Board Picks

Check out AIGAWM’s favorite picks in West Michigan and why we love them so much.

Gwen O’Brien, President
Gwen’s favorite place just outside of Grand Rapids, is Lake Michigan. Kirk Park or Rosy Mound are probably the closest. Just head West! In the city, Gwen is all about Rowster Coffee. “I love to stop by any day of the week for a fantastic cup of coffee and a chat with friends.”

John O’Neill, Vice President
John’s favorite thing in town is A.K. Rikk’s, our own homegrown Barney’s. “Stop by and ask for Matt Sova. He can make you look like a million bucks.”

Sally Herman, Secretary
Sally’s favorite place for authentic tacos is Taqueria San Jose. Her top picks are the al pastor taco with everything (cilantro & onion) and the pollo taco American style (lettuce, cheese, sour cream). The secret’s out so you may be in for a wait if you go at lunch, but it’s worth it! If you like hot stuff, ask Fernando for a jalapeño on the side. The horchata is tasty, too!

Madcap Coffee is my top pick for a pour-over coffee or specialty drink.” Madcap Coffee have a seasonal specialty menu if you want to try something unique (espresso with a white peony ice sphere, perhaps?). All drinks are made to order so don’t be in a hurry!

Terra Muckenthaler, Treasurer
Love’s Ice Cream is hands down, the best place for a frozen treat in Grand Rapids. Their hand-crafted dairy and vegan options are both amazing. “The Madcap coffee flavor is my all-time favorite, but the vegan peanut butter is a close second!”

Emily Noffsinger, Membership Director
Emily’s favorite place (with great bias) is the lake she grew up on, Myers Lake––bias aside, West Michigan has a great deal of inland lakes with bike trails, boat and swimming access which will forever be her favorite part of living in West Michigan.

When it comes to being downtown, Founders is forever number one. The best place in downtown Grand Rapids if you want to hang and drink beer out outside. Hosting free music every Thursday night, awesome sandwiches and a brew that will never receive a complaint.

Kristen Dunn, Programming Director
Kristen’s favorite place to eat breakfast, lunch, or brunch is Marie Catribs. Not only is their gluten free menu stellar, they have such a variety of ordinary foods (locally sourced) that are spun into delicious and unique meals.

Kimberly Wolting, Design For Good Director
Kim’s first favorite is what we like to call “French Breakfast” at the Downtown Market. “My sister and I arrive at 10am on Sundays (when things are still a bit quiet) and we wind our way about the vendors picking out special treats. “

First stop, Aperitivo for a hunk of spreadable, buttery Brie and a little container of their green olives. Then, Fish Lads, for a half pound of smoked salmon jerky. “We high five the cashier at Field & Fire after picking up a just-made-that-morning loaf of Brioche.” Finally, grab a little jar of Thornburg & Co’s Raspberry/Lime/Jalapeño jam. Then – picnic time!

Kim’s second favorite is bike riding the White Pine Trail. Doesn’t matter the time of year… it’s always gorgeous.

Carlos Estrada, Diversity Director
No matter what you have on your must have list, Carlos has a favorite. Here are his picks for the best of Grand Rapids.

Tacos: La Hausteca Mexican Restaurant, 1811 Plainfield Ave NE, between Ann St NE & Dean St NE, the owners make you feel at home.

Burgers: Garage Bar & Grill, the owner is a hands on and conversational, with great burgers, and it reminds me of my time in the ATX!

Coffee: Lyon Street Cafe, Mad Cap pour-overs with indulgent cinnamon rolls, cupcakes and treats your trainer would scold you for eating.

Riley Beach in Holland, once you find Riley road drive west, till you dead end on Lake Michigan. There only room for about 5 or 6 parking spots, the beach is cozy and tucked away from the state park and crowds.

Juice: I’m addicted to Malamiah Juice at Downtown Market!

Marie Brown, Education Director
Though Marie and Terra may have different opinions on the go-to ice cream shop in town, take our word you could go no wrong with either. Marie’s favorite is Furniture City Creamery, right down the road from Brewery Vivant on Cherry St. This Grand Rapids gem is full of delicious ice cream for vegans and omnivores, alike. You will always be greeted with a warm welcome and a taste of Grand Rapids. Furniture City Creamery pulls flavors from local Grand Rapids businesses. “Some of my favorites flavors are Rowsters Coffee and Brewery Vivant’s Undertaker ice cream.” Check it out for a sweet (and reasonably priced) treat!

Alaina Woloszyn, Communication Co-Director
It’s almost impossible to pick a favorite spot in West Michigan because everything is so great. Since she has to pick, Harmony is where it’s at; a really small brewery with pizza to die for. Just about any pie comes with goat cheese, arugula, and balsamic vinegar, yum. When you’re finished head across the street for some froyo at Spoonlickers. Fill your cup up with any combination of frozen yogurt flavor, candy, fruit, and top it off with handmade whipped cream. You can die happy after that meal.

Elyse Flynn, Leadership Retreat Chair
One of Elyse’s favorite spots in Grand Rapids is the UICA right downtown on the corner of Fulton and Division. It’s not only a great venue for contemporary art exhibits here in town, but it also has a theater playing independent films most nights out of the week. Plus, the gift shop in the lobby is a wonderful place to pick up a variety of goods from local artists.

By AIGA West Michigan
Published May 24, 2015