Tag Archives: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma

Going Local: Lindo Mexico

lindomexcioshirtJoanne’s Portion



Being it was Mike’s last week here at WKTV, I let him decide on which restaurant we would visit. So we did not pull Lindo Mexico out of the hat, but let me assure everyone that it was in there.


Actually, I had heard a lot of good things about the restaurant, which along with several Wyoming and Kentwood business is up for the Celebrated Service Award. Having moved earlier this year to its new location at 1742 28th St. SW., Lindo Mexico is a family-owned business known for its familiar Mexican dishes along with beer and margaritas. The new location is beautiful…no gorgeous. It looks and feels like some swanky restaurant you would find in New York or even downtown Grand Rapids, but the best part is you do not have to fight the downtown traffic to get there, just 28th Street, which on a bad day is still better than traveling U.S. 131.


The place is bright, cheerful and features a gallery of artists’ work on the walls that appeared to be available for purchase. (I did not get that up close to check.) My biggest regret is that it was raining the day we went so we could not take advantage of the really cool patio that reminded me of the ones I saw on a recent trip to San Diego. Since the weather will be turning cooler soon, I probably will not be able to take advantage of that patio until the spring. Sigh.


I also completely understand why Lindo Mexico is up for the Celebrated Service Award – our waitress, Lupata, was just a doll. She had a full section but still took the time to explain menu items and checked back on a regular basis to make sure we were doing fine. Due to the fact the restaurant was hopping, I could bet that the service is consistently top-notch.


lindomexicoWe stuck to the lunch menu and I settled on #10, the Chimichanga Lunch Special. So I dare admit this while writing about a “Restaurant Mexicano,” but I grew up on Chi Chi’s and one of my favorites was the chimichanga which is a flour tortilla filled with your choice of meat, refried bans, and cheese then deep-fried. I got the chicken and had it topped with mild sauce and melted cheese. I was not enthralled with the chimichanga for a couple of reasons: one, I should have had the sauce on the side, which would have let the chimichanga have more of a crunch. I love crunch and vegetables, which brings me to  reason two: I was in love with Mike’s choice, the Alhambra lunch Special, which had green peppers, onions, meat and cheese. It reminded me of a nacho I order from another restaurant and I knew I would have loved it.


So with my next plate decided on and knowing the service is exceptional, I’ll be back with hubby in tow just so he too can dream with me about a lazy summer evening sitting on Lindo Mexico’s patio, sipping a margarita. Who knows, we might even invite Mike to join us.


Mike’s Portion



My time here at WKTV has opened me up to a whole new word here in the cities of Wyoming and Kentwood. Growing up north of Grand Rapids, I wasn’t aware that both cities are teeming with a mixture of different cultures. This quickly becomes apparent when looking at the local restaurants and food choices, and Going Local opened my eyes and taste-buds to the diversity both cities have to offer.


Lindo MexicoFor my last week, Joanne allowed me to pick a restaurant. No random drawing from the hat, but an actual choice on where we would Go Local for the week. The choice was easy and came about due to our visit to Maya Mexican Grill two months prior. I loved Maya – the food, the wait staff… the margaritas – and willingly shouted it from the rooftops. It was during that shouting that someone mentioned to me, “Have you tried Lindo Mexico?” I had not, at least, not yet.


Lindo Mexico quickly became a destination spot. “I need to compare and contrast,” I told myself, but in reality I just wanted to stuff my face full of delicious Mexican food.


The restaurant was very clean and inviting upon entering, and the place was packed! Lindo Mexico was busier than any restaurant Joanne and I visited over the last five months. I’ll give you a hint why… it’s because of the food. The lunch menu is quite large, the price is reasonable, and the portions plentiful. After surveying the menu, I zeroed in on number 13. My salivary glands are activating themselves just thinking about it – A mix of marinated pork, marinated chicken and steak strips, cooked with tomato, onion and your choice of jalapeño or bell peppers, then topped with cheese; served with refried beans, mexican rice, guacamole and tortillas.


Talk about a flavorful adventure!


Lindo MexicoThe meat and vegetables came out on a hot skillet with the beans, rice and guacamole on the side. My mouth was throwing a party and only the zestiest of flavors were invited. I savored every bite and even came back to work with a box filled of leftovers. That was quickly devoured two hours later at WKTV. I’m like a Hobbit, second lunch is a real thing.


I’ve also heard their margaritas are amazing… not that I had one or anything. I plead the fifth!

Going Local: Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery

albos3Joanne’s Portion



Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery was one of the first restaurants I ran across in doing my search of local eateries to put in the Going Local hat.


The Albanian/Bosnian restaurant, located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. SE, is one that I actually have driven past several times, wondering what was inside, and Wednesday was the day I was finally going to find out. The inside was beautiful with dark wood accents and a mix of hi-tops and regular seating along with a bar.


The two-page menu is loaded with items, none of which I had ever tried, making it a little intimating even after our waiter came up and pointed out some of the top suggestions. I struggled in trying to make a decision and looking back, I believe I was afraid of moving out of my comfort zone. The waiter was so gracious in trying to help with a strong push for the stroganoff which had mashed potatoes. The mashed potatoes would have to be phenomenal for me to even try them, so that was a no. I finally decided to go with the Mesano Meso or the mixed grill plate. “Good choice! Good choice!” our waiter said. With visions of lots of food, I figured I could take the rest home to the family or have it for leftovers the next day.


albos4When the meal finally came, I was pleasantly surprised to see it was not a heaping plate of meat but a reasonable portion of samples from the various items offered at Al-Bos.


The plate included Chicken Raznjici, a chicken skewer; cevapcici, smaller grilled meat sausages made of lamb and beef; Kranjska Kobasica, a Carniolan sausage similar to kielbasa; pljeskavica, a beef patty, and a breaded chicken that I did not get the name of. Topping it off was Djuvec rice and french fries.


There is a person who wrote on Al-Bos’s Facebook page that they could eat the food “until they were put on a stretcher.” After tasting everything on my plate, I could totally relate. The food was amazing. It was properly seasoned without being overpowering bringing out the full flavor of the individual dishes. Basically a “wow” factor times ten and I loved every bite.


I did manage to save some for the family and watched sadly as my daughter saddled up next to my husband and began to steal everything off his plate. As my husband looked at the empty plate of which he got only a few small bites, I said, “We’ll go there. I promise.” After all, I believe there is a stroganoff with mashed potatoes calling my name.


Mike’s Portion



With the camera on and the Going Local hat nestled in my left palm, I dove my right hand deep into the paper abyss to choose our next location. As my hand finagled through the options, it finally settled on one destination, Al-Bos Eurocafe-Bakery


Another week, and another brand new location I had never heard of. I’ll take ‘A New Experience’ for $200, Alex.


The authentic Albanian-Bosnian restaurant – located at 2930 Shaffer Ave. in Kentwood – has a menu loaded with my favorite thing in the whole wide world… Meat! A power-packed protein binge in always in my wheelhouse and Al-Bos had a selection that was sure to satisfy.


The menu was overpowering, not going to lie, and I don’t mean that as a negative. A whole host of meats and preparations filled the menu and left me slightly dumbfounded. Not only was I struggling to make a decision, I had difficulty pronouncing what I was even ordering. Thankfully our waiter was extremely helpful. He immediately sensed my indecisiveness and pointed me towards a few menu items I would enjoy.


img_2079It felt like a blind date and my waiter was the matchmaker. I couldn’t pronounce my meal’s name, and I wasn’t quite sure what she was going to look like, but I had to trust that there would be chemistry between us. My lunch date ended up being Stufed Pljeskavica-Punjena Pljeskavica. It consisted of stufed pljeskavica (beef), with feta cheese, onion, ajvar, djuvec rice, and french fries.


When the meal was set down in front of me, I was quickly reminded that true love was universal. We may not have spoken the same language, but body language needs no interpretation and my meal and I were on the same page.


