10 FAVORITE BREAKFAST PLACES IN GRAND RAPIDS
Written by Ryan Ogle
Fried. Buttered. Crispy. Smoky. Stuffed. Greasy. Filling. These are some of the words we look for in a breakfast. Maybe we need some sustenance to nourish us from last night’s adventures. Maybe we are looking to take friends from out-of-town to our favorite place. Maybe we just don’t feel like cracking eggs, making pancake batter and frying bacon on a weekend morning. Rest assured, there is some great breakfast to be found here in West Michigan. Join us as we count down 10 exceptional breakfast joints in and around the Grand Rapids area.
MATCHBOX DINER – 1345 Lake Drive SE (Eastown) http://www.matchboxdiner.com
We start off in Eastown, where this relative newcomer has made its mark fairly quickly. Opened less than one year ago, Matchbox has been filling a void for traditional deli-style breakfast all day. The stars here are sweet potato pancakes topped with candied pecans, the lox platter, potato latkes and build-your-own eggs benedict. In addition to the breakfast classics, Matchbox Diner also serves healthier fare, such as avocado toast and an acai berry bowl.
THAT EARLY BIRD – 1445 Lake Drive SE (Eastown) http://www.thatearlybird.com
We continue in Grand Rapids’ Eastown neighborhood for another relative newcomer to Grand Rapids’ breakfast scene, That Early Bird Cafe. Taking the place of the former Kava House Coffeeshop on Lake Drive, this restaurant is hitting it home with unique and creative dishes prepared for the masses. That Early Bird keeps it semi-healthy with it’s Ancient Grain Bowl, Curried Vegetable Hash and Avocado Smash. Looking to go into a food coma and not go running afterward? No worries, they have you covered there too. Biscuits and gravy will satisfy that need to return to bed after a warm, hearty meal. Try one of their three breakfast sandwiches, which include ham, egg or a unique peanut butter and citrus marmalade with crushed peanuts.
ELECTRIC CHEETAH – 1015 Wealthy Street SE (East Hills) http://electriccheetah.com
Our journey takes us to the East Hills neighborhood of Grand Rapids to the hip and always creative Electric Cheetah. They have really turned up the breakfast imagination game here with funky dishes such as the Blackberry Beetlejuice Schliders (pickle-brined fried chicken with bacon and egg blackberry biscuits), the Buena Vista Social Brunch (their take on a Cuban sandwich – hash style) and Donkey Kong French Toast (using banana bread in lieu of regular bread and topping it with caramelized bananas and whipped cream). Bonus tip: get here early to avoid out-the-door lines (even in winter).
BILL’S FAMILY RESTAURANT – 1235 Michigan Street NE (Midtown)
You really have to trust an old-school breakfast place populated with locals that doesn’t have a website and sits in a nondescript location. Sometimes you just want a no-fuss, no-frills, good greasy breakfast. Located near the corner of Michigan Street and Fuller Avenue, Bill’s has been cooking up breakfast staples ever since we can remember. Come here for hearty helpings of crispy bacon, sausage patties, eggs cooked to order, hashbrowns and toast. Bill’s will fill you up without emptying your wallet. Best of all, you don’t have to get out of your pajamas – you can have breakfast in bed by using their drive-through window!
MARIE CATRIB’S – 1001 Lake Drive SE (East Hills) http://www.mariecatribs.com
We are back to Grand Rapids’ East Hills neighborhood to a breakfast joint that serves many flavors from around the world. Founded by a Lebanese immigrant, Marie Catrib’s is an American success story. The owner followed her heart to start what is considered one of Grand Rapids’ best and most popular restaurants. Marie Catrib’s offers a wide variety of unique homemade specialities, including Panukakku (a Finnish pancake with jam), the Hitchhiker (sweet corn cakes with parmesan, cheddar, sausage and a fried egg), or the Greek Omelette (an omelet with feta, black olives, spinach, olives, onions and spices). Marie Catrib’s is a long supporter of sourcing food sustainably and responsibly, and their dedication to supporting the local economy shows.
CHERIE INN – 969 Cherry Street SE (East Hills) http://cherieinn.com
Step back into time in this cozy, European-style East Hills restaurant. Arguably the oldest restaurant on this list, Cherie Inn has been serving up breakfast in Grand Rapids for almost 100 years. We are drooling at the thought of consuming their Sausage Bake Scramble (sausage with herbs and eggs baked in the oven, then topped with sour cream and served open-faced on a croissant), their Almond Joy Pancakes topped with coconut, chocolate, and almonds, or their Shakshouka (poached eggs in a spicy tomato sauce with kale and feta cheese served with warm naan bread). Whatever you pick here, make sure and take some time to admire the quaint, living room-like setting of this classic Grand Rapids gem.
WESTSIDER CAFE – 1180 Walker Avenue NW (West Side)
Get your dupa out of bed and head to the West Side of Grand Rapids with us for a local favorite specializing in Polish delights for breakfast. Paying homage to their West Side location, many menu items are named after the numerical streets in the neighborhood. The Westsider Cafe offers some great Polish specialties, such as potato pancakes with sour cream and applesauce, a scramble with Polish sausage, rye bread and – get this – a FIVE egg omelet. They even offer homemade kielbasa from Frank’s Market on West Fulton Street. If you leave here hungry, it is your own fault.
REAL FOOD CAFE – 2419 Eastern Avenue SE (Alger Heights) | 3514 Plainfield Avenue NE (Plainfield)
One restaurant has proven to be so good, they now have two locations and are known for the variety of tasty breakfast morsels they are cooking up. With such an array of menu items, indecisiveness is inevitable at Real Food Cafe. They specialize in cinnamon roll pancakes (with real icing on top), giant pancakes, corned beef hash, Nutella French Toast (topped with bananas and whipped cream) and plenty of home-baked goods tempting you by the cashier. One tip however: Real Food Cafe is CASH ONLY, so make sure and stop by the ATM beforehand.
ANNA’S HOUSE – 2409 East Beltline Avenue SE (Woodland) | 3874 Plainfield Avenue NE (Plainfield) | 3766 Potomac Circle SW (Grandville) http://www.annashouseus.com/home
Now operating three Grand Rapids area locations, Anna’s House is starting to build a West Michigan breakfast empire. They carry all the traditional breakfast favorites along with several options for the more health-conscious. Standout favorites here include red velvet pancakes with cream cheese frosting, lemon poppyseed crepes with warm blueberry sauce, chicken and waffles with maple cream sauce and the ham and cheese Monte Cristo sandwich topped with raspberry sauce. For the health-conscious, Anna’s House offers many non-dairy, gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian items.
WOLFGANG’S – 1530 Wealthy Street SE (Eastown) http://www.mattwolfgang.com
This Eastown stalwart has been serving breakfast since it opened as Just Breakfast in 1977. Many of their menu items are named after loyal customers, friends and family members, such as the Marisa Vanden Bosch, the Stacy Wolfgang and the Van Lenten. Matt and Stacy Wolfgang took over for their parents in the mid-1990s, and have not looked back. Favorites here include Uncle Ron’s Skillet, The Mahoney Cakes and the Jamaican Jerk Chicken Frittata. Whatever you choose, make sure to get a side of Wolfgang’s unique hashbrowns. Pressed for cash? Monday through Friday, 6:30 A.M. to 8:30 A.M., Wolfgang’s offers an “Early Bird Special,” which consists of either two pancakes and three strips of bacon or three eggs and toast for the low price of $2.99. We will get up early for that!
OK, so there you have it. Next time you roll out of bed in the morning and don’t feel like cooking, try one of our favorite spots. If these breakfast joints don’t have you salivating, tell us some that do!