by Samantha Suarez | photography by David Specht
1001 Monroe Ave NW, Grand Rapids, MI
Once upon a time, two old friends would often hang out in Mulligan’s in Eastown, talking about opening their own restaurant while bonding over music. Fast forward to today, Linear, modern American restaurant and bar, is one of the newest additions Grand Rapids’ downtown restaurant scene, offering a gorgeous riverfront dining experience. Could there be a better spot to have dinner and drinks in the summer?
“We named Linear after an Umphrey’s McGee song called The Linear,” said Todd Hoort, who co-owns the restaurant with close friend and Executive Chef Chris Weimer. “We both enjoy music and live shows. Those moments are when we first started talking about opening a restaurant together. Now, years later, our random conversations became a reality.”
Linear’s menu rotates based on season and local farm availability. All their food is prepared with fresh, sustainable ingredients made from scratch, and their bar that boasts an extensive list of specialty cocktails. A love for nature is present all throughout the restaurant, with many green elements including a hydroponic lettuce wall, paired with their clean and earthy food, which is flavorful but still leaves you feeling like you did your body a favor. We had the beet gnocchi, which is served with spring peas and agrodolce cream, topped with squid ink tuile. It was creamy, highly unique, and tasted like nature in a bowl. The farro risotto was herby and delicious, made with black barley and adzuki beans, drizzled with a pistou sauce and topped with asparagus. Other standout dishes receiving glowing reviews in the foodie world are the stuffed quail and the carrot pot de creme.
Hoort and Weimer clearly share a vision, and both took the name Linear to heart. Their logo, along with many of their art and decorations contain crisp, clean linear elements that are satisfying to the artistic eye. “We want the restaurant to feel like a little oasis from the outside world, where people can have a great bite to eat with an amazing drink and let the pressures of the world disappear for awhile,” said Hoort. I certainly let the pressures of my world disappear during my visit. I came in to try the food, got a delicious meal, and, after some bonding time with the co-owners, ended up learning how to gut and fillet a freshly caught fish as large as my arm in the kitchen. What can I say? Hoort and Weimer are two cool dudes who also happen to own an excellent restaurant. Thanks for the fish filleting lesson, Chris!
1530 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Many locals, especially Eastowners, will tell you that Wolfgang’s has the best breakfast in Grand Rapids – and if you’re partial for the old school American diner food and feel, it’s hard to argue otherwise. You won’t find any twelve dollar avocado toast here!
An OG of Wealthy Street, Wolfgang’s has been around since 1977 and is owned and operated by the Wolfgang family. They have a robust menu of omelets, skillets, sandwiches, pancakes, waffles and more to satisfy your whatever you’re craving. We came in for a very late breakfast on a very lazy Saturday and were absolutely spoiled by Stacy Wolfgang. Dining and chatting with her felt like having your mom lovingly make you breakfast on a weekend morning – and generously overfeeding you to the point of food coma happiness. “We’ve been around for a long time, so many people have come to Wolfgang’s as children and now bring their children to Wolfgang’s,” she told us. “We’re also full of love stories! We’ve had a flash mob wedding proposal, we’ve had a lot of first dates, and we’ve had people come in for breakfast before their weddings. My favorites are the ones between the people who met working together here and fell in love! We now have the kids from some of these marriages working at Wolfgang’s – my own included.”
Romance was certainly in the air that Saturday afternoon… between us and the food, that is. We had the Vandermeer, a delicious skillet filled with hash browns, Havarti cheese, turkey sausage, asparagus, and onions, topped with eggs and hollandaise sauce. I have to say, that skillet is a reason to get up in the morning (or in the early afternoon, if you’re a lazy bum like me.) The Bread Lady, which is french toast prettily served with peanut butter and syrup, is another favorite if you’re a fan of a sweeter breakfast. All the portions were generous, just as the service was. The hazelnut coffee was a tasty way to kickstart my day and was always refilled before I even noticed it was empty. They even prepared a to-go cup for me before we left, without my asking. “We stand apart because of our awesome food and our beyond awesome employees. Wolfgang’s is full of people who genuinely care for our guests,” said Wolfgang. “We have fun at Wolfgang’s and that happiness shows!”
FORTY ACRES SOUL KITCHEN
1059 Wealthy St. SE, Grand Rapids, MI
Forty Acres Soul Kitchen, which opened its doors earlier this year, is an important landmark in Grand Rapids’ history. Not only is it the first authentically American soul kitchen in the area, but it’s the the only African American-owned full-service restaurant. For those who may not know, full-service means that there’s a full bar, food menu, a host, and waitstaff. While it’s saddening to realize that it’s 2018 and that we’ve only now taken this step as a community, it gives us all more reason to support and celebrate this venture. Co-owners Lewis Williams and Darel Ross II are putting soul into Grand Rapids’ restaurant scene while celebrating black culture – and we hope you join them in that celebration.
We came in for a late lunch on Sunday and were immediately impressed by the atmosphere. Everything from the reclaimed wood walls to the copper silverware set the tone for a unique experience. After ordering, you are immediately served fresh hush puppies to warm up your appetite. We quickly devoured those hush puppies and were greeted with our main courses. The creole catfish with dirty rice was perfectly crispy and tasty, topped with a couple of crustaceans, and swimming in their signature spicy, tangy orangey-pink sauce. I’m a sucker for good fried chicken, so I just had to have some… and Forty Acres did not disappoint. We customized a platter of white and dark meat with sides of mashed potatoes and asparagus. I must say, those creamy mashed potatoes are to die for, and I regret not ordering extra. Chef Trimmell Hawkins is nothing less than a soul food wizard.