Beer City Redux

We started the trips off on a Thursday morning, dropping Brody off in Joliet at Mike’s parents’ and the ride took three hours from there.  We arrived just in time for lunch, so we stopped at HopCat to get a bite to eat and our first Beer City brew of the trip.

HopCat, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We just got a sandwich and a salad there but the food was good, and it gave us a chance to plan our time there.  We wanted to check out some different antique stores from the last time we were in Grand Rapids, so we headed to Captain Bizzaro’s Treasure World first.  The store was haphazardly arranged but fun to explore.  We particularly enjoyed talking with the proprietor.  I found a pretty short story collection by Ray Bradbury that I decided I needed and Mike enjoyed the record selection.

Bluedoor Antiques, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Our next stop was the Blue Door Antique store in the Uptown neighborhood.   This store was an Instagrammer’s dream: beautifully arranged and color coordinated.  It was a little bit pricey but everything there was just gorgeous.  After we drooled over everything in the store (especially their refurbished furniture), we moved down two doors to City Antiques.

Bluedoor Antiques, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

This store had more jewelry and knickknacks than anything else, but most of it was behind glass.  The lovely woman managing the store chatted us up a bit and ended up giving us some great recommendations for places to get dinner.  We stayed at the Amway Grand Plaza this time around and we really liked it!  The rooms were big enough and the lobby was just beautiful.

Amway Grand Plaza, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Reserve Wine Bar (one of the suggestions we were given), was right next door to the hotel, so we walked over and were seated upstairs.  We both ordered a cocktail; Mike got the Kentucky Red head and I ordered the Reserve Press, a delicious gin and St. Germaine drink.  For food, we shared the cheese and charcuterie plate, the tortellini en brood and the pierogi.

Reserve Wine Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The cheese plate was excellent, as most are, and we really liked the pierogi, which had pork and apple filling and a cabbage slaw underneath.  The tortellini left a little to be desired, and we wished it came with a little bit more food.  After dinner, it was time for the main event, the whole reason we were in Grand Rapids in the first place: Aretha Franklin at the DeVos Performance Hall.

Aretha Franklin, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

I don’t even have words to describe how much this concert meant to me.  Aretha has forever been my favorite and I’m so grateful to have been able to see her live.  She came out on stage in peak Diva fashion, in a blue sequined dress and a huge fur coat and had a full band behind her.  She sang a lot of great hits like “Do Right Woman” and “Freeway of Love” and of course “Respect”.  I ugly cried for the first three songs.  She’s still got it!

Aretha Franklin, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After the show, we went back to the hotel to check out their bar on the 27th floor, aptly named Cygnus27.  This snazzy bar has to have the best view of Grand Rapids.  We sat at the bar, ordered some signature cocktails and made friends with the couple next to us.  They gave us A TON of great suggestions for places to check out.  We chit-chatted for a while, comparing dining experiences and sharing travel stories.

Amway Grand Plaza Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After they left, we had one more round and caught the end of the Blackhawks game.  The drinks were so delicious and they put us right to sleep once we got back to our room.  We slept in a bit the next day, and then headed to breakfast at Anna’s House which was one of the suggestions from our friends the night before.

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

There was a small wait for a table, but it was so worth it.  The inside of the restaurant was pastel and cozy.  We sat at a booth and were served big mugs of coffee.  Mike got a skillet and I got biscuits and gravy, with one of their red velvet pancakes on the side.  The food was absolutely amazing; it was such a nice way to start our day.  The cream cheese frosting that came with the pancake was honestly to die for.

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Anna's House, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

After breakfast we revisited a couple of stores we saw the last time we were there: Woosah and Vertigo Records.  Woosah is a really cool outfitter with beautiful printed t-shirts.  Mike and I each got one.  Then, next door, we perused the new and used records.  We went around to a couple other stores in the area before heading to lunch at Vander Mill Brewery.

Vander Mill Brewery, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We sat at the bar there and ordered a good number of five ounce pours of ciders to try.  We also got fried pickles and a soft pretzel with beer cheese to soak up some of the cider.  The food was great and we loved all of the ciders we tried.  Our favorites were the Cherry Chuckle and the Nitro Fluff, which was described to us as how a cloud would taste after a unicorn danced on it.  I’d say that’s accurate.

Vander Mill Brewery, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The woman manning the bar was a delight, and she gave us yet more recommendations.  One of which was a duplicate of one we’d heard the night before.  So that’s where we went for dinner.  Broadway Bar was a twenty minute walk from our hotel, over the river and along it, through the westside of town.

Brew City Redux, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

It was nestled into a neighborhood, set apart from the main strand of restaurants and bars.  The inside was decorated with Easter themed tablecloths and string lights and Ferris Bueller’s Day Off played on a screen on the wall.  It’s operation was a family affair, with one sister waitressing, one was behind the bar and mom was on the grill.  We ordered the tallest glasses I’ve ever seen and an olive burger and a swiss and mushroom burger.  The burgers were so damn good.  We were in heaven.

Broadway Bar, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Who knew olives were so good on burgers?? The whole experience was fantastic, if a bit rough around the edges.  We walked back to the main drag and stopped into the Knickerbocker for a flight of New Holland beers and a couple of fresh Michigan distilled cocktails.  The bar was gorgeous and had a lovely beer garden in the back.

Knickerbocker, Grand Rapids, Rebeccawanderlusting

Our next stop in our makeshift bar crawl was Stella’s – an arcade bar with an excellent selection of beet and whiskey.  This bar was crowded and had a fun atmosphere.  We only stayed for one drink, but it was an excellent place to get a beverage.

Stella's, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Across the street is the Pyramid Scheme, which was my favorite stop of the evening.  The bar featured a large area of pinball machines and a ton of great beers on tap.  We spent far too many quarters and maybe and had a bit too much beer because we left the bar with a framed, hand-painted “High Fidelity” movie poster.

Pyramid Scheme, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

The BOB, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

We had to tote it with us for the rest of the night, which continued at The BOB for a beer on their rooftop.  It was a beautiful evening for it.  We also decided to play pool, but soon discovered we had imbibed too much to play well.  We walked back to the hotel, ordered a pizza from room service and watched American Ninja Warriors.  It was the perfect ending to another successful trip to Grand Rapids.

Brew City, Grand Rapids, RebeccaWanderlusting

Have you been to Grand Rapids?  Which is your favorite place to get a beer in Beer City USA?

3 thoughts on “Beer City Redux

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