If you’re not going to Paris anytime soon, but you’re craving a French experience, look no further than Grand Rapids! Many chefs in West Michigan pay homage to the complexity of French cuisine, decor, ambience, and model their dining experiences after those in different regions of the country.
We have identified nine locations to transport you and your tastebuds:
Classic French Restaurants
Grand Rapids is home to several restaurants whose focus is classic French cuisine. These places will have your tastebuds saying, “voilà!”
The Euro Bistro
The patio is an oasis of bright flowers and French music, with plenty of afternoon and evening shade. Inside, guests encounter the 20-person bar, and can also sit at the classically French white linen-covered tables. The service is attentive and efficient, and the menu offers lunch options from $9-$16, with dinner entrees ranging from $12-$28. The true connoisseur might enjoy the beef bourguignon or the coq au vin, but a more reserved diner would still enjoy his visit with a pissaladiere (wood-fired pizza) or an eight-ounce filet served with frites.
Good to know: The Euro Bistro takes reservations, and has a private dining area if you’re celebrating a special occasion.
Margaux creates plated dishes out of high quality ingredients.
Photo Credit: Photographer: Julie Line - Big Events Studios
With floor to ceiling windows overlooking the Grand River within the JW Marriott Grand Rapids, even a seat inside Margaux feels like a treat. The tables are intimate, yet the high ceilings and variety of seating makes the open concept impressive.
Superb dinner entrees range from $24-$45 and the plating is a work of art. All menu items are written in French, but item descriptions are in English, which is helpful if you haven’t tried French cuisine before.
Margaux serves a breakfast menu and buffet seven days a week, but the French bistro menu is solely available at lunch, served daily from 11:30 AM to 2 PM, and at dinner, served daily starting at 5:00 PM. Reservations are not required, but you can make one at OpenTable.
Good to know: If you’re not staying in the hotel, the restaurant will validate your valet or self-parking in the JW Marriott Grand Rapids parking garage upon request!
Mertens Prime serves classic French cuisine and premium steaks and chops.
Photo Credit: Haute Rootop at Mertens Prime.
While Mertens Prime is no longer a hotel, it is one of the newest French-inspired restaurants to open in Grand Rapids. Chef Paul Berglund, a James Beard award-winning chef is the executive chef at Mertens Prime.
The restaurant opened in 2017 in the dining room of the original New Hotel Mertens, which closed in the 1960’s. Serving Beignets,Cafe au Lait, Fries and Poutine at Cafe Mertens. This downtown restaurant offers chef tastings and serves classic French dishes.
Begin your meal by tasting the authentic cheeses from the cheese trolley, sampling escargot, or trying the steak tartare. Then, move on to Poulet Cordon Bleu or a bowl of steaming Bouillabaisse. Pricing on Mertens Prime's menu is flexible, with dinner entrees ranging from $11-$59. If you have a party of 12 or less, use Mertens Prime’s OpenTable option to reserve for your group.
Good to know: Mertens Prime’s rooftop patio, Mertens Rooftop, boasts one of the most greatest views of the Grand Rapids skyline, and serves cocktails, small plates, and high tea. It’s important to note that guests must make reservations in order to visit Mertens Rooftop, as walk-ins will not be accepted. Guests can make reservations by visiting Mertens Prime’s website.
Brewery Vivant is not only known for their Northern France/Southern Belgium inspired craft beer, but also their French eats. [Brewery] Vivant, which translates to “living”, has a constantly changing menu as chefs incorporate local ingredients into daily and weekly specials. The bone marrow, the duck confit nachos, the French picnic sandwich, and the poutine are all fresh, made in house, and getting rave reviews!
Dinner entrees range from $12-$18, but don’t forget to fill up on their tasty appetizers as well! The ambience in Brewery Vivant is as unique as its menu: located in a century-old funeral home, the stained glass, wooden beams, and original lighting sets Brewery Vivant apart as a brewery and restaurant destination.
Don’t forget to use your Beer City Brewsader Passport or check in with the app at Brewery Vivant!