The beef was tender and juicy and stuffed with feta cheese. It went down quickly as each bite was followed by an immediate need for another. The rice was delicious and had a more tempered flavor. It complimented the meat quite nicely. The french fries were an add-on seemingly from left field, but I’ll never complain about a batch of french fries and they went down seamlessly.


Fortunately for me, Joanne ordered what was essentially a buffet of meats and allowed me to try some. I was thankful to have two different sausages and devoured them like a ravenous lion.


In all, Al-Bos left a very fine first impression. With all of their menu options, I’d be a fool not to head back for another round.

Going Local: Daniele’s Pizza, the D-Burger Edition

danielles4Mike’s Slice


Three months ago we drew Daniele’s Pizzeria out of the Going Local hat and gave it the full treatment. There was a Facebook Live video of the drawing, an order of scrumptious pizza and cheesy bread, and a Friday write-up for the masses to consume.


However, something caught my eye three months ago while diving into the Daniele’s menu that caused me to pause and think “Is this love?” It was a masterful creation of carbs and grease called the ‘D-Burger’. A half pound slab of sausage topped with jalapeno and onions and sandwiched between two 7-inch pepperoni pizzas. A taste bud’s dream and an artery’s worst nightmare.


An executive decision was quickly made to add the D-Burger from Daniele’s into the hat. Fate would decide when the delicious monstrosity would make its humble abode in my belly, all I had to do was wait. So, you could imagine my excitement when the D-Burger was drawn out of the hat this week. While I tried to contain it, it was to no avail, Joanne and Victoria could see that I was smitten. My only question was, “do I call now or wait three days? I don’t want to seem needy or too available.”


Joanne made me wait until Wednesday per our ‘rules’ for Going Local. Rules don’t matter when love is in the air. Time is a physical construct that can’t measure longing. Does it really matter if it’s one minute or 48 hours? When one second feels infinite, it’s truly unbearable.


Somehow, through sheer will and grit, I made it to Wednesday.


After driving to Daniele’s Pizzeria – now at a new location located at 1429 60th Street, Grand Rapids – and picking up the goods, the sheer girth of the box caught me slightly off guard. A quick peek inside showed a greasy pepperoni pizza, what was underneath would stay a mystery until I returned back to WKTV to share with the staff.


danielles1As my teeth sunk into the burger, fireworks went off  in my head. The pizza, sausage, pizza trifecta was a sensation with every bite. Juicy, salty, and carbo-loaded for the ultimate eating experience. The jalapeno added a slight kick of heat that triggered the taste buds and took them on an unexpected roller coaster ride of flavor.


The D-Burger was shared between five of us at the station as none of us wanted to keel over of a heart attack after eating too much. However, death by eating a D-Burger might not be the worst way to go…


Joanne’s Slice



In full disclosure, I have to state this upfront: I am not a fan of sausage on a pizza. I prefer my pizzas to be simple, usually with just pepperoni or, if making them at home, with green pepper, onion, ham, and pepperoni. Sausage just does not make the list.


danielles2With that said, when Mike talked about the D-Burger at Danielle’s, I assumed it was a burger — as in hamburger — between two 7-inch pizzas. Once I took a bite, I quickly realized it was sausage, which only made sense for a pizza-style burger. And the sausage was very good, very favorable, and even though sausage is not my thing, I have to give kudos to Danielle’s for thinking outside of the box in creating the D-Burger. I did try the pizza separate and it was amazing. The bread was fresh, the sauce was perfect and it was just the type of pizza I would enjoy.


So while the D-Burger won’t make it on my repeat list (I do encourage everyone to at least try it and make their own decision) I will be heading over to Danielle’s Pizza’s new location at 1429 60th St. SE for a pizza…or two, as I do need to share with the family.


Going Local: The Food Truck Edition

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Joanne’s Portion



With the news of that food trucks were descending on Kentwood for its Bags & Bites event this Saturday, Mike and I made the decision to taste test some of the items before the trucks arrived.


Unfortunately, finding a food truck after owners have spent two and half weeks at ArtPrize proved to be a little difficult. We also were too lazy to get up at 6 a.m. to go visit River City Cup & Cake which usually can be found at the Amtrak station. However the owner of River City Cup & Cake, Lorin Tate, who is a Kentwood resident and Kelloggsville graduate, was gracious enough to stop by the studio.


He makes a mean hot chocolate (sorry folks, I do not drink coffee or tea). Unfortunately, Lorin had sold out of all his pastries, so I would wait until Saturday.


Still I wanted to try one more food truck and our choices narrowed down to driving to Allendale for Patty Matters or heading to Two Scotts Barbecue’s brick and mortar home at 536 Leonard St. NW, Grand Rapids. The minute I said “Two Scotts,” Mike was quick to make the “executive” decision.


two-scottsTwo Scotts is only open from 11 a.m. — 3p.m. We were planning to get there around 11:30 a.m., but a friend said to be there before it opens as the place is known to run out. We managed to walk through the doors at 11:07 a.m. and the place was starting to jump. When we left about an hour later, the outside patio was filling up and the parking lot was packed with cars circling in hopes someone would leave.


I wanted a menu item that would be on the food truck. The order taker was quick to tell me the menu is usually the same with offerings varying depending on location.


With Two Scotts you can either get your pulled pork, pulled chicken, sliced brisket, burnt ends or sausage as a sandwich or just the meat with homemade pickles and bread. I opted for the burnt ends sandwich ($10) making it a combo (add $3) that included a drink and side because I wanted the homemade tater tots.


We grabbed some sauce, I tried the house, verde, and an orange sauce that tasted like it had mayo. After I sat down, I noticed the tips already had sauce on them so I really did not need any of the sauces I picked but I tried them anyway — they were all yummy and I really could not pick a favorite. As for the sandwich, well burnt ends do not make for a great sandwich. (Something Mike, with a laugh, pointed out.) So after a couple of bits, I discarded the bread, speared the pieces with a folk and dipped them in the sauces. The meat melted in my mouth, and to be honest, I have not had meat taste that good since my husband took me to a really nice steak place.


sandwichI was so happy about the burnt ends, I almost forgot about the tater tots, which were a crunchy delight. I popped them like candy as we sat and chatted about the week. And since I essentially had meat and potatoes, I was full for the entire day.


So if you are headed to the Kentwood Bags & Bites at the Kentwood City Hall (5900 Breton Rd. SE), Two Scotts is definitely one to try. I’m thinking of snagging some for my husband’s dinner since he’ll since be at work when my daughters and I head over. As for me, well I am planning to hit either Patty Matters, offering up an array of burgers, or Gettin’ Fresh, for its burger with bacon grounded in. And of course, hopefully get my hands on one of those River City Cup & Cake pastries.


Mike’s Portion



This Saturday, the City of Kentwood is hosting  their first ever ‘Bags & Bites’ at Kentwood City Hall and a horde of food trucks will decent upon the area. Joanne and I decided to take advantage and visit a couple of food trucks for this week’s Going Local.


On Tuesday afternoon, Lorin Tate stopped by the station after making his morning runs with his traveling business River City Cup & Cake. Unfortunately for Joanne and I, but a measure of the truck’s success on the road, Lorin was clean out of pastries. However, he did make a mean mocha and filled my mental appetite with insight into the food truck business.


rivercity9For starters, food trucks have a lot of room to move around inside! And it makes sense, it’s a one-man restaurant that needs all of the amenities of a kitchen. Space might be limited but it’s packed together like a well-played game of Tetris, everything in the right place. They also aren’t cheap – Lorin’s espresso machine by itself cost $15,000 – and they can struggle to run in the winter due to the water pipes freezing. If you can’t store your food truck in a warm garage during the cold months, better shut it down all season.


Once the mocha was finished, I topped off the rest of Joanne’s hot chocolate as it was just a little too rich for her. I didn’t know there was such a thing as ‘too rich’ when it came to hot cocoa. I guzzled it down. With how delicious the fresh brewed coffee and hot chocolate was, I’m bummed the pastries weren’t available. Guess I’ll just have to stop by the Amtrak early in the morning!


