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Michigan Hound Comes to Tampa - Needs Recs Please!

Thanks everyone! I'm so grateful for your suggestions. I'll report back when I'm home - again, thanks!

Jun 16, 2010
Mensch71 in Florida

Michigan Hound Comes to Tampa - Needs Recs Please!

All:

I'm going to be in Tampa next week (Monday through early Sunday morning), staying at the Tampa Marriott Waterside. My transportation options are limited to trolley and bus and after reading the extensive archives on the delicious options in Tampa... am I completely out of luck for a decent meal during my visit? It seems like all of the great places are too far of a trek.

Any suggestions would be most appreciated. My budget range for lunch is $10 - $20 and dinner is $15 - $30. Thanks!

Jun 14, 2010
Mensch71 in Florida

Any good bbq joints in Lansing, MI

Local secret is Sawyers Pancake House. If the smoker grill is out front and an elderly African American man is tending the fire, stop all four lanes of traffic and RUN to Sawyers. The pulled pork sandwich is better than anything I've had in North Carolina, Texas, Kansas and many other places.

http://www.sawyersgourmetpancakehouse...

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Pancake House
185 Capital Ave SW, Battle Creek, MI 49037

Apr 16, 2010
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Good dining in East Lansing?

I'm so glad you enjoyed your trip! I'm also delighted to hear that you were able to get out of downtown and check out Sansu as it's one of my favorite sushi places. (Who would ever imagine that a city in the middle of the country would have such an embarrassment of sushi riches?)

Now I'm going to have to go and try the rosemary naan as I'm so hooked on their butter naan that I rarely order other items!

Hope you'll make it through East Lansing again!

Feb 20, 2010
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Good dining in East Lansing?

Welcome to East Lansing! We're glad you're in town and hope you enjoy your stay. If you have transportation, do check out the most recent thread for options that might be a 3 - 10 minute drive. Within walking distance, you have a lot of options:

Harrison Roadhouse (burgers & sandwiches, sports bar)
Omi Sushi (good sushi, decent sake list)
Mumbai Indian http://www.mumbaicuisine.com/ (good food but the owner creeps me out
)Lou & Harry's Five Star Grill (http://www.cityofeastlansing.com/Home...

)

and just in case you get the munchies....
Insomnia Cookies http://www.insomniacookies.com/

Also, the State Room (inside the Kellogg Center) has a lovely menu and is fast becoming one of my favorite places for locally sourced cuisine. Do not, whatever you do, eat any meals EVER inside the Marriott Hotel.

Have a great visit!

Feb 13, 2010
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Xoco

I finally made it to Xoco (I'm a Michigan 'hound) last weekend and we had a really great experience at breakfast. Our group tried nearly all of the breakfast options and shared everything although a small scuffle broke out over the last churro. At $1/each, I settled the fight by buying another round. Our favorites included the Ham, Egg & Green Chili Empanada - Simple, tasty, a little small. The Breakfast Torta (egg, chorizo, avocado) - The clear winner of the morning and the open-faced Torta (egg, spicy tomato sauce, rustic bread).

Did I mention the churros? Yeah, they were pretty darn good. We also tried several of the varieties of hot chocolate - I liked the Classic.

We had Saturday breakfast at around 8:30 a.m. and the place was busy but not crowded. Later that night after walking the entire city (Shedd, Art Institute, Michigan Ave shopping), we wandered back by Xoco on our way to the hotel. I realized that we hadn't eaten lunch since breakfast was so robust (and less than $10/person). So... we stopped for dinner.

Loved the Chicken Posole and the Cubano torta. We also got the Pibil and it was good but not life changing. We also got an order of chips and salsa and another order of chips and guac. AMAZING.

I wish Chicago wasn't a 4 hour drive away... I'd eat at Xoco two or three times a week!

Jan 24, 2010
Mensch71 in Chicago Area

Want to help move threads? Check in here.

I'll be glad to help with the Great Lakes board. Thanks!

Jan 24, 2010
Mensch71 in Site Talk

Grand Rapids Brunch

I've had two or three OK dinners at San Chez and one of the best brunches ever just a month or two ago. It's not super busy on weekends (or at least it wasn't after Thanksgiving, before Christmas) and the french toast made me swoon with delight.

