Taste buds looking for an adventure? Grand Rapids has much to offer by way of international cuisine. These fabulous local eateries allow you to eat your way around the globe without ever leaving your home town.
Little Africa Cuisine features vegan Ethiopian fare in a casual setting. Begin by washing up in the scented water bowls at your table, and then dig into lentil, chick pea, soy, and vegetable stews, using the traditional Ethiopian flat bread, injera, to scoop up every tasty morsel. Combination platters allow for a taste of a variety of flavors, and the utensil-free dining experience is fun for kids. Don't expect to rush in and rush out; relax and enjoy the experience. Click here to visit Little Africa Cuisine's Facebook page.
Chez Olga features Haitian cuisine, and patron favorites include the jerked chicken, fried plantains, goat ragu, spicy cole slaw, ginger iced tea, and malanga, a fried root vegetable served with strawberry sauce. With plenty of vegetarian options—and food made to order according to your heat tolerance—Chez Olga offers a range of menu items that will please a range of palates. Click here to visit the website.
India Town features cuisine of the northern region of the subcontinent, and offers gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options, in addition to a range of seafood, chicken, and lamb dishes. Entrees are made as spicy or mild as you like, and the Monday through Saturday buffet offers the opportunity to try a variety of new flavors. There is also outdoor seating, to enjoy late summer and early fall days. Click here to visit their Facebook page.
Shiraz Grille offers Persian cuisine in a luxurious setting, with live violin music some evenings and belly dancing some nights. The menu features regional classics like roasted eggplant, steak, chicken, shrimp, and lamb kabobs, and a range of stews, rice dishes, and vegetarian offerings. The dessert menu includes pistachio baklava and Persian ice cream spiced with saffron and cardamom. The restaurant features a full bar, and on occasion hosts five-course dinner with wine pairings. Click here to check the restaurant's calendar of events and menu.
San Chez, A Tapas Bistro provides an airy, eclectic setting in which to enjoy its tasty, gorgeous small plates of Spanish cuisine. A perfect place to meet with friends, or for a romantic get-together, its menu and atmosphere are conducive to a leisurely gourmet experience. The blue cheese fritters, chorizo-stuffed dates, crawfish, and flourless chocolate cake with raspberries are all favorites. Click here to visit its Facebook page.
Marie Catrib's takes me back to my college days. About a million years ago, when I was student teaching at Hancock Public School in the far reaches of the Keweenaw Peninsula, Marie's Deli in Houghton had the best seasoned potatoes in the universe. I hadn't even realized what an amazing thing seasoned potatoes could be until I ate at Marie's. In 2004, Marie relocated to Grand Rapids, and while she passed away in 2013, her creative spirit lives on in the sweet potato quinoa burgers, shoarma, and numerous other eclectic, delicious menu items that reflect her Lebanese heritage. Click here to visit Marie Catrib's website.
For authentic Chinese, Wei Wei Palace is a local favorite. Barbecue and dim sum are specialties, and the extensive menu includes an impressive range of noodle, rice, seafood, duck, chicken, beef, pork and vegetarian dishes. If you've only experienced Americanized Chinese food, get ready for the real deal: The dim sum menu includes steamed chicken feet, turnip cakes, shark fin dumplings, baked and steamed buns, curried baby squid, and more. Click here to visit Wei Wei Palace's website.
And for a dining experience that can take you around the world in just one restaurant, check out Electric Cheetah. The menu includes small plates, salads, sandwiches, macaroni and cheese combos, and blue plates, all of which contain an eclectic mix of regional favorites—Polish sausage, curried freekeh, calamari fries, and smoked brisket with tempura, to name a few. To see the full menu, click here.
Written by Jennifer Reynolds, staff writer for West Michigan Woman. She has good taste, and digs good food.