7 Fantastic Restaurants to Try in Kalamazoo
The bountiful agricultural lands of western Michigan feature a cornucopia of agricultural products. Kalamazoo, located near the bounty of the region, offers everything from blueberries and grapes to vegetables, available for restaurants that highlight farm-fresh ingredients.
Kalamazoo has so many great restaurants it was hard to narrow down the selection, so I decided to stick to those near downtown Kalamazoo. Here are seven fantastic restaurants to try in downtown Kalamazoo, listed in no particular order.
1. The pasture table
Against a white wall, a white neon sign declares: “Life is Gouda”. After eating a charcuterie board in the middle of the afternoon at The pasture table, I am okay. While the menu described it as an individual platter, it offered enough food for two snacks anticipating dinner in a few hours. Our dish was gorgeous with a myriad of fruit – strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, raisins, dried apricots – combined with salted almonds. They shaped slices of salami into a rose and added two types of cheese – Brie and Manchego. Then they topped it with two pieces of salted chocolate coated caramels.
The cafe offers counter-style ordering with your meal at the table. In addition to the boards, they offer sandwiches and salads if you need a heartier meal.
Pro Tip: The little shop offers crackers, jams, chocolates and salami to build a charcuterie board at home. If you want to learn how to make one, The Grazing Table has classes to help you master the intricacies of a savory table.
2. Rose Gold Coffee Company
The cozy atmosphere of Rose Gold Coffee Company makes it the perfect place to warm up with a coffee on a winter afternoon. It features exposed brick walls and 1950s-style dining sets with upholstered, upholstered window seats to sit and people watch while enjoying that cup of Joe coffee.
Their food menu is all plant-based, so you’ll find oat milk for your coffee. If you’re looking for a vegan lunch, the menu offers soup, burritos, and pastries. Try the Southwestern burrito with tempeh chorizo, potatoes, and homemade cheese sauce. The cheese sauce adds a bit of spice to the burrito.
We were leaving for the trip home, so we took some pastries for the road. The treats rotate, so they may not have the same, but chocolate chip cookies are a must if available.
Pro Tip: Rose Gold Coffee Company stays open until 6 p.m., so in addition to breakfast and lunch, it’s a great place for a light (and plant-based) dinner.
Vegan? Check out this herbal traveler 5 favorite tips for eating vegan on the go.
3. 600 Kitchen & Bar
Located in the River’s Edge neighborhood of Kalamazoo, 600 Kitchen & Bar sits in the northwest corner of the Foundry, a building that once served as a gray iron foundry. The circa 1905 building is now a restaurant with decor incorporating the original exposed brickwork, a nod to the building’s original industrial use.
While charcuterie boards are all the rage, 600 Kitchen & Bar’s brunch menu takes it to another level. As a brunch starter, you will find a pancake board made up of Nutella, fresh fruit, large bacon bits and fresh cream. Another fun board is the breakfast charcuterie offering fresh fruit, chilli cheese, seasonal jam, soppressata, ham and smoked salmon to start the morning off right.
The menu features a fun take on Elton John songs, with an Eggs Benedict section titled “Bennies” & the Jets. You’ll find several Bennies referencing Elton’s songs, including The Island Girl, which features poached eggs and lobster, an English muffin, Hollandaise sauce, and pickled onions. Another fun one is Saturday Night’s Alright, featuring chicken tenderloins, cheddar cheese, poached eggs and Hollandaise sauce.
While several downtown restaurants use local farm produce, 600 Kitchen & Bar takes it a step further by serving its creations on locally made ceramic pottery.
Pro Tip: Take the time to call to reserve. On weekends, the restaurant only serves brunch.
4. Studio Grill
Arrive at Grill Studio around 11am my husband and I had to decide if we wanted a late breakfast or an early lunch. It wasn’t an easy decision, so we didn’t choose. Instead, we ordered something from each menu and shared our dishes. And we were so glad we did.
First, they offer pancakes for breakfast, but not just any pancakes. Instead, the owner tweaked his wife’s grandmother’s pancake recipe to develop his own recipes. So we had the apple pie pancake, with chopped apple pieces mixed into the batter. The pancakes are rated some of the best I’ve ever had, and rumor has it that the cinnamon pancakes are just as delicious. Since we were tasting several dishes, the waiter suggested that I order just one, although I almost regret not having taken the whole pile.
But then there was the homemade sausage hash and green pepper smothered in sausage sauce and topped with cheddar cheese. The potatoes in the hash were fresh, not frozen. They served it with toast made from local bread. The sausage sauce had a little spice – just enough to make it interesting.
