The Latin House

Years ago, there was a time when I thought, “Why aren’t there any South American restaurants around? That would be a great addition here.”

Fast forward to now, and hello there Latin House!

CHURRASCO

I ordered the Churrasco. It was delicious, but I actually preferred my friend’s dish, the one pictured below.

LOMO SALTADO (WITH SIDE CHICHARRÓN)

My friend Ha ordered the Lomo Saltado and added chicharrón. While I liked his dish even more than mine, he liked mine more than his!

PAPA RELLENAS

We shared Papa Rellenas for an appetizer. The filling was good but I wasn’t a fan of the breading. On the contrary, Nathan and Ha really liked it.

JASMINE SILVER NEEDLE, GOLDEN FLOWER, PU-ERH SPICE

They don’t serve alcohol as of now, and hopefully that will change in the future because it’s the only thing this restaurant needs. They do have a great selection of non alcoholic drinks, like fresh juices, coffee, and teas! Nathan was excited to see Pu-erh tea on the menu because he had been wanting to try it. I liked it, but I have a weakness for jasmine teas. The Silver Needle was really good.

Located on Leonard Street in Walker, Latin House is inside a very nondescript building in a very nondescript area. They didn’t have a sign yet, so it’s easy to miss. It’s very small and intimate inside, and would make a fantastic spot for a romantic occasion. That’s not to say that you should only go for date night. The three of us went for lunch on a Saturday and we had a great time and experience.

The food was delicious! Their menu features dishes from Argentina, Peru, and Columbia. I can’t speak for the authenticity of the dishes since I have never traveled to any of those countries, but I have an inkling that Latin House is legitimate. Service was great; our server was dressed up and formal, polite and helpful. The pace here is laid back, which is fitting for a Latin themed restaurant.

Overall a great experience, and a very nice change for the food scene in GR. Definitely check it out!

Georgina’s

Georgina’s is a newer restaurant located on popular Wealthy Street. This one is the second location, with the first one being based in Traverse City. The menu features the owner’s heritage, so it’s a fusion of Latin and Asian inspired food.

DUMPLINGS
SALMON TACOS

I came here with my friend Paul, who actually is a fan of their Traverse City location! I was a little surprised about the differences on the menu from the two restaurants. There wasn’t a menu for the GR spot online, so there were a couple of things I wanted to try from TC and I was disappointed that I didn’t find them here. However, their menu has a lot going on so there were plenty of options to choose from.

Everything was enjoyable except the tacos. I hate to complain about generous portions, but there was so much slaw and creamy sauce on them that it was overwhelming. Not just trying to eat it, but in flavor as well.

The service was good, the space new and a little more intimate and cozy. I’ve only been once, so I’d like to go back and try something from the Latin side of the menu!

La Lotería

La Lotería has been around for a year now, but I only discovered it recently. A Mexican ice cream and snack shop, it is located on 28th Street in Wyoming.

LA FRESA MICHOACANA
LA FRESADA

While the La Fresa Michoacana was really good, I actually preferred this one more. The sorbet was really good and the whole thing was more complex; sweet, tart, and spicy. I really enjoyed the tamarind candy, although my tongue was raw when I was finished with it. I couldn’t put it down!


There is so much offered at La Lotería, and it’s not restricted to only sweets.

I’m unsure if they make their own ice cream, which they have a large assortment of, but I do know that their many varieties of la paleta de cremas (popsicles) are homemade.

I really like this place, and there’s much more that I want to try. I’ve only been twice now, and both times I received friendly and fast service. I have read that they can get quite busy though, and they have a stack of numbers for waiting in line. Make sure to snag one if needed!

Tacos El Cuñado (Burton Street)

So I’m happy to say that I’ve found my favorite taco place! Taco El Cuñado, on Burton Street.

I owe my friend Alejandro a huge thank you for his recommendation. After the Garibaldi tripe thing, I asked him for his opinion, and he enthusiastically told me that the best ones could be found at Cuñado on Burton Street. After visiting three times, I wholeheartedly agree with him. The tripas tacos here are fantastic! Cleaned well and great texture. You can ask for it tender or crispy, or in-between! Also, their tortillas aren’t too greasy. Love it.

They also offer cabeza, or beef head. I mention this because it’s the only place I’ve seen it on the menu. It’s good but the tripe is my favorite.

There are several Tacos El Cuñado. I’ve only been to this one and the one at the Downtown Market. I’m not sure if all the owners are the same or related or what, but I have heard that there are definitely some locations that are better than the others.

They have good prices and good service. They have a small parking lot that can get packed, but you can usually find a spot on the street. Bonus, they also stay open late!

Garibaldi Restaurant

Garibaldi Restaurant is a Mexican spot that is located on Division Ave.

TACOS LENGUA, TRIPA, AND NOPALES

When I visited for the first time, I tried their tripa tacos and I fell in love. I just had to have them again, so I visited a second time…and they tasted very unclean. Still hopeful and wanting to see if it was a fluke, I went a third time. Not as good as the first time, and not as bad as the second. So the lack of consistency is disappointing.

