  Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill was one of the first restaurants we went to in town and Old Burdick’s Bar & Grill West in the old Holiday Inn was our go-to when we didn’t want to cook after moving to Oshtemo.

When the Oshtemo location closed, we had to move a little further west to Texas Township find our closest Burdick’s.

Burdick’s at Wings West is on Sports Drive just to the east of 9th Street near the Texas and Oshtemo Township line.  As the name implies, it’s inside the Wings West ice skating rink.  The restaurant gets the spot facing the road and the large parking lot for the complex.   Read more…

The Civic Auditorium

April 9, 2018
  • 329 S. Park Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 343-1313
  • Website

I’ve always had a weird relationship with the theater.  I fell in love when my high school freshman class took a trip to see Cats at the Chicago Theatre.   That couldn’t be right.  I was a “jock.”  I couldn’t like theater….but man, I did.

I never tried out for the school plays because they always seemed to be during baseball season.  We had some guys who did both, but baseball was my priority.  I still went to every performance though.  If we had a show that played three nights.  I was there all three supporting my friends.

J was not like me.  She was heavily involved with her high school theater productions, so it’s no surprise both of our kids like to perform.  We spend most of our times singing and dancing along with YouTube in our house and the Hamilton soundtrack is on a constant loop.

We needed something for L to do for Spring Break.  We weren’t going anywhere and we didn’t want her home.  J realized she’s old enough for the Civic Theater’s spring break camp so we asked her if she wanted to sign up and we got an emphatic “YES!”

The camps run all week culminating with a performance on Friday night.  I got out of work about an hour early to make the sprint across Bronson Park to get there in time.

The performance was in the Civic Auditorium on the corner of Park and South in downtown Kalamazoo.  I’ve long wanted to go to this performance venue and we’ve talked about going to see a show but now that L is old enough to sit through a performance we would have to worry about B.  It always seems like getting a babysitter is such a hassle so we keep procrastinating.  This spring break camp performance was finally my chance to see what is hidden behind those large concrete walls.

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