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Smoked Down BBQ

September 18, 2017

When this summer started, I thought for sure I’d be eating at Lunchtime Live every Friday.  Now that summer is almost over, I’ve made it to exactly two.  It seems like Friday is always the day we’re out of the office for the majority of the afternoon so I never get the chance to go.

Last Friday was the rare Friday that we were done with our assignment pretty early and just had some office work to do the rest of the day.  Co-Worker and I kind of went our own ways for lunch. He had some errands to run and I walked over to Bronson Park.

I knew before I left where I was going to eat.  I have been hearing things about a food cart and catering company that has been setting up shop around downtown all summer.  I saw they were out from my office window and that’s what inspired me to go get lunch..

Smoked Down BBQ is one of a growing number of portable BBQ restaurants that seem to be popping up.  That’s not a complaint.   I love BBQ and I love that I’m pretty much able to get BBQ whenever I want it.  It wasn’t that way just a few short years ago in Kalamazoo.

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Subs-N-More (South Haven)

September 18, 2017
  • 529 Phoenix Street
  • South Haven, MI 49090
  • (269) 637-5533
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

I seem to always run in to the same problem when I’m in South Haven.  I just never have enough time to sit down and enjoy some of the great restaurants the city has to offer.

My co-worker and I headed out to the lake shore last week for an assignment.  We spent a couple hours completing our task but then had to get back to Kalamazoo.  I needed to make a stop near the pavilion downtown before we got on the road which got me thinking about lunch.  I looked across the street and saw one of the few grab and go places in downtown.

Subs-N-More is on Phoenix Street on the east end of the downtown business district.  It’s one of the first stores you see when you’re heading towards South Beach using Phoenix Avenue right next to the traffic calming sign at the entrance to downtown.

The business is a standalone shop that’s connected to the rest of the downtown buildings by proximity.  There is parking all along Phoenix Street if you can find a spot but there’s also a couple of municipal lots within a couple blocks walk from the store.

Subs-N-More is set up as a counter service restaurant.  When you walk in to the building, you immediately see a big counter in the middle of the space that separates the dining room from the kitchen.

The menu is written out on a chalkboard off to the side of the counter.  It’s a rather large menu that consists of a variety of subs, pizzas, nachos, sides and pretty much anything you can cook in a conveyor oven.

There is a rather large dining room, but it’s sparsely populated with tables and chairs.  The large main area of the dining room looks like it could comfortably hold three times what is there.  I stopped in for lunch on a Thursday after Labor Day and while they were busy with a constant line of people, not many were opting to eat inside the restaurant.

There’s also more seats along the side of the restaurant that leads to a back entrance.  There is a parking lot that is accessible off Quaker Street that leads to this door if you can’t find parking along Phoenix, this is a nice option if you’re just picking something up to go.  Again, this area could hold quite a few more tables than it does if there was a need.

I grabbed a paper menu off the counter and quickly scanned it looking for a sandwich.  There were a lot that sounded good until I started reading the ingredients.  It seems everything is loaded with veggies and while I like veggies on a sandwich, I prefer the meat to dominate.  I saw a few sandwiches come out of the oven and they all looked like they were vegetarian.  The sandwiches were piled high with toppings and looked rather large but lettuce played a big part in that.

I did find one that sounded good.  It’s a simple Pizza Pie Sub that comes with marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese and pepperoni and/or sausage.  I ordered a 14″ sub with two bottles of Coke from the cooler.  The meal set me back about $15 and it took about 15 minutes for my sandwich to be boxed up and handed over to me.

I grabbed the box and headed back to the car where my co-worker was waiting.  I had to drive back to Kalamazoo before I could eat it because I didn’t want to make a mess in the car.

When I opened the box, the first thing I noticed was that it looked a lot like a Mancino’s grinder.  It had the same time of bread and the little burnt edges from the cheese sticking out of the bread and burning on to it while it made it’s way through the oven.

The sandwich looked a little thin but that’s because there’s just not much girth to pepperoni and cheese.  Despite not looking like much, the sandwich was actually pretty filling.  The marinara sauce had a little bit of a kick to it and there were a coupe layers of pepperoni that added a little bit more kick.

The sandwich wasn’t quite as good as Mancino’s (which there is also one of in South Haven, but it’s out by the high school).

Subs-N-More provides something that there isn’t really a lot of downtown.  A quick, counter service option for food.  The sandwich, while being similar to Mancino’s, wasn’t quite as good as Mancino’s (which there is also one of in South Haven, but it’s out by the high school).  Not everyone has time to sit down and eat after a day at the beach and this place is nice to have as an option on your way out of town.

Subs N More Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Big Willy’s Italian Beef

September 16, 2017
  • 1450 Wealthy Street SE
  • Grand Rapids, MI 49506
  • (616) 288-5824
  • Website
  • Menu

I don’t spend much time in Grand Rapids anymore since my company opened an office in Kalamazoo.  I, of course, don’t miss the drive everyday but there are some things I do miss about not going to Grand Rapids.

I miss the alone time in the car where I could just slip in my earbuds and listen to a podcast.  My phone memory is perpetually full because I know have podcasts waiting for me to find time to listen to.

I also miss finding new restaurants.  If you haven’t noticed from this blog, I like to eat out and I like to track down as many new places as possible.

One of those places I’ve missed out on is Big Willy’s Italian Beef.  I’ve gone on and on and on about my love of the classic Chicago sandwich and my quest for places up here in Michigan that try their hand and bringing the sandwich here.  I had been looking forward to getting back to Grand Rapids ever since I heard about this place opening.