The lengua was very good, but the second time I had them, they were waterlogged. The nopales taco was salty, but I’m beginning to think that it’s the cactus itself that tastes that way. Or perhaps it’s the way cactus is prepared. I’ve tried it at three different locations, and at every one I found it to be too salty.

Their homemade corn tortillas are fantastic, and I like that they don’t fry them.

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MENUDO

Menudo (I’m going to reveal my age here but no, I’m not talking about the popular Latino boy band from the 80’s) is a traditional Mexican soup made with beef stomach. It’s served with tortillas, onions, cilantro, and lime. I’m not sure if I was supposed to add all that in there but I did anyway. I thought the broth was kind of bland, but the beef stomach was incredibly tender and clean tasting. I think they only make this and Pozole on the weekend.

ENTRANCE TO GARIBALDI RESTAURANT

Garibaldi is located in a nondescript location. It’s actually inside a big building that also houses a Mexican store, and the entrance is on the side, not the front. The one pictured above will take you right to the cafeteria that Garibaldi’s is located in.

GARIBALDI RESTAURANT

I love the layout of the place. It reminds me of a hawker center or food court, on a much smaller scale. Plenty of seating available, and I hear that it gets packed on the weekends!

There is an Salvadoran restaurant on one end of the hall and I think a dessert place down the other end?

MI TIERRE EL SALVADOR

I’ve received good service here every time, and the prices are low. It’s a great spot, but with a few inconsistencies. Check it out!

Taqueria San Jose

Taqueria San Jose located on Division Avenue is a popular little spot. The space is tiny but there are several tables that you can sit at inside. Otherwise, when it’s nice out, there’s plenty of seating outside at their picnic tables.

TACOS: CARNE ASADA (BEEF), LENGUA (BEEF TONGUE), BIRRIA (GOAT)

The star of the show was definitely the Carne Asada taco. The beef was much more flavorful than anywhere else I’ve tried! Delicious and tender. The Lengua was good as well. Not a fan of their tortillas, however. They were too greasy for me.

I visited here with my friend Alex. I think we were both surprised when we saw the long line inside. Despite that, the we got through fairly quickly and didn’t have to wait too long for our food.

Prices are low, service was good, and they have an easy menu for English speakers to understand!

Tamales Mary

So I kinda have this thing where I become fixated on a certain food and I don’t stop going after it until the next new obsession comes along. It can take months for me to get over it, sometimes years. My mom will attest to this, as she is so lucky to have raised me and experienced this endearing trait of mine. Subway sandwiches, Sichuan potatoes, pizza, pho, Ethiopian food. And now?

Tacos. Give me all the tacos.

I’ve had Taco Bell. What American hasn’t? I’m talking about authentic Mexican tacos. The type made with soft corn tortillas that comes with just meat or organs, onion, cilantro, and fresh squeezed lime. Simple and delicious.

So I’ve been running around town like an eager little newb, checking out taquerias and Mexican restaurants and trying all the tacos. So far, Tamales Mary located on Burton Street is one of my favorite spots!

AL PASTOR TACO

I refrained from ordering Al Pastor tacos at first. I try not to eat pork anymore, but it’s not just that. I’ve had them in the past and the meat was always pulled, and served with pineapple chunks. I found them too sweet, and I’m also not a fan of pulled or shredded meat. So I was surprised when I tried this, because I loved it! The flavor and sauce was delicious, and the pork tender.

Another thing that I like about Tamales Mary are their tortillas. They are only lightly greasy, the perfect amount really.

CARNE ASADA TACO
MOLE WITH CHICKEN TAMALE

I apologize for the non aesthetically pleasing photo, but I wanted to show what was inside. While I’ve never been a fan of tamales before, this one changed me. Very flavorful and not dry at all. And, I finally got to try mole sauce!

CHICKEN GREEN TAMALE
CHOCOLATE FLAN CAKE

CHOCOLATE FLAN CAKE

They have a dessert case with a variety of different types to choose from. I’ve never been a sweets person, but I wanted to try something new. The nice lady working saw me looking and came up to point out what everything was, and offered some recommendations. I went with this cake pictured above. I love flan but hate cake, so I was curious.

Typically, I’ll have two to three bites of cake and feel nauseated from all the sugar. This cake? I ate almost the whole thing. It was so good. Seriously! Incredibly moist, not too rich or sweet, and the flan was delicious. I saved a sliver of it and had some co-workers try it. Our opinions were unanimous.

They list the tacos as American style, but you can definitely get them Mexican style (only onion and cilantro). That’s the way I prefer them. Prices here are higher than most of the other authentic taco joints, but in general, the prices are still low.

Tamales Mary does specialize in tamales, so they have a large variety. They also have lunch and dinner buffets daily. Something else that’s a plus, is that they have Pozole and Menudo every day!

