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University Roadhouse

December 18, 2018

  • 1332 W. Michigan Avenue
  • Kalamazoo, MI 49006
  • (269) 345-7990
  • Website
  • Menu

Having grandparents close is something new to J and I.  We moved to Michigan 10 years ago from Central Illinois.  We both grew up in north eastern Illinois.  She grew up in a Chicago suburb.  I grew up about 60 miles south of Chicago in a small farming community.  For the first ten  years, our families still lived in the communities we grew up in.

J’s parents began looking at lake houses last fall.  Her dad had retired and there wasn’t much keeping them in Chicago.  They had always planned to move away from the city after retirement but it was Wisconsin that was always their intended target.

When it came time to pull the trigger, they wanted to get closer to the grand kids.  That was a big relief to us.  For the first time, we’d have family nearby (and really, who would rather move to Wisconsin over Michigan?)

We’ve been able to take advantage of Nana and Grandpa nearby a few times already and it worked out perfectly when we needed a babysitter this past weekend for the Frankie Ballard concert.  My mom had offered to come up again, but J’s parents didn’t have plans and offered to take the kids overnight at their house.

We had the whole evening to ourselves and we expected to take advantage of it.  Dinner, drinks, and a concert.

We kicked around a few places to eat.  The only places downtown we really haven’t eaten at didn’t have much to appeal to J.  We discussed a few of our favorites downtown as well but ultimately, went for something we haven’t done in a while.

University Roadhouse was one of the first restaurants we ate at after moving to Kalamazoo in 2009.  We’ve eaten there a few times over the years, but it has been at least a couple since the last time I can remember being there.

J met some friends at University Roadhouse a few months ago and didn’t recognize the place.  She came home and said we needed to go back.  The idea came up when discussing dinner plans on Saturday so that’s what we decided to do.

University Roadhouse is one of the Houz Restaurant Groups restaurants.  They’re the same group that owns the Main Street Pubs, Fletcher’s Pub, and The Old Goat Tavern.  The Roadhouse has been a staple situated between Waldo Stadium and Western Michigan’s University’s campus on Michigan Avenue for almost 30 years.

The parking lot was pretty full when we pulled in just before 5:30 but we found one of the last remaining spots in the lot next to the building below WMU DPS.

As I said, it’s been a few years since I’ve been to  University Roadhouse and it looks nothing like it used to on the inside.  At some point, they underwent a total renovation.  The bar is moved to the middle.  Gone are the famous quotes lining the walls.  The color scheme has been changed to a muted gray scale with pops of color on the bar stools and decorations on the walls.  As you walk in, there is a row of pub tables along the wall between what used to be the outside wall and the bar.

I say “used to be the outside wall” because there’s now an all weather patio with garage door like windows that can open up in the summer time creating a space that can take advantage of the beautiful Michigan seasons.

The bar is a 360 degree bar with TV’s hanging every couple of feet.  The place does a really good job of kind of walking the line between a sports bar and an upscale pub.

We were taken to a booth in what is now the main dining room where the bar used to be.  There are a number of four top tables that can be pushed together to make room for bigger parties and booths line the wall.  There’s still TV’s all over the place…even though none were tuned to the Ferris State national championship game at the time.

I grabbed the beer list when we sat down and found a couple that I liked.  I picked Arcadia Ale’s Road Crew since I don’t drink it very often.  The waitress tried to get me to go a size bigger but I knew I was going to do enough drinking that night so I stayed with the pint.

J let the waitress talk her into a drink on that was on special.  It was a Peppermint Mocha and I couldn’t even begin to tell you what was in it, but it came in a martini glass so the first half of it was delicious and the bottom half got real boozy.

The menu is bigger than I remember but it’s still upscale classic pub food.  We had some time and didn’t have the kids meals to pay for so we decided to do an appetizer.  The Buffalo Chicken Dip jumped out at me and J agreed.  The appetizer came out super quick.  The plate was piled with fresh tortilla chips and a bowl of the dip in the middle.  The dip itself is is Buffalo chicken mixed with three cheeses.  At first it looked like there was more dip than chips but we were taking big portions each time we went in for more.  I don’t know if it’s better than my “famous” Buffalo chicken dip, but it was good, a little spicy, and a great start to the meal.

I looked at the menu for quite some time before doing what I always do.  I ordered a burger.  I picked the Bacon, Egg, and Cheese Burger.  It is what it sounds like.  A burger with bacon, egg, and cheddar cheese.  The burger was just lightly pink in the middle and topped with a fried egg and a couple strips of crispy bacon.  The dominating flavor was the burger.  The egg was kind of lost in the background but I noticed it there a lot more when I got to the yolk.  The sandwich came with fries.  They were simple and needed a little bit of mustard…I mean, we were going to a country concert so mustard on fries is alright.

J picked Willy’s BBQ Chicken Wrap.  This sandwich is a four tortilla with grilled chicken, BBQ sauce, bacon, cheddar cheese, onions, lettuce, and tomato.  Her intention all along was to eat half but when the plate was set down, it was pretty obvious that was going to happen.  The tortilla was filled to the point of busting open with fairly big pieces of chicken in addition to the veggies.  Her sandwich also came with fries.

I thought we were just going to ask for the check and move on, but J suggested dessert.  The waitress went over the list and we quickly picked the NY Cheesecake to split. The slice came with choice of strawberry or caramel sauce.  We picked the caramel.  I went straight for the back where the graham cracker crust is and J started from the front.  The slice to share was a great way to end the meal.

Our bill came out to just a little under $50.  We were kind of shocked and checked it to make sure the waitress didn’t miss something.  We’re used to spending more than that on dinner and figured we did appetizer and dessert but that came out to less than we usually spend on the kid’s meals.

University Roadhouse has impressed me every time we’ve eaten there.  I drive by it every night but it doesn’t come up in dinner discussions very often.  There really isn’t a reason for that.  The place is exactly the kind of restaurant we like.  It’s not a greasy pub but it’s not a fancy bistro either.  We’re real big fans of the in-between

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. December 18, 2018 7:17 pm

    The Roadhouse you likely remember was torn down and replaced a bit after 2009. I miss the quaint and much smaller old building but expansion is a good thing and the food is still solid.

    • SW Michigan Dining permalink*
      December 19, 2018 12:42 pm

      I didn’t move to Kalamazoo until 2009. The structure was the same last time I was there but the inside was completely different.

  2. January 3, 2019 9:51 am

    We stop by the Roadhouse on a pretty consistent basis when visiting our son and daughter-in-law at WMU. Always a good choice. Not a college dive bar. Clean and recently remodeled in 2018.

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