If you’re in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for a meeting or a conference and the organizers set you free for lunch, you have been given a gift.
Dozens and dozens of restaurants – most of them locally owned – are within walking distance of the city’s convention campus. Your biggest challenge will be deciding where to go.
Experience Grand Rapids eases the process by offering a nifty guide to the city’s restaurants on its website along with an online list searchable by several parameters. Simply choose “downtown” for the neighborhood, and choices abound.
For a little more help, we reached out to some local downtown workers to see where their favorite spots are for a quick bite or a place to sit down and have a conversation that isn’t drowned out by restaurant din.
Here are a few highlights, all well under a 10-minute walk from the hotels or convention center. This is by no means an all-inclusive list – just a few suggestions from the regulars.
The JW Marriott Hotel's six.one.six. is one of many Grand Rapids dining options for a power lunch. Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids
- Ski’s Sub Shop is a favorite for the downtown crowd. Super fast and super friendly. The owner will make you feel like a regular.
- Parsley Mediterranean Grill will serve you gyros, falafel, grape leaves and other traditional offerings in plenty of time to get back for your next session.
- Angel’s Thai offers delicious food with little wait. Grab a seat inside or get takeout and eat in Rosa Parks Circle.
- A few other suggestions from the locals: Freshii, Dog Pit, Electric Hero and The Kitchen Counter by Wolfgang Puck.
Sit and talk
- The Bull’s Head is down the block from the convention center, right across the street from the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel. Several locals noted its location and the ability to hear your dining companions.
- Sundance Grill & Bar has breakfast along with regular luncheon fare. A very popular spot for business meet-ups. They also have a coffee bar for your espresso fix.
- six.one.six, found right in the JW Marriott hotel, offers a great place to have a conversation over delicious food. If weather allows, enjoy its outdoor seating along the river.
- A few others noted by locals: Big O’s, Brick & Porter, Cinco de Mayo, The Kitchen by Wolfgang Puck and Reserve.
If you’re willing to walk a bit more than 10 minutes, your options expand to include the city’s West Side as well as the area around the Van Andel Arena.
The arena district has great offerings for business lunches, including San Chez Tapas Bistro, Luna for Mexican, Bistro Bella Vita for Italian and French, Iron for cast iron cooking and the Grand Rapids Brewing Co.
New Holland Brewing's The Knickerbocker is about a 10 minute walk from the convention center campus. Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids
And, if you’re really ambitious and have the time, the Downtown Market is a 23-minute walk from the convention center – just over a mile. You will find several options for a quick bite with plenty of seating to have a conversation. Offerings include tacos, sushi, pizza, pasta and many others.
Dining at the Downtown Market in Grand Rapids is worth the 10-15 minute walk. Photo credit: Experience Grand Rapids
Is all this too much and you would rather have fast and familiar? Fear not; Panera, Starbucks, Subway and Jimmy John's are just a few steps away from the convention campus.