Big Willy’s Italian Beef is located in Grand Rapid’s Eastown Neighborhood.  It’s right on the corner of Wealthy Street and Ethel Avenue on the Southeast Side near the Lake and Wealthy intersection.  The building had been home to the Pita House for many years.  The building has undergone some clean up and a new coat of paint on the exterior. Read more…

Brix Corner Oven

September 7, 2017
  • 402 Eagle Street
  • South Haven, MI 49090
  • (269) 767-7342
  • Website
  • Menu

South Haven has kind of become our go-to for Labor Day weekend.  We like to go a little later in the afternoon when things to start to thin out on the beach and wait for the sunset.

We actually got to South Beach much earlier this year than we had planned.  We were just kind of sitting around the house waiting for the time to go so we said, “screw it.”  We left for South Haven just after 2:00.

We saw in Lake Michigan for almost three hours.  J was starting to get hungry but wasn’t ready to go home.  Everyone was being good so we really wanted to stick it out and try to make it to sunset.  She suggested just eating at the South Beach Cafe Snack Bar.  That really didn’t do anything for me.  I wanted more than ice cream and nachos.

We still went to the snack and got ice cream and nachos but as we were sitting there, J suggested putting in an order for pizza.  She offered to watch the kids if I’d walk up the hill to pick it up.  We found a place just at the top of the hill and surprisingly, they were actually taking carry-out orders on an incredibly busy holiday weekend.

Brix Corner Oven is on the corner of Eagle Street and Kalamazoo Street just a block of the busy Phoenix Street thoroughfare  that leads down to the beach.  The building is the old Niffenegger’s Service Station that has seen several different types of businesses in it’s day.  Before this place was a pizza restaurant, it was Sea Glass Home Decor.  The building itself hasn’t changed much, but how that space is used has undergone a drastic transformation.

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The Strand Brewery & Grill

September 4, 2017
  • 93415 County Road 690
  • Dowagiac, MI 49047
  • (269) 424-7500
  • Website
  • Menu

J and I don’t typically get long holiday weekends off together.  One of usually ends up having to work the holiday, but this Labor Day, we actually did get to spend the whole weekend together.

We made the most of it.  On Saturday, we went to the Binder Park Zoo for the first time since the Lion exhibit opened.  We were disappointed at first because they lions appeared to not be out but we eventually found them sleeping at the back of the exhibit.

We did the zoo pretty early and B fell asleep as soon as we got in the car so we didn’t go to lunch while we were in Battle Creek.

When we got home, I asked J if she wanted to road trip for an early dinner.  The kids were being good and we haven’t really done that in a while, so she said yes.

About a month ago, some friends from Chicago vacationed at the Sister Lakes in Cass County.  They put pictures up from a restaurant in that area that looked fantastic that neither J or I had ever heard of.  Dowagiac isn’t too far of a drive from Kalamazoo, so we decided to see if this place was as our good as our friends made it look.

The Strand Brewery & Grill has only been open for a couple months in the unincorporated area of Keeler Township in Cass County known as Sister Lakes near Dowagiac.  The restaurant is new construction built on County Road 690 just across the street from Round Lake.   Read more…

One Well Brewing

September 2, 2017
  • 4213 Portage Street
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49001
  • (269) 459-9240
  • Website
  • Menu

I’ve been writing this blog for so long that recently, I’ve been writing blog posts for restaurants I’ve already written blog posts for.  Some of the time it’s just because the last time I blogged about a place it has been close to ten years.  Some of the time, I do it because a place has undergone a major change in menu or space.

This particular post is about a place that has undergone a major change in both space and menu.

I first blogged about One Well Brewing not long after they opened their kitchen in 2015.  At that time, they had a pretty limited food menu.  We enjoyed our visit, but we typically only visit breweries a second time if they have a good food menu and something for the kids.

Things have changed pretty drastically in the last two years.

One Well Brewing is on Portage Road near the interchange with I-94.  It’s in a strip mall that sits a little ways off the road between Bloomfield and Dorchester Avenues.  The space that One Well was a different brewery that didn’t last very long in the neighborhood because they thought there was too much crime.  At least, that’s the space they were in last time we were there….I mean, they’re still in that space, but they’ve also expanded into the space next door which was a 24/7 gym….and this is the space that you really need to check out as you’ll see in a little bit.

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Chicago Munchies Fried & Grilled

August 29, 2017
  • 790 N. Westnedge Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49007
  • (269) 888-2266
  • No Known Website
  • Menu

You know whenever I see the word “Chicago” on a restaurant I take that as a challenge.  Having grown up near Chicago, I’m a little overprotective of places trying to replicate Chicago style food without actually knowing what it is.  You native Michiganders know what I’m talking about…Coney Dogs…right?  A hot dog with chili on is not necessarily a Coney Dog.  That’s how I feel about “Chicago” food.

A few weeks ago, I noticed new signs go up on the corner storefront of the North Point Community Retail Park in Kalamazoo’s Northside Neighborhood.  Not only did they use the word Chicago but they stole the Chicago Bears “C” logo to drive home the point.

The store is called Chicago Munchies Fried & Grilled.  It’s on North Westnedge near West Frank Street.  The small corner shop has been many things over the years.  It was  Sailors Fish & Chicken at one time.  It was TNT – A Touch of Soul a few years back.  Most recently, it was called Pharaoh’s Valley.

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