I'd avoid chains (IHOP, Perkins) like the plague even if it appears to be the only options. I also liked Marie Catrib's for breakfast but I can't get that french toast out of my brain.... (and I'm a savory breakfast kind of gal 99% of the time).

Looks like I need a road trip!

Jan 09, 2010
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

A Shining Beacon in a Sea of Despair - A Detroit Destination

Thanks for the recommendation. Need a place to take my sister-in-law's family that will impress them and this sounds perfect.

Jan 05, 2010
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

DTW: Faygo Sparkling Water?

It's available at most Meijer stores in Michigan, but as mentioned, it's in the bottled water aisle, not with the pop. You may also need to let your store manager know that you're buying it frequently and what flavor(s) you prefer. It comes in:

Cherry
Raspberry
Mandarin Orange
Lemon-Line
Grapefruit
Plain

I'm a huge fan of the Cherry (the Raspberry tastes chalky to me) and the ordering manager for my Meijer doesn't like Cherry and only orders the other flavors. I had to go over his head to the Store Director (a neighbor, actually) to get what wanted. Of course, I also buy 12 bottles a week...

Dec 28, 2009
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Finest Watering Holes in the Lansing Area....

Sorry for the delay in a reply but hopefully my recs will help you as you help the economy. Kudos!

MBC - Lansing outpost of Michigan Brewing Co. Great stuff on draft and the menu is solid. Try the fried whitefish - nice to get Michigan fish with a Michigan beer batter!

Tavern on the Square - Downtown Lansing. Decent beer list and tapas style menu. Skip the mains and order the donuts.

Knight Cap (near Downtown, on Michigan). Full bar and a rotating list of beers on draft and in the bottle. Excellent dinner menu. It's rather swanky, so no jeans.

Sir Pizza (Old Town). I know. It's a mediocre pizza place (the calzones are awesome though) but they have a very interesting selection of beer. Not much on draft but lots in the bottle.

Old Chicago (Okemos) - I loathe the food at OC but they have 100+ beers from which to choose. Go forth and drink.

Tuba Museum (Okemos). I love this place. The food is yummy and the beer menu is bigger than the food menu. Takes an hour just to get through the darn thing but it's worth it.

Happy holidays to you and yours!

Dec 24, 2009
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

East Lansing fine dining?

I second JackieCat's recommendations. We love Sultan's in Hannah Plaza (no alcohol, good Middle Eastern, great pita bread), Maru and Sansu (going there on Wednesday, actually).

You're welcome on the Airport Tavern tip. Just wear attire that you can either wash or throw away. We have to wait til May 1, 2010 before Michigan goes smokefree.

Dec 13, 2009
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

East Lansing fine dining?

I'm always amazed when people say there are no nice restaurants in the Lansing area. You do have to look a bit through the neon haze of the numerous chain places, but here are my top choices:

* Red Cedar Grill, Williamston (http://redcedargrill.com/) - It's a 7 minute drive from East Lansing and worth it. Lovely dining room, well-edited wine list, try the tomato tarragon soup and the pork shank.

* Troppo, Lansing (http://www.troppo.org/) - Right downtown Lansing (Michigan & Washington), Troppo had a really good, seasonal menu.

* Soup Spoon Cafe, Lansing (http://www.soupspooncafe.com/) - If you're in town Wednesday - Friday, go for dinner but MAKE A RESERVATION NOW. This is Lansing's best kept locals-only secret lunch place. (I'm there once a week, minimum. Try the soup - doesn't matter what kind. Trust me.

)

* Knight Cap, Lansing (http://www.theknightcap.com/) - Best steaks in town, amazing service, teeny-tiny place with probably the best bartender in Lansing.

* The State Room (http://www.hfs.msu.edu/stateroom/) - In the Kellogg Center at MSU, on campus. The food is good, the service can be excellent and it's consistently a safe place to take a client. (I was there on Monday for a lunch meeting.

)

* ENSO, East Lansing (http://www.enjoyenso.com/) - I've been twice and the steaks are excellent. This is the newest hipster dining place in the area so make a reservation.