The next day Joanne and I scooted out to Two Scotts Barbeque. Yes, I know, their restaurant on Leonard isn’t a food truck, but their food truck will be at Kentwood on Saturday and we made sure to order what would be on that food truck. We’re always thinking.


Two Scotts has a slight history with me, a year and a half ago I moved into a house about a stone throw away from the barbecue joint. Whenever I wanted barbecue, which is pretty much all the time, I would stop by to see if they were open. With hours slated from 11am-3pm, I struck out every single time. This was my chance to finally the famed joint.


twoscotts2It did not disappoint.


The brisket sandwich called to me and I threw in an order of homemade tots as well. The brisket was flavorful and went down quick – I think I ate it in 30 seconds or so – and the tots were INCREDIBLE. Even if you aren’t a fan of smoked meats, you absolutely need to stop in for their homemade tots. The outside crunched and the inside melted in your mouth. Simply delectable.


Two Scotts, I think we need to make this a weekly thing.


Citizen Journalist Rob’s Potion


Waiting can be one of the most difficult things, especially for more hyperactive people like me, and when you’re in the wrong place at the wrong time, it can be a time of dread. Most of the time, in these waiting situations, I often look for something to do like drink or eat to pass the time. So, you could imagine my excitement and curiosity when I spotted a food truck while waiting for the Megabus to take me back to my hometown Chicago.


rivercity6If you are not familiar with the Megabus pick up location, it’s a parking lot diagonal from the old Amtrak station with very little around that could occupy a wondering mind. River City Cup & Cake sat in the parking lot as a beacon of adventure during my time of waiting. The food truck combined two of my all-time favorite things in the world all wrapped into one catchy name on the side of a truck. Who could possibly deny the insatiable combination of a cup of coffee and a piece of cake? Besides my friend John, of course, who somehow detests both. Truly one of a kind.


As a latte and cupcake/pastry lover, I found the River City Cup and Cake to be inviting with its bright color and simple, but very cool, logo . The espresso sign was magnetic to my soul.


A line had already begun to form as many of us waiters found this to be the best location to wait for our bus. While I can’t remember exactly which cupcake I had, I do remember it was good, baked with the fluffy and buttery flavor that one would expect from a really good cupcake and the latte was also very good. I also remember the customer service being outstanding with an owner who was engaging with his clientele and seemed to be an owner/operator who really enjoyed what he was doing.


I would highly recommend that when you see this vehicle, RUN TO IT!! Get yourself a cup & cake and enjoy. I know I did when I saw it parked in the parking lot while volunteering at WKTV on Tuesday.

Going Local: Taco Bob’s

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Mike’s Portion



When I first pulled Taco Bob’s out of the Going Local hat on Monday, I didn’t think much of it. I envisioned a small restaurant that specializes in tacos and deduced that it would be a tasty way to spend the Wednesday lunch hour. Nothing more, nothing less.


My expectations were raised later that night when talking to my girlfriend, Mary, about where Joanne and I would be Going Local this week.


“Taco Bob’s? The one down in Kalamazoo is very good! You’re going to like it,” Mary quipped. She grew up in Kalamazoo and is a bit of a food aficionado herself. If Taco Bob’s brought back immediate positive memories for her, I was now expecting the same for myself. The bar had been raised.


From the street, Taco Bob’s doesn’t look like much. You’d be forgiven if you missed the taco shop at 900 52nd St. entirely because of the car wash in close proximity. I should mention, you will only be forgiven if you apologize, admit you were wrong to glance over Taco Bob’s, and stop by sometime in the near future to try the delicious offerings presented on the menu. I’ll be the first to admit it, I glanced over Taco Bob’s many-a-times and only saw the car wash. I have seen the light and it is marvelous!


At Taco Bob’s you can order at a drive-thru or at the pick up window and sit outside. Wednesday may have been windy, but it was sunny enough to enjoy a bite outside, so Joanne and I chose the pick up window. The whole menu looked enticing and I felt each item whispering sweet nothings into my ear. However, I can only date one item at a time as I believe in a monogamous relationship between a man and food. In order to help me make a decision, I called upon the owner himself, Kyle Hemmes.


“The funny tacos are really popular. They’re a hard shell taco wrapped in a warm soft shell taco and sandwiched with nacho cheese in between,” My heart skipped a beat as butterflies began swarming in my stomach. I was getting nervous and excited all at the same time. Some call it love at first sight, I call it a typical Going Local afternoon.


Taco BobMy heart made its decision with the #4 meal that consisted of two funny tacos, a side of rice and beans, chips and a drink all for $6.69.


The tacos were warm, zestful, and crunchy in all the right places. I consumed both tacos in an instant and immediately pondered if I wanted more. My taste buds wanted more, and they wanted it NOW, but my stomach, eyes and mind were telling me no as there were still rice and beans in front of me. I finished the rest of my lunch and went back to work with nothing but Taco Bob’s on my mind.


At work the next day, my heart couldn’t shake the impression Taco Bob’s made on me. Joanne sat and listened as I poured my heart out about a love that ended too soon. Did that meal mean more to me than it did to those tacos? I couldn’t help but think maybe I fell too fast, too soon. I was craving Taco Bob’s but I didn’t want to come across as desperate. Thankfully, Joanne was there for me. She swung by Taco Bob’s for lunch and picked up two tacos to bring back to the station. I ate in peace and my heart was full once more.

Joanne’s Portion



With the announcement that the downtown Fifth/Third building is being turned into a hotel, Kyle Hemmes was forced to move his restaurant Taco Bob’s from Grand Rapids to Kentwood. All I can say is Grand Rapids’s loss is a heck of a gain for Kentwood and all of us who love to eat local.


I became familiar with Taco Bob’s when in my previous life I was working in Kalamazoo and a co-worker took me to the original. The owner, Bob, told me of the location in Grand Rapids, but I was never able to eat there as the lines were too long and the hours were limited to lunch only.


Fast forward and I have been driving past the Taco Bob’s location at 900 52nd St. SE for several weeks, not realizing its famous connection, until we were on our way for lunch. When Hemmes confirmed it, I was so excited I could barely focus on the menu board.


“Most people get our Funny Tacos. That’s what we are known for.” Hermes said. Nah, not what I wanted. “Or the Nachos Supreme. A lot people like our nachos.” Bingo! The item I always got in Kalamazoo was just singing to me.


At the Kentwood Taco Bob’s, you have the choice of take it and go or sitting outside. The location is actually the former Java Cone ice cream stand. The day we were there, it was a beautiful fall day and if you sat in the sun, it was warm enough to sit outside. We gathered our food, took a table and dug in.


Taco BobThe nachos were a nest of tomato, lettuce, cheese, meat, and chips all nicely layered with sour cream zigzagged on the top. It was happiness in a square styrofoam container. I munched away contently.


Taco Bob’s is open year around and offers an array of Mexican fare: tacos, burritos, tostadas, taco salad, quesadillas, and a “Quick Fix” selection that includes tortilla chips, nacho cheese, and small drink.


I ended up visiting Taco Bob’s the next day as someone, whose name starts with an “M,” had to mention tacos. Actually, he started his taco talk soon after returning from our first Taco Bob’s adventure. It brought a chuckle to Hemmes when I drove up and said “I’m back.”


“That’s a good thing,” he said. In fact, during our first foray, I mentioned how I was definitely bringing my family to Taco Bob’s. It became a definite when I read the description of the Cheezy Taco: soft shell with ground beef melted shredded cheese and sour cream, which is my daughter’s definition of the perfect taco.

Victoria’s Side



I’m the person on the sidelines, the one who has to hold down the fort while these two do their foodie happy dance each week. But I don’t mind, because every so often, you gotta take one for the team, right? Besides, I get so much more work done than they do. And as a bonus, when they come back from their Going Local thing, they’re always happy, and I love working with happy people.