The service was friendly and helpful and I came in at an off time, so the food didn’t take long at all. I can’t wait to go back!

City Built Brewing Company

City Built Brewing Company is a new-ish brewery that opened on Monroe Avenue NW. When I heard that a new place was opening that featured Puerto Rican food, I was really looking forward to trying it out. My first thought was, “Mofongo!”

The atmosphere of the brewery is nice and modern. I don’t drink beer so I can’t attest to their brews, but of course I can tell you a bit about the food.

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FRIJOLES Y’ SCHETTA

This appetizer was delicious! Nathan and I were both pleasantly surprised.

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BARBACOA TACOS

The braised beef cheek tasted good, but I thought the toppings were skimpy. I’ve been to Puerto Rico but I never had any tacos there, so I don’t know if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. More onions and jalapenos would have been good.

I didn’t order mofongo! I can’t remember why, maybe the tacos were too hard for me to resist. Next time.

 

Pupuseria El Salvador La Original- a Salvadorian Restaurant!

So Nathan just bought a house. After he moved all his belongings and got a little settled in, we sat there famished and queried whether or not there were any good food spots close to his new home. Pulling up Yelp, I was quite surprised that there was a Salvadorian restaurant listed nearby! Unfortunately, this was on Christmas day, and they were closed. I resigned to our misfortune and a couple weeks later, we got the opportunity to check the place out.

My Entree: Stewed Beef with Rice and Beans. Far plate: Cheese and pork pupusa, boiled plantains, fried yucca, and tamale.
My Entree: Stewed Beef with Rice and Beans.
Far plate: Cheese and pork pupusa, boiled plantains, fried yucca, and tamale.

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The thick corn tortillas that came with my entree.
The thick corn tortillas that came with my entree.
Empanadas.
Empanadas.

Living in Grand Rapids, I am always so grateful for spots like this. While I’ve never been to El Salvador, you definitely get a sense of authenticity here. The food was great! A couple of items were just okay. I highly recommend their delicious pupusas, boiled plantains, and their tamales. Their horchata is tasty as well. I nearly finished the whole thing within the first couple of minutes of sitting there. The atmosphere is very casual, a bit cafeteria like. Some people may get a little apprehensive looking at the little restaurant from the outside, but when Nathan and I walked in we were warmly greeted by the staff and received friendly service. The loud tv was the only annoyance I had, and that faded away throughout our meal.

Pupuseria El Salvador La Original is a restaurant that lingers on my mind long after I’ve dined there. Looking forward to going back!

Food at the Grand Rapids Downtown Market!

Grand Rapids Downtown Market. What is it? Well, I’m feeling lazier than usual today, so the description of the Grand Rapids Downtown Market comes straight from their website:

“The Market is a mixed-use facility that brings together production, distribution, marketing and education about local produce. Our indoor facility features a 24-vendor market hall, while dozens of farmers and artisans line our outdoor farmer’s market shed. We offer several exceptional spaces throughout the site, including rentable incubator kitchens, rooftop greenhouses, and the nation’s first demonstration kitchen for kids (you have to see it to believe it). The Market is set to be LEED-certified (also the first in the nation), features a green roof, live walls, geotherm wells, rain gardens, and plenty of other innovative sustainable features.

We wanted our Market’s location to serve as a focal point within the city while revitalizing a previously neglected area. The Market continues to spark redevelopment of nearby properties while reintroducing community neighbors to a once underutilized Grand Rapids locale.”

So yeah, all those things. Now, the food!

FISH LADS

Fish Lads.

Fish Lads Bivalves.

Fish Lads Closeup.

Fish Lads Mussels.

Their menu, (not cheap!), is full of different selections that showcase freshwater fish from the Great Lakes and high quality seafood from the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans. I love fresh oysters, so I adore the seating at the small bar right in front of their various bivalve selections! They also have a large case of beautiful and fresh catches that you can buy and take home with you to prepare for later.

RAK THAI

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Rak Thai.

The food here is described as being created by a Thai upbringing in an American childhood. I wasn’t crazy about the Mini-Mis but I did enjoy the Bangkok Tango. Also keep in mind that they do things quite spicy here! Much appreciated.

TACOS EL CUNADO

Tacoselcunado

tacoselcunado2

Not only tacos and tamales, Tacos El Cunado focuses on authentic Latin American foods using Michigan ingredients. They have a self serve salsa bar and grocery store items for purchase as well.

LOVE’S ICE CREAM

Love's Ice Cream.The first Michigan ice cream maker that creates ice cream, sorbets, sundaes, and cookies using organic and locally produced ingredients. They also offer vegan treats, and even their cones are handmade. Highly recommended is their mint ice cream, with real chunks of mint that Joe is enjoying, pictured above.

I really enjoy the Downtown Market. It’s trendy and expensive, but it’s something new to the city of Grand Rapids. Plus, you have one area with a high concentration of food options, and I’m always sold.