If you are looking for great prime rib and steaks, you have to check out the Airport Tavern (http://www.airport-tavern.com/). It's a bar, by the airport and the last place EVER you would think of to go for your carnivore fix which is why we usually don't tell out-of-towners about it. (We also don't let people from the 'burbs know either, mainly because they prefer those neon-chain restaurants. *shudder*

)

A few notes -

* The Sheraton is now the Lexington Hotel (was there on Wednesday) and Christie's bistro is typical of hotel restaurants meaning if you are stuck there in a snowstorm or for meetings, order room service. Otherwise, get in the car.

* For a great breakfast/brunch while you are in town, check out:
* Mama Bear's Cafe (http://www.myspace.com/mamabearsllc) - Gourmet organic from the best pastry chef in Michigan. Seriously. Try the eclairs and the pesto scrambled eggs.
* Sawyers (http://www.sawyersgourmetpancakehouse...) - Local food made by really wonderful people. The pancakes are good but if the smokers are going out front, get the BBQ.
* Golden Harvest (http://www.myspace.com/golden_harvest) - Cult favorite among Lansing foodies. The lines are long but the wait is worth it.
* Soup to Nutz Bistro (http://www.souptonutzbistro.com/) - Cindy is truly a food genius. From her inspired brunch dishes to the French country bistro decor, this place is perfect for brunch and lunch. I'm there almost every Sunday and she's the only person in town to make eggs perfectly.

Downtown East Lansing is very student-oriented. You'll find good sushi, several excellent burger places (Peanut Barrel is my favorite), any number of sub/burrito/pizza places plus of the usual college chain rubble. Avoid those if possible.

Have a great trip! Can't wait to see your reviews after your visit.

Dec 05, 2009
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Stone crab claws in SE-MI

I was in Bloomfield Hills this week and saw them at Plum Market. I'm guessing you can also find them at Whole "Paycheck" Foods as well, if you'd rather eat them at home.

Nov 21, 2009
Mensch71 in Great Lakes

Anthony Bourdain - 11/7 at U of M Theatre (and possibe Ann Arbor restaurant suggestions)

Good to know, and you're absolutely right about a good wine list. I think maybe I just need to make my own selections instead of letting the staff guide me. At least then I have no one to blame but me!

I'm really excited about eating at nicer places for lunch - same great food but with a lower price tag! In this economy, every little bit helps, especially considering that I'm driving from Lansing to A2.

Nov 13, 2009
Mensch71 in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Anthony Bourdain - 11/7 at U of M Theatre (and possibe Ann Arbor restaurant suggestions)

We went to see the Bourdain show as well. Ended up at Marnee Thai and then walked to the Michigan Theater. It was a home football game as well as Parents Weekend so most of the usual downtown restaurants were jammed with parents and students eating enjoying the unseasonably warm weather. (60+ degrees in November!)

Dinner at Marnee was good, although the service was slow and the spicing of various dishes was uneven. Hope you found someplace delicious.

To Natalie B & Momskitchen - I'm intrigued by your recommendation of Eve. I've been there three times now in the last three months and have been disappointed each time. Twice the kitchen has brought out the wrong dish, on two occasions we've had meat cooked to the incorrect temperature and every time we've dined there I've found the wine recommended by staff to be uninspired and/or a clash with the meal. (I will keep going if only to have the soup and the amazing bread & butter, but am reluctant to continue investing in expensive meals at dinner.)

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Marnee Thai Restaurant
414 S Main St, Ann Arbor, MI 48104

Nov 10, 2009
Mensch71 in Minneapolis-St. Paul

Dinner Near Pontiac - Need Recs!

Many thanks for your suggestions. We ended up going to Lemongrass Thai and were really happy with our meal. Great spring rolls (freshly made, absolutely no grease), properly done pad thai and a really nice green curry with shrimp. Our only complaint was that the "hot" level of spice was, well, pretty mild. (I'm a mild salsa kind of girl and the hot curry didn't faze me at all.) Next time, we'll ask for extra hot.

Thanks again... we'll be back down in Pontiac for a few more shows this summer and fall, so we'll probably hit a few more recommendations.

Dinner Near Pontiac - Need Recs!