But this week was different. When Joanne and Mike came back from Taco Bob’s, I could tell they were inordinately happy, much happier than usual — almost frighteningly so, eyes bright and shiny, a peppy step to their gait, smiles a mile wide. Luckily, I had an editing project to do upstairs, so their squeals of laughter didn’t get on my nerves.


On Thursday, I was still editing upstairs when Joanne popped her head in and asked if I wanted some takeout from Taco Bob’s. Well, heck, yes! I wanted to feel what they were feeling.


I tried a crunchy meat taco. OMG. I cannot stress enough how awesome it tasted, even without taco sauce. The meat is seasoned to perfection, the cheese cheesy as cheese is wont to be, and the lettuce fresh and crispy.


Well, that does it. I’m going to head over to Taco Bob’s. Mike and Joanne have hit on a winner.

Going Local: Woody’s Press Box

going localJoanne’s Portion



I did not know Spectrum Lanes had a restaurant until one day, while bowling with some students, a waitress came by with a menu. We ordered and the food was good, like tasty good.


But I have not eaten at Woody’s Press Box, located at 5656 Clyde Park SW, in some time, so when we pulled it out of the hat, I was somewhat excited about visiting.


The restaurant was not full — it’s a big space — but it was busy. The day’s specials featured a lunch buffet and an all-you-can-eat spaghetti meal.


pizzaThere was a special lunch menu that included an array of fare from pizzas to sandwiches to burgers, but what got me were the prices. Lunch meals were arranged in three categories, $4.53, $5.52 and $6.46, any of which comes with homemade potato chips or onion straws. You could upgrade to fries, loaded potato, coleslaw, macaroni salad, potato salad or baked beans for $1.75 more.


Let me repeat: You could have lunch for $4.53. With tax, it is still under $5 which is way cheaper than many of the large chain restaurants. The bargain hunter in me was doing back flips.


“Who would order only a half order of chips & cheese,” Mike asked as he looked over the menu. “That’s like a snack.”


“Me,” I thought in my head as it would make me feel less guilty with a half order. Then again, I don’t run a lacrosse team four days a week, burning off a gazillion calories.


receiptWhen I came in, I was thinking burger but the personal, one-item 10-inch pizza at $4.53 stole my attention. Was it the price? Hmm, maybe, but I went with it. You could add extra toppings for $1.05 but I stayed to just pepperoni. It also came thin crust or hand tossed and at our server’s suggestion, I went with thin crust.


It didn’t disappoint. It was end-to-end cheese coverage with a nice sprinkling of pepperoni. Afterwards, I discovered I could have added a small side salad for $1.75, which I might have done and brought half the pizza home. Heck, I could see myself bringing a salad to work and snagging one of those pizzas and being very happy for a couple of lunches.


The price point alone is reason enough to pass all those other chain places by and head to Woody’s, the quality is the bonus for doing so.

Mike’s Portion



“Would you like the lunch menu or were you planning on having the buffet?”


More attractive words have never been spoken into my ears. A lunch menu and a buffet? There had to be a catch. Fortunately for me, my stomach and taste buds, there wasn’t a catch as Joanne and I sat down for lunch at Woody’s Press Box.


img_1983When we first pulled in to the parking lot at Woody’s, I immediately noticed how big the building was. I was expecting a small, local sports bar but instead was presented with a behemoth of a building. However, once inside, the seating area wasn’t nearly as large as the outside portrayed. Joanne noticed my inquisitive focus on what we just walked into, how the size didn’t match up with what I saw from the outside, and mentioned that a bowling alley — Spectrum Lanes — is attached to Woody’s. The great mystery was solved and my focus could now shift back to what truly mattered, the food!


My eyes filtered through the lunch menu while occasionally peeking up at the TVs lining the walls. My eyes also caught a glimpse of the bartenders pouring generous amounts of beer into massive cups. Calling it a cup might be the understatement of the century, like saying the Titanic hit an ice cube. The portion sizes were truly a sight to behold, but Joanne and I were on the clock and we would like to stay gainfully employed. We opted for a water, with lemon of course, and vowed to come back another time.


So, about that food — as Joanne mentioned, the lunch menu had meal options that ran $4.53, $5.52, and $6.46. The lunch buffet cost $7.74 and could also be added to anyone of the meal options at a slight up-charge. Woody’s is essentially giving food away. Eventually I settled on the spicy chicken sandwich for $6.46 that came with homemade kettle chips and a pickle.


img_1986When I ordered my sandwich I was expecting something small but what was put on my plate may as well have been the full chicken. The meat protruded off of both ends of the bun and was stacked high with Swiss cheese, bacon, lettuce and tomatoes. The chips were bountiful.


The first bite into the chicken sandwich was juicy with a kick of heat. I’ll be honest with you, the sandwich was significantly better than I was anticipating. After every bite I couldn’t wait to sink my teeth into the next one. The chips were crisp and added a hint of salt to fully complement my taste buds. To get a better idea of how much food there was, I wasn’t able to completely clean off my plate.


Eventually the bill arrived and I was pleased to see the price stay under $7 with tax included. After including the tip, the bill was still less than what I would’ve expected to pay for the size of sandwich I received.


Woody’s Press Box, I will be making my way back for lunch. This time I might even try the buffet!


Going Local: Gursha

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Joanne’s Portion


By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



I would have loved to have seen a picture of our faces when the server at Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant presented our food. He brought it out in two bowls, poured it onto a large pizza-size dish with bread on it and walked away.


“Now what do we do?” Mike said.


We do what the Ethiopian do, grab some injera – an Ethiopian sourdough flatbread – and dig in…with our hands. Yep, that’s right, with Ethiopian cuisine, utensils are optional with most such restaurants not offering any unless asked.


Located in the area that seems like it should be Kentwood but is really Grand Rapids – in other words the Town and Country Shopping Center, 4301 Kalamazoo Ave. SE – Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant brings a unique dining experience and is housed in a mall that is full of interesting finds such as the Mediterranean Island, one of the best international grocery stores in the area.


We drove up, parked in front of the restaurant, which had a large blue-and-white sign, and walked in. While small, the entire place had a really cool feel reflecting the heritage and culture of Ethiopia. Our server quickly seated us and brought out two glasses and a pitcher of water on a silver serving trade.


img_1976After some explanation and a review of the menu, I selected a “tib” dish that featured beef chunks with sautéed onions and spices. The description reminded me of Mongolian Beef, which I like so I felt pretty confident this would be a winner. I was right, the dish was very favorable without being heavy on spice. I loved it and couldn’t get enough. The meal came with some side dishes which were not explained. One was a corn dish and the other was spinach, both being pretty good.


What surprised us both was how quickly we got filled up on our meal. I figured it was because using the bread as the utensil, it forced us to eat slow. Mike also felt it was because we had bread with each bite.


Prices were a little higher, it was $12.99 for my dish, but the chance to experience an entirely different way to enjoy food made it worth it.


Mike’s Portion


By: Mike DeWitt



“Do we use our hands?”


As I stared at the plate of food prepared community style on a plate in front of Joanne and me. Utensils were nowhere to be found, but there was a basket of spongy bread on my left. I was perplexed and yet awfully intrigued.


When we pulled into Gursha Ethiopian Restaurant out of the Going Local hat, I had no idea what to expect. When it comes to food, I usually have a good idea of what will be placed in front of me. There’s usually a slight pocket of memory dug back in my brain that at least gives a slight hint of what I might be eating. Whether I saw it online, on TV or in person, an idea of food isn’t too far removed from my frontal lobe. However, Ethiopian stumped me. I’ve never eaten it nor have I seen it.


Going Local was about to be a true blind date, maybe I should’ve paid more attention to Joanne’s foretelling throwaway comment, “hope you enjoy eating with you hands!”


