To catch up on one another's lives and solve many of the worlds problems, my girlfriend and I met for dinner last week at the Electric Cheetah in Grand Rapids.

Parking was tight and dinner guests were lined up for a table, but despite the mid-week wait we couldn't resist the savory aroma beckoning from within. Inside, the air hummed with the "And then whats," "Mmm hmmms" and laughter of friends, families and couples catching up over a meal. Eyeing the imaginative dinners on the plates of seated customers and soaking in the convivial atmosphere, our decision was made. We were staying.

When we squeezed into a table about a half-an-hour later, we caught up over drinks first. My friend enjoyed a glass of wine (they offer a decent selection), while I was happy to see one of my favorite local beers, Founders Centennial IPA, on the menu. We settled in to chat, to enjoy our beans and hummus appetizer, and to take in the scene.

Electric Cheetah is located on Wealthy Street in the Eastown neighborhood of Grand Rapids. The area's experienced a resurgence as of late and Electric Cheetah, along with its neighbors Brick Road Pizza and The Sparrows (coffee, tea and newsstand), is one of its gems. The restaurant serves good food with a twist, and they use local ingredients as often as possible. The fun crowd is a diverse mix of ages and stages, which contributes to the neighborhood ambiance.

Although the restaurant was busy, we felt like we had all the time in the world in our little corner of the place. Looking over the bar, we watched the chefs as they hustled and worked and created their masterpieces. We relaxed with our drinks and chatted the night away. Before too long, though, we decided to try some of that deliciousness coming out of the kitchen. I ordered the pulled pork sandwich, topped with a pineapple salsa and the hand-cut fries (you can order regular, sweet potato, or a mix). It was out of this world.

A caveat: The Electric Cheetah changes its menu monthly, so you may have to choose a new favorite when you return. But whatever the month, you can count on them to serve up fresh-looking salads, creative vegetarian fare, and plenty of cuisine for the carnivore.

Sadly, I enjoyed my sandwich and fries so much that I was too stuffed to try one of the tempting-looking desserts. Be smarter when you goat the very least save room for their freshly-baked monster cookies!

Where you can find it: 1015 Wealthy Street SE, Grand Rapids

Phone: (616) 451.4779

If you go with kids: Check out the root beer menu--they offer over a dozen hand-crafted options.