The 7 Best Restaurants Along Bridge Street in Grand Rapids

best restaurants bridge street grand rapids

Circle up, my young Gen Z readers. I’m here to tell a story about the Bridge Street of the long, long ago.

Back in the days when sending a text message cost a dime. To the way back when, when Paris, Britney, and Lindsay were clubbing their way across L.A. while being terrorized by the paparazzi. Back to when we carried around a revolutionary device called the “iPod shuffle,” which could play 240 songs, shuffled at random. Mine was loaded with Hey Ya and The OC soundtracks.

Back then, Bridge Street was a couple of dive bars, a dance club (Monte’s, now Butcher’s Union), an ethnic restaurant or two, and a whole lot of parking lots.

Time’s change. In the last decade, Bridge Street might be the most transformed piece of real estate in Grand Rapids.

And I’m here to spill the tea on the best restaurants to patronize. Mid-2000s soundtrack optional.

Map of the Best Restaurants on Bridge Street in Grand Rapids

The best restaurant on Bridge Street: Butcher’s Union

Channel your inner Ron Swanson and feast at Butcher’s Union. The restaurant’s motto, “Meat and Whiskey,” would speak to the soul of the fictional Parks and Rec character. The interior is modern and masculine. It’s tufted leather and brown oak everywhere you look.

So, what should you order? First-timers should start with one of their steaks. Steak selections rotate depending on the farm they’re sourced from, but they’re always beefy goodness. In my opinion, ribeye is the finest cut of beef known to humankind, and if it’s Waygu, it’s sublime. If Waygu ribeye is on the menu at Butcher’s Union, prepare to feast.

Their West Village Double Cheeseburger is just the thing if you’re feeling basic. Two meaty patties smothered with caramelized onions and cheese, with a side of fries that are crisped to perfection.

If you’re a whiskey nerd, their bottle collection is impressive. If you’re looking for a cocktail, the “squirming coil” is a smoked old-fashioned with amaro, and it’s happiness in a glass.

This is my favorite restaurant in town. The salmon ceviche, the crispy Brussels sprouts, the bacon-wrapped meatloaf – order whatever speaks to you. There’s no such thing as a bad menu item.

The best Butcher’s Union substitute: One Bourbon

BU doesn’t take reservations, and the waitlist stretches to several hours during peak times.

Skip the wait and head to One Bourbon. Their menu offerings are similar to Butcher Union’s American fare, but it’s a little more Southern-inspired.

The smoked ribeye is fantastic (but if you order it cooked past medium rare, you and I have beef. Save your money and just buy some jerky).

One Bourbon also has a staggering 400+ bottles of whiskey to choose from.

  • Address: 608 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Website: One Bourbon

The best sushi on Bridge: Maru Sushi

For the best sushi in Grand Rapids, make it Maru. Everything here is plated beautifully – when your order arrives, you’ll pause and admire your food.

Then you’ll start shoveling delicious sushi into your mouth with a ferocity that would make Shaggy and Scooby-Doo blush.

What’s good? All of it. The edamame, gyoza, and crab rangoon are my appetizer go-tos. As for the rolls, the papa crema is tempura fried, smoked salmon nirvana. The crouching tiger is a best-seller (for good reason), and the blue mango is a fiery blast of unbelievably fresh fish.

  • Address: 415 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Website: Maru Sushi

The best outdoor eating on Bridge Street: The Knickerbocker (New Holland Brewing)

If the weather’s pleasant, ask to sit outside and dine al fresco. Psst. Even if the weather’s lousy, The Knickerbocker has radiant heaters and patio heaters. And a covered terrace that will keep you cozy.

This massive pub was opened in 2016, and the name “The Knickerbocker” is a nod to the area’s Dutch roots.

The pickle pizza sounds weird, but it’s a winner. I relish it. The soft pretzels and beer cheese dip are a hit with little ones. Oh, and their pesto grilled cheese on sourdough, served with tomato fondue, is just the thing for a fall day in Michigan.

New Holland brews its own beer in addition to distilling its own spirits. The Poet is an underappreciated, delightfully complex stout that I’m fond of. Dragon’s Milk is a sledgehammer of a beer (11% ABV). It’s delicious, but drink with caution – it might knock you off your barstool if you’re not careful.

The best fancy option: Sovengard

Sovengard took Grand Rapids by storm when it first opened. The exotic Scandinavian food, prepared from scratch with ingredients sourced from local farms, was a revelation.

I won’t be making any food suggestions. Sovengard’s menu is in constant flux due to its hyper-local sourcing practices. Trust your gut and order whatever you’re craving, and it’s guaranteed to be so fresh, so savory, so homemade! – you’ll want to return ASAP and try everything else on the menu.

It’s fancy but not pretentious. Throw on something nice, but you won’t need a cummerbund or stiletto heels or anything. Your freshest fit will do.

Please note: On August 1, 2023, Sovengard will temporarily shut down as they move to a new location at 1232 Bridge St.

  • Address: 443 Bridge St NW, Grand Rapids, MI 49504
  • Website: Sovengard

The best Mexican: Tacos El Cuñado

Fresh onions. Cilantro. An El Milagro corn tortilla. A squeeze of lime. The protein of your choice.

That’s all you need for a deliciously authentic street taco, and that’s generally how Tacos El Cuñado serves ’em up. Grab your favorite flavor of Jarrito and a few of their tacos, and you’ve got a winning lunch for under ten bucks.

Note: no indoor seating.

For more delicious and authentic Mexican: Maggie’s Kitchen

Maggie’s Kitchen has been around forever. It’s one of those places that touring politicians are sent to, where they can glad-hand locals and kiss babies.

The menu here is expansive, so you can get whatever Mexican fix you need. Burritos, tacos, tortas, quesadillas – however you want that protein and cheese wedged into a tortilla, Maggie’s has got you covered.