Gursha, located on Kalamazoo just north of 44th Street, is authentic Ethiopian. The Ethiopian colors of red, yellow and green invite you in and cover the chairs. There is seating available at a mesob – a hand-woven Ethiopian dining table – for those interested in a more authentic experience.


img_1968The menu is full with vegetarian, fish, lamb, chicken, and beef options. I’ll be honest, I had no idea what any of it truly meant. I ended up choosing a beef option called Sega Wat that was a beef stew in a spicy, dark berbere sauce. The owner said it had some kick. A beef stew with a little spice seemed like a relatively safe choice, so I went with it.


Our sides were brought out to us on a communal plate and my meal, along with Joanne’s, was poured out on plate. A basket of injera, a spongy sourdough-risen flatbread, turned out to be our utensils for the meal. After staring at each other for a good ten seconds, we both ripped off a piece of injera and dove on in to the plate in front of us.


The sega wat was juicy and tender with a powerful kick. That dark berbere sauce doesn’t play around! I made sure to dive into Joanne’s entree which was a more mild beef sautéed with onions. It was splendid but didn’t pack the punch I was craving, so I went back to my entree.


After some time had passed, I realized how full I was and took a gander down at my plate to notice it still half full! How on  earth could my stomach be so stuffed already? A mixture of the injera and eating slowly instead of shoveling my face full with a fork must’ve been why.


If I ever need to worry about my portion control, an Ethiopian themed menu will do the trick.

Going Local: 616 Sports Bar & Grill

goingl ocalJoanne’s Portion



Brentwood Mall, on the corner of 44th Street and Breton Avenue, has been the home of many things, a fitness center, retail shops, and restaurants.


And as of May, it is also the home of the 616 Sports Bar & Grill, a place I joked with Mike that we should come back to when we visited Tokyo Grill and Sushi at the beginning of August.


The bar at 616 Sports Bar & Grill is located in the back.
The bar at 616 Sports Bar & Grill is located in the back.

Walking in, I felt like I was entering a “Cheers” episode with the only thing missing was the bar and someone shouting “Hey Joanne.” After a couple of minutes of waiting, our host/server came from the back and encouraged us to sit in that area which is where the bar is located. Actually it appears that the 616 Sports Bar is broken into two distinct spaces, a restaurant in the front and a bar area in the back which I thought was a nice concept. The dark tones gave the place that almost “where everybody knows your name” feel. I say “almost” because it could have had a little more Sparty green to offset that glaring gold (Editor’s Note – It’s MAIZE!!! Joanne: It’s corn to me) and blue, but I digress.


Ever the bargain hunter, I spotted the sign for the $4.99 lunch special which had several options: cheeseburger, turkey panini, gyros, fish sandwich, three chicken strips and two coney dogs all served with homemade chips and a pickle. Our server quickly told us that it was $5.99 the day we were there as the restaurant was substituting fries. The extra dollar was worth it as the handmade fries had the perfect crispness with me savoring every single one.


After a short debate — Me: Turkey panini or coney dogs? Waiter: Well that depends, do you want to go healthy or do want something really good to eat? —I went with the Coney dogs because there was two and I could save one for my lunch tomorrow. Our waiter heard that and brought one out with the fries and had the other one in a takeout container — bonus points!


A Coney dog and fries from 616 Sports Bar & Grill.
A Coney dog and fries from 616 Sports Bar & Grill.

The Coney dog had all the ingredients of a Coney dog: chili, relish, mustard, onion, cheese on top of a beef hot dog wrapped up in a steam fresh bun. It was messy, which made it all that much better and the second was just as good the next day.


In the end, 616 Sports Bar reminded me of those old neighborhood bars where people hung out over a beer, burger and fries celebrating team victories or just together. Since the bar has only been open for a few months, I did ask our server why the Brentwood location. “Why not?” he said, pointing out that 616’s current location had been a Chinese restaurant for 25 years until the owners decided to retire. So cheers to 616 Sports Bar & Grill and here’s hoping it’s around at least as long as the former tenant.


Mike’s Portion



Going Local has taken Joanne and I through a gauntlet of cuisines and delicacies. We’ve had the opportunity to enjoy Chinese, Japanese, Mediterranean, Southern BBQ, Thai bubble tea, Mexican, and a hometown favorite pizza joint. However, one glaring omission has tested the true patience of my taste buds… Hot, greasy, fatty, and delightfully tasty American bar food.


Unfortunately for my heart and arteries,  616 Sports Bar & Grill was drawn out of the hat.


My arteries and my taste buds have been frenemies since as early as I can remember. It’s a true love-hate relationship. If the food tastes great and is also healthy, they’re best buds. If the food tastes great while also clogging the major highways for red blood cells throughout my body, it creates some understandable tension between the two. I’m happiest when the taste buds win.


616 Bar and GrillOn the walk in to 616 Sports Bar, their $4.99 lunch specials posted on the door immediately jumped out. Let me say that again – $4.99 FOR A MEAL! And we’re not talking about a salad or soup here. No, the lunch specials are actually legit items like a cheeseburger, 2 Coney dogs, beef burrito, turkey panini, BLT, 3 chicken tenders and a gyro. Oh, and they come with chips.


Sign me up everyday of the week and twice on Sunday please! (Note from Michael’s arteries – He didn’t actually mean that, right? RIGHT!?)


As we were seated at our high top next to the bar, my eyes couldn’t help but drift to the arcade games lining the walls. They looked awfully enticing, but I was a man on a mission. That  lunch special was begging to be signed, sealed, delivered and devoured.


There was no debate once I was seated, it was the cheeseburger and nothing else. The bar was out of chips and offered fries for a dollar up charge. I’m going to get this out-of-the-way right now, order the fries. Oh my gosh you need to order the fries. They are absolutely incredible. I don’t care if the up charge is $20, you need to order the fries.


img_1957The burger came out stacked high with lettuce, onion, and tomato. This was not a skimpy burger either. It had quality size and girth to properly fill the stomach.  Along with the incredible fries, it made for a lunch well worth the trip. The other positive? The higher concentration of Maize and Blue than Green and White.


Go Blue forever, Joanne!

Going Local: Bagel Beanery

goingl ocalJoanne’s Portion


By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



This week we headed off to Bagel Beanery, 5316 Clyde Park Ave. SW., which is almost right across the street from the office. So when Mike hit his remote to unlock his car, I was like “Dude, what are you doing? We can just walk there.” The sun was out, it wasn’t raining, and Mike agreed to walk. So we had a “power” lunch with food and exercise.


The restaurant has a bakery featuring bagels and it does not look that much different inside from other similar type restaurants with a mixture of booths and tables. The exception being that Bagel Beanery was here long before those other places and it is locally owned having started more than 20 years ago in downtown Grand Rapids. The Clyde Park location has been open since 1998.


With breakfast and lunch options, you come in and order your selection which is made fresh and then delivered to your table. I was tempted by the August specials but actually ordered off the menu the Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on Tomato Basil. OK, not entirely off the menu as I did swap out the Tomato Basil bagel for an Everything bagel because to me that is the best bagel to have for a bagel sandwich. Bagel Beanery features several of the traditional bagels such as Cinnamon Crunch, Asiago Cheese and Cheddar Herb along with speciality bagels.


Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on an Everything bagel from Bagel Beanery.
Bacon Smokehouse Turkey on an Everything bagel from Bagel Beanery.

My sandwich included turkey, bacon, cheese, lettuce, tomato with a honey dijon mustard all on top of an Everything bagel accompanied with a pickle spear and bagel chips. It came out within a few minutes of ordering and was delicious. Everything tasted fresh and the salt, sesame seeds and poppy seeds on the bagel complimented the entire sandwich.


The meal came to $6.79 and I have to say, it’s nice to know there is a place just across the street that offers a nice lunch option that is not $10 or more. And to be honest, I have been a longtime fan of Bagel Beanery since it opened its doors in 1995 and was a regular at the Breton Road location between 28th and 29th streets. It’s been a while since I ventured into one and it was great to discover the quality and selection have not diminished. In other words, I can definitely see future walks to Bagel Beanery.


