Eat your heart out! 8 new Grand Rapids restaurants to check out in 2018

Whether it’s a second location, a new iteration, or a new concept entirely, Grand Rapids foodies have a lot to look forward to in 2018. From the recently opened Westside Social Tavern to the promise of Gaia’s triumphant return, here’s a small taste of some big flavors coming to Grand Rapids this year.
Whether it’s a second location, a new iteration, or a new concept entirely, Grand Rapids foodies have a lot to look forward to in 2018. From the recently opened Westside Social Tavern to the promise of Gaia’s triumphant return, here’s a small taste of some big flavors coming to Grand Rapids this year.

Georgina’s Fusion Cuisine
After opening its flagship Traverse City location back in 2013 on Front Street, Georgina's Fusion Cuisine was popular enough to warrant expansion into a larger space across from the State Theater just one year later. In 2016, Georgina's opened up a second location in Harbor Springs, and finally joined the Grand Rapids community earlier this month, with its third location opening at 724 Wealthy St. SE.

Serving up Latin and Asian infused dishes, its award-winning Chef Anthony Craig was born in Nicaragua and influenced by the cooking of his Cuban father and half-Chinese mother, with unique menu items that truly look as good as they taste.

Boop de Boom
Though technically it's not food, the recently announced Boop de Boom Coffee Lounge offers a welcome and much-needed addition to the Creston neighborhood, offering a full menu of coffee beverages alongside a smaller selection of beer, wine, and cocktails.

Owned, in part, by the same team that successfully launched the now popular Creston Brewery (located just across the street), the new coffee house is designed to bring a little bit of cozy, old-school funk back to a coffee scene dominated by all things metal and modern.

Stan Diego
With design renderings that feature two industrial garage doors, an open kitchen, and a nostalgic interior decor that drives its point home with a vintage 1960s Volkswagen van, Meritage Hospitality Group has big plans for its new Cali-Mex taqueria, Stan Diego.

There will also be opportunities for diners to amp up their experience with community games like shuffleboard and foosball while choosing form a menu that includes a la carte taco dishes, house-made guacamole, signature salsa, and churros alongside a bar serving tequila cocktails and canned beer.

Located at 355 Wilson Ave. NW, plans for Stan Diego's opening are set for this spring.

Westside Social Tavern
Hot on the heels of its Jan. 27 grand opening, the new Westside Social American Tavern brings a little bit of modern simplicity to classic comfort food in the former site of Shawmut Inn, located at 2802 Lake Michigan Drive NW.

With general manager Chris Durso coming to Westside Social from former employment at Founders Brewing, the tavern’s owners, Joe and Jennifer DiLeonardo, have lived on the West Side for over 25 years, and hope its reimagining of classic menu items like all-American burgers and pork chorizo and artichoke are enough to make any Grand Rapids foodie proud.

After opening a location in Grandville that was met with great success, franchise owners Tom+Chee — a grilled cheese and tomato soup-oriented fast casual shop — plan to open another location in downtown Grand Rapids. Though confirmed by the franchise website, no specific address has been formally announced for the future Grand Rapids location.

Home of the Grilled Cheese Donut, which his an inside-out donut placed on the grill with the your choice of cheese and toppings, customers can expect hand-roasted meats and house-made dressings, sauces, and spreads on their customized grilled cheese, with additional options for gluten-free bread, vegan cheese, and vegan/vegetarian soups, to boot.

Gaia 2.0
It’s been about three years since the popular Gaia Cafe closed its doors in Eastown, leaving a dedicated base of loyal patrons without their beloved Veggie Hash plates or Mean Green burritos.

However, after recently clearing a $30,000 Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with a total of $32,187, Gaia is making a comeback in 2018, announcing the opening of a new location in Creston. With money from its Kickstarter campaign going to securing its new building space, Gaia’s Andrea Bumstead says they’re hoping to a raise closer to $100,000 total in order to expedite the timeframe for Gaia 2.0’s opening.

She says additional money will go toward transforming Gaia’s new building space to create an open kitchen, code-approved bathrooms, outdoor seating, on-site parking, and a “grab-and-go” station with a full juice and self-serve coffee bar.

To make your contribution in helping bring Gaia back to it’s former glory, visit Gaia Cafe’s comeback Kickstarter here and make your pledge.

Announced this past June in an MLive article, MeXo (pronounced Mezzo) will reawaken the former Brian's Books location on 114 E. Fulton, adding to downtown's growing list of vibrant restaurants. Developed by the owners of West Olive's Sandy Point Beach House, CDKI Dining, MeXo touts "pre-Hispanic modern Mexican cuisine," tantalizing foodies with this genre of food that is almost a contradiction in terms.

"MeXo is a recuperation of flavors and ingredients of the ancient Mesoamerican culture during the pre-Hispanic era through the Spanish colonization," says Anna Harrington, marketing coordinator of CDKI Holdings. "Chef Oscar, who was born and raised in Mexico, was intrigued by his rich ancestral culture and the flavors and unique ingredients used in their cooking.

"The name "MeXo" was created by combining Mesoamerica and Mexico. The cuisine will be Chef Oscar's interpretation of a fusion of ancient and modern Mexican foods using local and house-grown greens and vegetables," she adds.

With the addition of "craft margaritas and extensive tequila and mezcal selections," Mexican food fans have plenty to look forward to when MeXo opens in late February or early March.

Zoko 822
Part of the MeXo and Sandy Point Beach House family, Zoko 822 focuses on Basque cuisine which hails from the region of the same name that encompasses both Northern Spain and Southern France. This new restaurant opened in December at 822 Ottawa NW and offers an exuberant happy hour, brunch, and tapas. Hosting its official grand opening happy hour this Friday, Feb. 2 from 4-5:30pm, diners can look forward to gin-inspired cocktails and authentic fare with flare.

Whether it's coffee you're craving or a new spin on your favorite region, Grand Rapids chefs and restauranteurs continue to show off, offering new selections, locations, and tastes each season. Dig in!
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