I'm going to a show at the Crofoot tomorrow (Wednesday, 721) and need early dinner recommendations. We'll be driving over from Lansing and would love to get suggestions from the Michigan hounds. I've already culled the following list from various posts but am really looking for a hidden gem - casual, moderately priced (<$50/person):

Modern Food & Spirits, Keego Harbor, MI
Akshay Indian Cuisine, Bloomfield Hills, MI
La Marsa, Bloomfield Hills, MI
Deli Unique, West Bloomfield, MI

Thanks in advance for your help!

Restaurant rental in Lansing/East Lansing area?

It depends on the number of folks that you are having at your event, but I'm pretty sure you can rent out just about any local restaurant if you have enough people. Personally, I've rented out:

The State Room (at the Kellogg Center @ MSU)
Beggar's Banquet (the newish back room - downtown East Lansing)
Troppo (several smaller rooms available for events)
All Season's Bistro (Lake Lansing/Coolidge)
The English Inn (Eaton Rapids)

It really depends on your numbers and what your price range is. If you have < 50 guests and are thinking $50/person, I'd go with the first 3 options (w/o alcohol). If you have <50 but have a slightly higher price point ($60 - $75/person), I'd go with the last two.

I'd also recommend the following locations:

* MSU Union Ballroom(s) (did brother's wedding there, nice venue)
* Kellogg Center (food's pretty good, nice location w/ hotel/parking)
* Eagle Eye Golf Course (the food is actually good - had a dinner there on Saturday)
* Michigan Historical Museum (simply gorgeous location, a bit difficult for catering)

Good luck with your event!

Villegas Restaurant in Okemos?!

Welcome to Michigan! I've lived in the Lansing area most of my life (with short stints in Paris and Washington DC). It is NOT the culinary wasteland that some folks seem to think it is. You just have to be resourceful, that's all. Oh, and don't read any restaurant reviews in the local paper. Ugh.

Anyway...

Shopping:
Lansing City Market - Great in Spring/Summer/Fall. Make sure to check out Hills Cheese, the Middle Eastern bakery, AppleSchram (organic pork, beef, lamb, eggs, apples, cider, applesauce) and Otto's (chicken, eggs).
Goodrich's Shop Rite - Best local market for "international" stuff and great wine selection. Best in town for ordering meats and more exotic proteins.
Mirrendorf Meats - Locations in Mason and Williamston. Worth the trip to stock up on local protein. Great sausage.
Horrocks - Out on the west side (Canal & Saginaw), locally owned massive vegetable stand with a deli, bakery, wine/beer, cheese, flowers. Everyone forgets about this place but it's wonderful.
EL Food Coop - Lots of local, organic foods including a big selection from Zingerman's. I like the granola, raw nuts and locally grown/ground grains.
Local Ethnic Markets - From Asian to a halal butcher, there are at least a dozen markets around the Lansing area. I'm partial to the one that's across from Goodrich's on the corner of Trowbridge and Harrison and I like the other one down by the EL Food Coop on Grand River.

Farmers Markets/CSAs - Most local Chow folks end up getting into a CSA or going to the Meridian or Allen Street markets during the warmer months. I'm a Meridian girl so I can vouch for the great produce, honey, cheese, butter (!!!), eggs, lamb... it's all good.

Eating Out...

I echo the sentiments expressed above for Dusty's Cellar (and Tap Room), the Knight Cap and All Seasons Bistro. Here are just a few of my other local favorites:

Mama Bear's Cafe (Old Town) - local, organic, amazing pastry
Portable Feast (Old Town) - local, fresh, great sandwiches/salads
Mediteran (Downtown) - completely unknown gem
Troppo (Downtown) - higher end, white table cloth but good with proteins
Traveler's Club & Tuba Museum (Okemos) - funky, crazy menu
Gone Wired Cafe (Near Downtown) - local, organic, best pancakes
Midori Sushi & Korean BBQ (Near Lansing Mall) - clean, fresh, simple
Flap Jack Shack (Frandor) - locally owned, best breakfast in town
Asia's Finest (South Lansing) - Vietnamese & Thai, great pho
Airport Tavern (NW Lansing) - Steaks, prime rib, no ambiance
Big T's Deli (Mason) - Best burgers anywhere. So good!!!!!