Mike’s Portion


By: Mike DeWitt



I’m a man who enjoys a good bagel sandwich. I mean, what’s not to love about replacing slabs of bread with a big, hearty, and beautiful bagel? Sure, bagels have more calories and carbs than bread slices – apparently that’s ‘unhealthy’ – but they also have more flavor and options.


Bagels are to a sandwich what chocolates are to life, they just make the experience so much more enjoyable.


As Joanne and I exited the station, I immediately pulled out my keys to unlock my car door. Joanne was quick to call me out about needing a car for a walk across the street. I was happy she did, but little did she know, it was a test! (It wasn’t, but hey, whatever helps me sleep at night.) We casually strolled across the street and entered the doors to what I hoped was bagel heaven.


Bagel Beanery doesn’t look much different on the inside than a Big Apple Bagel or an Einstein Bros. Bagels. There are a beavy of bagels staring you in the face upon arrival with booths and tables mixed throughout. However, Bagel Beanery is locally owned and has been for more than 20 years. That little factoid gives the restaurant a more homely feel than entering a large bagel chain.


Bagel Beanery
I know it’s not technically a bagel, but it was so good!

My first initial look at the menu left me a little flustered. There were so many options to choose from! I needed to find something that stood out, and “NEW” written in bright red letters did just the trick. The new sandwich was a Baja Chicken Club on Ciabatta. I know alright… I KNOW! Here I am bringing up all of the joys of bagels and I ended up choosing a sandwich on ciabatta, obviously not a bagel. You know what, sue me, it tasted amazing.


The Baja Chicken Club came with oven baked sliced chicken, pepper-jack cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato, and a fiesta cream cheese with the perfect amount of kick. It was wonderful. The sandwich came with bagel chips (also top-notch) and a sliced pickle. For $7.73, it’s a hard meal to beat.


What I love most about Going Local is exposing myself to new restaurants around the area. As of Wednesday, I had never been to Bagel Beanery. I passed it hundreds of times driving to work, but I never took the time to stop and see what it had in store. This morning I made sure to stop for some coffee.

Going Local: Maya Mexican Grill

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Mike’s Portion


By: Mike DeWitt



With the Metro Cruise filling 28th Street this weekend, we figured it would only be right to pick a restaurant right in the heart of Roger’s Plaza. One restaurant, Maya, jumped out to both Joanne and I as neither of us had been and we were both craving Mexican.


Maya is an authentic Mexican restaurant located in Roger’s Plaza where the old Big Boy used to be, but you wouldn’t know it upon entering. When you walk through the restaurant doors you are transported to another world outside of Roger’s Plaza, the City of Wyoming, and the United States. The restaurant is decorated to feel like Playa del Carmen with authentic chairs and themed paintings filling the walls.


Talk about setting the mood.


Once seated, we were greeted by our wonderful waiter named Reuben and given a basket full of chips and salsa. Reuben was fluent in spanish and quizzed Joanne and I on our own ability to speak to the language… my Spanish teachers from Michigan would’ve been very disappointed in what I’ve retained.


Enchilada and a mini burrito, I barely knew the
Enchilada and a mini burrito, I barely knew the

The lunch menu was quite large and very reasonably priced. I ended up choosing lunch item number four – excuse me, numero quatro – which included an enchilada, mini burrito, rice, and refried beans. It was wonderful and quickly filled the hunger building deep inside me. As I finished my last couple of spoonfuls of refried beans, I felt as though my stomach might burst.


Then Joanne thought it would be a good idea to order desert. I was suddenly hungry again.


Okay, so it didn’t quite go like that. Joanne just didn’t decide desert was necessary, it just kind of happened organically. One second we’re talking about churros with Reuben and the next second he’s bringing us both our own massive servings of Chimi Cheese Cake with vanilla ice cream. Reuben claimed he gave us each a half order. I’m telling you right now, if what we were given was a ‘half order’, I actually fear for the person who orders the Chimi Cheese Cake on their own. May you rest in peace.


Maya's Chimi Cheesecake
Maya’s Chimi Cheesecake

The Chimi Cheese Cake was top-notch. It was rich cheesecake folded into a deep-fried tortilla and covered in cinnamon, sugar, and drizzled with chocolate and carmel syrup, and I think some saliva just spilled onto my keyboard as I typed this sentence.


Maya had tasty food and a wonderful atmosphere. I will be going back. However, next time it won’t be for work… I hear their margaritas are top-notch.


Joanne’s Portion


By Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



The transformed space at Maya Mexican Grill literally made me feel like I had walked right into a restaurant in Old San Diego. Orange walls with wicker-style seating and bold black booths made this a place that I wanted to hang…for a while. And Mike and I kind of did, spending about an hour and half enjoying the atmosphere, the food and the company of our waiter, Reuben.


Even though Reuben did mistake Mike as my son, I have to give him a lot of props for making our visit entertaining. He is the kind of waiter you want at any restaurant, funny, informative, attentive and even tried to teach me a little Spanish.


Ever the bargain hunter, I once again zeroed in on the daily lunch specials, which are $6.99 (regular lunch specials start at $7.99). Wednesday’s special is either flautas or two min-burritos. Now I love Mexican food but in all my food adventures, I have not tried a flauta, so I decided to be bold and take the risk. That and Mike had a mini burrito coming with his meal. The flautas are rolled-up tortillas with filling — I had chicken — and then fried. It came with refried beans and rice.


The Flautas which are the Wednesday special at Maya.
The Flautas which are the Wednesday special at Maya.

The flautas were perfect, fried to be just crispy enough with the chicken — I tried just the filling — being melt in your mouth delicious. If a Mexican restaurant is going to fail it is with the refried beans, which if canned or processed can taste waxy. Maya’s refried beans easily passed the taste test and went perfectly with the tortilla chips.


So happy with the meal that I asked about churros, which Reuben sadly told us Maya does not offer. It does however have a Chimi Cheese Cake, which Mike and I split. The cinnamon-encrusted chimi — which was deep-fried and accompanied by a scoop of ice cream with sprinkles and drizzled with syrup — was the perfect substitute and took care of my sweet craving.


So Maya has made it to my repeat list mostly because Reuben told us about the restaurant’s “best in town” margaritas. I am all too happy to judge that claim for myself. In fact, Mike and I are planning our return visit to be after the DreamWheels! show Saturday, Aug. 27 from 6 – 7:30 p.m. If you can’t find us, just ask for Reuben’s section as we will be sitting there.


Victoria’s condiments


Just a quick note here to say that my dear co-workers were kind enough to bring me some takeout from Maya, and YUM! I really scored big! I normally hang back from participating in these in-person taste tests because, let’s face it, somebody has to work here, right?


I chose the Maya Rolls and I was really glad I did. The blackened chicken breast was cooked and seasoned to perfection, the spinach, sprouts, tomatoes and other veggies rounded out the presentation, and there were even bits of avocado that surprised my taste buds (in a very good way). Dipped into the cajun sauce… sinfully delicious.


And as a tasty bonus, these very same awesome co-workers (who now have a very special place in my heart) had saved me a piece of Chimi Cheese Cake, and I can honestly say that I got high off of that. The high lasted the rest of the afternoon. Well, almost.


I will definitely be checking out Maya Mexican Grill. Can’t wait!

Going Local: Le Kabob

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



When Mike pulled Le Kabob out of the hat, I was happier than a freed canary. I love Mediterranean food. Tabouli, hommous, shawarmas…bring it on!


That enthusiasm probably showed on the way over. “Should I start looking?” “No, we have three miles.” “Should I start looking?” “We have about a mile.”


Located in a strip mall near the corner of 28th Street and Shaffer Avenue, we finally got there and the place was humming with activity. Upon entering, the aromas immediately made me smile — these are the smells I know from Dearborn when visiting the restaurants there.


Le Kabob has only been at its current location for about two years — before that it was located on Alpine — but the owner has made it feel like home with some Mediterranean touches.