Signs informed us that their burgers are rated one of the best burgers in Southwest Michigan, so we also shared a club burger. The burger is stuffed with ham, turkey and American cheese. Then they top it with bacon, Swiss cheese, lettuce, tomato and mayonnaise. They have lots of stuffed burger options, including the Free as a Bird burger, which lets you create your version of the stuffed burger. Finally, they serve the burgers with fries.
Pro Tip: Although you may find a line, browse the nearby bookstore while you wait. Studio Grill is a breakfast and lunch venue and is only open until 2:30 p.m.
5. Bell’s Quirky Cafe
Quirky Bell Cafe, located in the original Bell’s Brewery, offers meals prepared from more than 20 draft options, craft beer, a beer garden and patio, plus music and entertainment to add to the fun. your culinary pleasure. But, of course, one of the reasons to visit the cafe is to taste the beer that you will only find there. Their home-cooked meals are locally sourced, with mostly non-GMO sustainable ingredients.
When I visit a restaurant within a craft brewery, I like to taste the dishes that feature beer. At Bell, that means Bell’s Beer-Ria tacos made with amber beer and chili-braised pork, onion, cilantro, and broth served on corn tortillas. Another item featuring Bell’s beer is Porter’s Beer Cheese Soup made with Bell’s Porter, cheddar cheese and green onions.
Their burgers are also a good choice. I tried the Cherry Bomb, a smashed patty with chipotle cherry jam and goat cheese topped with pickles, mustard and pickled habanero served on a brioche bun. Pair it with the Porter for a tasty lunch.
Pro Tip: Bell’s Brewery 45-minute tours begin at the cafe with a tasting. At the end of the tour, you can purchase supplies to get started as a home brewer. You can book the visit in line before you leave.
6. Comensoli Italian Bistro and Bar
Comensoli Italian Bistro and Bar has been serving dinner for about 100 years, featuring everything Italian from pizza to risotto and pasta. Our meal started with warm rustic bread served with herb olive oil. Then an antipasto large enough to share arrived at our table. It featured pickled red and green peppers, salami, fresh mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, marinated artichokes, salami, pecorino and peppadew peppers served on a bed of romaine lettuce and topped with a homemade champagne vinaigrette .
Homemade meatballs are made from a mixture of pork and beef and can be added to a pasta dish or eaten as an appetizer slathered in marinara.
Homemade cudigi is a northern Italian sausage that doesn’t have the typical Italian sausage fennel, but instead milder spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. Typically, you find this sausage in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. The Comensoli family came to Kalamazoo from northern Italy via the Upper Peninsula, so it’s no surprise they included cudigi on the menu.
I ordered the evening special, which was the Spicy Fontina Risotto topped with an 8 oz sirloin, served medium and topped with a few micro greens for color. The risotto had Fontina cheese, artichokes, roasted red pepper and chili puree for a little treat.
I love when a waiter brings a dessert platter that shows what I will get when ordering a particular dessert. I had a hard time choosing but decided to forgo my usual tiramisu and opted for the flourless chocolate cake. It was almost like a slice of fudge. And it was so rich and creamy – something you’d want to share.
Pro Tip: Discover the specials of the week on Facebook page of Comensoli.
7. Brick + Brine
Located inside the Radisson Plaza Hotel at the Kalamazoo Center, you will find Brick + Brine, an upscale venue new to the Kalamazoo restaurant scene. Brick + Brine’s brick comes from exposed brick walls and the wood-fired brick kiln. Brine refers to brine used to flavor proteins.
The restaurant offers contemporary American cuisine with hand-cut steaks, fresh seafood and artisan pastas. Our meal started with the meatball appetizer, a combination of beef and pork meatballs placed in a pool of tomato brodo topped with fontina and served with grilled herb focaccia. Next, we sampled some steak house favorites like French Onion Soup and a Wedge Salad.
The entree to my partially hosted Brick + Brine meal was the star of the show, with the presentation and flavors both over the top. I had the 10 oz cut steak, presented with a mild roasted garlic bulb. The steak, cooked to order, was tender and flavorful. The Brussels sprouts side has been intentionally charred lightly crispy with soy, chilies, bacon and peanuts for a great accompaniment to the steak.
On warm days, you’ll appreciate Brick + Brine’s open-air concept, where sliding windows surround much of the space, letting the outdoors in.
Pro Tip: Park in the structure across the street and walk across the walkway to the restaurant without worrying about the weather.