That should get you through your first week or two...

Recommendations for Flint/Frankenmuth Area?

Many thanks for the kind recommendations and suggestions. Here's what we found out:

Big Eazy Grill (Flint): Easily the best food I've eaten in years. Seriously. We shared the stuffed crab-stuffed portabello mushroom to start and it was excellent. I immediately fell in love with the smoked tomato sauce. The house salad? Was awesome although the vinaigrette needed some salt. For our main courses, we tried the Big Easy Paella and the Pasta Jambalaya. The Paella had enough seafood for 3 portions. The flavors were spot-on. The pasta? Insanely good from the smoky tomato alfredo sauce, the huge shrimp and the sausage. Just wow.

Old Dixie Inn (Birch Run): From the outside, this place looks like a scary dive bar. On the inside, it IS a scary dive bar where time stopped in 1984. (I haven't seen hair that big since I did a revival of "Steel Magnolias".) There's a haze of smoke even in the non-smoking section that slightly obscures the hundreds of taxidermy animals on the walls. The deep fried pickles were outstanding. The pork loin in a raspberry sauce was tough but well flavored. The ribs were enormous (think Fred Flintstone bronto-ribs) and could have used more sauce. It was only good.

Sullivan's Brew House & Grill (Frankenmuth): Go for the White Cheddar Ale Soup. It's salty, rich and full of yummy bits that beg to be mopped up with bread. We were so full from breakfast, that we only had soup, shared a pretzel (meh) and onion rings (nice!). Great service.

Lamplighter (Frankenmuth): Great local diner with cheap breakfasts. For $1.99, you get an egg, potatoes and toasted homemade bread. Every single kid in the place was eating french toast which the make with sliced up cinnamon rolls. Super sweet but really, really good.

And that's all I have. Thanks again for your input. It was a great birthday weekend!

Recommendations for Flint/Frankenmuth Area?

A good friend has surprised me with a get-away trip to celebrate my birthday THIS WEEKEND. We're going to be staying in the general Flint area (a B&B, I think) and will plan to spend some time in Frankenmuth, Birch Run and probably Flint. I'm not a huge fan of the chicken dinners at Zehnder's or the Bavarian Inn. Any other recommendations? Thanks in advance.

Driving from MSP to East Lansing, MI

*shudder*

I know it's a favorite among college students and some townies but seriously? Skip it. I've been taking a cheese class through MSU Evening College and can say with (some) authority that the cheddar is probably your best bet.

Driving from MSP to East Lansing, MI

Once you make it to East Lansing, try Merindorf Meats (http://www.merindorfmeats.com/) with stores in Mason and Williamston. It's not exactly "old fashioned" but they do a nice job with local proteins.

And if there is just one place that you try while you are in the area, you must go to Big T's Deli inside Brower's Hardware (http://www.bigtdeli.com/Default.aspx). The burgers are really spectacular. He grinds his own meat. The buns are baked locally. Absolutely NO ambiance at all but great for a picnic. Of course we always end up shoveling the burgers into our mouths while we're in the car, in the parking lot.

Any great Cheap Eats in Port Huron, MI?

Port Huron tends to have a lot of chains and a bunch of hole-in-the-wall joints.

I've had pretty good food at the Fogcutter (http://www.fogcutterrestaurant.com/) (great location overlooking the water) but have always stuck with just whatever is local and fresh that day. (The whitefish was great last time I was there.)

Locals are obsessed with the onion sliders at Powers Diner. It's greasy but pretty darn tasty when you're craving simple bar type food.

Have a good trip!

Thanksgiving Day help in Farmington Hills, Novi and all areas nearby

The Detroit Free Press (the Freep) has an article about where to dine out on Thanksgiving day/evening.

http://www.freep.com/apps/pbcs.dll/ar...

Also, a few online folks recommend:

Moose Preserve Bar & Grill
43034 Woodward Ave
Bloomfield Hills, MI 48302-5009
(248) 858-7688

Steve & Rocky's
43150 Grand River Ave
Novi, MI 48375-1734
(248) 374-0688