Le Kabob saladWe were seated at a booth and Mike immediately spotted the $6.99 lunch special that included a soda, any sandwich and soup or salad. Our server informed us the salad was a traditional side salad but for a dollar more you could select any of the other salads such as tabouli, fattoush, or Greek. I was sold and went for the fattoush salad paired with the falafel, hommous, tabouli wrap cause a girl has got to have her falafel! For those who do not know, a falafel is a deep-fried ball or patty made from ground chickpeas, fava beans, or both. I prefer my falafel with a little hommous, so this wrap was screaming my name.


Expecting half portions, I was surprised that the salad was full size. What really makes a fattoush salad is the cumin and baked pita bread and Le Kabob’s had a nice mixture of both along with lettuce, onion, tomato, and cucumber. I was loving it. In fact, I was loving it long after Mike had finished his soup and moved on to his first shawarma wrap. Finally moving on to my sandwich, I was delighted to find the bread was slightly toasted with the wrap getting a thumbs up for freshness and uniqueness.


One of the servers thanked us for being patient as they were short-staffed that day. I actually thought for the good-size lunch crowd they had the staff did pretty well on serving everyone and handling take-outs. There was a wait for us to be seated, but the food certainly made it well worth it.

By: Mike DeWitt



We’re only three weeks into Going Local, but it has already been a massive success in my opinion. Granted, that opinion is based solely on my own selfish joy of eating lunch at local havens and being able to call it “work”.


Seriously though, I had absolutely no idea the quality of food that exists right in our backyard. Sure, everyone talks about Grand Rapids being beer capital and the food that comes with it, but Kentwood and Wyoming has knocked it out of the park three weeks in a row. The best part is that all of our lunches have been very reasonably priced. So much so that I might even call it generously priced, and Le Kabob was no exception.


I’ll admit, I was never big on Mediterranean food until my girlfriend brought me to a place in Detroit last year for some chicken shawarmas. It’s not that I didn’t like Mediterranean food, more that I had never really given it a chance, and I quickly realized what I had been missing. I had a new love, her name was Mediterranean and I can’t thank my girlfriend enough for introducing us.


Le Kabob garlic pasteWhen we walked into Le Kabob, I was caught off guard by the size of the restaurant. The last two places we had been to were small and we were the only people there for lunch. Le Kabob was not only much bigger, but it was packed with people there for lunch. Apparently we weren’t the only ones Going Local. We had a slight wait before we were seated and the $6.99 lunch special immediately caught my eye. The picture of the shawarma looked small, so I decided I needed to order two, a chicken and a lamb, on top of my lamb chili. I did not need to order a second one. I repeat, I did NOT need to order a second one.


Fresh toasted flatbread was brought out to the table as a starter along with a crush garlic paste to spread. The paste was 98 percent garlic and had some other spices and jalapenos thrown in for good measure. It was crushed up to spread like butter across the bread. It was phenomenal and a second basket of bread was quickly brought to the table after the first was engulfed almost immediately.


The lamb chili was good, not exceptional, but it had a little bit of heat and was a great size as a precursor to my two shawarmas. When the shawarmas were set down in front of me, I knew my eyes were bigger than my stomach. However, in my defense, they didn’t look THAT BIG in the picture on the menu. That is my excuse and I will stick with it. But I ordered my meal and I needed to finish the whole thing… my job depends on it.


Le Kabob ShawarmaBoth shawarmas were exceptional. The meat was tender and the pita was baked with the right amount of crisp. The lamb shawarma comes rolled with onions, tomatoes, pickles, parsley and tahini sauce. It went down smoothly as the chicken starred me right in the face. The chicken shawarma is rolled with pickles, lettuce, and garlic sauce – I think I hit my yearly garlic intake during the meal. The second shawarma was just as good, but my stomach said no more! Fortunately, I was able to take half the sandwich home in a box and have it for another Going Local lunch the next day.


If you even remotely like Mediterranean food, you need to stop in to Le Kabob. The food is prepared daily and the lunch special is very fairly priced. The entrees are a little more expensive ($11.99 – $26.99), but I would imagine they’re every bit as tasty as the lunch.


Le Kabob is located at 3122 28th St SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49512. Their phone number is 616-272-4135.

Going Local: Dallas Deli

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By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



“Make sure to tell your friends about us,” said the blue-and-white Facebook sign above one of the tables at Wyoming’s Dallas Deli. Have no fear Dallas Deli, I shall take to the modern-day form of shouting it from the rooftops, a.k.a. Facebook.


Yes, our traveling troupe, Mike and joining us, Victoria, moseyed on over to 3660 Byron Center Ave. SW, home of Dallas Deli and Lions Mane barbershop (separate owners). I learned a long time ago that some of the most amazing food places are small. In fact, a friend had warned me that the seating space at Dallas Deli consisted of three tables — one that sat about six and two that sat two. Even with the warning, I was surprised how small the space was. According to owner Sam Barnes, the place started as an ice cream parlor then was a pizza parlor, before Frank and Mary Weikert opened Dallas Deli some 30 years ago. Sam and his wife Kim took over the place – along with Weikert’s original Texas-style barbecue recipes – in 2003.


Chili Dallas DeliWhat Dallas Deli lacks in space it certainly makes up for in food — at least my chili packed a wallop of flavor being voted best meal selection by our little group and leaving Victoria and I planning chili runs in the winter. I had the World Class Chili which was topped with the restaurant’s signature brisket, cheese and onion. With the right mixture of heat and sweet, it was perfect even for our blistery hot summer day visit. (By the way, the air conditioning was not on while we were there but the place stayed pretty cool with the door open and a breeze moving through the building.)


After the first bite, I really did not want to share but Mike and Victoria were being generous with their selections, so I did…a little. I did order the medium-size portion to share, but could have easily eaten it without any help.


This little Wyoming gem is garnering quite the reputation. Most recently, Dallas Deli was part of the Grand Rapids’ Barley, BBQ & Beats and named one of the top 12 Hole In the Wall Restaurants in Michigan by onlyinyourstate.com. “After that we had about 500 people come in in about a week. It just about killed us,” Sam said with a laugh. So let’s keep the stampede to perhaps a trot.


But do come because even if you can’t find a seat, take-out — along with catering — is a big part of the Dallas Deli’s business and quite honestly, I can not think of better way to saddle up and go then with a half rack of ribs. Oh heck, we’re make that full. Yippee-ki-yay!

By: Mike DeWitt



When Dallas Deli was drawn out of the hat earlier this week for our Going Local location, I almost fainted. I love meat, I love BBQ, and I love it smoked. This is my job? Seriously!? In the words of the great Belinda Carlisle, “Ooh heaven is a place on earth!”


Joanne already covered the decor and atmosphere above, so let’s dive right into the only thing that matters… the food!


Taking a glance at the menu feels like trip through the meat market with Oprah as your tour guide… “You get a brisket, and YOU get some pulled pork, and YOU get some ribs!” How on earth am I supposed to fit it all on one plate?


The combo dinner isn't playing around
The combo dinner isn’t playing around

Two words, Combo Dinner.


The Combo Dinner comes with two different meats, two sides, and a choice of bread. The two meats can then be enjoyed with one of three BBQ sauces available at each table, Dallas Deli Mild Sauce, Sweet and Tangy, and Hot & Spice. All three have their own distinct taste and are worth a try. My meal consisted of rib tips, sausage, collard greens, baked beans and corn bread. Talk about a full house on a plate!


The rib tips were excellent and very rich, but I’m still kicking myself for not taking the brisket as my second meat choice. Don’t get me wrong, the sausage was good, but passing up the brisket at a BBQ joint? Rookie move, DeWitt.


As for the sides, the collard greens and baked beans were excellent compliments to the overall meal. While the meat and BBQ added a rich flavor, the beans and greens kept things at even keel with a consistent texture and flavor.


Now, about that corn bread, it was warm, full of taste, and melted in your mouth. Cornbread for me is very hit or miss and Dallas Deli hit one out of the park.


