The Local Eats: What’s New at Your Favorite Restaurants

(Above: Along with modern Mexican cuisine, MeXo serves an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal.)

by Samantha Suarez

MeXo

118 Fulton Street East.

At MeXo, you get more than just dinner and drinks: You get an experience.

This modern Mexican restaurant and tequila/mezcal bar opened its doors to downtown Grand Rapids on April 17, and is the most recent venture of the CDKI Dining restaurant group.

Leading its kitchen as executive chef is the talented Oscar Moreno, whose menu is described as a fusion of pre-Hispanic and modern Mexican cuisine. What does that mean exactly? Basically, if you’re in the market for a burrito or ground beef tacos with cheddar cheese, look elsewhere. Instead, enjoy ahi tuna ceviche with avocado, pork belly pastor with pineapple and salsa, or carne asada made of thin-cut ribeye.

Don’t worry: they do serve guacamole and it’s awesome.

At their bar, you’ll find creative cocktails and artisanal craft margaritas from an extensive selection of tequila and mezcal. A few standouts are the MeXo Oaxacan Old Fashioned and the Tamarindo cocktail.

Another bonus? Instead of tres leches cake, you get quatro leches. Four types of milk on cake certainly beats three!

“We have been working on the transformation of our building to bring Chef Oscar’s flavors to Grand Rapids for some time now. We are excited to show off his talent and have our guests be amazed by Chef’s influences.” Geoff Gaskin, President of CDKI Dining, said.

MeXo is is currently serving lunch and dinner from Monday through Saturday, along with brunch on Sunday.

Tillman’s Restaurant

1245 Monroe Ave. NW

From the moment you step inside Tillman’s, you’ll instantly realize that this is not the typical restaurant millennial bloggers normally rave about. This old school Chicago-style steakhouse is dimly lit, vintage in decor, straightforward in its menu, and feels like it’s been around for ages. You certainly won’t find many craft beer choices or cocktails with quirky names on their drink list. Imagine a charming speakeasy, and you have Tillman’s. As goes their slogan, it’s the “best kept secret in Grand Rapids.”

Tillman’s serves up delicious portions of traditional and regional American fare in an old-school atmosphere. While they are best-known for classic dishes like prime rib, twice baked potato and escargot, many also show up for their slightly more uncommon items like sautéed frog legs or liver and onions. Most of their lunch items are less than $9 and many dinner options are $15-$20. If you bring an old friend or an out-of-town guest there for a good meal and conversation, you are sure to impress. Don’t forget to order a Brandy Alexander dessert cocktail.

Tillman’s is open from Monday through  Thursday, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. and Friday through Saturday from 11 a.m.-1 a.m.

Carolina Lowcountry kitchen specializes in southern fare with a Michigan twist. Photo courtesy of Carolina Lowcountry Kitchen.

Carolina Lowcountry Kitchen

2213 Wealthy St SE Ste 120, East Grand Rapids

If being instantly transported to Charleston, South Carolina in one bite sounds appealing to you, pay Carolina Lowcountry Kitchen a visit.

“We specialize in Low Country cuisine, which is Southern fare from the coastal regions of South Carolina and Georgia, with influences from other southern areas, such as New Orleans,” Brienne Postema, Operating Partner, said. “The menu highlights some of those amazing flavors using traditional ingredients, heritage grains, and top quality meats and seafoods while adding a little Michigan flare.”

From their signature shrimp and grits, four different types of oysters that you can have fresh, fried or grilled, their tasty gumbo, or the fact that many of their ingredients are actually shipped from South Carolina, it’s safe to say that their concept is one that is unique to the Grand Rapids food scene.

Beyond the food, Carolina Lowcountry Kitchen boasts a full-service bar with draught and bottled beer, wine and spirits with an emphasis on craft cocktails, communal punches, wine, and ice cream drinks such as Grasshoppers and Hummers.

Carolina Lowcountry Kitchen is open for brunch on weekends and for dinner from Monday through Friday.


Sam was born in Chicago, grew up in the Philippines, attended college in Australia and is now living in Grand Rapids. She loves cheese, video games and music, and will quote a movie or TV show every chance she gets.


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