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McAlister’s Deli (Portage)

November 30, 2022

  • 5970 S. Westnedge Avenue
  • Portage, MI 49002
  • (269) 350-5072
  • Website
  • Menu

What a long weekend.

The kids had their first synchronized skating competition at Wings Event Center a few weeks ago. It’s a huge event that takes a lot of volunteers from the club. J and L spent most of the weekend there before both B and L competed with their teams on Sunday morning.

The weekend did have a bit of a bummer. Grandma and Papa were supposed to come up from Illinois to watch the kids compete but we decided on Saturday that was a bad idea. It was snowing way too hard for them to risk it. I was on the phone with my mom Saturday night coming home from work in St. Joseph County when I hit a wall of snow near Portage. They really wanted to see the kids compete but it just wasn’t worth the risk.

We were pretty much wrapped up at Wings Event Center by 1:00 on Sunday. J and L weren’t part of the volunteer tear down crew so once we got medals and took pictures, we were free to leave.

The kids weren’t in the greatest mood when we left. Check that, B was ecstatic but L was pretty bummed. Neither of their teams did very well but B was just so happy to get his first skating medal he didn’t care they placed 5th out of 6. L on the other hand, was a little cranky….which is typical hangriness for her after a competition.

I had a couple of ideas for lunch but we thought a sit down full service meal was a bad idea with L at the moment.

L’s post skating meal is usually a salad. Good news. There’s a place that just opened on our way home that has delicious salads.

McAlister’s Deli recently opened their first Kalamazoo area store on the corner of Westnedge and Milham in Portage. The building has gone through a total renovation in the last few years after Panera moved down the street. It actually took me a second to realize that this was the old Panera location. It really looks nothing like it used to.

It’s funny. Panera moved down the street because they wanted to put in a pick up window. McAlister’s has a pick up window. I guess this way Panera didn’t have to close while they built out a new space. Heads up though. We found out since this visit McAlister’s doesn’t take gift cards online. We were planning on using this pick up window but J ended up having to go in an order because we had a gift card we wanted to use.

It’s been a long time since we’ve eaten at a McAlister’s Deli. The last time I can actually remember it was way back in 2009 in Okemos. I don’t remember much about the place but my blog post from then says we liked it.

The restaurant is counter service so we grabbed a couple of menus on our way in. We wanted to be able to figure out what we wanted before we got to the register. There is nothing worse than people who stand at the register still trying to decide what they want to eat.

There really was something for all of us. Sandwiches for me. Salads for L. Pizza for B. Grilled cheese for J. The total for our meal was right around $50.

We were given a number to put on our table so our meals could be brought out to us. We had considered just getting it to go but L actually said she wanted to stay here and eat because she was so hungry she didn’t want to wait until we got home.

There’s quite a large dining room with a variety of tables. We grabbed a four top and waited. The restaurant just opened a little over a month ago so we expected it to be busy…and it kind of was, but the food was brought out quick and there was still plenty of space in the restaurant to dine in.

Our food came out pretty quickly. It was less than ten minutes.

My eyes were immediately drawn to the pastrami sandwiches on the menu. The one I picked was The New Yorker. This beast of a sandwich is corned beef, pastrami, Swiss cheese, and spicy brown mustard on marbled rye bread. The sandwich was much bigger than expected. Not quite NY deli proportions but much bigger than I expected from a chain restaurant. The meat was super tender and juicy. You could squeeze the sandwich and get a little bit of the juice to come out. This is a solid sandwich and one I’ll keep coming back for.

On the side, I got a bowl of mac and cheese. The macaroni noodles are in a thick, creamy cheese sauce. It tastes like reheated in a large bag mac and cheese to me but it was still tasty. A little pepper on top would have helped this out.

J’s sandwich choice was the Four Cheese Melt…which is a fancy way of saying Grilled Cheese. This sandwich is ciabatta bread with Provolone, Swiss, Parmesan and American cheeses. There’s also a tomato slice on there which J missed on the menu but she was able to take it off pretty easily. This sandwich was super cheesy and the ciabatta bread just gave it that delicious crunch.

There’s actually some pretty good kid options but B kept it simple and chose the pizza. The cheese pizza looked a little sad on the plate but it tasted better than it looked. The crust was pretty doughy and chewy but it’s a small enough pizza that it’s not as much of a challenge to eat as it would be in a larger slice.

L got the salad she was wanting after competing. She picked the Garden Salad. All of the salads are mixed greens and include spinach. This plate was topped with cheddar-jack cheese, tomato, croutons, and cucumbers. She doesn’t like tomato or cucumber so we spent a few minutes picking those off for her. McAlister’s doesn’t have Italian dressing which really bummed her out. She picked ranch instead of trying a balsamic. I know she wasn’t totally happy because she wanted Italian. The next time we ordered from McAlister’s we did carry-out. When we got home, she dumped the ranch and grabbed a bottle of Italian out of the fridge.

I’ve been looking forward to this McAlister’s Deli opening. We needed a quick sandwich place like this. J goes to Panera a lot and I usually pass. The sandwiches just aren’t that good or filling. McAlister’s is the opposite of that. They have the soups and salads that J likes but they also have a robust sandwich menu that will keep me happy.

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