Dallas Deli BBQThanks to the size of the meal, I had some leftover for lunch the next day (that doesn’t happen very often) and it kept its taste upon a second serving. The corn bread tasted even better the next day, if that’s even possible.


Overall, Dallas Deli lived up to the hype. It’s well priced – only $12 for my whole meal – tastes great, and it feeds the beast. I will be making a second trip.

Going Local: China City

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Going Local is a new feature where the WKTV News staff visits a local Wyoming-Kentwood business for lunch.


By: Mike DeWitt



When Joanne pitched the idea of Going Local during an editorial meeting two weeks ago, I said yes faster than Google’s response time (.84 seconds) when you type “food” into the search bar. I almost came up with as many results (1.9 billion) too.


My love for food cannot be quantified, and the thought process behind it is simple – if people eat it, it must taste good! People don’t prepare and eat things they don’t like. I treat every meal as a date with the contents on the plate and my eagerness to try local delicacies makes my heart flutter and taste buds melt.


Joanne, you had me at “Local.”


The inaugural lunch trip for Going Local was to China City in Kentwood. After hearing rave reviews from co-workers and commenters on Facebook, it’s safe to say my excitement was through the roof. A quick visit to the restaurants Yelp! page had me giddy as a school girl. However, there were a couple of reviews that were negative and completely off base from what others had personally told me. Turns out there’s a China City in Grand Rapids as well. Those commenters were probably commenting on the wrong page.


China City is located in a small strip mall on Eastern Avenue. The restaurant has been around for 10 years, seven in the current location. The neon glow of the “Open” and “Bakery” sign greet you from the window. Yeah, that’s right, a Chinese bakery as well! We hadn’t even walked in the door and I was already head-over-heels.


Upon entering, the contents of the bakery greeted you with their sugary delight – temptation before we even sat down. The seating area is small and homely with four booths lining each side and four tables in the middle of the room. It presented a quiet feel and a pleasant place to hold a conversation throughout the meal.


Egg Drop Soup and TeaOnce seated, we were able to dive into the menu. One thing that immediately jumped out was how affordable the lunch prices were. All of the dishes were under $7.50 and included a choice of soup (egg drop or hot & sour), choice of crab cheese or an egg roll, and a choice of fried or white rice (not included with a noodle meal). Top it off with hot tea and a fortune cookie and no one leaves with an empty stomach.


After a quick glance at the menu, my eyes locked in on chicken lo mein and my mouth began to salivate. I had found a my date for lunch and was sure we would hit it off!


First came the egg drop soup and it was packed with flavor. While some renditions can taste a little bland, the soup was sweet and a nice primer for the main course.


Lo MeinAbout that main course, it was a larger portion that I was expecting for the price and it wasn’t overly salted. In fact, the taste was quite soothing. Some might describe it as “bland”, but I loved it. The taste wasn’t overpowering and it was effortless moving from a bite of the lo mein to the egg roll. The tastes complimented one another.


When it’s all said and done, I leave every restaurant asking myself two questions:


1. Am I full?
2. Would I go back?


The answer to both of these is a resounding yes, and it only cost $7.



By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma



China City Bakery and Restaurant on Eastern Avenue, just south of 52nd Street. Not to be confused with China City Chinese Restaurant in Grand Rapids.


I thought the restaurant’s sign was adorable with the green and white giving it an old road-sign feel.


China City BakeryInside, the restaurant was cleaned and inviting with the owner showing us to a table. I lingered a little as China City has a bakery case that included little heart-shaped strawberry and lemon cakes along with rather large almond cookies for 35 cents. “Life is short, eat dessert first” ran through my head as I pulled myself away from the bakery case. Besides, I have to pass it on the way out anyways.


We scanned the two-page lunch menu – well I scanned, Mike took photos of the menu. My goto Chinese dish is chicken broccoli or some variation of that. I went with the variation, pineapple chicken, which had broccoli, chicken, pineapple and water chestnuts. Lunch servings all come with a choice of soup, crab rangoons or egg rolls and white or fried rice.


Just by tasting, you could tell the soup was made fresh. It also had just a touch of sweetness.


Pineapple Chicken and BroccliThe lunch meal came out fairly quickly. It was a nice portion size with at least a cup and half of the entry and fried rice. I don’t normally order fried rice, but a friend had recommended trying China City’s, so I opted for it and was not disappointed.


With many Chinese restaurants, the lunch version usually has a small egg roll. This was not the case as the egg roll was very plump, another obvious sign that the food is made fresh daily. The pineapple and chicken was a little on the bland for me, but some soy sauce kicked it up a notch.


A couple of items: if you are allergic to shellfish, check to see if the egg rolls have any. I found a couple of small pieces in mine. Also, the food is not overly salted so if you like salt, you may need to add it.


On the way out, I decided to get a small box of almond cookies to “share” and try the vanilla cake, which had a coconut filling. The almond cookies literally melted in my mouth and I had eaten four before I knew it.

City of Kentwood continues to manage the bumps in the road of finances

Kentwood City officials presented its 2016 – 2017 budget to residents showing the city to be on solid financial ground.

By: Joanne Bailey-Boorsma


All budgets – whether personal or business – have challenges. The City of Kentwood’s budget is no different, however; through good planning, Kentwood officials have been able to weather many challenges leaving the city on solid financial ground.


City officials presented the City of Kentwood’s 2016 – 2017 budget last month during a special presentation to residents with WKTV scheduled to rebroadcast that presentation on the WKTV Government Comcast 26 and AT&T U-verse WKTV Government 99 at 7 p.m. Wednesday and Friday, June 8 and 10, and noon Sunday, June 11.


Or to see the entire program, click here.


Kentwood Finance Director Tom Chase said the city has a strong track record for being financially well run with city officials being good stewards of the city’s money. By planning ahead, officials have been able to keep good on promises to its citizens while balancing the always changing financial environment.


“We have safe infrastructure, clean water and the highest rated quality-rated roads in West Michigan,” said Mayor Stephen Kepley. Add to that a AA bond rating and 96-percent funded pension plan, all of which demonstrate how well city officials have been able to navigate the challenges that over the years have impacted the city’s funding sources such as property taxes.


The city’s fiscal year starts July 1. City staff and the commission work on the budget over several months with the City Commission approving it in the spring.


The city projects to break about even with revenues coming in around $30,813,100 and expenses slightly lower at $30,786,800.


Most of the revenue generated for the city comes through taxes. The city of Kentwood levies a 9.6066 mills with two-thirds of it going towards police and fire. Since the city is mostly service oriented, most of its expenses is in personal, Kepley noted. In fact 72 percent of the city’s budget, a little more than $22 million, is on personal.


What staff has worked toward, according to Kepley, is to make sure that the millages levied cover the city’s expenses. When determining a millage, officials try to project out enough to cover expenses for several years, Kepley said. Eventually expenses will exceed what is raised by a millage, he said.


The good news for Kentwood residents is that city officials have done a good job in keeping expenses low by managing health care expenses and the city’s pension funds and through strategic staffing. In return, staff has been able to move back when the lines between millage revenue and expenses will cross.


Kentwood’s Depty Finance Director Lorna Neniarini said part of this is because the city takes a “five-by-five” approach when preparing a budget. This is a process where officials try to look into the future to see where there might be trouble and how best to help the city save.


“When we are looking at savings, we are not looking at savings in one year, but really looking at what is the savings in five years,” Kepley said. “So if you are able to save $50,000 a year that is good, but in five years that is $250,000. If we are able to save $100,000 in a given year, in five years, that is half a million.


“So we are looking at five years ahead, so that when we save money that pushes the crossing of the lines farther away. That is all we can do. That is all any municipality can do.”


Chase added that “…picture yourself driving your car. The idea is not to look at your hood ornament as you are almost certain to get into an accident, What we are trying to do is we are trying to raise our vision up so that we are looking further down the road, making sure to take in consideration what is coming at us.”