Good to know: Brewery Vivant has been a Silver LEED certified since 2012, and became a B Corporation in 2014 to continue furthering sustainability practices in commercial brewing.
Fact: Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe is located in a historic building called the “Windmill.”
Photo Credit: Experience Grand Rapids
Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe
What started as a beloved food truck in 2015 has now become a wonderful staple of the Uptown neighborhood. Brown Butter Creperie & Cafe brings the taste of France to their dining room, or as event catering.
The creperie menu has a wide variety of sweet and savory crepes, as well as a Belgian waffle section. With so many delectable options, your best bet is to go with people you like and try a bunch of different crepes!
Located in a historic building called the “Windmill” (pictured above), the cafe is cozy, but filled with natural light and clean finishes throughout the interior.
Good to know: Crepes are much more difficult to make than their American ‘cousin,’ the pancake. Brown Butter offers crepe-making classes for interested groups of eight or less: call to inquire about new seasonal dates and making a group reservation.
Insider Tip: The chefs at Bistro Bella Vita are accommodating for guests with gluten or lactose intolerance, and also offer vegetarian and vegan menu items.
Photo Credit: Brian Craig for Experience Grand Rapids
Bistro Bella Vita
France, meet Italy! Bistro Bella Vita fuses two classic cuisine varieties into an exciting and consistently evolving menu. Dinner entrees range from $17-$38, and the dining and service experience is first class.
Bistro’s menu boasts homemade pastas, many locally-sourced ingredients, and excellent seafood for dishes like the seafood spaghetti. The chefs at Bistro Bella Vita are accommodating for guests with gluten or lactose intolerance, and also offer vegetarian and vegan menu items.
Make a reservation using OpenTable if you know you’ll be there during prime dining hours, as the restaurant is a fan-favorite among locals and tourists.
Good to know: Bistro Bella Vita is located downtown near some of the city's biggest attractions. There are many nearby parking garages and they offer valet service to make parking easy.
Le Bon Macaron's homemade treats and coffee will make you feel like you're in Paris.
Photo Credit: Experience GR (Taken by Bree Girard)
The French ambiance and menu items of these restaurants will make you feel as if you’re in the foreign country!
Le Bon Macaron
Step inside a small corner of Paris when you visit Le Bon Macaron in Uptown. Tucked between a local bookstore and boutique clothing shops, Le Bon Macaron is an afternoon oasis for a cup of tea, coffee, or something sweet.
The room is light and bright, with vintage touches, vases of roses on every table, and a glass case full of every color and kind of macaron you could desire. Their most popular flavor, the Marie Antoinette’s Cake Batter, is a beautiful teal with multi-colored sprinkles, and tastes just like cake batter.
The syrups for Le Bon Macron’s coffee, espresso, and tea are made in house and some drinks rotate seasonally.
Good to know: If you have a group of six or less, you can make an afternoon tea reservation. For $25 per person, the experience includes your choice of four macarons, cheese, and crackers from The Cheese Lady, plus a freshly baked Le Bon Macaron scone, and your choice of tea. Le Bon Macaron does require 72 hours notice to prepare your tea session, so be sure to plan in advance and call.
The Cherie Inn
Just a half block from Le Bon Macaron is The Cherie Inn, a favorite for locals and visitors in search of a European-inspired breakfast or brunch. Some breakfast favorites include many variations of eggs Benedict, and their classic cranberry-walnut French toast with honey butter. Lunch items include a mixture of soups, salads, and sandwiches. The Cherie Inn is a very popular destination for breakfast on the weekend, so be mindful of potential wait times if you plan on attending during prime breakfast hours.
Good to know: The Cherie Inn first opened her doors in 1924, and is now housed in a building over a century old. The original tin ceiling, artwork, and 1940’s local furniture feel like a vacation from many of the newer builds around the city. This place has a timeless elegance.
Grand Rapids has a multitude of restaurants and cuisine types to choose from. Whether you’re in the mood for French, Mexican, Italian cuisine, or more, visit the Restaurants page to view a list of restaurants that that suit your taste buds.