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Crunchy’s

April 18, 2022

  • 254 W. Grand River Avenue
  • East Lansing, MI 48823
  • (517) 351-2506
  • Website
  • Menu

We created a monster.

J and I have always been theater fans. J did a number of shows in high school while I was more of a jock and, at that time, couldn’t admit that I liked musical theater.

I had to take a class my freshman year of high school on music theory. The teacher was a big fan of Cats. We did a whole month breaking down the music and lyrics then she took us to see a performance at the Chicago Theatre. I fell in love with the show. J hates it and refuses to go see it with me again (I drug her to one performance at the Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts many years ago).

J and I have seen a number of shows over the years but there’s only one we’ve seen more than once. Hamilton.

The first time J and I saw Hamilton was during the initial height of it’s popularity. I was fortunate enough to snag a couple of last row tickets from the box office for a performance at The PrivateBank Theatre in Chicago. We really lucked out on this one. A few weeks after I got the tickets, it was announced Wayne Brady would play the roll of Aaron Burr. It was a really cool thing to see.

We bought the soundtrack after that and played it….often. So often in fact that L started listening to it and fell in love with the show before ever seeing it. We took her to see it for the first time when it came to Grand Rapids in 2020 right before the world shut down at DeVos Performance Hall. She’s been obsessed ever since.

The musical is back on tour this year and J’s mom decided she wanted to get L good seats….like really good seats, for Christmas. We chose the East Lansing performance because it would be later in the spring and hopefully COVID worries would subside by then.

L spent the night at one of her friend’s house the night before the show. We picked her up at 10 AM after they ate breakfast and started heading towards East Lansing. We were going to be pretty early so I suggested we do lunch before heading to the Wharton Center.

We were in East Lansing last month for an ice skating competition. We tried to go to Crunchy’s for lunch but it was during the NCAA tournament and the place was packed. We didn’t have that much time so we ended up going to The Pizza House instead.

We had more time and it was a pretty quite Sunday so we thought we’d give Crunchy’s another try.

Crunchy’s is pretty synonymous with East Lansing and Michigan State University. It was one of the first “college bars” we visited when we moved to Lansing in 2008.

The restaurant is on Grand River Avenue and Valley Court right in front of Valley Court Park just to the west of downtown East Lansing. The Spartan green building isn’t hard to find but parking can be tricky during the busy hours. There’s a lot right next to the building but it fills up fast and there are warnings all around not to park at another business.

The entrance is between Crunchy’s and Showroom Shine. There are signs point you to the narrow walkway between the two buildings to an entrance door about halfway through the building.

The restaurant was pretty empty when we walked in which was a relief to all of us. J and I were really looking forward to a meal at Crunchy’s again. We moved from Lansing to Kalamazoo in 2010 and we really haven’t gone back together since. Crunchy’s wasn’t a place we hit often while living in Lansing but we did try karaoke night a couple of times and we always enjoyed the food.

There was a hostess sitting right inside the door and she pointed us to the game room to grab a table.

The atmosphere at Crunchy’s is really something else. The place is lit with Christmas string lights and hanging lamps over the tables with green MSU covers. It’s a pretty dark place due to the dark green paint on the brick walls and dark green cushions on the seat. The space is kind of sectioned off which also creates a kind of closed atmosphere. They get as much seating as they can in to the kind of tiny building. This is an MSU bar and they’re not afraid to remind you of that.

The walls are covered with beer signs from craft brewery’s around the country.

The parts of the walls that aren’t covered with beer memorabilia are covered in signatures. Patrons have been writing their names on any exposed surface in Crunchy’s for years. It’s at the point now signatures are starting to be written on top of older, faded names.

Crunchy’s is a college town sports bar and the menu pretty much reflects that. They had a pretty good beer list and even though I really wasn’t in the mood for a beer, I ordered a Jai Alai anyway. I don’t see that one on draft too often and when I do, I like to grab it.

I always loved going to Crunchy’s because of their burgers so it was pretty obvious I wasn’t going to order anything else.

I picked the Black and Bleu Burger. This sandwich is served on a pretzel bun with a 1/2 lb chargrilled burger with Cajun seasoning. It’s topped with bleu cheese, bacon, lettuce, onion and tomato. The burger was as good as I remember it being. The meat was juicy and tender. The bacon was super crispy and added the saltiness that is so incredibly tasty alongside the tanginess of the bleu cheese. The sandwich comes with chips but I upgraded to fries. They were simple skin on fries that went really well with the honey mustard I stole from L.

J did something I haven’t seen her do in a long time. She ordered the Buffalo Chicken Wrap. She used to order these all the time but they seemed to keep getting spicier and spicier so she stopped. This wrap is deep fried chickens which the menu says are then dipped in a “mild” sauce. The rest of the wrap is lettuce, tomato, and bleu cheese dressing in a jalapeno wrap. The “mild” sauce is subjective. J thought it was too spicy and asked for more ranch. I thought it was Frank’s Red Hot which I basically drink from the bottle. She ate about half of the wrap and tried dipping the chicken in as much ranch as she could. She likes the peppery taste but doesn’t like things really spicy. Her wrap also came with chips but she opted for fries as well.

Crunchy’s really unique menu items are it’s “Buckets of Food.” If you’re hanging out with friends, you can order a bucket of food and a bucket of beer and have a fairly cheap night.

L was not hanging out with friends nor was she ordering a bucket of beer but she did order a Bucket of Pretzels. The metal bucket comes with six soft stone baked pretzels with a house made Bell’s Two Hearted hoppy mustard. L would have only ordered this if we had let her. She loves herself a soft pretzel. She wasn’t going to eat all six though so J and I also grabbed one (or two). The pretzels were deliciously salty. I really liked the mustard and ended up using a lot of it on my fries as well. L doesn’t like mustard so she just eats them plain but she put away two or three of these large pretzels on her own.

We wouldn’t let L just eat pretzels for lunch so she also ordered a side salad. L keeps her salads pretty simple with just lettuce, cheese, croutons and ranch dressing. They went a little light on the ranch so she had to ask for another cup. She’s 10 and she’s from Michigan so the correct ratio of ranch to salad is at least 3:1.

Our bill for lunch for the three of us was just over $50.

Everyone who knows anything about Michigan State University and East Lansing knows about Crunchy’s. There’s a lot more here than just nostalgia. The food is pretty great. We aren’t MSU alums but just from our two years living in Lansing we formed this association with Crunchy’s. It really is the place to go when you’re in town. I wouldn’t want to be there on a Friday or Saturday night (I did that once and that was enough for me) but find an off time and just soak in the atmosphere and top notch bar food.

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