Eastwood Town Center sandwiches

Two quick reviews of restaurants in Eastwood Town Centre.

I tried the French Dip at Champps and it was the best one I can remember having. The meat was excellent and the au jus was thick, almost like gravy. Most places serve au jus that looks like brown water – not appealing. The only thing about Champps is that they never have beer specials at times when people actually go there for dinner. But, that’s probably part of their strategy.

Second, for Andrea’s birthday lunch, we went to Mitchell’s Fish Market. I tried the codwich for the first time, which is basically like fish & chips on a bun. Pretty good, though not as good as just the plain fish & chips. I like their fries, thin and salty. And I never complain about getting bread with a meal, even if my meal is already half bread.


Topopo Salad on the roof at El Azteco

There is no place better to eat in East Lansing than the roof of El Azteco in East Lansing. If you disagree, then you must stop sniffing the glue and get some help. I mean, I’m sure you have a good reason.

Andrea and I went on a Wednesday night, and were shocked to see a whole half of the roof empty. I have never seen that before. Even in winter, the Eskimos are up there eating seal chips and snow salsa. Unheard of. So obviously, we were seated immediately.

Roof at El Azteco

A rare site - an empty roof at El Azteco

Because this was such a disturbing (albeit welcome) site, we immediately ordered a pitcher of margaritas. In vino veritas… or in this case, In margarita veritas.

What goes better than a pitcher of margaritas? Another pitcher! But instead of that, we had the topopo salad, a gargatuan pile of beans, chips, cheese, peas (!?), and probably some other stuff. Big big big. I mean large. And of course, I did most of the work, but Andrea did OK. I never complain about having to eat more topopo salad.

Topopo Salad, El Azteco, East Lansing

Topopo Salad, El Azteco, East Lansing

So people of mid-Michigan, while the students are away (probably in rehab), flock to El Azteco and enjoy some sun on the roof, some booze, and excellent chips and salsa. Granted, you may have a disturbing view of a cardboard cutout of John Kerry across Albert Street (I’m not making that up), but after some margaritas, he’s much easier to stand.

Xiao, Lansing

I unfortunately didn’t have my camera with me when Andrea and I went to Xiao for my birthday lunch. The interior was beautiful, with poles etched with Chinese symbols (complete with translations) and a giant Buddha. It was woody and airy and red, and they carried Apothic Red, a nice blend wine, though I stuck with Coke, being a work day. And, near the back entrance, they had Chinese objects arranged in a museum-like setting. I felt educated and, after eating, full.

I decided on the General Tso’s chicken, which was excellent. The sauce was spicy and light, not too heavy like so many Chinese restaurants serve. The portions were generous – had I not had meal plans for the next few days, I would have had enough for two lunches. But, poor me, I had to power through the whole meal. The chicken was served with rice and three broccoli stalks. Yes, exactly three.

And they had cool bowls. Big, white – they would make excellent helmets.  But as for their primary use, there was no stray rice strewn about the table after I was done eating, and that is muy bueno.

Xiao is very easy to miss, as that stretch of Saginaw isn’t known for quality restaurants. In fact, I almost chose another location for my birthday lunch, but I’m glad I noticed it on my way home the night before. So don’t leave Xiao off your restaurant radar.

A burger at GP Sports in Grand Rapids

After a 4.5 mile run around Reeds Lake in East Grand Rapids, I wanted to undo a little of the good work I had done, so I went into downtown Grand Rapids for dinner at GP Sports in the Amway Grand. I also wanted to watch Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals, even though Detroit wasn’t in it.

My first choice in sports bars was Uccello’s on East Beltline, but when I noticed that the day’s special was “kids eat free”, so I decided to rethink my plans and head somewhere else, where kids would not be eating free that night.

GP Sports is broken into two sections, the upper area, which is by the kitchen, and the lower area, by the bar. Each was equally fine, but I sat in the upper area so I could see the giant TVs and watch Boston and Vancouver skate to a 0-0 time at the end of the first period.

GP Sports, Grand Rapids

GP Sports

The nachos looked decent, but I decided to go with the Lakers burger with fries and a Corona, the latter of which were on special that night (Wednesday). The burger was topped with olives, cheese, and red pepper mayonnaise .  It tasted fine, nothing to rave about, and the fries were equally alright.

Oliver burger at GP Sports

Oliver burger at GP Sports

As hotel restaurants go, it wasn’t outrageously price, maybe a dollar more than you’d pay somewhere else. The night I was there, the place was fairly empty – there were no special events at the hotel. If you are in the mood to sit outside, there is also a patio on Louis Campau Street that probably wouldn’t be too noisy.

On the way I out, I passed by the door to The 1913 Room, now departed in favor of a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, coming later this year. So sad – my meal at The 1913 Room was among the best I’ve had.

The 1913 Room

The 1913 Room