It’s been a while since Foursquare has actually been relevant, but every now and then, something surprises me.
Last week, I was near downtown Grand Rapids when I checked in to something (I don’t even remember what). On one of the more recent updates to the app, they have started putting recommendations near you on the front page. What popped up was a tip from a friend of mine left on a deli I had never heard of. I clicked on it and saw there were quite a few positive tips, so I went looking for a website and liked what I saw.
Rico’s Deli was the restaurant that popped up. It’s on Monroe Avenue just north of 6th Street across from the park. It’s in the space that used to be the Riverfront Deli in one of those old factories that has been turned in to mixed use buildings in recent years.
There is parking on the street as well as the public lot across the street next to the park, but it was pretty late on a Friday night, so street parking was an easy option.
There were a few people inside when I walked in and the lone employee, who someone else called Rico, was chatting with some guys who had just come from the National Homebrewers Conference at Devos Place.
The space is not at all what I was expecting. They describe it as “a casual and hip welcoming vibe.” That’s a pretty fair description of the large deli that still has that charm from the buildings previous life.
The order counter is right as you walk in the door. I picked up a paper menu from the counter and started looking for something to eat.
They didn’t have any pastrami sandwiches, but that’s ok this time. Rico’s isn’t really the simple sandwich kind of deli. The menu offers grilled wraps, panini’s, and 10″ sub sandwiches among other things.
I went with one of the items marked as “Rico’s Favorites” off the Famous Oven Baked 10″ Subs section of the menu. The Little Italy is ham, pepperoni, Genoa salami, tomato, mozzarella, banana peppers, lettuce, and Italian dressing. The cost was just under $8 and after taking my order, the same guy running the cash register went in to the kitchen to bake it up.
The sandwich took less than 10 minutes to come out wrapped up and piping hot. I needed to get back to work, so I grabbed it to go and headed out.
When I got the sandwich unwrapped, I was kind of surprised to find it opened up. The sandwich is baked with the ingredients face up to the broiler. I’m not a huge tomato fan, so I pulled a few of them off before folding the sandwich up and digging in.
The sandwich was absolutely delicious. The edges of the bread were nice and crispy and all the ingredients were warm and slightly toasted from the baking. The sandwich being open during the baking really does a lot for this sandwich and takes it from a good to a great creation.
I’m not sure I ever would have found Rico’s Deli on my own. I don’t drive down that part of Monroe very often and even when I do, I’m not really looking around. I’ve always thought of that area as more residential, but this deli is tucked into the landscape of this neighborhood and it’s worth the five minute drive from downtown Grand Rapids.